Thursday, December 31, 2015

1st Annual Ed Psych RGSO Data Blitz was a Success!

The purpose of the Data Blitz was to give graduate students an opportunity to share their research with other graduate students.  Each student was given a maximum of seven minutes to present their research.  The Data Blitz allowed students to learn more about what peers have been working on, share feedback, and participate in discussions.

The following graduate students shared their research at the Data Blitz:

David Franklin
Franklin, D. (2015). The importance of instructor and student variables in course evaluations.             

Project Advisor: Dr. Zheng Yan (completed in EPSY 680)

Allyson Kaczmarek
Kaczmarek, A. (2015). Virtual multi-player game type and its effect on altruistic behavior tendencies.
Project Advisor: Dr. Joan Newman   

Kara Hogan
Hogan, K. (2015). Self-regulated learning by adults in an online professional development context.

Project Advisor: Dr. Heidi Andrade (dissertation)

Sung Yong Park
Park, S. Y. (2015). Self-compassion as a moderator of relationship between perceived stress, victimization experience and depression in soldiers in Korea.

Project Advisor: Dr. Zheng Yan

Park, S. Y. (2015). Self-disclosure on social networking sites: A systematic review.
Project Advisor: Dr. Zheng Yan

Hirah Mir
Mir, H. (2015). School experiences and change in ethnic identity over time.

Project Advisor: Dr. Zheng Yan (completed in EPSY 680)

Tom Robertson
Robertson, T. (2015). Haiti house person tree test: A multivariate generalizability study.

Project Advisor: Dr. Kim Colvin

Robertson, T. (2015). How to create and use factorial surveys for psychology.

Project Advisor: Dr. Zheng Yan

Julio McLaughlin
McLaughlin, T. (2015). Use of formative assessment instruments to foster creativity in science inquiry contexts.

Project Advisor: Dr. David Dai

Fusun Sahin
Sahin, F. (2015). Analyzing students’ usage of Blackboard Learning Management System from log data.

Project Advisor: Dr. Zheng Yan 

Sahin, F. (2015). Automated detection of items for key validation.

Project Advisor: Jerome Clauser, American Board of Internal Medicine

Wenqian Wang
Wang, W. Q. (2015). Ethnic differences in helicopter parenting in the U.S.

Project Advisor: Dr. Zheng Yan (completed in EPSY 680)

A huge thank you to the event coordinators for making the first Data Blitz possible, the presenters for sharing their research, and everyone who attended!

Fall Brown Bag #3 with Dr. Jessica Namkung

For our last Brown Bag of the semester, Dr. Jessica Namkung presented her research regarding students' learning of fractions.  She presented two studies, and a discussion followed regarding students' fraction knowledge.

One study investigated the cognitive mechanisms underlying students' fraction and whole-number learning.  Dr. Namkung chose to focus on specific cognitive factors used for calculations including working memory, processing speed, phonological reasoning, nonverbal reasoning, language, incoming calculation, and attentive behavior.  She then examined these predictors to determine if there was a difference in which underlying mechanisms are present for fraction learning compared to whole-number learning.  Dr. Namkung used factor analysis to determine that the significant predictors of fraction learning are language, processing speed, and attentive behavior.  Significant predictors of whole-number learning were found to be processing speed, attentive behavior, and incoming calculation.  In conclusion, both attentive behavior and processing speed are common predictors.  Some implications for instruction include training students on using the predictors, teaching more mathematical strategies that allow for students to compensate for slow processing speed in order to increase efficiency, explicitly teaching vocabulary, and requiring students to explain their understanding of terms.

The second study examined the abundance of fraction difficulties that exist among students.  According to Dr. Namkung, whole-number bias is a common occurrence in students' understanding of fractions, and this reasoning has an effect on students' understanding of fraction magnitudes.  Dr. Namkung examined fourth graders considered to have adequate whole-number knowledge and fourth graders with deficits in whole-number knowledge.  She found that students with adequate whole-number knowledge performed better on fraction problems than students with less severe whole-number knowledge deficits, and students with less severe whole-number knowledge deficits performed better than students with more severe whole-number knowledge deficits.  Significant differences were shown for all groups.  In conclusion, this study found that if a student has difficulties with whole-numbers then the student is likely to also have difficulties understanding fractions, and more research needs to be conducted to determine why this relationship exists.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Fall 2015 Brown Bag #2 with Dr. Sigmund Tobias and Dr. J. Dexter Fletcher

For our second Brown Bag Presentation of the semester, Eminent Research Professor Dr. Tobias and Dr. Fletcher of the Institute for Defense Analyses led a discussion of their findings related to the use of digital games as a form of educational technology.

