CEHD News Children, Families & Communities

CEHD News Children, Families & Communities

FSoS Professor Emeritus to lead ambiguous loss workshop

Dr. Pauline Boss, Professor Emeritus of Family Social Science, U of M. Photo supplied.

Based on her groundbreaking research and practice, Dr. Pauline Boss, a Family Social Science professor emeritus, will outline her six guidelines for understanding ambiguous loss in a half-day workshop Thursday, May 3 in McNeal Hall on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus.

Ambiguous loss is an unclear loss and thus without resolution. Boss has developed a training framework for professionals that offer ways to help individuals, couples, and families build resiliency by finding meaning, adjusting mastery, reconstructing identity, normalizing ambivalence, revisiting attachment, and discovering new hope. She also addresses relational and contextual assessments and interventions, cultural differences regarding the need for closure, the psychological family, and self-of-the-therapist issues.

Boss’s work began with military families facing the trauma of receiving the report of a loved one “Missing in Action” during the Vietnam War and developed as she helped individuals, families and first responders cope with chronic disease and disabilities, and disasters both natural and manmade – including the Attacks of September 11th in New York City.

According to Boss, ambiguous loss represents a unique type of loss that is arguably more stressful and difficult to cope with. Situated within the context(s) of human relationships, it carries no verification of death and/or certainty that the person being lost will ever return (physically or psychologically).

These efforts have informed and continue to evolve in collaboration with other scholars and practitioners worldwide who are aligning what they do in therapy, community engagement, and research with Boss’s pioneering concepts. Boss has been among those challenging the concept of “closure” – instead she advocates family and community-based approaches that “walk alongside people in finding meaning in their experiences and pain.”

When loved ones disappear physically or suffer from an illness that takes away their memory, when families are separated by forced migrations, when loss makes no sense (suicide, homicide), or when youth are fostered, adopted, or experience parental divorce, the lens of ambiguous loss guides therapists to treat situations of loss that have no solutions and where traditional PTSD and grief therapies are insufficient.

More about the workshop

The training will be videotaped. Participants may appear in the final video as part of audience shots/or asking questions. Consent forms will be collected the day of workshop.

For more information or questions, contact Jessica McLain. To register, visit: z.umn.edu/AmbiguousLossWorkshop

(Original material for this story supplied by FSoS Associate Professor Tai Mendenhall). 

Olson delivers compelling Cornerstone Symposium Lecture

Man speaking at podium.
FSoS Professor Emeritus David Olson delivered the Cornerstone Symposium Lecture. Photo by Julie Michener.

Would you compare your marriage or current romantic relationship to the I-35 bridge collapse? That was one of Dr. David Olson’s compelling questions during his Family Social Science Cornerstone Symposium Lecture April 5.

Olson, a Family Social Science professor emeritus, used the metaphor to illustrate how PREPARE/ENRICH, a relationship assessment tool that he developed, can provide critical insights into the quality of a relationship and help couples be proactive in heading off issues that could turn into major challenges.

In his illustration, Olson outlined some of the major facts that emerged in the investigation following the I-35 bridge collapse and how close they are related to what happens when a relationship begins to degrade.

  • Lack of meaningful assessment
  • Band-aide and inadequate fixes on key structures
  • Resistance by those involved to acknowledge issues
  • Too much stress

Olson used this sobering comparison because the statistics are sobering. The divorce rate in the United States still ranges from 40 to 50 percent of all marriages with an annual cost to society of over $110 billion. Not to mention the untold impacts on family health and well-being.

These are numbers that Olson has dedicated his life to reducing. Bridging research, theory, and practice was not only the title of his Cornerstone address, it has been the theme of his career’s work defining and conducting research around his Circumplex Model of family systems.

From hockey to larger arenas

The native Minnesotan’s journey began with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Olaf College, a master’s degree in psychology from Wichita State University and a Ph.D. in Family Relations and Child Development from Penn State.

Olson said his experiences playing high school hockey illuminated his professional path to his early discoveries. Hockey helped him learn the value of diverse skills and understand the power and energy they can bring to a project.

As co-director of a longitudinal study of early marriage and family development at the National Institutes of Mental Health, he observed that there was very little information sharing between different teams of mental health researchers. They were all playing within their narrow silos and each had their own vocabulary for describing what they were learning in their research studies – even though they were all drawing from the same case studies of families.

When he began digging deeper into the work of the research teams as a whole, the dimensions that would form the conceptual foundation of the Circumplex Model of Marital and Family Systems began to emerge to him. Joining the U of M’s Department of Family Social Science in 1973, he continued his research into developing the three dimensions of the Circumplex model: cohesion, flexibility and communication.  Olson hypothesized that couples and families exhibiting balance on cohesion (closeness) and flexibility (ability to adapt) will experience fewer relationship problems and communicate better, resulting in higher levels of satisfaction.

Olson developed ten inventories/measures for research and clinical work with couples and families that assess satisfaction in a number of relationship categories and give participants insights into their relationship dynamic, commitment level, spiritual beliefs and personalities. Research around one of his assessments  ­– PREPARE (Premarital Personal and Relationship Evaluation) –  would disrupt the field of marriage and family therapy and draw widespread media attention.

