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ICD unveils new online M.A. in applied child and adolescent development

The Institute of Child Development (ICD) has launched an online master’s degree program that will help prepare a new generation of professionals to meet the developmental needs of children in practice and through policy.

The Master’s of Arts (M.A.) in Applied Child and Adolescent Development program aims to equip students with a foundation in development science that can be applied in advocacy, community, and health care settings. Through the program, students will gain knowledge in cognitive and biological development, social and emotional development, research methods and ethics. The program is entirely online, allowing students to learn from where they are.

Students can apply to one of three specialized tracks: infant and early childhood mental health, child life, and individualized studies. Each track incorporates coursework specific to the specialization and requires a field experience internship or fellowship for graduation.  

“Children are our future — the nation’s future. At this critical time, we must ensure that children and adolescents receive the support they need to develop and grow into healthy, thriving adults,” says Megan Gunnar, Ph.D., director of ICD. “Our new master’s degree seeks to do just that by helping students build a foundation in development science that they can use in real-world situations.”

The M.A. is intended for individuals who would like to build a career working with children or adolescents or creating and implementing practices and policies that support their well-being and development. The M.A. also is ideal for professionals working in fields that serve children who are seeking to advance their career. The program currently is accepting applications for Fall 2017.

Large CEHD delegation travels to Cuba for conference and educational exchange

College of Education and Human Development faculty, staff, alumni, and school-based colleagues will be in Havana, Cuba, January 25 to February 4, to meet with Cuban educators and present research papers at the Pedagogía 2017 International Conference for the “Unity of Educators.” The delegation, the largest U.S. academic group to date to travel to Cuba and present at a conference, includes 17 experts in reading and literacy, second languages and culture, dual language and immersion, bilingual education, special education, access and inclusion, multicultural education, immigrant youth, and pathways to diversifying the teaching force.

Goals for the visit include sharing research and practical knowledge, and engaging with colleagues on Cuban initiatives presented by local advocates, educators, and policy makers; presenting research at the conference; and making visits to educational spaces such as the National Literacy Museum.

“When we return, we will be sharing our insights from this trip with educators across Minnesota,” said Deborah Dillon, delegation leader and associate dean for graduate and professional programs in the college.

Other members of the delegation include Laura Coffin Koch (conference organizer), Stephanie Owen-Lyons (assistant to the delegation leader), Alexander Giraldo (graduate student), Julio Cabrera Morales (graduate student), Michelle Benegas (alumna), Amy Hewitt-Olatunde (St. Paul Public Schools), Karina Elze (Minneapolis Public Schools), and the following faculty and staff from CEHD: Heidi Barajas, Martha Bigelow, Blanca Caldas Chumbes, Panayiota Kendeou, Keitha-Gail Martin-Kerr, J.B. Mayo, David O’Brien, Karla Stone, and Rose Vukovic.

The impetus for the trip came from State Senator Patricia Torres Ray, who contacted CEHD dean Jean Quam and Dillon requesting that they secure a group of diverse scholars and practitioners from the college and community for the trip. Senator Torres Ray planned to join the delegation but was unable to leave her work at the statehouse to travel during the legislative session.

View photos and read more about the trip in the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of Connect.

Sullivan and Susman-Stillman share research on how subsidy system impacts children with special needs

Amy Susman-Stillman
Amy Susman-Stillman
Amanda Sullivan

Amanda Sullivan, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, and Amy Susman-Stillman, Ph.D., research associate at the Center for Early Education and Development, recently hosted a research-to-policy briefing to discuss whether the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) equally benefits children with and without special needs.

The CCDBG is a $5.3 billion block grant program that provides funding to states, territories, and tribes in an effort to increase access to quality care for low-income families with young children. In 2014, Congress reauthorized the CCDBG and identified low-income children with special needs as a priority target population.

The briefing shared findings from a research project funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Research, Planning and Evaluation. For the project, Sullivan and Susman-Stillman analyzed data from a nationally representative sample of young children with and without special needs to determine whether children with special needs equally access child care subsidies and how child care subsidies affect use of various care types and quality.

Sullivan and Susman-Stillman’s analysis found that throughout early childhood, children with special needs are less likely to access subsidized child care and that subsidy use increased the likelihood that a family would use home- or center-based care. The analysis also found that subsidized children with special needs spend more hours in care than non-subsidized children with special needs, and that subsidy use does not ensure access to quality care.

According to Sullivan and Susman-Stillman, based on the study’s findings, stakeholders should address inequities in accessing subsidized care for children with special needs and reduce barriers parents and providers face in finding and supplying high-quality care.

