Dr. David Hessl, project PI at the University of California at Davis, and site PI’s Dr. Karen Riley, Dean and Professor at the Morgridge College of Education, University of Denver, Dr. Elisabeth Berry-Kravis at Rush University, Drs. Richard Gershon and Aaron Kaat at Northwestern University, and Dr. Craig Erickson from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital were awarded the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute Of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health grant of $3,921,088. Dr. Jeanine Coleman Associate Clinical Professor in the Teaching and Learning Sciences department at the Morgridge College of Education, is co-principal investigator. Drs. Korrie Allen, Douglas Clements and Julie Sarama will also be engaged in the project at the DU site. The grant will span five years, October 2020 – September 2025.

A multi-university team has been evaluating the utility and sensitivity of the National Institutes of Health Toolbox – Cognitive Battery (NIHTB-CB). Standardized cognitive and educational assessments of individuals with intellectual disability (ID) provide crucial information for parents, researchers, and educators. Understanding the unique developmental strengths and challenges of an individual with ID is imperative to determining appropriate educational placements, developing intervention plans, and measuring growth. Unfortunately, there is a paucity of research regarding administrative procedures that yield valid standardized assessment results with this population, which this project serves to rectify.

In addition to evaluating the NIHTB-CB as an appropriate assessment for ID in general, the results demonstrate the sensitivity of the battery to known syndrome-specific cognitive phenotypes. A critical remaining question is the degree to which the battery is sensitive to change, especially to effects of intervention as such the team is currently collecting longitudinal data on all participants so that they can create typical trajectories and so that change can accurately be measured. Studies of the performance of the battery in older adults with ID are needed, especially focusing on those experiencing cognitive decline or dementia. Overall, the present validation study represents an important step toward providing an objective, scalable, and standardized method for successfully measuring cognition and tracking cognitive changes in ID. This award is the second for this team of researchers and extends the initial study.

Dr. Riley said “The importance of this type of research cannot be overstated. We need to have effective tools to measure the groundbreaking interventions that are currently being developed and implemented. The individuals with ID deserve our best work in this area, as it could literally be life changing for them and their families.”

Pictured above: Dr. Karen Riley (top left), Dr. Jeanine Coleman (top right), Dr. Doug Clements (bottom left), Dr. Julie Sarama (bottom right).

Dr. Norma Hafenstein, Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair for Gifted Education and Full Clinical Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the Morgridge College of Education, University of Denver, was awarded the United States Department of Education’s Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education 2020 Grant Program grant of $2,845,155. Dr. Kristina Hesbol, Assistant Professor in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program at the Morgridge College of Education, is co-principal investigator. Dr. Robert Reichardt, Senior Associate at APA Consulting, serves as project evaluator. The grant will span over five years, October 2020 – September 2025, to implement I-REECCH: Impacting Rural Education through Expanding Culturally responsive curriculum, Computer science training, and Higher order thinking skills.

The goal of I-REECCH is to significantly increase identification of and services to underrepresented gifted and talented student populations in rural Colorado. This includes students eligible for free and reduced lunch, English language learners and students who identify as Hispanic or Native American. Classroom practices will be improved through increasing rural faculty ability and implementation of culturally responsive pedagogy, computational thinking, higher order thinking skill development, and talent and giftedness recognition. All students in I-REECCH elementary schools will participate in a computer science/computational thinking module by the end of fifth grade.

Dr. Hafenstein stated, “Consider the Spanish speaking little boy who has taught himself to read in English…clearly a demonstration of ability! How do we recognize his giftedness and talent? How do we serve his strengths so that he may reach his potential? As educators, our purpose is to improve the lives of children and families. We recognize the disproportionality of gifted and talented student identification and service. This Javits award supports collaboration with rural partners for cooperative tangible action in identification of and service to rural Colorado gifted and talented students learning English, who are Hispanic or Native American, or who are under-resourced. We look forward to partnering with rural educators in implementing this important work.”

I-REECCH will partner with Fort Morgan School District, Santa Fe Trails Board of Cooperative Educational Services and schools in rural southwest Colorado. Advisory Board members include Dr. Rebecca McKinney, Director of Gifted Education at the Colorado Department of Education; Dr. Terrence Blackman, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics at the Medgar Evers College in the City University of New York; Dr. Joy Esquierdo, Associate Professor, Department of Bilingual and Literacy Studies and Director of the Center for Bilingual Studies at The University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley, and Dr. Muhammad Khalifa, Professor of Educational Administration and Executive Director of Urban Education Initiatives at The Ohio State University. Dr. Kimberly Schmidt and Dr. Brette Garner, both professors at the Morgridge College of Education, will serve as faculty consultants and content advisors.