Radical predictions

In the early 1980s, working with several of his doctoral students, Olson conducted a research study that demonstrated his premarital inventory could predict divorce with an accuracy rate of 80 to 86 percent.

Olson’s findings were so radical that editors at the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy wouldn’t publish the results. They asked Olson to re-do the study ­– which he did – with similar results. JMFT published the report in its October 1986 issue.

But even before the report was published, Olson’s compelling work was attracting the attention of colleagues and the media. He was invited to discuss his model at the 1985 International Congress on Families in Zurich, Switzerland, among others, and helped NBC Today Show Medical Expert Dr. Art Ulene create a 20-part series on family wellness in 1984.

Following the JMFT’s release, the New York Times highlighted his PREPARE assessment’s predictive quality more than once in articles about relationships and marriage. Geraldo Rivera featured him on his daytime talk show and Oprah brought in an entire audience of premarital couples to devote a show to PREPARE’s efficacy.

Olson himself has authored 20 books and contributed numerous chapters to colleague’s books as well as peer-reviewed articles and presentations. His relationship inventories – both for premarital and married couples – became so popular that Olson and his wife Karen founded a company (PREPARE/ENRICH) in 1980 to distribute them. Currently the relationship inventories have been translated into 12 languages and used by 2.5 million couples and families globally. Another measure, FACES (Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales) has been used in over 1,200 professional research studies.

Hope for the future

At the Cornerstone Symposium, Olson wasn’t resting on his considerable laurels. Even though he is stepping back from CEO duties as PREPARE/ENRICH transitions to its new parent company, Thrivent Financial, he was already looking forward to a new slate of initiatives that will be distributed digitally. The assessments will be available on the web and couples and families can assess their relationships on their own and access a variety of resources.

Although he believes couples are best served using his inventories in concert with a trained professional, he has faith that even with a semi-structured online version, there will be benefits.

Olson told the assembled audience that thinking and talking about their relationship is the most important thing a couple can do. They can identify their strengths and areas where they need to grow as well as improve their communication and conflict-resolution skills. He noted that balanced families have better health outcomes over the long term and that children have the strongest opportunity to grow up well-adjusted.

Olson said he’s a believer in prevention because without regular maintenance and care ­– marriages and relationships – just like the I-35 Bridge – can experience catastrophic failure.

 

 

Students and professors travel widely for presentations and awards

A professor and student.
Associate Professor Susan Walker and Ph.D. student Seonghee Hong. Photo by Julie Michener.

Susan Walker, associate professor, and Seonghee Hong, a Ph.D. student in Family Social Science, will receive the Family & Consumer Sciences Research Journal Best Paper Award in Family and Consumer Sciences Education for 2017.

The award will be presented at the 109th Annual Conference of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) in Atlanta in June. D

The paper, “Workplace Predictors of Parenting Educators’ Technology Acceptance Attitudes,” was published in the June 2017 issue of FCSRJ.

The AAFCS Best Paper award recognizes work for the importance and originality of the topic; strength of the methodology and results; and the potential for a lasting contribution to family and consumer science. AAFCS is the only national not-for-profit 501(c) (3) organization that provides leadership and support to family and consumer science professionals in education, research, business, and not-for-profit organizations.

The pair are among a number of Family Social Science professors and graduate students traveling this spring. Graduate students receiving travel grants include:

Sarah Burcher

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the Society for Prevention Research and the American Council on Consumer Interests in May.

Dan Cooper

Ruth E. Hall Fund for the IFTA World Family Therapy Congress in March.

Noah Gagner

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the Annual Conference International Family Therapy Association in March.

Renada Goldberg

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the 2018 Work Family Research Network Conference in June.

And

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the International Conference on Working with Involuntary Clients in May.

Heather Hessel

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the Society for Research on Adolescence in April.

Hailey Holmgren

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the Society for Research on Adolescence Conference in April.

Angela Holth Keyzers

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the Society for Research on Adolescence Conference in April.

Sun-Kyung
Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the Society for Research on Adolescence Conference in April.

And

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the American Educational Research Association in April.

Quin Morrow

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the Society for Research on Adolescence Biennial Meeting in April.

Jingchen Zhang

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the Society for Research on Adolescence in April and the Society for Prevention Research in May.

Na Zhang

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the Society for Prevention Research in May.

New book highlights Medical Family Therapy practices and applications

Book cover FSoS Professor Tai Mendenhall is among a team of editors of the new book, Clinical Methods in Medical Family Therapy that outlines research-informed practices and applications of Medical Family Therapy (MedFT) across a range environments and clinical populations. This comprehensive resource is for any behavioral health student, trainee, or professional seeking to understand and gain skills requisite for entering the healthcare workforce.

University of Minnesota faculty, alumni, students and community partners were among the collaborators for the book, including Professor Bill Doherty (Family Social Science) and Dr. Macaran Baird (Family Medicine & Community Health).