Kendeou presents at symposium on reducing impact of misinformation, fake news

Dr. Panayiota Kendeou

Panayiota Kendeou, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s Psychological Foundations of Education program, recently traveled to Sydney, Australia, to present her work on the 12th biennial meeting of the Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (SARMAC). Kendeou was part of a featured symposium–organized by two world-renowned experts on misinformation,  Ullrich Ecker (The University of Western Australia) and Stephan Lewandowsky (University of Bristol)–on research advances that reduce the impact of misinformation and fake news. At the event, Kendeou presented her work on the conditions that promote successful change of pre-existing beliefs in the context of her Knowledge Revision Components framework (KReC; Kendeou & O’Brien, 2014).

Dedicated to encouraging and promoting quality scientific research in applied domains, the SARMAC’s purpose is to enhance collaboration and co-operation between basic and applied researchers in memory and cognition.

Learn more about this and other work conducted in Kendeou’s Reading & Language lab.

Lee receives CDC grant for app to aid HPV vaccine completion

Professor Hee Yun Lee, School of Social Work, is principal investigator for a $450,000 Special Interest Project Research grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The grant will fund a mobile application intervention for low-income Hmong adolescents to facilitate completion of the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine series. The research team includes community co-principal investigator Kathleen Culhane-Pera, M.D., medical director of the Westside Community Health Services, and co-investigator Jay Desai, Ph.D., research investigator at HealthPartners.

The team will use community based participatory action research to design an app tailored culturally and cognitively to low-income Hmong adolescents aged 11-17 years and their parents. HPV causes several types of cancers, but vaccines can prevent infection with the most common types of HPV. The vaccine is given in three shots over seven to eight months.

The app will be highly interactive, with multiple levels of participation. The researchers will also test the app’s effectiveness and establish a protocol to aid health care providers in identifying and engaging Hmong adolescents and their parents in its use.

Global Seminar students blog from Kenya

Over winter break, Daheia Barr-Anderson, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School of Kinesiology, is teaching a Global Seminar course in Nairobi, Kenya, as part of the U of M’s Learning Abroad programs. The course, titled “Empowering Girls Through Sport,” explores how in the Kenyan culture physical activity is used as a gateway to many aspects of life and how it can empower youth, especially girls.

Students, who are traveling in Kenya from December 26, 2016, to January 16, 2017, are blogging about their experiences: www.umninkenya2017.edublogs.org

 

CEHD faculty address issues of politics, policy, and discourse in U.S. democracy

PrintFaculty in the College of Education and Human Development are engaged in diverse areas of research, teaching, and service in the community. As they look ahead, many of them are expressing insights and creating communities of discussion to improve all lives in this country and around the world.

Here is a sampling of some of their viewpoints that have been published:

Project LEEP trains school psychology students for faculty careers

The U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs recently awarded associate professors Robin Codding and  Amanda Sullivan with a $1,192,606 leadership development grant (over five years from 2016-2021). The project, Leaders Enhancing Evidence-based Practices (Project LEEP), funds fellowships designed to prepare future faculty in school psychology with expertise in applying and sustaining evidence-based practices to schools. Five students in the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program were awarded LEEP fellowships: Jordan Thayer, Alaa Houri, Aria Fiat, Kourtney McNallan, and Madeline Larson.

Project LEEP fellows are trained in: data-based decision making; development and evaluation of evidence-based practices; prevention and intervention using evidence-based practices, and consultation and translation of interventions; as well as leadership competencies in instruction and mentoring in higher education, and research and dissemination. Students receiving the award must complete a variety of experiences—coursework in research methods and statistics, research related to multi tier systems of support (MTSS), and apprenticeships with faculty with related research interests.  

In addition, fellows attend monthly pro-seminars that provide professional development opportunities for pursuing a career as a faculty member. Past pro-seminar topics have included: finding your “fit” in a faculty position based on professional values and goals; types of faculty positions available in the field of school psychology; and what is tenure and how to successfully achieve it. Future Project LEEP pro-seminars will help fellows identify their professional goals and structure training plans to meet the benchmarks needed to obtain a faculty position upon graduation.

Learn more about the school psychology program.

J.B. Mayo wins Josie Johnson Human Rights and Social Justice Award

mayojr-2011J.B. Mayo, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, received the Josie R. Johnson Human Rights and Social Justice Award at the University of Minnesota Equity and Diversity Breakfast on Nov. 17.

