Department of Family Social Science associate professor Tai Mendenhall was the featured speaker in a national webinar regarding working with families wherein a family member is living with chronic illness.
The webinar titled “Chronic Illness: Empowering Families in the Journey,” was offered by the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN), and is a two-part look at how families manage the challenges of chronic illness and build family resilience.
The American Educational Research Association’s (AERA’s) Bilingual Education Research SIG selects the top three dissertations in the field of bilingual education research each year as outstanding dissertations. Assistant professor in Curriculum & Instruction, Blanca Caldas was honored with the second place Outstanding Dissertation Award for her doctoral thesis, “Performing the Advocate Bilingual Teacher: Drama-based Interventions for Future Story Making.”
Caldas’s doctoral dissertation focused on exploring how critical drama-based pedagogical techniques in the development of future bilingual teachers can prepare them to become leaders and advocates inside and outside the classroom. In this yearlong study, the participants—a cohort of pre-service bilingual teachers—engaged in the re-imagining of the oral narratives of experienced bilingual teachers by physically reenacting their stories and providing alternative endings.
“My research aims to study the outcomes of pedagogical practices for the preparation of future bilingual teachers that have the potential to empower themselves to not only think critically about the issues that surround bilingual education, but also to engage in leadership and advocacy inside and outside the classroom,” says Caldas.
Caldas brings her research and pedagogical expertise to the Second Language Education program area in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, working to advance the field of bilingual education and bilingual teacher preparation.
Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in infants with older siblings with autism, researchers from around the country, including the University of Minnesota (UMN), were able to predict which infants would later meet criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at two years of age, with 80 percent accuracy.
“The findings lay the foundation for the field to move toward attempting to implement interventions before the symptoms that define autism consolidate into a diagnosis,” said study co-author Jed Elison, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the UMN Institute of Child Development.
“Typically, the earliest an autism diagnosis can be made is between ages two and three. But for babies with older autistic siblings, our imaging approach may help predict during the first year of life which babies are most likely to receive an autism diagnosis at 24 months,” said senior author Joseph Piven, M.D., the Thomas E. Castelloe Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
This research project included hundreds of children from across the country and was led by researchers at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD) at the University of North Carolina (UNC). The project’s other clinical sites included the University of Washington, Washington University in St. Louis, and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. In addition to the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development, other key collaborators are McGill University, the University of Alberta, the College of Charleston, and New York University (see ibisnetwork.org for more information.)
For this study, published today in Nature, the team of researchers conducted MRI scans of infants at six, 12 and 24 months of age. They found that the babies who developed autism experienced a hyper-expansion of brain surface area from six to 12 months, as compared to babies who had an older sibling with autism but did not themselves show evidence of the condition at 24 months of age. Increased growth rate of surface area in the first year of life was linked to increased growth rate of overall brain volume in the second year of life. Brain overgrowth was tied to the emergence of autistic social deficits in the second year.
The researchers then took these data – MRIs of brain volume, surface area, cortical thickness at 6 and 12 months of age, and sex of the infants – and used a computer program to identify a way to classify babies most likely to meet criteria for autism at 24 months of age. The computer program developed the best algorithm to accomplish this, and the researchers applied the algorithm to a separate set of study participants.
The researchers found that brain differences at 6 and 12 months of age in infants with older siblings with autism correctly predicted eight out of 10 infants who would later meet criteria for autism at 24 months of age in comparison to those infants with older ASD siblings who did not meet criteria for autism at 24 months.
According to the researchers, the findings may have implications for early detection and intervention in children who have older siblings with autism before a diagnosis is typically established. Diagnosis of ASD typically occurs after 24 months of age, the earliest time when behavioral characteristics of ASD can be observed. Intervening early could lead to improved outcomes, as the brain is more malleable in the first years of life compared with later in childhood.
“This area of research is incredibly exciting because it provides an opportunity to understand how autism unfolds early in life,” said Jason Wolff, Ph.D., an assistant professor in educational psychology at UMN and a study co-author. “It provides new clues about the timing and specific mechanisms of brain development that precede a diagnosis. It also offers the unprecedented possibility of predicting whether or not a child will develop autism based on neurobiological data.”
“These findings not only are significant for the field of autism, but they also could inform the broader field of psychiatry and prevention science as it relates to various psychiatric conditions,” Elison said. “This research highlights the best of contemporary science. It’s collaborative, and informed by technology and multiple areas of expertise, with the common goal of helping families.”
The National Institutes of Health funded this study.