DU to partner with a local school district

 

DENVER – The Morgridge College of Education (MCE) at the University of Denver is pleased to announce three faculty members have received prestigious U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences (IES) grants to fund their research in education and to develop solutions that improve school readiness and academic achievement.

 

MCE’s Marsico Institute of Early Learning co-directors Julie Sarama, Ph.D., and Douglas H. Clements, Ph.D., Principal and Co-Principal Investigator, have been funded to evaluate the comprehensive interdisciplinary curriculum Connect4Learning (C4L), previously developed by Sarama and Clements through National Science Foundation (NSF) funding with colleagues Drs. Nell Duke, Kim Brenneman, and Mary Louise Hemmeter. The $3,295,431 IES grant, “Evaluating an Interdisciplinary Preschool Curriculum” will be conducted over four years in collaboration with a yet to be decided local school district.

 

Although the importance of all young children gaining competence in four core curricular domains—social-emotional, language and literacy, mathematics, and science—is well established, research results on the efficacy of comprehensive curricula are dismal, with no measurable effects in comparative studies and near zero effect sizes for the most commonly-used preschool curricula. C4L builds upon and integrates empirically-tested practices, connecting the four domains to achieve more than the sum of its parts. C4L seamlessly weaves together child-centered, play-based and teacher-directed intentional education, placing math and science at the core to build sequences of topics that are grounded in empirically-proven learning trajectories. Literacy and social-emotional skills develop in the context of these sequences, as well as through focused lessons. With this new IES grant, Sarama and Clements will be able to evaluate and possibly improve C4L.

 

Additionally, Garrett Roberts, Ph.D., has been awarded a $499,311 four-year IES Early Career Development and Mentoring Grant. Roberts will serve as the Principal Investigator and Phil Strain, Ph.D., of MCE’s Positive Early Learning Experiences (PELE) Center, will serve as the primary mentor. The goal of the grant is to develop a reading program with behavioral supports to improve reading outcomes for students with reading disabilities and attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in upper elementary grades.

 

“Based on the importance of both reading and student engagement in lifelong positive outcomes, this is a really exciting opportunity to directly improve outcomes for students in need of extra support,” said Roberts.

 

Both grants bring new possibilities in research opportunities to students at MCE and have been funded, in whole, by the Institute of Educational Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

 

About DU’s Morgridge College of Education (MCE): MCE is a graduate college of education dedicated to creating positive change by unleashing the power of learning. The college infuses social justice, diversity and inclusion across its 23 advanced degrees in higher education, teacher preparation, public policy, special education, counseling psychology, research methods, and information science.

About the The Institute of Education Sciences (IES): IES is the statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education. Independent and non-partisan, its mission is to provide scientific evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share this information in formats that are useful and accessible to educators, parents, policymakers, researchers, and the public. IES conducts six broad types of work that addresses school readiness and education from infancy through adulthood and includes special populations such as English Learners and students with disabilities.

Assistant Professor Trisha Raque-Bogdan, Ph.D. has been awarded the inaugural Bruce and Jane Walsh Grant to study the effect that one’s work – and the meaning ascribed to that work – has on cancer survivors. Dr. Raque-Bogdan noticed a gap in research on the topic during her graduate studies, and began to work with cancer support organizations to learn more. The grant-funded study will be conducted in collaboration with Ryan Duffy, Ph.D. of the University of Florida’s Department of Psychology.

Drs. Raque-Bogdan and Duffy will fund a longitudinal study involving over 650 participants that collects and analyzes information on the level of meaning that cancer survivors placed on their work and how it affects their sense of purpose and mental, emotional, and physical health. They recruited study participants from the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center, the Young Survivors’ Coalition, and the CO Breast Cancer Coalition. Once awareness of the study spread, it “took on a life of its own” according to Dr. Raque-Bogdan, and filled up very quickly with cancer survivors who felt invested in helping others to understand the role of work in finding purpose. Dr. Raque-Bogdan said that “no research to date has examined how experiencing meaning at work relates to physical health…to both mental and physical health over time, or the personal and environmental conditions that impact the relation between the experience of meaningful work and health.”

In the United States, the lifetime risk of developing cancer is – according to the American Cancer Society – slightly less than one in two for men and slightly more than one in three for women. With the prevalence of cancer in society and the understanding that many cancer survivors are employed full time, it is increasingly important to understand how work, an integral part of many lives and identities, contributes to finding meaning and supports the well-being of cancer survivors. At this time, the researchers have finished collecting one set of data from the participants, and will collect additional data in six months and one year in order to form a comprehensive picture. Dr. Raque-Bogdan is a first-year Assistant Professor at Morgridge and she looks forward to pursuing this unique research opportunity to develop her career and establish partnerships with the cancer community.


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