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Adding up factors of how children learn mathematics

Carrie Clark, assistant professor of educational psychology, is using functional MRI technology to capture brain activity while children learn mathematics.
Carrie Clark, assistant professor of educational psychology, is using functional MRI technology to capture brain activity while children learn mathematics.

What is 72 multiplied by 12? While fourth-graders will focus on arriving at the correct answer, Nebraska researcher Carrie Clark wants to know what happens in the brain as they learn to solve the problem.

Clark, assistant professor of educational psychology, is using functional MRI technology to capture brain activity while children learn mathematics. Funded by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Office of Research and Economic Development and housed at CYFS, she is exploring the relationship between children’s mathematics learning and executive function — the ability to maintain focus and behave in a goal-oriented way. Full Article

Study aims to enhance quality of life for rural Nebraska minorities, communities

The research team includes, from left, Evan Choi, Rodrigo Cantarero, Maria de Guzman, Soo-Young Hong and Irene Padasas
The research team includes, from left, Evan Choi, Rodrigo Cantarero, Maria de Guzman, Soo-Young Hong and Irene Padasas.

As populations in many rural Nebraska counties decline, those that are stable or growing share a common element: ethnic diversity.

A University of Nebraska–Lincoln study recently explored how cultural and economic resources generated by diverse populations can help smaller communities not only survive, but thrive. Full Article

Research provides INSIGHTS into child temperament

From left, Kathleen Rudasill and Gwen Nugent, co-principal investigators, introduce children to a few of the puppet characters of INSIGHTS.
From left, Kathleen Rudasill, professor of educational psychology and associate dean for research and faculty development at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Gwen Nugent, CYFS research professor, introduce children to a few of the puppet characters of INSIGHTS.

Gregory is having a bad day. A school field trip has been canceled, and he is angry.

He is joined by a teacher and a kindergartner, who together discuss ways Gregory might cope with his emotions and keep his behavior under control.

“These are some things he might want to do,” the teacher says. “But there are other things he could do instead.” Full Article

Research aims to battle adolescent bullying, peer threat

Meredith Martin, assistant professor of educational psychology, is conducting research on factors contributing to peer threat to understand how children cope in different ways.
Meredith Martin, assistant professor of educational psychology, is researching children’s individual responses to bullying and peer threat to help tailor effective solutions.

Take a moment to recall a particularly overwhelming day.

Morning comes way too early after a restless, worry-fueled night of tossing and turning. A knotted, roiling stomach makes eating breakfast difficult. Deadlines loom, with too much to do in too little time. Full Article

Radio interview: Kunz discusses teacher coaching

Gina Kunz
Gina Kunz

Gina Kunz, CYFS research associate professor, shared her team’s research on teaching coaching Thursday, April 6 during the Paul Durban Show on KFOR, a Lincoln, Nebraska, radio station.

The team’s original study investigated how ‘coaches’—trained educators—can help teachers enhance instruction, particularly when using new instructional approaches. Their sample included middle and high school teachers in rural schools across Nebraska. Full Article

Study explores coaching strategies that help teachers, students

From left: Jim Houston, Gwen Nugent and Gina Kunz. The CYFS team is studying coaching as professional development for teachers, and specifically, which coaching strategies are most effective.
From left: Jim Houston, Gwen Nugent and Gina Kunz. The CYFS team is studying the most effective strategies for teacher coaching, a method of professional development that provides feedback from trained educators.

Coaches are central to athletic culture, from football fields to volleyball courts. A CYFS research team is exploring how coaches can enhance performance in a different domain: the classroom.

Within a professional development context, these coaches—trained educators with years of classroom experience—provide ongoing feedback to teachers. Funded by the National Science Foundation and led by CYFS research professor Gwen Nugent, the team aims to identify the most effective coaching strategies by pinpointing how and why they work. Full Article

Collaboration aims to study, shape children’s attitudes toward engineering

Teacher. Firefighter. Doctor. Astronaut. Many of these careers land on children’s lists of what they want to be when they grow up. CYFS research assistant professor Lorey Wheeler would like to see another profession added: engineer.

With a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Wheeler is joining a team from Arizona State University to study how children’s knowledge, stereotypes and achievement-related beliefs affect their interest in engineering. It’s a field in which job growth is outpacing the number of adults who pursue related degrees, especially among women and ethnic minority students. Full Article

Students gain skills in early childhood autism spectrum disorders

Micheale Marcus, left, works with one of her clients at UNMC's Autism Care for Toddlers Clinic. The clinic provides services to children with autism, and their families.
Micheale Marcus, left, works with one of her clients at UNMC’s Autism Care for Toddlers Clinic. The clinic provides services to children with autism and their families. View photo gallery.

Micheale Marcus puts her hands in the air. Then on her nose. Then on the table—a miniature one, where she sits with her client: a 3-year-old toddler who mimics her every move.

Marcus, a second-year graduate student, is receiving training in early childhood autism spectrum disorders through a new traineeship offered in the College of Education and Human Sciences’ school psychology graduate program. Full Article