CEHD News Human Development

CEHD News Human Development

Social Work student selected as Congressional Intern

Ravyn Gibbs
Ravyn Gibbs

Ravyn Gibbs, an M.S.W./M.P.H. student, was selected for the 2018 Udall Foundation Native American Congressional Internship Program. She will be interning with the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

Gibbs is Anishinaabe. She is an enrolled member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa and a direct descendant of the Red Lake Nation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology from the University of Minnesota Duluth and is enrolled the dual-degree master’s program in social work and public health at the University of Minnesota. She works at the American Indian Cancer Foundation as a graduate research assistant. After graduation, she intends to advocate for and develop policies that positively impact the health and well-being of American Indian communities. During the internship, Gibbs hopes to gain insight and better understanding of how federal policy is developed and its relationship with tribal sovereignty and tribal development.

The Udall interns will complete an intensive, 9-week internship in the summer of 2018 in Washington, D.C. Special enrichment activities will provide opportunities to meet with key decision makers. From 1996 through 2018, 267 Native American and Alaska Native students from 120 Tribes will have participated in the program. Seven Udall interns have been students at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

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.

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.”

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.

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.”

Minnesota gathers to address social emotional learning at Educational Equity in Action II

Attendees visit in between sessions at Educational Equity in Action.

On June 20 and 21, roughly 500 of Minnesota’s education leaders, researchers, policy makers, and nonprofit organizations gathered at Educational Equity in Action II. This was the second convening hosted by the University of Minnesota. Its focus: improving educational equity by “Working across schools and communities to enhance social emotional learning.”

Opening keynote

Brokenleg leads a small group discussion following his keynote.

Dr. Martin Brokenleg, Co-author of the book Reclaiming Youth at Risk: Our Hope for the Future and co-developer of the Circle of Courage model, explained that trauma from oppression, like that experienced by the American Indian community, can span generations.

“Our culture is plagued by intergenerational trauma,” said Brokenleg, whose mother’s family was among those imprisoned at Fort Snelling. He cited the incredibly high suicide rate among Native people, especially in the 18-30 age group, and among people in Ireland and Scotland after generations of oppression by the British, whose methods not coincidentally were adopted by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. “We’ve had a normal human reaction to an abnormal history.”

Brokenleg described his Circle of Courage model which supports character building or “teaching the heart” through generosity, belonging, independence, and mastery. Brokenleg finished his talk with practical strategies from Circle of Courage attendees could take back to their schools and communities to help young people—especially those suffering from intergenerational trauma—learn and grow.

Plenary

Members of Rodriguez’s Minnesota Youth Development (MYDRG)

Dr. Michael Rodriguez, professor of educational psychology at the University of Minnesota, Jim and Carmen Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development, and co-director of the Educational Equity Resource Center and the covening, led a plenary discussion on the results of the Minnesota Student Survey (MSS).

Rodriguez explained, although  at a high-level the MSS tells a positive story about the developmental skills and supports of Minnesota youth, a closer look at the data demonstrates the reality of the inequities some students experience in Minnesota’s education system. This is particularly apparent for students identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB); students who skip school; students who receive disciplinary action in school; and students who have experienced trauma.

“Ninety-nine percent of our youth say their goal is to graduate from high school—and 65 to 85 percent across demographic groups also want to go to college,” said Rodriguez. “That’s a lot higher than our state’s high school graduation goal for them, which is now about 90 percent by 2020!”

He emphasized that students’ own goals are higher than those we’ve set as a state.

Following the plenary, students in Rodriguez’s Minnesota Youth Development Research Group (MYDRG) led detailed discussions on the MSS results for some of these groups, including: American Indian students, Hmong students, students in special education, LGB students, and students experiencing trauma.

Download presentations from the convening on the MYDRG website.

Breakout sessions

Dr. Clayton Cook leads a discussion on school climate.

Throughout the convening, participants selected from 28 smaller group breakout sessions on social-emotional learning led by University of Minnesota researchers, youth engagement groups, school districts, the Minneapolis Department of Education, and more. Several sessions included youth as presenters and/or  focused on youth participatory action research projects.

Small group discussions

Attendees share their educational equity challenges in small groups.

Before the final keynote, attendees participated in a process called TRIZ. They met in small groups—dividing themselves up based on the different developmental skills and supports students need to be successful (identified in Rodriguez’s work). Participants started with the unusual task of listing actions communities might take to destroy the skill being discussed in youth. Then, they shared opportunities they had to remove some of these destructive activities and developed action plans for their schools, communities, and organizations.

View TRIZ sampling responses for destructive actions and action steps.

Action commitments

At the final session participants responded to the statement “I am committed to” with their commitments to take action on educational equity.

