Research Themes

Academic Intervention & Learning

Research-based programs and practices are key to educational excellence. Our researchers investigate strategies for educators of all grade levels, school specialists and administrators. These strategies are grounded in empirical methods and are proven to produce positive effects across academic areas, including: math, science, arts, technology and social sciences.

We believe education begins at birth. Our research-based approaches support children across their lifespan, from their earliest days through college — and beyond.

Our research also identifies strategies that support learning more broadly, including: teacher professional development, family-school-community partnerships, school environment and policy development. All of these areas intersect with children’s lives and learning, and are critical for educational success.


Currently Funded Projects
Academic Intervention & Learning

Early Education & Development

Early education and development are the foundation upon which children build their futures. Operationalized through the Nebraska Academy for Early Childhood Research (NAECR), our research embraces all facets of early childhood, from cognition and social-emotional well-being to language and behavior. NAECR engages in, generates and supports interdisciplinary research to benefit young children, and to enhance the environments in which they learn and grow. NAECR also helps bridge the gap between the research, practice and policy communities.

We seek to address both typical development and the progression of children who are especially vulnerable or have special needs. Because children shape and are shaped by social and cultural systems, our research programs investigate how children function and are influenced by different systems — within homes, schools, peer groups and communities.

We've especially worked to improve early childhood education, child care programs and home visitation interventions by supporting the teachers and early childhood staff who lead them. In aiming to position children for success, we've also focused on fostering strong partnerships between families and these early childhood professionals.


Currently Funded Projects Visit NAECR Website
Early Education & Development

Psychosocial Development & Social-Emotional Learning

Promoting the social and emotional well-being of children is central to cultivating a healthy, well-adjusted society. Our researchers seek to understand children's social-emotional strengths and challenges to help build competencies and manage or prevent behavioral difficulties.

We have a particular interest in how ecological systems – including families, schools and peer groups – influence children's social skills and capabilities; feelings of worth and confidence; perceptions of their potential; and motivation to invest in their futures. Our research often bridges gaps between these systems to align beliefs, goals and strategies to enhance youth’s social-emotional welfare.

Our research programs investigate interventions to provide parents, educators and practitioners with the evidence-based resources to assess and confront a spectrum of negative social-emotional expressions, including aggression, bullying, delinquency and substance abuse. We also engage in research to foster positive social and emotional development across the developmental spectrum, from early childhood to adolescence and beyond.


Currently Funded Projects
Psychosocial Development & Social-Emotional Learning

Research & Evaluation Methods

Data drives the cutting-edge research conducted by our interdisciplinary researchers and affiliates. Housed within CYFS, the Nebraska Academy for Methodology, Analytics and Psychometrics (MAP Academy) provides advanced statistical and methodological approaches. Our methodologists help scholars conceptualize research designs, conduct statistical analyses and interpret results to maximize their work’s impact on children, youth, families and schools.

We promote the highest standards of research by sponsoring workshops and seminars that feature experts in quantitative analysis. When confronted with challenges lacking clear solutions, our methodologists explore the adaption and development of techniques to advance interdisciplinary research.

MAP Academy personnel possess expertise in mixed-methods, experimental, quasi-experimental and correlational designs. They are also well-versed in cross-sectional, longitudinal and correlational approaches to data analysis. Their statistical support helps researchers conduct power and sample size analyses; control for confounding variables; improve measurement precision; refine data collection; account for missing data; and select analytic techniques relevant to their research questions.


Currently Funded Projects Visit MAP Academy Website
Research & Evaluation Methods

Rural Education & Communities

More than 25 percent of U.S. schools reside in rural communities – and face the associated realities of distance, health and mental health disparities, staff turnover and limited access to valuable resources. More than half of Nebraska's schools are located in rural districts and contend with many of these same realities.

Housed within CYFS, the Nebraska Academy for Research on Rural Education (R2Ed) is committed to understanding and addressing the unique challenges and needs of teachers, students and families in rural communities. Our investment in rural education relies on building and expanding strong relationships with rural schools, as we join together to assist students in rural communities nationwide.

With the belief that teachers make the largest and most sustainable impact on educational improvements for students, we work to identify, develop and validate methods that help teachers deliver research-based instruction in rural classrooms. We've specifically focused on investigating how professional development opportunities – provided face-to-face or via distance technology – influence teachers’ knowledge, perceptions and practices.


Currently Funded Projects
Rural Education & Communities