The New Business Analytics Specialization in RMS

The Business Analytics specialization is an exciting new addition to the Institutional Research track in the Research Methods and Statistics Ph.D. Program. This specialization provides you with an opportunity to gain a multidisciplinary education that opens up several future career paths.

Taking courses in Business Analytics will be challenge you to view research design and analyses from a different perspective. You will collaborate and network with students from various career backgrounds and  will learn about cutting-edge programs and programming languages.

Why Business Analytics?

Heather Blizzard“In today’s world, businesses are looking for people who have skills in research design and have the ability to implement research analyses. That’s why I was extremely excited to learn that my program was adding a specialization in Business Analytics.” – Heather Blizzard, RMS Ph.D. Student

CRISPA is a six-dimensional Perceptual Teaching and Learning model that provides approaches to enrich learning beyond outcome-based standards. P. Bruce Uhrmacher, PhD, faculty of the Research Methods and Statistics, Curriculum and Instruction, and Teacher Education Programs, was inspired to create CRISPA based on interactions between artists and educators as well as the views of philosopher John Dewey; in particular, his view that aesthetic experiences can exist outside of the arts.

The six dimensions – Connections, Risk-Taking, Imagination, Sensory experiences, Perceptivity, and Active engagement – support research-based strategies that serve as a common ground for educators, enable teachers to enrich lessons, and allow students to explore their creativity. CRISPA is growing in popularity and is used by many educators nationwide – including many of Dr. Uhrmacher’s former students – to create better experiences for students and teachers alike.

MCE alumna Kristina Mahoney works at the Denver Art Museum (DAM) where she used CRISPA to co-develop and implement a tour program for young children this past year. Mahoney worked with DAM while completing her dissertation regarding the role of CRISPA’s elements in art museum education and recognized how the model can be applied in practice. The tour program was created to help children make connections to artists by using their imaginations to relate to the artmaking process. The tour program launched in 2015, providing children with opportunities to have hands-on experiences as well as to engage with art and artmaking materials.

Bradley Conrad, a former student of Dr. Uhrmacher’s and current Assistant Professor of Education at Capital University in Columbus, OH, frequently uses CRISPA in his teaching and has written about and presented on the model. He conducted a one-day lesson planning workshop utilizing CRISPA in Denver with K-12 teachers as part of a study recently published on curriculum disruption. The teachers’ perceptions changed noticeably after the workshop – those who had not considered themselves to be creative realized that CRISPA gave them the tools to design creative lessons and provide meaningful experiences for their students. One participant said that it was “important for us to be creative as educators. We are teaching the future doctors, the future scientists, people who are going to create the world that we live in”.

nick cutforthDr. Nick Cutforth, Department Chair and Professor of Research Methods and Statistics, is helping to improve physical education practices in underserved, rural, and low-income Colorado schools through a community-engaged research project, Healthy Eaters, Lifelong Movers (HELM). Obesity has been identified as the biggest health threat to U.S. children according to the Institute of Medicine. Alongside Dr. Elaine Belansky from the University of Colorado’s School of Public Health, Dr. Cutforth aims to turn this around with HELM, partnering with K-12 schools to implement evidence-based, school-level environment and policy changes. HELM has two proven approaches: AIM (Assess, Investigate, Make it Happen), which promotes healthy eating and physical activity in students; and the Physical Education Academy, a professional development program for teachers that increases the quality of physical education. Initially funded by the Colorado Health Foundation in 2010, HELM provides participating schools with the training, equipment, and monetary resources needed to implement healthy changes.

While AIM encourages healthy behavior for the entire day, the Physical Education Academy focuses on P.E. class and introduces teachers to the SPARK program, an evidenced-based P.E. curriculum, which involves teaching traditional games and sports in innovative ways, and more small-sized games and activities that cater to the individualized abilities of students. “We’ve introduced a new kind of P.E.,” says Dr. Cutforth, “which engages all the children, not just the athletes.” As a result P.E. classes provide more opportunities to increase moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) among students.

Currently in his fifth year with the project, Dr. Cutforth’s work has shown significant improvements in the quality of physical education programs and teachers’ instructional practices. For example, in the 17 San Luis Valley elementary schools that participated in the P.E. Academy, the quantity of MVPA in P.E. class increased from 51.1% to 67.3% over a two-year intervention period, resulting in approximately 14.6 additional hours of physical activity over a school year. He says, “PE teachers are disguising fitness in the form of fun activities, so the kids are much more engaged, and the teachers are spending less time on classroom management.”

In 2013, HELM was refunded by the Colorado Health Foundation and has expanded to schools in southeast Colorado. HELM’s reach now extends to more than 15,000 kids in some of the poorest counties in the state.

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.”

Healthy Eaters, Lifelong Movers (HELM)

Healthy Eaters, Lifelong Movers (HELM)

The Morgridge College of Education’s Dr. Nick Cutforth is furthering his work with the Healthy Eaters, Lifelong Movers (HELM) Project. Dr. Cutforth’s interests focus on school-based interventions related to physical activity and healthy eating.  Funding for HELM has been extended for three more years, in the amount of $3.1 million through the Colorado Health Foundation. The funding will allow for a continued partnership between the Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center, Colorado School of Public Health and the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver.

Colorado had the second fastest rate of increase in obesity in the United States in 2007. In 2003, Colorado ranked 49th in the United States with 22% of 10-17 year olds recognized as overweight or obese. By 2007, this group had increased to 27%.

The partnership between the Morgridge College of Education and the Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center will allow for increased opportunities for healthy eating, physical activity, and high quality physical education in forty-six K-12 schools in the San Luis Valley and expand the program’s reach to 73 schools in Southeast Colorado.

After the first three years of the HELM Project, the San Luis Valley Physical Education Academy, co-founded by Dr. Cutforth, resulted in a  66% increase in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in elementary school physical education classes. The project also provides a Morgridge College of Education student the opportunity to gain InContext experience. The student will work part-time with the project by assisting with field research.


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