Family Social Science Alumni included:

  • Jerica Berge
  • Diego Garcia-Huidobro
  • Stephanie Trudeau
  • Lisa Trump
  • Katharine (“Kit”) Didericksen
  • Cigdem Yumbul
  • Max Zubatsky

University of Minnesota Community Partners included:

  • Jonathan Bundt
  • Rosanne Kassekert
  • Elizabeth (“Nan”) LittleWalker

Mendelhall also engaged two FSoS Undergrads in copy-editing and manuscript-prep: Therese Nichols (now an alumni) and Catherine Futoransky.

The book was written to be applicable for a wide variety of healthcare disciplines, including family therapy, counseling nursing, medicine, psychology and social work.

FSoS professor to be featured on BBC

Left to right: Professor/Facilitator Bill Doherty, BBC Senior Producer Anisa Subedar, Session Participant Deborah Mosby and Videographer Natalia Zuo. Photo by Julie Michener.

FSoS Professor Bill Doherty welcomed a BBC documentary crew into his home last Thursday. His work helping communities bridge the political divide attracted the attention of Anisa Subedar, a senior producer for BBC Trending. She asked Bill if he could do a one on one version of the community group sessions he facilitates for the national non-profit, Better Angels. Doherty connected with Minnesotans Deborah Mosby and Tom Chamberlain who agreed to work with him on camera.  Subedar and Natalia Zuo, a video journalist, also taped a lecture Doherty delivered the previous evening. While in Minnesota they also enjoyed Matt’s Juicy Lucys and visited Paisley Park.

Educational Psychology presents 15 times at CRIEI

Faculty, researchers, and students across the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology, special education, and quantitative methods in education programs presented 15 times at this year’s Conference on Research Innovations in Early Intervention (CRIEI).

The event was held in San Diego, California on March 1-3 2018 and showcased new research on interventions for young children with disabilities or those at risk for developmental delays and their families. Posters from the event are on display throughout the Education Sciences Building.

 Posters presentations

  • Integrating and Sustaining Evidence Based Practices in the Community: A LENA Start™ Example

*Marianne Elmquist, *Erin Lease, and Scott McConnell

  • Measuring and Evaluating Team-Based Problem Solving: A Means for Crossing the “Data Use” Chasm?

LeAnne Johnson, *Andrea Ford, *Maria Hugh, and *Brenna Rudolph

  • Developing a Prosocial Teacher Rating Scale for Universal Screening in Preschool and Kindergarten

Kristen Missall, Scott McConnell, Salloni Nanda, and Ellina Xiong

  • Investigating the Psychometric and Content Characteristics of Common Items Across Languages: Spanish and English Picture Naming Early Literacy Assessments

*Qinjun Wang, *Jose Palma, Alisha Wackerle-Hollman, and Michael Rodriquez

  • Investigating the Relationship between Performance Variation in an Early Comprehension Task and Student Demographic Background

*Kelsey Will, *Qinjun Wang, *Erin Lease, and Alisha Wackerle-Hollman

  • Measuring Child Engagement: What’s in a Definition?

Veronica Fleury, *Pang Xiong, *Maria Hugh, and *Andrea Ford

  • What’s in a Name: Exploring Children’s Alternate Responses to Picture Naming

Alisha Wackerle-Hollman, Robin Hojnoski, Kristen Missall, Scott McConnell, Elizabeth Boyd, and Sana Hussein

  • Translating Evidence-Based Practices into Routine Practices with Young Children with Autism

*Andrea Ford, LeAnne Johnson, and Veronica Fleury

  • Measuring and Defining Engagement for Young Children with Developmental Disabilities During Free Play: A Systematic Review.

*Maria Hugh, Veronica Fleury, and LeAnne Johnson

  • Online Learning Environments for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A statewide perspective on implications and issues for early identification and service delivery.

*Maci Spica and LeAnne Johnson

  • Progress Monitoring in Early Childhood Special Education: In Search of Current Trends & Future Needs

*Brenna Rudolph & *Maria Hugh

Panel presentations

  • Child Engagement: Defining, Measuring, Analyzing, and Other Issues of the Chicken and Egg Sort

LeAnne Johnson, Robin McWilliam, and Kevin Sutherland

  • Battling Pseudoscientific approaches to “Treating” Autism: The Role of the Research Scientist

Veronica Fleury, Ilene Schwartz, and Elizabeth Pokorski

  • How long Do We Have? Speeding Development and Deployment of Meaningful Solutions

Scott McConnell, Charles Greenwood, Jomella Thompson-Watson

  • Classroom Quality for Dual Language Learners and the Relationship to Growth in English and Spanish

Lillian Duran, Alisha Wackerle-Hollman, and Maria Cristina Limlingan

 

*Denotes current or past student

Bolded names denote Educational Psychology faculty, staff or researchers

School psych Ph.D. student awarded fellowship to prevent child abuse and neglect

Sophia Frank, Ph.D. student in the school psychology program in the Department of Educational Psychology, has been awarded a Doris Duke Fellowship for the Promotion of Child Well-being from the University of Chicago.

