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Research explores how classroom time affects children’s self-regulation skills

Jenna Finch, assistant professor of psychology, is exploring the effects of time in school on students’ executive function — mental skills that include working memory, flexible thinking and self-control. Learn more in the CYFS Research Network.

In recent years, illnesses, quarantines and school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic have increased emphasis on the importance of instructional time for children’s academic achievement following absences from the classroom.

There is also recent evidence that pandemic school closures disproportionately affected U.S. schools that had students with lower third-grade standardized test scores and higher shares of students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. Full Article

Brain-connected technology opening doors for children with severe speech, physical impairments

Kevin Pitt, assistant professor of special education and communication disorders, is leading a three-year project that uses brain-computer interface (BCI) technology to facilitate better communication for people with severe speech and physical impairments. Learn more in the CYFS Research Network.

Imagine being locked inside your own body, isolated and struggling to meaningfully connect and communicate with those around you.

Now imagine trying to cope with such isolation as a child.

For children with severe speech and physical impairments (SSPI), the lack of a reliable communication methods has devastating impacts on their quality of life, well-being, medical care and social interactions. Full Article

Project provides Huskers with hands-on teaching experience in diverse classrooms

Jillian Harpster, assistant professor of practice in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education, is leading a project to help pre-service middle school teachers broaden their practical experiences in diverse classrooms. Learn more in the CYFS Research Network.

Becoming a teacher is not easy. Along with the required formal education, the process requires plenty of patience, preparation, curiosity and enthusiasm.

One less-apparent ingredient of learning to be a teacher is the ability to navigate the ever-changing landscape of diversity in schools, including socio-economic, racial, linguistic, cultural and other demographic characteristics. Full Article

Nebraska WORDS targets post-pandemic reading success, educator growth

WORDS team members include, from left, Janet Bohaty, Mary Jo McElhose, Amanda Witte, Sarah Zuckerman, Natalie Koziol, HyeonJin Yoon, Nancy Coffey and Rachel Schachter. Learn more about this project in the CYFS Research Network.

A student’s ability to read is a critical predictor of academic and lifelong success. In Nebraska, the COVID-19 pandemic hit students with reading difficulties especially hard, particularly students attending rural schools.

A team of Nebraska researchers is working to boost reading outcomes for rural students in kindergarten through third grade by providing professional learning opportunities to teachers across the state, speeding up pandemic recovery for students with reading difficulties, as well as those at risk. Full Article

Partnership aims to diversify, strengthen Nebraska’s early childhood workforce

Julia Torquati, professor of child, youth and family studies, is leading a collaborative effort to help prepare diverse early childhood professionals throughout Nebraska. Learn more about the project in the CYFS Research Network.

Nebraska, like other states, faces a shortage of qualified early childhood professionals to meet its demand for quality care and education. This shortage not only poses significant problems for families with young children, but also threatens the state’s future economic prosperity. Full Article

Global toolkit promotes inclusive health care for marginalized refugees

Included in the research team are, from left, Lucy Njiru, lead principal investigator, Amref International University/Amref Health Africa; Julie Tippens, associate professor of child youth and family studies; Angela Palmer-Wackerly, associate professor of health communication; and Alice Lakati, Amref International University. Learn more in the CYFS Research Network.

In recent years, there has been an increase in global initiatives aimed at providing mental health support in low- and middle-income countries for those affected by disaster, conflict and forced migration.

However, older refugees and refugees with disabilities have received less attention in humanitarian research and often face barriers to accessing wellness-promoting interventions. Full Article

Research explores technology to support speech among children with autism

Ciara Ousley, assistant professor of special education and communication disorders, is evaluating the effects of augmentative and alternative communication on children with autism. Learn more in the CYFS Research Network.

As a former special education teacher, Ciara Ousley has worked with young students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

She often used technology to assist students who struggled to communicate in her classroom. Speech-generating devices — one form of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) — showed promise to support more inclusive learning and development. Full Article

Project explores strengthening connections among religious leaders, nonbinary people

Katelyn Coburn, assistant professor of child, youth and family studies, is leading a project to help reduce health disparities that result from bias and discrimination faced by nonbinary people. Learn more in the CYFS Research Network.

Research suggests nonbinary individuals — those who do not identify exclusively as men or women — experience bias and discrimination more frequently than cisgender and binary transgender people, contributing to negative mental health outcomes.

One study revealed that 71% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported having experienced discrimination, and 46% of transgender and nonbinary adults reported being verbally harassed because of their gender identity. Full Article