CEHD dedicates funds for new research collaborations

Post date: January 11, 2017

The College of Education and Human Development has dedicated $270,000 to fund a third round of Catapult Grants used to enhance quality of life for populations across Texas. The nine grants feature collaborations between each department in the college as well as other colleges across Texas A&M University.

“It's exciting to see new collaborations described on these Catapult projects; some grew out of our spirited discussions at the August retreat. The very best collaborations allow a research team to achieve more complex objectives than solo investigators can hope to achieve, and the scholarship level is almost always improved,” explained Dr. Sue Bloomfield, Associate Dean of Research.

Dr. Mack Burke is collaborating with other faculty in the Department of Educational Psychology to develop social-emotional and behavioral supports for culturally and linguistically diverse students. The project has three objectives: to develop a prototype of a social-emotional behavior support program, conduct an evaluation of the program and provide pilot data for future grant proposal applications. The project will happen over 18 months and four phases – ending with preparations to scale up the project.

New faculty members will be provided extra formal mentoring under Dr. Beverly Irby’s research collaboration across each department in the college. Project STAR – Service, Teaching and Research will give new faculty members a jump-start to their research careers in academia. Current faculty research will be analyzed to develop a list of potential mentors based on research interests with a focus on organization, multicultural education and online learning. The cross-college mentoring project will be tested for two years.

Due to an increased interest in the use of technology to facilitate writing development, Dr. Li-Jen Kuo is collaborating with other faculty in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture to examine its impact in early elementary grades. This research project will investigate how technology can be used to facilitate multiple aspects of writing development among students struggling with handwriting and/or spelling in early elementary grades. Part of the project involves an after-school writing program to serve at-risk writers and identify areas that need to be improved to maximize the positive impact of technology.

A growing awareness of metabolic abnormalities in autism spectrum disorders caught the attention of Dr. Cindy Lieben and other faculty in the Department of Health and Kinesiology as well in EPSY. Their research is focused on understanding the links metabolic phenotype and mood and neurocognitive functions in autism spectrum disorder. At the end of this research, these faculty hope to generate preliminary data that will enable subsequent studies with long-term translational implications for the development of autism spectrum disorder treatments.

Dr. Matthew Walker’s collaboration with other HLKN faculty will focus on a Sport-For-Development (S4D) program in Nicaragua which uses swimming to empower underserved youth to become community leaders. S4D represents the use of sport to exert positive influence on health, economic development, intercultural/social exchanges and conflict resolution. Our researchers will examine data to assess processes and delivery, identify the impacts on the individual and community level and provide recommendations to advance the program.

A current challenge in education is a shortage of teachers in the classroom. To reduce that shortage, Dr. Yolanda Padron, along with other faculty in EPSY and TLAC, is looking to investigate factors that support and/or limit teachers’ quality of work life. Using results from the School and Staffing Survey and Teaching and Learning International Survey, these researchers will develop grant proposals to improve the bilingual and teacher pipeline in Texas. The hope is to also develop a community of scholars among EPSY and TLAC doctoral students actively involved in doing collaborative research.

Focusing on undergraduates at Texas A&M University and K-12 learners in a high-needs school district, Dr. Sara Raven is collaborating with TLAC faculty and others in the College of Science on the CREST Project: Community Research through Engagement in STEM Teaching. Undergraduates will be involved in an elective course during which they will design and implement STEM lessons for K-12 students during “STEM Saturdays.”

“There are few programs, if any, that seek to develop undergraduate STEM majors’ communication and collaboration skills through STEM teaching with a diverse student population,” said Dr. Raven. “In bringing together undergraduate STEM students and elementary school children, we aim to develop a project that will be mutually beneficial for these two groups and, ultimately, forge a new pathway for how we integrate STEM and STEM teaching at universities, within communities and in the STEM workforce.”

School districts across the state want to implement instructional coaching models to deliver professional development to teachers, but, due to the urgent need, need help in doing so. Dr. Miranda Walichowski, along with other faculty in EPSY and the Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development, are hoping their research helps. Their project will create a pilot Instructional Coaching and Leadership Endorsement for students in the bilingual education program. Of 22 current students in that program, 15 have already expressed interest in participating. If successful, the goal is to expand the program to other teacher preparation programs in our college and to develop a beset practice model for school districts implementing coaching programs.

In a collaboration between EPSY and TLAC faculty, Dr. Steven Woltering will examine the use of biometric technology to better assess, track and understand reading ability. By following children over time, researchers will be able to better understand why and how children benefit from an intensive reading intervention program using eye tracking and electroencephalography technology.

“We believe these biometric technologies will help improve intervention and prevention programs meant for children who have difficulty learning to read in the state of Texas. They will also allow us to build specialist expertise in the area of literacy research that will be able to give us an edge in grant proposals and remain leaders in literacy research in the future,” explained Dr. Woltering.