The fellowship recognizes emerging leaders capable of creating practice and policy initiatives that will enhance child development and improve the national ability to prevent all forms of child maltreatment.

Frank will receive an annual stipend of $30,000 for up to two years to support her dissertation and related research with her advisor John W. and Nancy E. Peyton Faculty Fellow in Child and Adolescent Wellbeing and Associate Professor Clayton Cook.

Frank was one of only 15 doctoral students across the country to receive the fellowship.

FSoS PhD student to present a regional conference

a graduate student.
Family Social Science Ph.D. student Gretchen Buchanan.

PhD student Gretchen Buchanan will be presenting at the 2018 Integrated Behavioral Healthcare Conference, April 27, at the Minneapolis Marriott Southwest in Minnetonka.

She will present, “Challenging Patients, Compassion Fatigue, Burnout, and Self-Care: A Workshop for Everyone in Integrated Behavioral Healthcare.”

The presentation is based on a series of staff trainings Buchanan conducted when she was a behavioral health clinician at a Twin Cities integrated health care clinic.

The clinic was unique in that it was a referral-based clinic for specifically patients with severe, chronic mental health and medical issues, a population that could be challenging.  Buchanan assisted staff with strategies and techniques to manage stressful situations and difficult conversations as well as strategies for self-care and self-management.

FSoS PhD student and professor to be honored at national conference

A professor and student.
Associate Professor Susan Walker and Ph.D. student Seonghee Hong. Photo by Julie Michener.

Susan Walker, associate professor, and Seonghee Hong, a Ph.D. student in Family Social Science, will receive the Family & Consumer Sciences Research Journal Best Paper Award in Family and Consumer Sciences Education for 2017.

The award will be presented at the 109th Annual Conference of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) in Atlanta in June. Dr. Sharon DeVaney, editor of FCSRJ, will present the award.

The paper, “Workplace Predictors of Parenting Educators’ Technology Acceptance Attitudes,” was published in the June 2017 issue of FCSRJ.

The AAFCS Best Paper award recognizes work for the importance and originality of the topic; strength of the methodology and results; and the potential for a lasting contribution to family and consumer science.

In their article, Walker and Hong investigated the technology adoption of non-formal parenting educators in Minnesota. They found that attitudes toward technology use was directly related to the perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness of the technology. They recommended that organizations that employ parenting educators foster a climate that encourages technology use and provide ongoing and effective training.

The Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal publishes original research in all areas of family and consumer sciences. AAFCS, the sponsoring organization of the journal, is the only national not-for-profit 501(c) (3) organization that provides leadership and support to family and consumer science professionals in education, research, business, and not-for-profit organizations.

In Reuters, Masten discusses importance of supportive relationships in adulthood

Dr. Ann Masten
Dr. Ann Masten

In an article in Reuters, Ann Masten, Ph.D., a professor in the Institute of Child Development, commented on new research that found that child abuse survivors have a lower risk of dying prematurely if they have strong, supportive relationships in adulthood.

For the new study, published in Nature Human Behavior, Northwestern University researchers and colleagues analyzed data for 6,078 adults who were 47 years old on average. According to the data, 2,883 reported experiencing emotional abuse as children, 1,594 reported moderate physical abuse, and 695 said they experienced severe physical abuse. Across the next 20 years, 17 percent of participants died.

The findings showed that participants who survived severe physical abuse were 19 percent less likely to die during the study period if they had supportive relationships during adulthood. Survivors of moderate physical abuse were 12 percent less likely, and survivors of emotional abuse were 11 percent less likely. The findings suggest that supportive relationships in adulthood may help buffer or reverse negative health effects caused by abuse experienced during childhood, the researchers said.

According to Masten, who wrote an accompanying editorial to the study, “toxic stress” caused by abuse or other traumatic events can impact brain development and lead to medical issues like heart problems, premature cellular aging, obesity, or depression, among others.

“Adult survivors of child abuse can cultivate and invest in supportive relationships through enduring ties to friends and family, cultural and religious practices, community engagement and many other social activities,” Masten said. “They can also keep an eye on their own mental health, getting early treatment for signs of trauma, depression, substance use problems or suicidal thinking.”

Introduction to Prevention Science to be offered online

An introduction to prevention science will be offered online summer session 2018.

The Department of Family Social Science will offer an introduction to Prevention Science course online during the 2018 summer session, May 21-August 17.

The course, “Prevention Science: Principles and Practices,” (FSoS 5701, class number 88756) is open to graduate-level students. Undergraduate and nontraditional students may take the course with the instructor’s permission. Registration opens March 1 and ends May 25, the Friday following the first day of class.

This course is an excellent introduction to prevention science concepts and methods and will cover foundations for strategic interventions to prevent behavioral problems and promote healthy development, as well as trends and best practices in the discipline.

Prevention Science is a multi-disciplinary comprehensive approach to identify how best to promote the well-being of diverse families and communities by bridging research and practice. Learn more about Prevention Science.

Current prevention science research being conducted at the U of M includes preventing antisocial behavior and drug abuse, developing evidence-based parenting programs and education, supporting healthy development in at-risk populations, and exploring the value of mentor-based interventions.