The Josie R. Johnson Award was established in honor of Dr. Josie R. Johnson in recognition of her lifelong contributions to human rights and social justice, which guided her work with the civil rights movement, years of community service, and tenure at the University. The award honors University faculty, staff, and students who, through their principles and practices, exemplify Dr. Johnson’s standard of excellence in creating respectful and inclusive living, learning, and working environments.

Mayo was recognized for his dedication to equity and social justice in schools. Colleagues noted, in particular, his scholarship and outreach related to LGBTQ youth and teachers and his support for LGBTQ communities of color in school and community settings. Read more about Dr. Mayo.

Learn more about past award recipients.

University autism expertise leads to earlier diagnosis

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Jed Elison and Jason Wolff

CEHD researchers Jason Wolff and Jed Elison are detecting objective differences in the brains of children who have autism spectrum disorders as early as six months old. And their work is contributing to a national effort to understand this complex array of developmental disorders.

“We know from intervention studies that the earlier you intervene, the better the outcome,” says Wolff in a U of M Medical Bulletin feature story.

Read more about the work of several U of M researchers who bring a spectrum of expertise to their autism research, including prevalence studies led by Amy Hewitt, director of CEHD’s Research and Training Center on Community Living in the Institute on Community Integration.

CEHD researcher improves deaf education through visual learning

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Debbie Golos

When I taught reading and writing to sixth grade students at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont, CA, I began to notice a pattern that supported research I had previously read. My students who had parents who were deaf or hearing parents who signed fluently in American Sign Language (ASL) typically read on or above grade level, while those whose families had not signed with them from birth typically lagged behind. This observation made me want to investigate how we might better improve literacy development in young deaf children. Both my research and classroom experience supports an increasing body of research that indicates we can improve outcomes in deaf education through a visual-learning based approach. Read the full article.

Native Language Literacy Assessment promises better outcomes for immigrant students

handswritingStudents who are new to the United States (and often English) have a wide range of educational experience when they enter the U.S. school system, ranging from ten-plus years of high-quality, formal schooling to very few experiences with formal education. However, according to research conducted last year in the Minneapolis public school system by professors Kendall King and Martha Bigelow of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, the standard assessment given to students new to the country failed to differentiate between those who had formal schooling and those who did not; they both scored roughly the same. This creates a problem for students, who are often initially placed in classes not appropriate to their skill level, and can slow down their achievement in schools.

The research findings, which were recently accepted for publication in Educational Policy, spurred King and Bigelow to tackle the problem with a more effective assessment tool. They started a collaboration with students, faculty and staff at Wellstone International High School, the New Family Center, and the Multilingual Department of Minneapolis public schools to develop the Native Literacy Learning Assessment (NLLA). This test, which Minneapolis now administers to most newcomer adolescents, provides administrators and teachers with crucial information about students’ reading and writing skills in their first language. It is available in Spanish, Somali, Oromo, Arabic, and Amharic.

King and Bigelow hope that teachers and administrators will find this new, free tool useful in meeting the needs of their multilingual students and ensuring appropriate class placement to better educational outcomes for students new to the U.S. school system.

Download the Native Language Literacy Assessment.

New research shows health benefits of yoga for African American women

Daheia Barr-Anderson
Daheia Barr-Anderson

Potential health benefits of yoga were revealed in a pilot study of African American women by Daheia Barr-Anderson, assistant professor in CEHD’s School of Kinesiology.

African American women, as a demographic group, have serious health issues, according to Barr-Anderson. “Over 80 percent of us are overweight,” she said. “African American women have high rates of diabetes and 40 percent of African American women are hypertensive.”

Barr-Anderson, a certified yoga instructor, is introducing more African American women to yoga because of its potential to improve health outcomes, and she is studying the results.

This three-month study took several baseline measures of health in 59 African American women and divided them into an intervention group of 30 and control group of 29. The intervention group attended multiple yoga classes each week for three months; the control group did not.

The data is still being analyzed, but Barr-Anderson is “confident that we will see that yoga helped our participants enact some very powerful changes in their physical and mental health.” She noted that some of the most committed participants showed significant changes, including weight loss and improved blood pressure.

Read more about the study in Barr-Anderson’s Improving Lives blog post.

C&I’s Diane Tedick receives $2.7 million grant to improve educational outcomes for English learners

Professor Diane Tedick
Professor Diane Tedick

Diane Tedick, professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, received a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support English learners (ELs) through programs focusing on dual language and immersion teacher education and professional development, as well as parent education. The five-year grant project will be called the “Dual Language and Immersion Pathways to English Learner Success Through Professional Development and Parent Engagement Project (DLI3P).” Tedick received significant contributions from Tara W. Fortune, the immersion project director in the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) in both conceptualizing the project and writing the grant proposal.

