Research Methods and Statistics Ph.D Candidate Priyalatha Govindasamy received top award at the University of Denver Research and Performance Summit (DURAPS) on January 29. Govindasamy presented her research at the DURAPS poster session highlighting the software package that she has been developing with Antonio Olmos, Ph.D and Kellie Keeling, Ph.D.

Govindasamy explained that “effect size is the key to conducting meta-analysis, but not all the studies report empirical information required for computing effect sizes.” Studies will often report different types of statistical information that require different mathematical algorithms to compute effective sizes. To overcome this hurdle, Govindasamy and her supporting faculty developed the Effectssizecalculator Package in R for Meta-Analysis. This package was designed to compile all different mathematical algorithms and estimate the effective sizes into one module and leverages the R statistical analysis software.

The Morgridge College of Education would like to congratulate Miss Govindasamy on her award and recognize her fascinating research.

Heather Blizzard is a PhD student in the Morgridge College of Education (MCE) Research Methods and Statistics Program (RMS). Utilizing qualitative research methods and program evaluation, her research focuses on social and academic support for first-generation students. She is currently developing a measure to examine the self-perceived social support of first-generation, post-secondary students. “This is the first step to what I hope will lead to pinpointing ways to aid in their success as students” states Heather, who also works as a Graduate Research Assistant on a federally funded grant for the Kennedy Institute. We sat down with Heather to learn a little more about her Morgridge experience.

Research Methods and Statistics student Heather Blizzard

Research Methods and Statistics student Heather Blizzard

“I would say that the one thing we all have in common at MCE is the desire to make a difference.”

Morgridge Blog: How did you learn about the RMS program at DU?

Heather: I actually found the RMS program on accident. I was originally setting out to pursue a degree in Social Psychology; however, I had an interest in studying first-generation college students and teaching at a university level, so I decided to check out the College of Education and came across the program. After reading about the program and the faculty members in the program, I was extremely interested in learning more.

MB: How did you decide to pursue an MA in RMS at Morgridge, and then to continue on with the PhD program?

Heather: The faculty played an instrumental role in my decision to complete both my MA and my PhD in the RMS program. My partner was asked to come in for an interview session with a different program in Morgridge, so I emailed Dr. Duan Zhang to see if I could meet with her during that time, and she ended up getting me a meeting with every faculty member. Each faculty member has a unique background in how they approach research, and through their guidance I have grown as a person and as a researcher.

MB: How do you feel the programs in MCE are related, and how have other programs, professors, or students in other programs shaped your experience?

Heather: All of the programs have a central focus on education, but approach it in various ways. By having classes with professors and students in other programs I have gained different lenses to view research. I feel that collaborating with students from other programs enables me to learn more about the way they view research and gives me the opportunity to share my passion.

MB: How would you describe the core value of MCE and the programs within it?

Heather: I would say that the one thing we all have in common at MCE is the desire to make a difference. Some people want to make a difference in how education is attained, some want to change the way education is viewed, and some want to create better ways of assessing education. While each journey is different, the end goal of improving education is the same.

MB: Looking back, is there any decision/action you would change during your time in the program? Or, advice you would give to incoming/prospective students?

Heather: I wish I had gone to more of the events that were held on campus. The amount of free resources that are available is amazing, but I didn’t really take advantage of them. Advice for others: take advantage of the resources. Also, I recommend utilizing the assignments given to you in your classes to hone in on your personal research interests. Each assignment served as an opportunity to do more research on what I thought I was interested in. I came into the program with a very broad idea of what I wanted to study and was able to leave my MA knowing what I wanted to do my PhD dissertation on. Another piece of advice would be to make sure you check the schedule for what classes are being offered.

In addition to the success of The 2014 Graduate Research and Performance Summit, graduate students from various programs at the Morgridge College of Education stood out due to their engaging research. The event occurred February 7th 2014, as an initiative of the Graduate Student Government (GSG) to engage in interdisciplinary research and dialogue across DU. The theme for the summit was Breaking Down the Silos.