For more information

Contact Instructor Kristen Johnson or visit OneStop.

CEHD collaborates with Harvard Graduate School of Education

Reflection Sciences founders Stephanie Carlson, Ph.D., and Philip Zelazo, Ph.D., are professors in CEHD’s Institute of Child Development

Reflection Sciences, a Minnesota start-up founded by two CEHD professors, is teaming up with researchers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to understand how children develop in both formal and informal child care settings through measures of early learning.

Founded in 2014 by Institute of Child Development professors Stephanie Carlson, Ph.D., and Phil Zelazo, Ph.D., Reflection Sciences provides professional development, training, and tools for assessing and improving executive function skills. Executive function is the set of neurocognitive functions that help the brain organize and act on information. These functions help us pay attention, control behavior, and think flexibly – skills that are key for school readiness.

Through the new collaboration, researchers will be able to track the development of executive function skills over the course of childhood and beyond using Reflection Sciences’ Minnesota Executive Function Scale (MEFS™) App. The MEFS App is a scientifically valid and reliable game-like tablet measure of executive function for ages 2 and up.

“The research literature clearly points to the critical role that early executive function plays in children’s academic and social success, so we need to make sure the study effectively captures children’s skills in this area,” said co-principal investigator Stephanie Jones, Ph.D., a professor of education at Harvard. “MEFS combines the strength of a trusted measure of executive function with the power of big data, allowing us to view the findings from our study within the context of the thousands of other children who have used the app.”

For the Early Learning Study at Harvard, which is supported by the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative and led by Jones and Nonie Lesaux, Ph.D., researchers will follow a sample of 5,000 randomly selected families with children ages 3 and 4 years from more than 100 communities throughout Massachusetts. An estimated 40 percent of the children are in an informal childcare setting, such as family care; the other 60 percent are enrolled in a formal setting, such as an early childhood education center. Across four years, researchers will document each child’s early learning experiences and measure outcomes including language, executive function, and academic and social-emotional skills.

This study aims to address important questions about how formal and informal early learning environments impact learning outcomes and developmental gains. The researchers hope to achieve a better understanding of which early education features have the greatest benefits for children, which models of Pre-K work best, why they work, for whom they work, and under what conditions. The team hopes their findings will inform public policy efforts and decisions regarding opportunities and challenges facing early childhood education.

“The Early Learning Study at Harvard is setting the standard for research on early childhood education practices and we are delighted to be able to help them achieve results using our measure,” Carlson said.

ICD researchers find early childhood program linked to degree completion

Arthur Reynolds, Ph.D.
Arthur Reynolds, Ph.D.

Participating in an intensive early childhood education program from preschool to third grade is linked to higher educational attainment in mid-life, according to a new study by researchers in CEHD’s Institute of Child Development (ICD).

The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, tracked the progress of more than 1,500 children from low-income neighborhoods in Chicago, from the time they entered preschool in 1983 and 1984 in Child-Parent Centers (CPC) until roughly 30 years later. The children were part of the Chicago Longitudinal Study, one of the longest-running follow-ups of early childhood intervention.

“Children from low-income families are less likely to attend college than their higher-income peers,” said lead author Arthur J. Reynolds, Ph.D., a professor in ICD and director of the Chicago Longitudinal Study. “A strong system of educational and family supports in a child’s first decade is an innovative way to improve educational outcomes leading to greater economic well-being. The CPC program provides this.”

The JAMA Pediatrics study is the first of a large-scale public program to assess impacts on mid-life educational attainment and the contributions of continuing services in elementary school. The study’s co-authors include Suh-Ruu Ou and Judy A. Temple of the University of Minnesota’s Human Capital Research Collaborative.

For the study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the researchers followed the progress of 989 graduates of the Chicago Public School District’s CPC program, which provided intensive instruction in reading and math from preschool through third grade as part of a school reform model.

The program provides small classes, intensive learning experiences, menu-based parent involvement, and professional development. The children’s parents received job skills training, parenting skills training, educational classes and social services. They also volunteered in their children’s classrooms, assisted with field trips, and attended parenting support groups.

The authors compared the educational outcomes of those children to the outcomes of 550 children from low-income families who attended other early childhood intervention programs in the Chicago area. The researchers collected information on the children from administrative records, schools and families, from birth through 35 years of age. More than 90 percent of the original sample had available data on educational attainment.

On average, CPC graduates—whether they participated in preschool only, or through second or third grade—completed more years of education than those who participated in other programs.

For children who received an intervention in preschool, those in the CPC group were more likely to achieve an associate’s degree or higher (15.7 percent vs. 10.7 percent), a bachelor’s degree (11.0 percent vs. 7.8 percent), or a master’s degree (4.2 percent vs. 1.5 percent). These differences translate to a 47 percent increase in an earned associate’s degree and a 41 percent increase in an earned bachelor’s degree.

CPC graduates through second or third grade showed even greater gains: a 48 percent increase in associate’s degree or higher and a 74 percent increase for bachelor’s degree or higher.