MnAEYC is a professional association devoted to representing early child care and youth programs across Minnesota. The award honors a current or former MnAEYC member who has made a significant contribution to the lives of young children in Minnesota and to the organization.
Menninga has worked in early childhood education for more than 30 years. In the 1990s, she was statewide coordinator of the Minnesota Infant-Toddler Training Initiative, which increased the quality of infant-toddler care by providing trainers with a high-quality curriculum. Menninga also has created programs, including Words Work! and Numbers Work!, and has co-authored the book, The Thinking Teacher: A Framework for Intentional Teaching in the Early Childhood Classroom (Griffin House, 2016).
“Beth is a longtime member of MnAEYC and has contributed much wisdom to MnAEYC and to the field as a past member of the board,” MnAEYC said. “Most importantly, she sees her work with young children, families and early childhood educators as a commitment to social justice, and has been a tireless advocate, spreading her influence and advancing the field across the state.”
Family Social Science (FSOS) has launched a new master’s degree program in prevention science that will help prepare family science practitioners to prevent or moderate major human dysfunctions before they occur.
The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Prevention Science will equip students to confront many of the daunting challenges facing today’s families and communities, including trauma and drug addiction. The M.A. in Prevention Science will also help students develop strategies to promote the health and well-being of families.
Core coursework for the M.A. in Prevention Science gives students a solid foundation in statistics and research methodology, family conceptual frameworks, and ethics. Students can choose the Plan A which includes a thesis, or the Plan B which includes a project and a paper.
The M.A. in Prevention Science is intended for individuals who would like to build a career that supports families and works to redirect maladaptive behaviors.
The program is currently accepting applications for Fall 2017. The application deadline is March 1, 2017.
The MAP Center was recently awarded a five year grant by the U.S. Department of Education to assist with desegregation and other civil rights issues in public schools in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Sullivan will contribute to the development of MAP products and services to facilitate implementation of culturally appropriate multitier systems of support for students’ academic, social-emotional, and behavioral development.
“I’m excited to partner with the MAP Center to support schools’ efforts to create equitable systems and support the learning and wellbeing of all learners,” she says. “This is as important now as it’s ever been and with the MAP center, we have a great opportunity to develop tools tailored to our local communities.”
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.
“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.
Frances Vavrus, professor in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (OLPD), and colleague Lesley Bartlett (University of Wisconsin-Madison) have recently published the book Rethinking Case Study Research: A Comparative Approach with relevance across the fields of education and human development. The book is designed as a textbook for graduate students and other researchers seeking a more holistic approach to case study research, especially research with a focus on policy, and it has exercises in every chapter that guide readers through the research process.
The book is available at www.routledge.com (use the following promo code for a 20% discount: IRK69) or at www.amazon.com. Professor Vavrus will also be available in the fall term to speak in classes that might want to use the book.
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.
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.
Series kicks off Feb. 7 with discussion of retaining and engaging enrolled families
As part of ITR’s mission to connect leaders in the field of children’s mental health, we are excited to announce our 2017 Colloquia Series, featuring three discussions on new research from ITR faculty. Space is limited, so reserve your spot early — e-mail ITR@umn.edu to RSVP.
Feb. 7 – Project INTERFACE: Promoting Parent Engagement in Parent Education Programs | 3:30-5 p.m., ITR offices Dr. Richard M. Lee and Dr. Alisha Wackerle-Hollman
Problems in engaging and retaining enrolled families is a significant barrier to reaping the effects of evidence-based parenting interventions. Studies show modest rates of enrollment and retention in evidence-based parent training particularly among racial/ethnic minority families. We will describe our work to develop and test a brief group-based engagement and retention priming module for families from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds.
The work was funded by a seed grant from ITR in 2015.
About Dr. Lee: Rich’s research interests are in understanding the psychological aspects of culture, ethnicity and race that function as risk and protective factors for well-being, mental health, and achievement in ethnic and racial minority populations. Dr. Lee has received NIH, NSF, and foundation funding to support his research.(Full bio)
About Dr. Alisha Wackerle-Hollman: Dr. Wackerle-Hollman is an educational psychologist with a passion for engaging communities and young children to improve child and family outcomes. Alisha’s interest focuses on two primary strands of research: a clinical foci on parenting education and development and an applied foci centralized around early childhood assessment and intervention.(Full bio)
March 27 – Personalizing Treatment for Adolescent Depression: Challenges and Opportunities | 3:30-5 p.m., ITR offices Dr. Meredith Gunlicks-Stoessel
There are now a number of evidence-based interventions for adolescent depression; however, many adolescents who receive one of these interventions do not respond. There is increasing recognition that treating depression more effectively requires taking into account individual differences and providing adolescents with treatment that is optimally matched and adapted over time to their individual characteristics, needs, and circumstances. In this presentation, I will discuss our work developing and evaluating personalized interventions for adolescent depression.