Research Summit - C&I

Curriculum & Instruction doctoral student Katherine Newburgh presenting at the summit

MCE students’ research at the summit showcased their InContext applications of theories or cross-cultural immersions, which were linked to some classes pursued over the course of the year. Here is a list of presenters and projects:

Aiding or Abating: Electoral Fraud Through a Lens of Social Justice
Tara Rhodes, Research Methods and Statistics

Cross-Cultural Collaboration on Mental Health Issues in School Settings
Ariel Haytas, Child, Family, and School Psychology
Libby Malone, Child, Family, and School Psychology
Lizzy Savage, Child, Family, and School Psychology

Common Core State Standards(CCSS) in Higher Education Primer Project
Kate Burns, Higher Education

Teachers Who Become Professors: Running to or Running From Teaching
Eron Reed, Curriculum & Instruction

Coping Strategies of Students of Color in Student Affairs and Higher Education Preparation Programs
Evette Allen, Higher Education

Who says racism is dead? A Creative Representation of the Racialized Experiences of Students of Color in Student Affairs Graduate Preparation Programs
Bryan Hubain, Higher Education

Mapping the Ineffable: An Exploration of Teacher Growth in Unscripted Moments
Katherine Newburgh, Curriculum and Instruction

CLICK HERE  To learn more about what students presented on. Each program was centered around Inclusive Excellence and Social Justice.

Duan ZhangDr. Duan Zhang, Associate Professor in the Research Methods and Statistics program at Morgridge College of Education, recently returned from a 5-month sabbatical in China. During her time abroad, Zhang served as a visiting scholar at the School of Psychology at Central Normal University in Wuhan, China, teaching a graduate course to an international student cohort, assisting with research, advising graduate students and attending conferences.

“I worked with five other professors in the personality psychology division. The professor I worked with is one of the biggest names in his field in the Chinese Psychological Society (CPS); we attended the first ever CPS conference for the division of personality psychology in Chongchang,” Zhang states. At the CPS-PP conference, Zhang gave a presentation on goal orientation and student motivation.

Towards the end of her visit, Central Normal University sponsored an international workshop on mathematical modeling for psychology and social sciences, bringing in five international experts to share their cutting edge research methods using different types of mathematical modeling. “That scope of modeling is quite beyond what we are used to with APA and AERA research.  Those research methods could be widely applied and I look forward to learning more about those techniques in order to bring them into my research,” Zhang commented.

Upon returning from her sabbatical, Zhang has served on the standing committee for the development of the upcoming Data Visualization and Statistics Center. The Center, scheduled to open by the end of this academic year, is a part of DU’s research incubator initiative and plans to support students and faculty with statistical analysis at DU’s Anderson Academic Commons. “I am excited about all kinds of possibilities for student and faculty projects. As a college, MCE can contribute a lot of expertise to the new center.”

Dr. Zhang’s research interests focus on statistical and methodological research, dealing with multilevel data  with hierarchical structures. “I focus on quantitative methods, providing methodological support for faculty grants and other types of research projects, figuring out how large datasets should be analyzed to best serve different education and psychology research questions.”

Currently, Dr. Zhang is wrapping up a mixed method research project, Supporting Parents in Early Literacy through Libraries (SPELL), with her MCE colleague Dr. Mary Stansbury. SPELL is funded by Colorado State Library and explores how public libraries and community agency partnerships promote early literacy to low income families. For the project, Zhang served as the research scientist and Dr. Mary Stansbury served as the content expert. Elaborating on the research, Zhang explains: “We had four sites, covering a broad demographic in Denver, Colorado Springs and rural Colorado. We collected and analyzed data from surveys, focus groups and interviews.” Having recently presented their research to the advisory board, Zhang and Stansbury plan to submit the abstract and present their findings at upcoming local and national conferences with audiences in the Early Literacy and Library communities. Zhang comments, “I have a 16-month-old boy, so I have a strong interest in this project, even from a personal standpoint. Early Literacy focuses on children ages 0 to 3 years-old; when they are that young, you can’t teach them how to read, but rather promote interest in books and form the habit of reading and the love of libraries.”


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