According to Dr. Tobias and Dr. Fletcher, as the use of technology has become more popular in educational settings, interest regarding the use of computer games to deliver meaningful instruction has increased.  Digital games can be very useful educational tools if they are used correctly.  Games allow students to interact with the curriculum and instruction.  Students may be more motivated to learn using a game than other forms of instruction.  Games have the ability to give students a sense of self in which they can interact with their technological environment.  Games may also be ideal for students that have learning difficulties, minority students, and students from low SES backgrounds due to the ability of games to tailor games to students' individual differences. Digital games can be used not only in schools, but also in the workplace for instructional development.  It is important to conduct cost analyses, but digital games can cut down on the cost of training and instructional development,

Games must be educational in order to be useful for an instructional purpose.  Digital game creators need to focus on what students will be learning from the game not just the technology behind the game.  In order for games to be useful and effective, they need to be highly integrated with the curriculum.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fall 2015 Brown Bag #1 with Dr. Mariola Moeyaert

Dr. Mariola Moeyaert presented our first Brown Bag discussion of the semester.  Dr. Moeyaert discussed the topic of "Multilevel Meta-Analysis of Single-Case Effect Size Estimators: General Introduction and Application".

This is Dr. Moeyaert's first year teaching at UAlbany.  She is teaching Statistics 1 this Fall and will be teaching Statistics 2 and Single-Case Experimental Design in the Spring of 2016.  Dr. Moeyaert received her Ph.D. in Educational Statistics at the Methodology of Educational Sciences Research Group, KU Leuven, Belgium.  

Dr. Moeyaert has been researching how the three-level meta-analytic model can be used to combine data from single-subject experimental designs and estimate effect size.  The findings can be used to evaluate and improve interventions in addition to influencing future single-subject experimental design research. 

The multi-level analysis of single-case experimental data consists of three main parts: single-case experimental designs, multilevel modeling, and meta-analysis.  Single-case experimental designs are used to collect data for a single individual over time.  The collected data are used to determine if an intervention is having an impact on an individual's performance on what is being measured.  A multilevel modeling approach allows researchers to look at the effect sizes within cases, across multiple cases, and across multiple studies. Meta-analysis is then used to determine if interventions are useful and successful.  Dr. Moeyaert's research has concluded that a multilevel modeling framework successfully estimates the effect within cases, across cases, and across studies. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Welcome Back Fall 2015!


To kick off the 2015-2016 school year, students and faculty attended the Educational Psychology and Methodology Division Orientation.  We welcomed new students and faculty, shared our accomplishments, and discussed our goals for the future. To learn more about each other, we formed small groups and answered questions to win prizes. We then worked together in our groups to complete an activity in which we tried to build the tallest tower using only note cards.

A huge thank you to Holly for taking such great pictures! :)

2015-2016 Ed Psych RGSO

The results are in!  Congratulations to the new E-Board Members!!

President: David Franklin
Vice President: David Bogin
Treasurer: Tom Robertson
Secretary: Wenqian Wang
Representative: Hirah Mir and Emily Rodabaugh
ListServ Manager: Yi He

Future Events

Be sure to follow the EdPsy Student Facebook page for info about future events.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Recap of Fall 2014 Events!

Brown Bag 1:  10/1/14  Joan Newman and Georgia Brooke
 Ongoing Research On Effects of Environmental Pollution:  An Application of Propensity Score Analysis

At our first brown bag of Fall 2014 we had a 2 speakers:  Dr. Joan Newman and Dr. Georgia Brooke speak about their research.   Dr. Brooke is a recent graduate from our doctoral program and she used a dataset from an ongoing research project with Dr. Newman for her dissertation.  This brown bag provided an overview of the larger research project and how Dr. Brooke used Propensity Score Analysis to the dataset for her dissertation. 

