Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology is the principal investigator on an NIH funded grant program administered through the University’s Office of Discovery and Translation that seeks to promote new therapies for rare diseases. The project will design and build a device that will improve the symptoms of a voice disorder called spasmodic dysphonia (SD).
People with SD experience involuntary spasms of the laryngeal musculature that leads to a strained or choked speech. There is no cure for the disease and speech therapy is ineffective. The device will alter how it feels when one speaks. The idea behind the technology is that this sensory trick will help patients to improve their voice quality. The device development and its testing will be conducted in Konczak’s Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory.
Arash Mahnan, biomedical engineer and doctoral student in the HSC lab will serve as primary research assistant for this project.
The inaugural event was founded by the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) to mark the 52nd anniversary of the Higher Education Act of 1965. COE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the United States. The council works in conjunction with colleges, universities, and agencies that host federal TRIO programs.
“The new program is designed to teach students about the principles of behavior,” explains McComas, “how to recognize the influence of social interactions and other environmental variables and recommend changes to improve the day-to-day lives of people with disabilities.”
Now approved by the national Behavior Analyst Certification Board, the A.B.A. program is designed prepare students to sit for their Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam and to work with people with disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder and developmental disabilities.
“The M.A. is a good fit for psychology and education majors and those interested in applied research who want to make a difference in the world around them,” McComas says.
A full-time, on campus program, the M.A. in special education with an emphasis in A.B.A. is currently accepting applications for fall 2018. Students who enroll in the program will be required to complete 36 total credits (nine credits in four semesters), including three semesters of practical experience working alongside a BCBA. They’ll also complete a final research project, guided by University of Minnesota faculty and staff, like McComas, who are experts in the area of applied behavior analysis.
“We’ll approach applied behavior analysis from a scientific perspective,” McComas says. “Students will be challenged to become consumers of research and prepared for the real world through supportive supervisory experience, which is essential when working with people with disabilities.”
Amy Hewitt is a senior research associate with the Institute for Community Integration at the University of Minnesota and has worked for over 30 years to improve community inclusion and quality of life for children and adults with disabilities and their families.
“This new program is timely and responds to a critical need in Minnesota. With newly implemented policies that fund early intensive behavioral intervention for people with autism and the focus on positive behavioral support in the MN Olmstead Plan there is a high need for qualified professionals,” Hewitt says. “This program will help to ease the high demand to grow this workforce.”
Graduates of the program will help meet the state and national need for BCBAs who work with people with disabilities to identify opportunities to make positive behavior changes leading to more fulfilling lives.
Owen Marciano, associate director of recruitment and admissions in CEHD Student Services, has been awarded the University’s 2017 Josie R. Johnson Human Rights and Social Justice Award. The award recognizes University faculty, staff, and students who are creating respectful and inclusive living, learning, and working environments. He will be honored at the University of Minnesota’s Equity and Diversity Breakfast on Nov. 16.
Owen has spent more than 15 years serving, supporting, and advocating for underrepresented students in higher education. He leads CEHD’s undergraduate recruitment, communications, and admissions, and brings social justice to the forefront in all of this work. For example, Owen identified and changed policies that serve as admission barriers to marginalized and oppressed individuals and groups. Colleagues noted his unwavering commitment to social justice has a far-reaching, positive impact on them personally, and impacts their work across CEHD and the University. Owen also delivers anti-oppression training on campus and in the community, is a member of the Campus Climate Engagement Team, and a community activist.
Clayton Cook, John W. and Nancy E. Peyton Faculty Fellow in Child and Adolescent Wellbeing and associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program, and his colleagues from the University of Washington have recently been awarded two grants by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).
The second, Cook is a co-project investigator on with a colleague from the University of Washington. The four-year, $1.4 million project, Development of RELATE (Relationships to Enhance Learners’ Adjustment to Transitions and Engagement), focuses on developing and testing an intervention that builds off Cook’s research on the Establish-Maintain-Restore approach to promote teacher-student relationships. Specifically, RELATE will be developed and pilot tested as a dropout prevention strategy for 9th grade students as they transition into high school—a critical transitional period that is associated with the greatest amount of students dropping out of school.
