Morgridge College of Education’s Counseling Psychology Clinic is excited to roll out Lyssn, a new partnership that brings counseling and assessment to the digital age. Developed through years of scientific research and repetitive studies, Lyssn is a technology company focused on improving the quality of mental health and addiction therapy. When Morgridge Professor of Counseling Psychology, Dr. Jesse Owen, published on a different project with one of the owners of Lyssn, he heard about the product and knew he needed to integrate it into the Morgridge Clinic.

“Lyssn is the only group, [that I know of], that is integrating natural language processing into actual theoretical and empirically supported principles to support learning,” Owen said.

Lyssn’s HIPPA-compliant, double encrypted system allows counselors to record, store, and review therapy sessions; provides session transcripts via automatic speech recognition, designed and tuned for psychotherapy; and the artificial intelligence takes the spoken language of therapy and evaluates it relative to specific fidelity benchmarks. Put simply, Lyssn’s technology allows the therapist more time to focus on the client and revisit sessions to better serve their needs.

The Lyssn prediction models automatically estimate the therapist’s empathy, collaboration, reflections, and questions, to provide detailed performance-based feedback on Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT, in development). Lyssn will allow our students to receive feedback on their sessions like never before.

Owen worked with the Morgridge technology team to adapt the product to the existing clinic and then turned the reins over to Drs. Andi Pusavat and Jessica Reinhardt to implement in their day to day clinic activities.

According to Pusavat, Lyssn’s ability to read empathy is a major factor in allowing her team to better assess their sessions and better teach their students. The technology allows them to record and assess sessions with extreme accuracy and speed. Reinhardt is equally excited to use the technology and sees a future where remote counseling sessions can be made available to individuals and groups in rural areas, where access to mental health professionals is difficult.

”This can be the future,” Reinhardt added.

Morgridge College of Education (MCE) had a robust presence at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) in New York City, April 13-17. More than 50 faculty and students presented papers, and four were recognized for Division and Special Interest Group (SIG) awards. AERA is a national community of education researchers, comprised of 12 divisions and over 155 special interest groups (SIGs).  The Annual Meeting serves as a forum for academic institutions, departments, non-university-based research institutions, and professional associations to share information about federal education research, and engage in shaping policy with regard to significant research issues. This year’s conference theme was “The Dreams, Possibilities, and Necessity of Public Education.”

MCE Award Recipients

  • 2018 AERA Division K Innovations in Research on Equity and Social Justice in Teacher Education Award: Maria Salazar, PhD, Higher Education Faculty
  • 2018 Shelby Wolf Literature SIG Outstanding Dissertation Award: Kimberly McDavid Schmidt, PhD, Assistant Clinical Professor
  • 2018 Leadership for Social Justice SIG Dissertation of the Year Award: Angelina Walker, EdD, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Graduate
  • 2018 Family, School, and Community Partnerships SIG Dissertation of the Year Award: Kayon Morgan, PhD, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Graduate

MCE Presenters

Cynthia Hazel, Ph.D.—Department Chair of Teaching and Learning Sciences and Professor of Child, Family, and School Psychology at the Morgridge College of Education (MCE)—was selected to participate in the American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2016-2017 Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology (LIWP). LIWP prepares, supports, and empowers women psychologists as leaders to promote positive change in the field and in APA governance.

Dr. Hazel’s outstanding career achievements and leadership potential contributed to her invitation to participate in LIWP. Dr. Hazel’s career accomplishments include coordinating arts-based after-school programs for urban youth, serving as the Behavior Evaluation and Support Teams Coordinator for the Colorado Department of Education, and practicing as a school psychologist in impoverished communities.

About Dr. Hazel

As the chair of MCE’s Department of Teaching and Learning Sciences, Dr. Hazel oversees faculty, administration, and student outcomes for the Child, Family, and School Psychology program, the Curriculum and Instruction Program, the Early Childhood Special Education Program, and the Teacher Preparation Program. Furthermore, she was recently promoted to Full Professor at MCE.

Dr. Hazel’s recent contributions to the field include a presentation titled “Supporting the School Success of Students with Emotional Disturbance” at the International Association of School Psychologists conference in Summer 2016, held in The Netherlands, and the completion of her book titled Empowered Learning in Secondary Schools Promoting Positive Youth Development Through a Multitiered System of Supports, published by APA.

MCE extends its heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Hazel!

Students Sarah Laffin and Aleksandra Matysek completed a six-week school-based mental health practicum this past fall in Beijing, China as part of an international exchange program between Beijing Normal University (BNU) and the CFSP program. The program – now in its fourth year – was developed to broaden students’ multicultural competence and to promote the field of school psychology.

