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Child development experts lead undergraduate directed research group to Uganda

CrickHechtRalston.jpgNicki Crick, professor, Kathryn Hecht, doctoral student, and Peter Ralston, department administrator, all at the Institute of Child Development (ICD), just returned from two weeks of leading undergraduates in Directed Research (CPsy 4994) in Uganda. This is the first Directed Research course in the Institute that has been a study abroad course.

In the course, a group of 16 UMN Child Psychology and Early Childhood Education students learned how to design and conduct culturally appropriate research projects, building on research conducted last summer by Crick, Hecht, and Ralston at the Lira Integrated School in Northern Uganda. The students worked to formulate research approaches to typical child development topics such as relational and physical aggression, nature vs. nurture, and the nature of play. The female UMN students were housed in dormitories with some of the high school girls from the Lira School, which enabled many close friendships to develop. "We talked for hours, nearly every night, about everything," one student said. "They shared music and dance," Crick added, "like older and younger sisters do."

Based on experiences last summer, the team thought that the expertise of the teachers of the Shirley G. Moore Lab School, housed in ICD, might be of value to nursery school teachers at the Lira School. "The teachers at the Lab School have an amazing body of knowledge and expertise," Crick said, "and the teachers at the Lira School also have their own methods of collaborating and working together." With the help of an Internationalization Triangle Grant from CEHD, Ross Thompson, a lead teacher at the Lab School, joined Kathryn Hecht in Uganda to begin collaborating with the Lira School nursery teachers with the goal of sharing information and learning more about how teachers work together in Uganda.

To read more about this project and other international collaborations, see this Connect Magazine story.

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