Closing keynote

Khalifa gives the final keynote at Educational Equity in Action.

Dr. Muhammad Khalifa, associate professor in Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, closed out the convening by challenging the group to practice culturally responsive school leadership (CRSL). He asked that school leaders promote schooling that addresses the specific cultural and learning needs of students by focusing on the perspectives of parents, students, and community members.

“Change in schools can be promoted and fostered by ‘leaders,’ but culturally responsive school leadership is practiced by all stakeholders,” said Khalifa. “Community-based based knowledge informs good leadership practice.”

In this statement, Khalifa connected his keynote to Rodriguez’ and Brokenleg’s work. Each of the speakers stressed the importance of listening to all members of our community to improve educational equity.

Khalifa ended his talk by sharing strategies to help attendees to achieve CRSL in their own schools, organizations, and communities.

View an artist’s interpretation of Khalifa’s keynote by Jen Mein.

Thank you to our sponsors

The Educational Equity in Action convening was created by the University of Minnesota’s Educational Equity Resource Center. This year’s event was organized in partnership with the University’s Office for Equity and Diversity and made possible by the Minneapolis Foundation, Youthprise, Jim and Carmen Campbell Leadership Chair in Education & Human Development, College of Education and Human Development, Department of Educational Psychology, and the College Readiness Consortium.

ICD undergraduate Erica Smolinski receives research fellowship

Erica Smolinski
Erica Smolinski

Erica Smolinski, an undergraduate child psychology student in the Institute of Child Development (ICD), has received a $2,000 fellowship from the International Congress on Infant Studies (ICIS). This is the first year ICIS has awarded grants to support undergraduate student research.

The fellowship will support Smolinski’s summer research project, which will examine differences in how mothers imagine their unborn child and their relationship with the child, as well as how family planning may be associated with these differences. The project will leverage data from the Women and Infants Study of Health, Emotions, and Stress (WISHES), a study led by ICD doctoral student Colleen Doyle. Smolinski will be mentored by Megan Gunnar, Ph.D., director of the Institute.

ICD doctoral student Elizabeth Sharer awarded fellowship from Autism Science Foundation

Elizabeth Sharer Headshot
Elizabeth Sharer

Elizabeth Sharer, a Ph.D. candidate in the Institute of Child Development, has received a $25,000 one-year, pre-doctoral fellowship from the Autism Science Foundation (ASF).

This year, ASF awarded three pre-doctoral and six post-doctoral fellowship grants to student and mentor teams conducting research in deep brain stimulation, gene and environmental interactions, epigenetics, pain response, neurobiology, and sex differences in autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

“Each of the projects selected for funding has the potential to improve the lives of people with autism,” said Autism Science Foundation President Alison Singer. “We are pleased to support the work of this impressive group of young scientists and look forward to the progress that will be made as a result of their efforts.”

For her research, Sharer will examine the female protective effect in infants with ASD. Four times as many boys as girls are diagnosed with autism, and evidence suggests a “female protective effect” as one explanation for the sex bias.

Sharer’s study will be the first study to investigate the female protective effect in infants who show behaviors of concern, compared with those who develop typically and those who are later diagnosed with ASD. Sharer will be mentored by ICD Assistant Professor Jed Elison, Ph.D.

Williams Ridge presents at Children & Nature Network annual conference

Headshot of Sheila Williams Ridge
Sheila Williams Ridge

Sheila Williams Ridge, director of the Shirley G. Moore Lab School in the Institute of Child Development, presented at the 2017 Children & Nature Network (C&NN) International Conference and Summit.

C&NN aims to connect children, families, and communities to nature through innovative ideas and evidence-based resources. The theme for the 2017 conference was, “Kids Need Nature, Nature Needs Kids.”

During the conference, Williams Ridge spoke about tailoring outdoor learning opportunities to children’s specific developmental needs, depending on their age. She also moderated a panel about best practices for nature-based learning in the early childhood field.

CE+HD Connect Magazine highlights CEED research on children’s theater program

A recent article in CE+HD Connect magazine discussed research by the Center for Early Education and Development that is examining the effectiveness of a children’s theater program. The story is one of three articles about play that appear in the magazine’s Spring/Summer 2017 issue.

Early Bridges is a preschool theater arts outreach program developed by the Minneapolis-based Children’s Theatre Company (CTC). Early Bridges aims to build early literacy through interactive storytelling and theater arts.

Through a research collaboration with CTC, CEED evaluates Early Bridges’ impact, such as whether students show improvement in certain areas. CEED also has helped develop new measures and rubrics for the program, which incorporate both theater arts and child development theory.