Laffin and Matysek completed their practicum with graduate students from BNU at Jingyuan School, a public middle and high school located in Beijing’s fifth ring. They worked with an on-site supervisor to plan and deliver weekly classroom mental health lessons, group counseling, and career development services. Laffin and Matysek also engaged in a cross-cultural comparison of school-based approaches to identify and manage student anxiety and gave a joint teleconference presentation to graduate students and faculty at both BNU and the Morgridge College of Education (MCE) on the topic.

One important finding discussed was that while levels of general anxiety are about the same in both cultures, social anxiety is more prominent in China due in part to the cultural focus on harmonious relationships and social restraint. Laffin and Matysek learned that students in the United States are more likely to seek help managing anxiety, possibly due to a greater awareness and acceptance of the role mental health plays in academic and life success. Two graduate students from BNU will reciprocate the exchange this spring, coming to MCE to attend selected classes and accompany current CFSP graduate students to their local practicum sites. They will also give a cross-cultural, joint teleconference presentation.

Laffin and Matysek say that their increased global understanding has had a positive influence on their practice and has increased their confidence in communicating with bi-lingual students and families in the United States. The international exchange program has been of mutual benefit as peers and faculty at BNU have been able to employ the counseling tools and methods introduced by CFSP students. The exchange has fostered an increased international appreciation of school-based mental health, helping BNU to establish a graduate program supporting China’s emerging field of school psychology.

The University of Denver Morgridge College of Education was well represented at the 2015 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting. This year’s AERA meeting was held April 16-20, in Chicago, IL, with the theme: Toward Justice—Culture, Language, and Heritage in Education Research and Praxis.

With faculty from Child, Family, and School Psychology (CFSP), Higher Education (HED), and Curriculum Studies and Teaching (CST), as well as HED doctoral student Kristin Deal and Project Director at the Kennedy Institute for Educational Success, Doug Van Dine, at the conference, MCE made a great impression on Chicago.  Below is a list of the MCE faculty presentations:

HED Presentations:

  • Weaving Scholarship and Policy Making to Promote Inclusive Excellence in Traditionally White Higher Education Institutions Dr. Frank Tuitt, Kristin Deal, et al.

 CI Presentations:

  • Black Girls and School Discipline: The Complexities of Being Overrepresented and Understudied Nicole M. Joseph, et al.
  • Blacks’ Mathematics Education before Brown: An Examination of Mathematics Curriculum in Industrial Schools in the Segregated South, 1854 – 1954 — Nicole M. Joseph
  • Which kindergarten Common Core domains are most predictive of later mathematics achievement — Dr. Douglas H. Clements, Dr. Julie Sarama, et al.

CFSP Presentation:

  • Preschool Teachers’ Perceptions of Shared Book Reading Strategies that Promote Content Vocabulary Learning in DLL Children Sharolyn D. Pollard-Durodola, et al.

Dr. Sharolyn Pollard-Durodola embodies Inclusive Excellence through her scholarly work, attending to the prevention and intervention of language and literacy difficulties (Spanish and English). Central to her scholarship is an interest in developing intervention curricula that build on validated instructional design principles, evaluating their impact on the language and reading development of struggling readers, and investigating ways to improve the quality of language and literacy practices of teachers and parents of young English language learners (ELLs) and non-ELLs who are at risk for reading difficulties. Dr. Pollard-Durodola is an Associate Professor in the Child, Family, and School Psychology (CFSP) program.

For the past ten years, her work has focused on accelerating oral language and content knowledge (science and social studies) through intensified shared book reading practices with young language learners (English language learners, native speakers of English) in school and home settings. As co-principal investigator in an Institute of Education Sciences (IES) grant-funded research project, Project Words of Oral Reading and Language Development (WORLD), she has collaborated with faculty from Texas A & M (Dr. Jorge Gonzalez, PI; Dr. Deborah Simmons, Co-PI) and the University of Texas – Pan American (Dr. Laura Saenz, Co-PI) to design and implement the WORLD interactive book reading approach in high poverty school and home settings.

In 2014, Dr. Pollard-Durodola received a grant from the University of Denver Internationalization Council for her project: International Perspectives on Bilingual Education. This grant allowed her to provide a keynote speech in Hanoi, Vietnam (August, 2014) at the Consortium to Advance School Psychology- International (CASP-I) Conference. The title and topic of her keynote speech was An Examination of Language, Literacy, and Socio-emotional Needs of Young Emerging Bilinguals: A Responsive and Proactive School Approach. This international experience and collaboration presented Dr. Pollard-Durodola the opportunity to form networks with other researchers whose scholarship attend to the oral language, literacy, and socio-emotional needs of children from high poverty settings who are also acquiring literacy in two or more languages. We look forward to her continued dedication to inclusive excellence.


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