The project started in 1995 investigating the effects of PCB pollution on the Akwesasne Native American community. PCBs are man made chemicals that were banned in the 1970s but prior to that were legally dumped into rivers like the Mohawk and Hudson rivers and remain persistent in the environment today.  Native American communities were exposed to these PCBs as a population that utilized the Mohawk river and ate fish as a dietary staple.   PCBs have previously been found to have negative heath outcomes and community concerns arose about human health, children’s development, and the disruption of culture and lifestyle.  Newman et al., (2006) investigated the effects of PCBs and cognitive functioning of Mohawk adolescents and found that PCB levels were negatively related to delayed recall, long term retrieval and comprehension knowledge.  

For her dissertation, Dr. Brooke used the dataset to investigate the relationship between breastfeeding and cognition.  There have been inconsistent findings in the literature on breastfeeding – a majority of studies report a cognitive benefit associated with breastfeeding while others report no benefit.  For this particular population of Native Americans, this relationship was even more interesting to investigate because of PCB contamination in their environment.  The question driving the research was:  Should women exposed to PCBs through contaminated fish consumption breastfeed their infants?  Georgia then showed how Propensity Score Analysis was a useful approach for answering the research question.  The previous literature on breastfeeding and cognition could be criticized because of selection bias:  breastfed babies may perform better cognitively because of their mothers, not because of breastfeeding itself.  PSA addresses the selection bias common to observational designs.  Step 1.  Generate a propensity score – who is mostly likely to breastfeed and who is unlikely to breastfeed based on certain characteristics (e.g. maternal education, IQ, SES, smoking habits).  Step 2. Match treatment and control cases with similar propensity scores, or group similar propensity scores into clusters.  Step 3:  compare matched cases or clusters on outcome of interest (e.g. cognitive scores).  Her results showed different effects for low PSA group (least likely to breastfeed), moderate PSA group, and high PSA groups (most likely to breastfeed), meaning cognitive benefits of breastfeeding could vary by population (which explains the inconsistencies in the literature).  The populations that seem to benefit the most from breastfeeding are those most disadvantaged (low birth weight, low SES, cigarette smoke).

Brown Bag 2:  10/29/14 Kim Colvin - Intro to Generalizability Theory
Evaluation of Measures of Resilience and Vulnerability in Post-Earthquake Haiti: Using Generalizability Theory on the Road to a Validation Study

At this brown bag we got a chance to hear our new faculty member Dr. Kim Colvin speak about Generalizability or “G” theory.  She provided a short overview of the theory to introduce us to main concepts and terms followed by an application of G-theory to a study she recently worked on involving subjects in post-earthquake Haiti. 

G-theory is an extension of classical test theory where an observed score equals true ability plus error.  According to CTT, though, there’s only one interpretation of error, meaning all potential sources of error are lumped into 1 error term which can be limiting in field research where conditions of measurement vary. G-theory then gives researchers the opportunity to parse out and estimate different sources of error and leads to better estimates of reliability coefficients.  Researchers can estimate what proportion of the total variance is due to factors that often vary in assessment such as setting, time, items, and raters.  G theory is particularly useful for assessing the reliability of performance assessments – which is exactly what Kim Colvin did in her research with subjects in post-earthquake Haiti. 

The goal of the post-earthquake Haiti study was to validate the House-Tree-Person test, a projective drawing test, as a way to measure resiliency and vulnerability in people affected by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.  The test was culturally adapted for Haiti and was used to identify children who positively adapted or were negatively affected by the earthquake. HTP test data was collected from 77 children ages 4-15 years old in 2012 and 2013 in different locations (e.g. a town not widely affected by the earthquake, relocation camps with varying amounts of aid/resources, and an orphanage).  3 additional assessments were used to collect data in 2013.  The goal was to find an assessment that could be easy to administer and score in order to quickly aid relief workers after a traumatic event.  The data collected would be used to evaluate where improvements can be made in order to collect large datasets to better inform validation study of the HTP test. 