The need to improve English learner education is imperative as English learners are the fastest growing and lowest achieving group of learners in U.S. schools, according to recent data. Research has consistently shown that dual language and immersion (DLI) programs are the most effective in preparing ELs to achieve academically in English. ELs in well-implemented DLI programs do as well as or better on standardized tests in English than peers schooled only through English.

The project aims to address the issue by improving instruction for English learners through the development and implementation of three programs:

  • a two-year, elementary education licensure program specifically teachers in DLI contexts. The new program is slated to start its first cohort in January 2017.
  • a two-year, in-service professional development certificate program for licensed DLI teachers aimed at better serving English learners, which will be offered in the coming year.
  • multiple DLI, parent-family education and engagement curriculum modules that can be accessed to supplement existing, district-sponsored parent education programs or to inform the creation of programs in participating districts throughout the country. Scholars in the field have found that educators who work to involve parents and families in their children’s education can improve their effectiveness with English learners. This piece of the program, led by Tara Fortune, will be important to ensure student success.

The project will involve a consortium of partners at the University including CARLA and the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI). The project is also partnering with six area school districts and a private school in the Twin Cities Metro that have existing two-way bilingual immersion programs. Throughout the project, evaluators will gather high-quality data to assess project efforts with the aim of feeding back into the project for review and improvement on the question of how to prepare and support a diverse cadre of bilingual teachers better prepared to serve English learners and DLI programs effectively.

The grant projects are designed to provide teachers with high quality, DLI-specific preparation and professional development to ensure that programs are well-implemented and to expand the skills, strategies and knowledge of DLI parents and families to improve engagement. The end goal is to make progress toward closing the achievement gap between native English speaking students and English learners and promote equity in the education system.

Dr. Tedick teaches in the Second Language Education program area in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction. Learn more about the second language education programs offered for graduate and undergraduate students.

Center for Resilient Families will serve needs of traumatized children and families

itrThe Institute for Translational Research in Children’s Mental Health (ITR)  announced the funding of a new national center to raise awareness of, and increase access to, family interventions that promote resilience in traumatized children.

The Center for Resilient Families, funded with a $3 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is a partnership between Ambit Network at the University of Minnesota (PI, Dr. Abigail Gewirtz), developers of evidence-based family programs at Arizona State University’s REACH Institute, Implementation Sciences International, and the Research Consortium on Gender-based Violence.

Over the next five years, the Center for Resilient Families will adapt and put into practice five parenting interventions that have been found through rigorous testing to be effective at strengthening resilience among traumatized families. These interventions will serve more than 35,000 people and specifically target isolated families in transition, such as:

  • those with a parent deployed to war
  • Native American families on reservations
  • immigrant and refugee families
  • families involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems
  • families in which a parent has been killed

ITR is excited to house the groundbreaking work of this center, which furthers its mission of bridging the vast gap between research and practice in children’s mental health. Learn more about ITR’s work at itr.umn.edu.

Gunnar appointed to governor’s Early Learning Council

Dr. Megan Gunnar
Dr. Megan Gunnar

Megan Gunnar, Ph.D., Regents Professor, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, and director of the Institute of Child Development, has been appointed to Gov. Mark Dayton’s Early Learning Council.

The council aims to ensure that all children are school-ready by 2020. Council members “make recommendations to the governor and legislature on how to create a high-quality early childhood system in Minnesota that will help improve educational outcomes for all children.”

Dr. Gunnar’s term runs from Sept. 19, 2016, to April 7, 2019.

Lori Helman named Outstanding Teacher Educator in Reading

[left to right]: Diane Barone, Outgoing ILA President Jerry Johns, Distinguished Professor Emeritus and award donor, Lori Helman, William Teale, Incoming ILA President
[left to right]: Diane Barone, Outgoing ILA President; Jerry Johns, Distinguished Professor Emeritus and award donor; Lori Helman; William Teale, Incoming ILA President
Lori Helman, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, was named the Jerry Johns Outstanding Teacher Educator in Reading at the International Literacy Association’s annual conference in July.

The award honors an exceptional college or university professor in the field of reading education and is given annually to a member of ILA who is currently teaching preparation in reading to prospective educators at the undergraduate or graduate level. “An ideal recipient is considered to be a knowledgeable professional, an innovative teacher, a leader in the field of reading, a role model, and a disseminator,” according to the association.