About Dr. Meredith Gunlicks-Stoessel: Meredith’s research focuses on the development and evaluation of interventions for adolescent depression. She has a particular interest in the development of adaptive interventions, which provide clinical guidelines for selecting, combining, and sequencing interventions to personalize the intervention approach. (Full bio)
May 2 – An alternative model of personalized interventions: Findings from an adoption study | 3:30-5p.m., ITR offices Dr. Leslie Leve
It is widely known that parents play a crucial role in their child’s development, ranging from the disciplinary practices they engage in, to the quality of their own interparental relationship, to the educational context they provide. However, there is increasing evidence that genetic influences play a role in these associations, sometimes via their moderating role in increasing or decreasing children’s susceptibility to these environmental experiences, and other times because they shape the types of environments that children are exposed to.
This presentation focuses on the interplay between inherited and environmental influences on child development by describing findings from an adoption study where children were reared from birth by unrelated caregivers. The relevance of children’s inherited predispositions in the design and delivery of preventive interventions will also be discussed.
Dr. Leslie Leve is a developmental psychologist who has used natural experimental designs to examine the interplay between social and inherited influences on child and adolescent development. This includes adoption studies where children have been reared by unrelated caregivers, intervention studies with children in foster care, and studies of siblings who have been reared apart since birth. Leslie is the Associate Director of the Prevention Science Institute and the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Education at the University of Oregon. She currently serves as President-Elect of the Society for Prevention Research. Her research is currently funded by NIH and IES.
For the 5th consecutive year, the U.S. State Department will support the American Culture Center (ACC) for Sport in China administrated by the University of Minnesota. From September 2016 until August 2017, the funding will be $75,000 to Li Li Ji, Ph.D., professor and director of the School of Kinesiology, the PI of the grant.
The ACC focuses on the introduction and promotion of sport as an American heritage and value. The main activities include on-campus, year-round programs and featured lecture tours that visit various Chinese universities.
In January 2017, Ji, Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab, and Gregory Welk, Ph.D., associate professor of health promotion and exercise at Iowa State University, will visit four universities. The goal is to introduce how mobile devices are being used to promote physical activity on U.S. campuses.
On December 6, Kelly Nye-Lengerman from the College’s Institute on Community Integration received the AUCD Young Professional Award during the AUCD annual conference in Washington, DC. This award is presented to professionals in the disabilities field under the age of 40 who have demonstrated dedication and commitment to people with developmental disabilities and their families through their work as a bridge between the academic sector and the community.
In October, Anab Gulaid from the college’s Institute on Community Integration was invited to join the National Advisory Committee for the Diversity & Inclusion Training Action Plan (D&I-TAP), a one-year project funded by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The goal of the project is to research, develop, and disseminate a D&I-TAP for the national network of University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs), of which ICI is a member. Gulaid’s committee duties began in November.
David W. Johnson, emeritus professor of in the Department of Educational Psychology, recently wrote a blog post for Psychology Today on “Why false news endangers democracy.” In the post, Johnson outlines eight steps needed for political discourse based on cooperative learning theory.
He argues, “Once falsehoods become commonplace, and false news replaces or becomes equal to factual news, political discourse becomes impossible. Without political discourse, democracy cannot exist.”
“But taking a look at Trump’s proposals against a long history of racial and religious surveillance provides a larger, and even more disturbing landscape. Because, for one, it is shocking to find that this kind of program is nothing new. And, second, programs like the ones he’s suggesting have provided no discernible benefit for the shame of betraying the rights of our neighbors.”
“In Minnesota alone, 76 percent of all incarcerated women are mothers with minor children,” Shlafer says. “And 66 percent of all incarcerated men are fathers with minor children.”
Data show that parental incarceration can increase a child’s risk for mental health problems, substance abuse, and delinquency. To examine the issue, Shlafer’s lab, which partners College of Liberal Arts undergraduates with medical school faculty, allows students to pursue many different research projects. For example, student projects have analyzed drawings by the children of incarcerated parents and the impact of developmentally-appropriate materials on conversations about incarceration between children and their caregivers.
“The fact that this is an understudied problem means that we can really have an impact,” Shlafer says. “I tell my students, ‘Pick any part of this problem and we can make a difference.'”