Congratulations to Dr. Cook and his colleagues on the recognition and support of this important work!
University of Minnesota Alum Ashley Landers Lace won the best dissertation award at the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy’s 2017 annual conference. This award is given by the AAMFT Research & Education Foundation to recognize scholarly achievement by recent graduates whose research study related to couples and family therapy or family therapy training.
Lace, an assistant professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State College (Virginia Tech or VPI), graduated with a Ph.D. in Family Social Science in 2016. During her U of M academic career, she was honored with a President’s Student Leadership and Service Award, a M. Janice Hogan Fellowship, a Family Process Institute’s New Writers Fellowship, and a Waller Summer Fellowship (twice), as well as a AAMFT Graduate Student Research Award from American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Her peer-reviewed presentations included national and regional conferences on child welfare, the impact of trauma on relationships, and diversity. Following graduation she served a post doc at the University of Calgary.
The Advisory Committee for Military Personnel Testing exists within the Office of the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness. The committee’s duties vary over time, but the primary focus is on the design, development, and validation research of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and related tests, including non-cognitive assessments addressing readiness for military life.
According to Rodriguez, “These assessments serve important roles in the identification, selection, and placement of individuals interested in serving in any of the six branches of the military or seeking military careers.”
In addition to its work developing and evaluating tests for the armed services, the committee reviews the efforts of the ASVAB Career Exploration Program used by many high schools across the nation. The program provides free access to many resources for students, parents, and educators—including the aptitude test, interest assessment, and career exploration tools.
Professor Marlene Stum was honored by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Board on Human Sciences, Inc. (BoHS) Monday. The Board on Human Sciences Awards are annually presented to honor national leaders working to advance human sciences in higher education.
A professor in the Department of Family Social Science and Extension, Stum was the winner of the BoHS 2017 Outstanding Engagement Award. The award recognizes a campus-based or a state-level faculty member with exceptional creativity and scholarship in the development, application, and evaluation of outreach, extension, and public service programs.
Driven by a social justice perspective, Dr. Stum’s research and extension work focuses on improving financial literacy and decision-making in families facing later-in-life issues, including health care directives, transfer of personal property and inheritance decisions. Her scholarship and outreach also focuses on family dynamics and behaviors around long-term care, and her work has contributed to public and private policies impacting the long-term care risks facing the country’s aging population. Stum is an early innovator in the use of technology to increase access to the consumer information materials for various audiences.
More about the BoHS awards
The awards are part of the broader BoHS mission of advancing the intellectual integrity and stature of the human sciences at APLU-member institutions. The awards are aimed at supporting the development and stewardship of academic excellence in human sciences; advocating for visibility and leveraging resources to support human sciences research, extension and teaching programs; and educating leaders regarding the capacity of the human sciences to solve human problems.
Joan DeJaeghere, professor in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (OLPD), recently presented her new book, Educating Entrepreneurial Citizens: Neoliberalism and Youth Livelihoods, a publication resulting from the MasterCard Foundation project on youth livelihoods, to several audiences in South Africa. She presented at an author meets critic session at the Human Development and Capability Approach annual conference in Cape Town. She then presented to a group of graduate students at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, a group affiliated with the Chair for Youth Unemployment, Employability and Empowerment. Finally, she presented her work to graduate students at the Institute for Social Development at the University of Western Cape. The issue of entrepreneurship education that Joan critically takes up in the book is of great interest to scholars, practitioners and policymakers in South Africa because the government is engaging in many entrepreneurship initiatives to address unemployment and poverty.
The College’s Institute on Community Integration (ICI) has been awarded a $2.5 million “Stepping-Up Technology Implementation” grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, to develop technology tools that support the national implementation of two evidence-based web applications over the next five years. For more than 26 years, the Check & Connect intervention model has helped keep thousands of students across the country on track towards graduation. The Student Engagement Instrument (SEI) is the second web application that will be utilized in the project. SEI is a screening tool that establishes reliable and valid measures of students’ cognitive and affective engagement. This “Stepping Up” project will develop, pilot, and disseminate web-based tools (i.e., interactive web site, online professional development, manuals and guides, and other specific technology resources) that support the implementation of these two particular interventions. David R. Johnson is Principal Investigator (PI) on the project; Eileen A. Klemm will serve as Co-PI.