“Every child deserves a strong foundation for a successful future, and this report provides more concrete, compelling evidence that investments in early childhood education pay dividends for decades,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Chicago is expanding access to early childhood education so every child, regardless of their zip code or parents’ income, can have the building blocks for a lifetime of success.”

According to the study’s authors, successful early childhood programs not only may lead to higher adult educational achievement, but also to improved health. The authors note that adults with less education are more likely to adopt unhealthy habits like smoking and to experience high blood pressure, obesity, and mental health problems than those who complete more schooling.

“This study shows that a well run early childhood intervention program can have benefits well into adult life,” said James Griffin, Ph.D., Deputy Chief of the Child Development Branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health.

In previous studies, the researchers showed that CPC program participants have attained higher incomes, and experienced lower rates of serious crime, incarceration, and depression than participants of other programs. CPC has also shown a return on investment: cost-benefit analyses have shown economic returns of 7 to 10 dollars per dollar invested.

The CPC program expanded beyond Chicago beginning in 2012. The program is now also in parts of Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

Funding for the study is from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. To read the full research paper titled, “A Multicomponent, Preschool to Third Grade Preventive Intervention and Educational Attainment at 35 Years of Age,” visit the JAMA Pediatrics website.

Koenig comments on helping children think critically

Melissa Koenig
Melissa Koenig, Ph.D.

Melissa Koenig, Ph.D., a professor in the Institute of Child Development, recently published a commentary in NBC News Think on how we can help children think critically in the era of “fake news.”

Koenig collaborated with Valerie Tiberius, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Philosophy Department at the University of Minnesota, on the piece.

In the commentary, Koenig and Tiberius discuss recent child development research that shows that young children are able to identify false information without prior training and that children prefer to learn from those who are familiar, dominant, or attractive.

According to Koenig and Tiberius, this research suggests that “children would benefit from seeing their culturally favored sources — parents, teachers, family, clergy, political leaders — admit to the limits of their knowledge, openly discuss their mistakes, profess their doubts and make their uncertainty clear.”

Family Social Science Cornerstone Symposium highlights professor’s contributions to improve marital relationships

Professor Emeritus David Olson will deliver the 2018 Cornerstone Symposium lecture Thursday, April 5, at 4 p.m. in the McNamara Alumni Center. The event is free and open to the public. RSVP online at: z.umn.edu/cornerstone2018.

Doctor David Olson
Professor Emeritus David Olson will deliver the FSoS Cornerstone Symposium lecture April 5.

One of the pioneers in couple and marriage therapy, Olson will discuss how he bridged research, theory, and practice to create the pioneering Circumplex Model, a systemic model based on three major relationship dimensions: cohesion, flexibility, and communication. Used in a variety of settings with couples and families, the assessment provides diagnostic information that is useful for treatment planning, clinical intervention, and assessing the clinical outcome. The model has been used as the foundation for more than 1,000 research studies worldwide.

He joined the University’s Department of Family Social Science faculty in 1973, and served as Director of Graduate Programs from 1973-1987.  He also served as acting head of the Department in 1989. He conducted research studies of health family systems, marital and family conflict, premarital preparation and marriage enrichment programs, mediation approaches to child custody, and family treatment of alcoholism and drug abuse. He has written or edited over 20 books and published more than 100 articles. He currently serves on the editorial boards of six family journals.

Founder and former CEO of Prepare/Enrich (Life Innovations), Olson created a simplified version of his assessment that has been used with over 4 million premarital and married couples around the globe to improve the health and resilience of their relationships.

He is a fellow of the American Association for Marital and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and the American Psychological Association. He has served as president of the National Council on Family Relations and the Upper Midwest Association for Marriage and Family Therapists. He was honored by both AAMFT and the American Family Therapy Association with Distinguished Contributions to Family Therapy Research Awards, as well as the University of Minnesota’s Legacy and Research Excellence Awards.

Olson was honored with Professor Emeritus status in 2001. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Olaf College, a master’s in psychology from Wichita State University, and his doctoral degree from Penn State.

More about Family Social Science

The Department of Family Social Science is in the College of Education + Human Development. Formed in 1970, the Department of Family Social Science features academic programs that are future-focused, comprehensive, and transdisciplinary. FSoS scholars not only discover new knowledge, they are committed to collaborating with families, communities, and agencies to identify challenges and create evidence-based solutions. Its multi-disciplinary focus in a research-intensive institution makes it distinctive and unique.

 

Gov. Dayton names Dec. 8 “Vanessa Goodthunder Day” after C&I student for her work on Dakota language advocacy

Vanessa Goodthunder and Mark Dayton
Vanessa Goodthunder (left) and her mother present Gov. Dayton with a star quilt.

Vanessa Goodthunder, an M.Ed. candidate in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and has gone on to make major strides in tribal issues advocacy and language revitalization in Minnesota and beyond. Governor Mark Dayton heard Goodthunder speak about her work to revitalize the Dakota language and asked her to serve as assistant to the chief of staff focusing on tribal issues, reports the Redwood Falls Gazette.