Helman’s work in literacy in reading includes several endeavors. Most recently, she launched PRESS, a website featuring videos and tutorials that supports educators in implementing a framework for schoolwide literacy improvement. Helman also completed a a six-year longitudinal study of immigrant, bilingual students’ language and literacy journeys and co-wrote Inclusive Literacy Teaching on her findings and the implications for education. She is currently working with bilingual and dual immersion schools to implement Spanish word study curriculum and serves as a member of the International Literacy Association’s Standards 2017 Committee revising national standards for reading teachers and literacy professionals.

Helman’s research and teaching at the University centers on topics such as literacy development in the elementary grades, effective instructional practices with multilingual learners, teacher development and leadership, and assessment and instruction to support aspiring readers K-6.

Learn more about the graduate programs and professional development opportunities offered in literacy education in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction.

 

 

 

CEHD start-up joins with national Montessori center to assess and improve kids’ kindergarten readiness

1apicThe National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector (NCMPS) in Washington, D.C., and Reflection Sciences, a Minnesota start-up educational technology company started by two CEHD professors, has announced a new partnership to measure Executive Function in Montessori and developmentally based education.

Executive Function (EF) capabilities are key developments in the preschool years. Sometimes called the “air traffic controller of your brain,” EF is the set of neurocognitive functions that help the brain organize and act on information. These functions enable us to pay attention, control behavior, and think flexibly — essentially, the tools that are necessary to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.

In this new program, NCMPS will work with Reflection Sciences to offer training and tools to measure these essential skills using the Minnesota Executive Function Scale (MEFS). The MEFS is a valid and reliable measure of EF that is based on the latest neuroscience, delivered on touch-screen tablet, and takes less than five minutes.

How important is Executive Function? Recent studies have shown these skills are more predictive of academic success than IQ. And like many skills, EF develops through practice. That is why it is crucial to nurture these skills at an early age.

“The MEFS gives us a simple, reliable, non-intrusive way to prove something we’ve suspected in Montessori for decades — that Montessori prepared environments, trained teachers, and learning materials support optimal child development,” said Jacqueline Cossentino, research director of NCMPS. “Now we can measure and compare Montessori’s effectiveness.”

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Stephanie Carlson

Stephanie Carlson, child development professor and co-founder and CEO of Reflection Sciences, agrees with the Montessori approach. “We are so impressed with what Montessori does to promote Executive Function. By cultivating reflection though nearly everything they do in the classroom, the Montessori approach embodies best practices for building EF skills,” she said. “This is such an important part of early childhood education and they are embracing it. This is likely to have lasting positive impacts for their children, and now they will be able to measure these results.”

NCMPS is introducing the new program at eight training locations, beginning in October 2016. They will offer the MEFS to their partner schools, while Reflection Sciences will facilitate the onboarding of new schools to its cloud-based web portal and continue to offer support and additional services, such as professional development about EF and assistance with data analysis.

“With this new partnership, our educators will be more intentional in nurturing Executive Function skills, so that our students are better prepared to learn, socialize, and handle any situation that may develop in elementary school,” added Cossentino.

Founded by Carlson and professor Phil Zelazo in CEHD’s Institute of Child Development in 2014, Reflection Sciences provides professional development, training, and tools for assessing and improving Executive Function skills. Their Minnesota Executive Function Scale is the first objective, scientifically-based, and normed direct assessment of executive function for ages 2 years and up.

CEHD hosts 2nd summit to improve student success with open textbooks

Using open textbooks can save students hundreds of dollars per semester. Making faculty aware that they are an option, though, remains a challenge, which is why the University of Minnesota is hosting a meeting of its Open Textbook Network (OTN), Aug. 9-12.

The OTN, an alliance of nearly 250 colleges and universities across the country, will convene on the Twin Cities campus to develop strategies for advancing open textbook programs on their campuses. Participants will also gain expertise in helping faculty understand the negative impact high textbook costs can have on students’ academic performance. Over the last year, the OTN has grown by nearly 175 members.

Published under a Creative Commons license, open textbooks are available to students for free. Faculty can custom edit the textbooks to meet their needs. By using open textbooks, students can save thousands of dollars over a college career. The OTN has already saved students an estimated total of $3.1 million in textbook costs.

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David Ernst

“Open textbooks eliminate the cost barrier between students and their learning,” said David Ernst, director of the Center for Open Education and executive director of the OTN. “The institutions in the Open Textbook Network are all committed to improving student success through the use of these textbooks.”

The Open Textbook Network also hosts the Open Textbook Library, the first searchable online catalog of open textbooks, many of which are reviewed by faculty at OTN institutions. Currently, more than 260 textbook titles are available for use.