“We are thrilled to receive this note of confidence from our colleagues at the U.S. Department of Education,” says ICI director David R. Johnson. “The Check & Connect model is a well-established intervention that has proven to work with disengaged students. We look forward to further developing the technology support system that will enable its national implementation.”
The new project will be conducted in three phases. The first phase (years 1-2; including 3 total schools) will involve initial iterative development of the supporting technology tools. The second phase (years 3-4, involving 4 total schools) will feature a pilot program to further develop and evaluate the technology tools and resources with test sites. If approved, the team moves into the third phase (year 5, featuring 10 total schools) where they will implement and continue to evaluate the specific tools in the additional schools that will become first time end-users. A formative and summative evaluation process will be designed and implemented by an evaluation coordinator to provide continuous feedback on all project activities. A dissemination plan will also be developed as part of the project’s scope.
Check & Connect is an evidence-based mentoring intervention for K-12 students who show signs of disengagement from school and may be at risk of dropping out. At the core of the Check & Connect model is a trusting relationship between student and a dedicated mentor. Students are referred to a Check & Connect mentor when they have poor attendance, behavioral issues, and/or low grades. The mentor both advocates for and challenges students to keep education salient using systematic “Check” and “Connect” procedures. Check & Connect is the only dropout prevention intervention listed on the IES What Works Clearinghouse found to have positive effects on staying in school.
The results are produced by Best Education Degrees, whose mission is to provide information on the best schools specializing in educational degrees and to enable, empower, and enhance the careers of education professionals and education students alike.
Scholarships are available for undergraduates interested in special education.
Incoming first-year special education students are automatically considered for the Campbell Scholarship for Education. Visit the Office of Admissions scholarships page for more information on this and additional CEHD scholarships available to incoming first-year students.
Each year through 2018-19, the Schulze Future Teacher Scholars Program will award scholarships of up to $10,000 to eligible undergraduate students, including students from the special education program.
The National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) at the college’s Institute on Community Integration (ICI) has been awarded a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs to establish a National Technical Assistance Center on Inclusive Practices and Policies. The new center will be called The TIES Center: Increasing Time, Instructional Effectiveness, Engagement, and State Support for Inclusive Practices for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities. Sheryl Lazarus will be the principal investigator and Kristin Liu the co-principal investigator.
The purpose of the TIES Center is to create sustainable changes in school and district educational systems so that students with significant cognitive disabilities can fully engage in the same instructional and non-instructional activities as their general education peers while being instructed in a way that meets individual learning needs.
The TIES Center will be funded for five years, $2 million per year. Subcontractors for the TIES Center identified by NCEO are University of North Carolina Charlotte, University of North Carolina Greensboro, University of Cincinnati, CAST, University of Kentucky and the Arizona Department of Education.
“This is wonderful opportunity for NCEO and its partners to do important and exciting work on the inclusion of students with significant cognitive disabilities,” says Lazarus. Future project activities will support increased student engagement and improved learning outcomes for students with significant cognitive disabilities.
What the TIES Center Will Do
The primary outcome of the TIES Center is to improve the quality of instruction for students with significant cognitive disabilities in inclusive environments through the use of existing curriculum and instructional materials. The new center will also provide models and coaching to both general education and special education teachers to create more inclusive opportunities. In addition the TIES Center will support changes to inclusive practices and policies within partner state and local education agencies.
The TIES Center has identified five goals to support its outcomes:
Develop professional learning communities in partner state and local education agencie
Develop coaching models for implementation of resources, inclusive practices and communicative competence.
Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of existing resources.
Support parents to become partners in the practice of inclusion for students with significant cognitive disabilities.
Support systems change within the leadership of state and local education agencies for implementation of inclusive practices.
Established in 1990, NCEO is a federally-funded technical-assistance center that supports states and districts on issues related to inclusive assessments, particularly for students with disabilities, English learners (ELs) and ELs with disabilities.