“During the seven months I was in the governor’s office I learned a lot about government and what it means to be a leader,” said Goodthunder. “I never imagined I would work in government, and even though the role was a short one I think I was able to make a difference for the tribes.”

Dayton recognized her work by declaring December 8 as Vanessa Goodthunder Day in Minnesota. Gooddthunder tweeted in response to the honor, “Happy Vanessa Goodthunder Day in the State of Minnesota. Pidamayaye Governors Office for helping me grow my confidence in my voice and perspective. I’m so honored to have been on this team and now to help open up a 0-3 Dakota Immersion School at the Lower Sioux Community. Wopida.”

Goodthunder will continue her work in the Lower Sioux Indian Community as director of the Head Start program where she received a $1.9 million grant to launch an early childhood Dakota language immersion aimed at revitalizing the Dakota language.

In addition, Goodthunder, helped to launch a Dakota language app with a grant from the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, which is expected to be launched publicly this year, according the Star Tribune.

“My language is part of me,” she said. “Without it I am not whole.”

Read the more about Goodthunder in the Redwood Falls Gazette.

Learn more about the M.Ed. and teacher licensure programs in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

FSoS professor launches last doctoral advisee

Corey Yeager and Bill Doherty.
L to r: Ph.D. candidate Corey Yeager and FSoS Professor Bill Doherty. Photo by Julie Michener.

Family Social Science doctoral candidate Corey Yeager successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation in a mid-December session attended by a supportive crowd of faculty, friends and family. But the most unique facet of Yeager’s doctoral candidacy is the distinction of being Professor Bill Doherty’s last advisee.

Doherty, who joined the Department of Family Social Science in 1986, says he  will continue to serve on graduate student committees, but he feels he’s at an age where taking on new students for the doctoral degree process (normally around five-years) would not be a good idea for the student.

“I couldn’t be more delighted that Corey was my final student,” said Doherty. “He learned and grew tremendously, and is already making wonderful contributions to the practice and theory of family social science.”

Doherty says Yeager is a prime example of the Department of Family Social Science’s focus on developing community partnerships.  That’s a big change he’s noticed over his 30 years of advising doctoral candidates. They enter the program seeking to understand the bigger picture of issues affecting families across the lifespan, and finding their unique research path to make an impact.

He has also observed that some candidates often must cope with the anxiety of their family and community about their doctoral ambitions.  “Especially in communities of color, there’s apprehension that if someone gets their doctoral degree, they’ll abandon their community,” said Doherty. “That’s not true with Corey—he’s thoroughly engaged.”

Addressing community challenges

Yeager has worked since 2013 in Minneapolis Public Schools’ Office of Black Male Student Achievement (OBMSA) that addresses the achievement gap in the district’s black male students – the largest demographic group in the district.

He steps into a new role as Educational Equity Director that will focus on professional development for administrators, teachers, and support staff to address the gap. According to OBMSA, black male students lag behind their white male counterparts in every achievement indicator, and have a 39 percent high school graduation rate, compared to white male students’ 65 percent.

“My graduate work and the ability to access, understand, and use meaningful research to support OMBSA’s work has been very helpful,” said Yeager.

As part of his doctoral work, Yeager and Doherty collaborated with black male students at South High School to create the “Relationship Project.” Using the framework Doherty has developed with his Families and Democracy Project, the two researchers listened and learned from the young men, who chose to work on improving their relationships with teachers and their female peers as a way to address their achievement gap.

The two helped the young men improve their communication skills to interview teachers and learn more about them, while the students organized a peer panel of young women to understand the behaviors they display that create discomfort, and what they could do better. Yeager says the work has been powerful for all involved and achieved positive results for the students.

Communities as co-producers

Doherty says this democratic approach builds credibility and trust with individuals, families and partnering organizations.  He has spent his career honing this framework that recognizes a community as a base of both knowledge and action.

The temptation of academia he says, is to go into a partnership with a top down mindset as the “expert deliverer of new knowledge.”

“But when you access both the academic knowledge and the knowledge that resides in those communities – that’s dynamite,” he says. Being able to implement that kind of approach requires developing communication and facilitation skills that foster open community engagement.

“Never start with a powerpoint,” says Doherty. Doherty advises dialogue – ask those in the room to share what they know, what they’ve observed, and how they feel about the issue at hand.

“I call it ‘being on tap’ rather than ‘being on top,’” he says. “The dialogue builds trust and appreciation for listening and we – the academics – become resources.”

Yeager expressed his own appreciation for Doherty’s mentorship in attaining his doctoral degree.

“Dr. Doherty was a guide, trainer, motivator, therapist and confidant for me through this doctoral journey,” he said. “I am ever indebted to him and will work diligently to repay him for all he has become to me…”

Learn more

You can learn more about Professor Doherty’s work at the Citizen Professional Center site.

Project to help first responders wins MN-REACH grant

Professor Tai Mendenhall.
Tai Mendenhall, professor of Family Social Science.

Family Social Science Associate Professor Tai Mendenhall’s project to help first responders, called “Preventing Compassion Fatigue in Disaster-Responders: Advancing and Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Mobile Self Care App,” has been selected for MN-Reach funding.