An analysis of the raters to determine differences in scoring due to gender and age showed that there were no differences between genders but there was an age difference for attribute (vulnerable vs. resilient).  An analysis based on location showed that the biggest difference was due to attribute and it was most notable for the orphanage location.  No variability was due to raters – this is encouraging because it means new raters can be trained and results won’t be affected. 

After the presentation, we discussed why the HTP was used instead of other more reliable tests:  it is nonverbal, easy to give, easy to score. 

Student Panel Discussion:  The Ins and Outs of Attending Professional  Conferences
Presenters:  Fei Chen, Julio McLaughlin, Stella Li, Tom Robertson
Moderator:  Angela Lui

Every semester we try to do a student panel uniquely aimed at addressing concerns/issues/topics of being a graduate student in our program.  Previously we’ve had panels on the dissertation process, and the first year of teaching experience.  This semester we put together a student panel discussion on attending professional research conferences like AERA, APA, AEA, APS and other acronyms.  It was a very interactive panel where both students attending and students presenting discussed their ideas and experiences.  We talked about some of the purposes/benefits of attending conferences (e.g. networking with other researchers, professors, universities; keeping up to date with current research; traveling; additions to your CV).  As a graduate student, however, conferences are also hard to attend because of the expenses involved.  Our panel provided students with advice on how to navigate this aspect – how to search for different funding sources, how to use money wisely and attend best conferences for graduate students and how to save on printing/presentation materials.  More and more conferences are now offering webinar options, and special sessions and rates for graduate students.  Other tips:  wear comfortable shoes, plan ahead especially if there are multiple sessions, and the overall perception of conferences is that people are more friendly and approachable/less intimidating at regional conferences compared to the big national conferences. 

Brown Bag 3:  11/24/14  Dr. Dai
Cradles for Talent:  Specialized Selective High Schools

For our last brown bag of the Fall 2014 semester, we decided to try an evening meeting and attendance was overwhelmingly positive!  At this Brown Bag Dr. Dai discussed gifted education, talent development, and specialized selective high schools like Bronx Science, Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech, High School of American Studies and Brooklyn Latin School in NYC.  First, he discussed the background and the psychological and educational theoretical underpinnings of gifted education.  For example:  talent development vs. creativity development, formal vs. informal learning, production (prescribed education) vs. client based (choices, designed for what students wants) education systems, and learning content vs. developing a way of thinking.  Then we got a closer look into how specialized selective high schools work in terms of their institutional leadership, admission policies, curriculum structure and requirements, and infrastructure supports (i.e. teaching capacity, network of support outside of the school, technology).  We discussed the importance of schools having a rigorous curriculum with post AP courses and research oriented courses with a wide range of options and choices.  Providing “threshold experiences” such as internships outside of the school, engaging in project based learning, and choosing a major much like you do in college leads to a more open and motivating school culture where students are treated as responsible individuals capable of thinking for themselves and making good decisions.  They have good ownership of their learning, strive for the best, and achieve personal goals.  It is especially positive for adolescents who are trying to find their niche and explore their identity and new horizons.  However, we also discussed some of the problems with these types of schools – particularly the admissions process which is a topic of debate among the schools and administrators.  Currently, there is only 1 criteria for admission to specialized selective high schools:  scores on the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test or SHSAT.  Some people say that is not enough to base admission on and other factors should be considered.  Other critics say it leads to racially unbalanced schools, with an overpopulation of Asian students and admissions criteria should be reformed so that the schools’ populations more accurately reflect the area’s demographics.  Another issue that was discussed was the amount of stress experienced by students who attend specialized selective high schools and how counseling programs and social and emotional supports are needed not just during high school but afterwards as well when they transition to college (Big Fish Little Pond Effect).  It was particularly interesting to hear from some of the students in attendance who went to specialized selective high schools in NYC who could offer their opinions on these issues and discuss their experiences. 

Social Events

On October 11, 2014 we did our annual apple picking and picnic event at Indian Ladder Farms and Thacher Park.  

We also went out for a night on the town at the end of the semester to celebrate people passing comprehensive exams and to get together one last time before winter break.  So it's a little late but HAPPY HOLIDAYS from the Ed Psych family and friends!  :)