The Curriculum and Instruction (CI) Library, housed in 45 Peik Hall, recently launched a new website featuring an online searchable catalogue that effectively creates a digital space for patrons to search for texts that are not available in the UMN library system. The library is the only campus space that loans children’s and adolescent literature to students, faculty, and staff.
The CI Library is one of campus’s best-kept secrets. It houses a curated collection of children’s and adolescent literature and a smaller repository of academic curricular materials and texts. Library staff can partner with instructors to work on course assignments and put course materials on reserve. Students can check out books, use the space for study or meetings. Staff are happy to give a tour to interested patrons.
“We are excited to extend our reach outside of Peik Hall with the launch of our first website,” says CI Library Coordinator, Sara Sterner. “We welcome visitors to enjoy our new digital space and visit us in person.”
The award is sponsored by the University of Minnesota’s Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost and the Women’s Center. It recognizes women faculty at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities who have achieved significant scientific accomplishments, national and international reputations, and who contribute as leaders on campus.
Up to two awards are offered per year, one in science and engineering and one in humanities, arts, and social sciences. As a recipient of a 2017 award, Koenig will receive $5,000 to support her research.
Family Social Science Assistant Professor Tim Piehler’s project, “Mindfulness Training for Juvenile Diversion Youth,” has been awarded an Institute for Translational Research in Children’s Mental Health (ITR) Collaborative Seed Grant for the 2017-2018 cycle.
The project was awarded $19,985 mico-trial grant to collaborate on an evidence-based intervention with Headway Emotional Health Services, a community mental health agency that provides pre-court juvenile diversion services for youth offenders.
These kinds of trials are an experimental design to determine the effectiveness of an intervention with the understanding that while it may not have the same effect as a full intervention, it will inform the creation of full-scale intervention program. Piehler’s collaboration with Headway will evaluate the ability of mindfulness-based skills training to impact self-control within an adolescent diversion population.
Previous trials of mindfulness training with adults provide preliminary evidence for positive effects on self-control. The proposed research will extend this work to adolescents at risk for the development of conduct disorder and associated criminality.
“Youth conduct problems, such as aggression, defiance, violence, and criminality, represent a major public health concern with substantial costs to individuals, their families, and larger society,” says Piehler. “When these behaviors escalate to the level of conduct disorder, they can be devastating not only to the youth and their families in the form of social and educational failure, but also have a far-reaching impact on mental health and education systems, juvenile justice, and social services.”
While Juvenile diversion programs serve as an important gateway in identifying youth at high risk for escalations in conduct problems, the vast majority of current diversion programming is not evidence-based, in part because there are few programs developed specifically for this population and setting.
The study will involve a randomized trial investigating an evidence-based mindfulness intervention, Learning to Breathe, (LTB) for juvenile diversion-referred youth to learn whether the intervention can help improve their self-control. The study builds upon an already active research partnership with Headway.
The study will provide critical pilot data for a federal grant submission funding a fully-powered randomized trial. The lack of available evidence-based programs for this unique population represents a substantial area of need for community-based agencies in Minnesota and nationally. With increased availability of such programming, agencies will be able to increase the effectiveness of their services and better divert youth towards prosocial pathways at this critical developmental juncture.
As part of the 2017 Claudia Parliament Distinguished Lecture, Sweitzer spoke on what every teacher and student should know about college readiness.
“It is imperative that when we use the word ‘college,’ you understand that it means any sort of post-secondary credential, certificate or degree. It is not just a 4-year liberal arts education, it’s technical schools, community colleges, and 4-year institutions.”
She continues her lecture on the importance on the shift from college for some to college for all.
“We used to hear terms like ‘that kid is college material’ as if it was some how encoded in his/her DNA, and limited to a certain number of students, often preselected by demographics.”
The annual conference provides secondary and elementary teachers the opportunity for two days of sharing, learning, and networking. The goal of MCEE is to equip Minnesotans with the economic and personal financial understanding needed to succeed in today’s complex economy. View more information on the conference.