The University of Minnesota launched MN-REACH in 2015 to help researchers with new health-related discoveries navigate the complex path(s) from laboratory to market. MN-REACH is also one of three sites in the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hubs.

Mendenhall is principal investigator (PI) on a team that created a self-care app for trauma-responders, the UMN Responder Self-Care App. In 2012, providers and researchers from the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, Academic Health Center (Office of Emergency Preparedness), and Department of Family Social Science collaborated with colleagues at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to develop the innovative self-care app for emergency responders in-the-field.  They pilot-tested an early version of the app with volunteer members of the UMN’s Medical Reserve Corps (Behavioral-, Biomedical-, Veterinary-, and other teams) and MDH.

“These volunteers assisted us with understanding their use-cases, so that we can refine and revise this early version across both content and organization,” said Mendenhall, who earned his Ph.D. in Family Social Science at the U of M in 2003. “We are now working toward widespread use and rigorous (randomized) empirical testing.  This is very timely and important work!”

Mendenhall’s co-investigators include Andrew Morrow, in the U of M’s Office for Technology Commercialization, and two professionals from the MDH’s Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response: Nancy Carlson, a doctoral student who also works as a behavioral health and community resilience program coordinator, and Tom Garcia, a medical countermeasures planner.

The interactive smartphone app (available for iOS and Android) engages responders in a variety of ways before, during, and after deployments. The personally-customizable tool serves to promote and aid responders’ attention to their own physical, emotional, and social well-being.

High stress – high risk 

Disaster-responders are already a high-risk group for compassion fatigue and – paired with the high-risk nature of fieldwork, itself – they are also at high-risk to become impaired. This puts both providers and the families they serve at risk. A 2016 Survey conducted by the National EMS Management Association (NEMA) described in detail the current needs of the responder community, including a call to action: “There is a significant mental health and wellness problem among the EMS workforce in the United States. Insufficient data exists to fully describe the extent and impact of this problem across the 800,000+ professionals that serve around the clock each day.”

Currently organizations address compassion fatigue during after-action processing and/or debriefing sequences, which do not sufficiently address the personal health and well-being of responders. This gap is partly connected to the cultures of medical education, law-enforcement, and emergency services institutions (e.g., rigid hierarchies between classes and specializations, long working hours, and an ethos that does not support or encourage asking for help or appearing vulnerable).

The risks associated with compassion fatigue have personal consequences for emergency responders, including physical and mental illnesses, relationship stress, and professional consequences for the individuals and families that disaster response personnel serve (ranging from missing important cues, to ineffective teamwork and/or straightforward medical errors).

“The opportunity to use the UMN Responder Self-Care App in real-time – privately or in coordination with assigned team-members – will help responders with self-care during times when doing so is most needed, while also capturing much needed data to support long-term research so crucial in this field,” said Mendenhall.

Early development of the UMN Responder Self-Care App was supported by University of Minnesota: Simulations, Exercises, and Effective Education (U-SEE) funding to investigate the effectiveness of public health preparedness training methods with the goal of developing training models that build system capacity.

Masten discusses resilience in Monitor on Psychology

Dr. Ann Masten
Dr. Ann Masten

Ann S. Masten, Ph.D., Regents Professor and Irving B. Harris Professor of Child Development in the Institute of Child Development (ICD), was recently featured in an article appearing in the September 2017 issue of the American Psychological Association’s Monitor on Psychology.

The article, “Maximizing children’s resilience,” by Kirsten Weir, highlighted new research that examines how to foster resilience in children and adolescents and the importance of early intervention.

According to Masten, the field has shifted from focusing on traits of resilient individuals to looking at resilience from a systems perspective. For example, Masten, along with other researchers, have found that having supportive relationships, including with parents or primary caregivers, is important for healthy development.

“The resilience of an individual depends on drawing resources from many other systems,” Masten says. “A child is embedded in interactions with friends, family, community. The way those other systems are functioning plays a huge role in the capacity of that child to overcome adversity.”

ICD professor, graduate student present research on mindfulness in education

ICD Professor Philip D. Zelazo delivering a keynote address at the Mindfulness in Education Summer Institute.

Philip D. Zelazo, Ph.D., a Nancy M. and John E. Lindahl Professor in the Institute of Child Development (ICD), and Andrei Semenov, a child psychology doctoral student in ICD, recently presented at the Mindfulness in Education Summer Institute.

The summer institute is a community event hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing. The 3-day event aimed to bring together teachers, researchers, clinicians, and practitioners to discuss mindfulness research and ways to promote practices that support wellbeing in school communities.

For the event, Zelazo delivered a keynote address that focused on how mindfulness practice has been shown to promote reflection and executive functions in children and adults.

Semenov’s presentation highlighted findings from curriculum evaluation conducted this past year. The novel curriculum, developed in collaboration with the Center for Spirituality and Healing, introduced mindfulness practice to a cohort of elementary school teachers in an effort to improve teacher wellbeing and promote mindful approaches to student-teacher interactions.