To learn more about Early Bridges and CEED’s research, read the full story, “Setting the stage for learning,” or register for ICD’s Community Symposium on “The Importance of Play for Learning.” The symposium will take place on May 15 at 8:30 a.m. at the University of Minnesota McNamara Alumni Center.

Shirley G. Moore Lab School featured in CE+HD Connect Magazine

The Shirley G. Moore Lab School in the Institute of Child Development was profiled in a recent article in CE+HD Connect magazine, which highlighted the school’s focus on play-based learning. The story is one of three articles about play that appear in the magazine’s Spring/Summer 2017 issue.

To learn more about the Shirley G. Moore Lab School and how it incorporates play into its curriculum, read the full story, “Play lab,” or register for ICD’s Community Symposium on “The Importance of Play for Learning.” The symposium will take place on May 15 at 8:30 a.m. at the University of Minnesota McNamara Alumni Center.

 

Masten speaks at UN Psychology Day

Dr. Ann Masten
Dr. Ann Masten

Ann Masten,  Ph.D., Regents Professor and Irving B. Harris Professor of Child Development in the Institute of Child Development, spoke at the 10th Annual Psychology Day at the United Nations (UN) on April 20, 2017.

Psychology Day at the UN is an annual event that highlights how psychological science and practice contribute to the UN agenda. It’s attended by UN staff, ambassadors and diplomats, non-governmental organizations, members of the public and private sectors, and other stakeholders.

This year’s theme was “Promoting Well-being in the 21st Century: Psychological Contributions for Social, Economic, and Environmental Challenges.” The topic was chosen to align with the inclusion of well-being in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted in 2015 and outlines the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. In her remarks, Masten addressed the economic pillar by discussing her research on competence, risk, and resilience in development.

M.S.W. graduate named 2017 Bush Fellow

Brenda Hartman (M.S.W. ’89), a St. Paul therapist who provides counseling to adolescents, adults, and couples, was named a 2017 Bush Fellow this week.

She and 23 other people were selected from nearly 650 applications for the fellowships. Applicants described their leadership vision and how a Bush Fellowship would both help them achieve their goals and make their community better. Each Fellow will receive up to $100,000 to pursue the education and experiences they believe will help them become more effective leaders.

With her Bush Fellowship, Hartman will study end-of-life practices from different cultures, religions, and spiritual traditions, and grow her leadership skills through coursework and consultation.

She has lived nearly three decades longer than expected after receiving a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. Over those years, she has devoted herself to addressing the social, emotional, and spiritual aspects of the cancer experience. She sees a strong need to promote a cultural shift in society’s response to death. She wants to introduce a narrative that counters fear and denial with a view of death as a healing process. She seeks new ways to incorporate end-of-life planning into training for healthcare professionals.

More information about Hartman and her therapy practice. (link this line to http://www.healingthroughlife.com/index.php

More information on the Bush Fellowship.  (link to https://www.bushfoundation.org/fellowships/bush-fellowship)

 

Carlson awarded Distinguished McKnight University Professorship

Stephanie Carlson, Ph.D.
Stephanie Carlson, Ph.D.

Stephanie M. Carlson, Ph.D., professor and director of research in the Institute of Child Development, has been awarded the Distinguished McKnight University Professorship, which honors the University of Minnesota’s highest-achieving mid-career faculty. Carlson is an internationally recognized leader in the study of executive function.

As a Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Carlson will receive a $100,000 grant for research and scholarly activities, and carry the title throughout her University career. Carlson is one of six University professors receiving the award in 2017. Three CEHD professors have earned the award previously, including Frank Symons of educational psychology, and Megan Gunnar and Ann Masten, both in the Institute of Child Development.

Through her research, Carlson has developed innovative ways of measuring executive function – or the set of skills that helps individuals pay attention, control impulses and think flexibly – in very young children. She has also made discoveries about the role of executive function in other aspects of human development, including decision-making and creativity.

Her accomplishments include co-developing the Minnesota Executive Function Scale (MEFS), a testing app that measures executive function and early learning readiness in children. The MEFS is the only early learning readiness assessment measuring executive function that can be used with children as young as two years old. To help put the tool in the hands of early educators, she co-founded the tech start-up Reflection Sciences and now serves as its CEO.

Stephanie Carlson and ICD Director Megan Gunnar, Ph.D.
Carlson and ICD Director Megan Gunnar, Ph.D.

“Stephanie Carlson not only has conducted ground-breaking research that has advanced the field of cognitive development, but she also has developed practical tools for early educators,” said CEHD Dean Jean Quam. “She is an engaged professor, researcher and mentor to her students, and an outstanding asset to the college.”

Carlson and the other winners of this year’s Distinguished McKnight University Professorships will be recognized at the May Board of Regents meeting and honored at a celebratory dinner.