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LeeH-2013.jpgHee Yun Lee, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Social Work, and Dr. Melissa Geller, gynecologic oncologist at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, received the Ovarian Cancer Pilot Award from the U.S. Department of Defense Health Program. The overall goal of the award is to eliminate ovarian cancer by supporting innovative, high-impact research.

Lee and Geller were awarded $225,000 over two years for the project, which aims to develop and assess an intervention using mobile phone technology to promote genetic counseling among women with ovarian cancer and their families.

Institute of Child Development alumna Rebecca ShlaferRebecca Shlafer (Ph.D. 2010), recently spoke to KARE 11 about her research on the doula program, Isis Rising, in the women's prison at Shakopee, MN. The program pairs a doula (a trained birth coach) with a pregnant inmate, which allows the inmate to receive delivery room support and prenatal and postnatal support that helps to foster not only a better, healthier birth experience and a healthier baby, but potentially a stronger start to a better relationship between the mother and her baby, which the program hopes will also foster healthy moms who don't return to prison. As one pregnant inmate put it: "I believe this is my chance. I'm going to have another kid. I need to get it together."

A privately-funded program, Isis Rising has reduced the number of caesarian births at Shakopee to around 3%, while the national rate is around 30%, and there have been no low-birth weight babies born in the program. Shlafer says that all of this saves the taxpayers money. And, she adds: "Putting aside the fact this mom has committed x, y, or z crime, all of the children in this are completely innocent."

Can providing teachers with information about the neurobiology of learning improve K-12 teaching and student learning? Yes, according to University of Minnesota researchers, who recently published their findings in the journal Educational Researcher. Those findings were also selected as an "Editor's Choice" in Science magazine.

By studying attendees of BrainU, a professional development workshop that teaches neuroscience principles of learning to in-service teachers, neuroscience professor Janet Dubinsky, RoehrigG-2004.jpgcurriculum and instruction associate professor Gillian Roehrig (left), and educational psychology associate professor Sashank Varma discovered that understanding of and engagement in neuroscience concepts improved for attending teachers and their students. Teaching the concept of "plasticity," as designed by the Society for Neuroscience, provided a model for understanding student learning in response to teacher instruction, which was a key concept taught in the BrainU workshop.

VarmaS-2011.jpg"Our empirical evaluation of BrainU finds that it improved teacher understanding of neuroscience and confidence in teaching neuroscience," said Varma (right). "This understanding translated to improved classroom instruction compared to control teachers. There was more evidence of inquiry-based learning on the part of teachers and of students engaging in higher-order thinking, displaying greater depth of knowledge, making deeper connections to the world, and engaging in more substantive conversations with teachers."

The researchers conclude their journal article with advice for integrating neuroscience principles of learning into the training of pre-service teachers.

Read the article "Infusing Neuroscience Into Teacher Professional Development," in Educational Researcher.

Also see "When Neuroscience Guides Education" in Science magazine.


John Romano, Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology Program (CSPP) faculty member, gave an invited presentation on prevention applications in education and psychology at the International Conference on Education Research at Seoul National University in Korea. Romano also gave presentations at Ewha Woman's University and Sogang University, where CSPP alumni serve on the faculty.

1JeanIllsleyClarke2011Web.jpgBest known for writing the seminal books on parenting, Jean Illsley Clarke, an internationally recognized family studies scholar and educator, influenced generations of parents. To honor her achievements, the University of Minnesota will award Clarke with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at 5 p.m. on Oct. 15 at a special ceremony in the Upson Room of Walter Library, 117 Pleasant St. S.E., Minneapolis.

A 1948 graduate of the University of Minnesota (B.S. in home economics education, cum laude), Clarke has had a long and distinguished career focusing on ways to help parents raise likable, self-sufficient and respectful children. She is the author of Self-Esteem: A Family Affair and How Much Is Enough? Among her list of honors and accomplishments: winner of the Eric Berne Memorial Award in Transactional Analysis, 1995; a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Northwest Parenting and Family Education Conference, 2008; alumni awards from the University of Minnesota College of Human Ecology, 1999, and College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), 2001; leadership positions on the National Council on Family Relations and the Minnesota Council on Family Relations; and honoree on the U of M's Wall of Discovery Scholars Walk.

Self-Esteem: A Family Affair is second only to Dr. Spock's as the most influential parenting advice book. Clarke's research and counseling, documented in her 20+ books, have been described as imaginative and practical.

"Jean Clarke is an expert on overindulgence, self-esteem, parenting, human development, group dynamics, and Transactional Analysis," said CEHD Dean Jean Quam. "She deserves this honor for her many contributions to the disciplines of family and parent education, and for translating that work to improve families and communities around the world."

Clarke has an M.A. from St. Mary's College in Winona and has been an adjunct faculty member at both the U and Concordia University.

Al YonasAl Yonas, professor at the Institute of Child Development, discussed his research on prosopagnosia, or face-blindness, on KSTP TV News on Sunday, October 6. Face blindness, a failure to remember a face, affects millions of people, many of them children. Yonas wants to raise awareness of the condition and to create a treatment for children--a computer game that can be fun and help train the brain to remember faces. Yonas' says that his immediate goal is to develop the game and demonstrate its effectiveness, then he hopes to be able to make it widely available for those children and families that need it. Stephanie Chase, a research assistant working with Yonas in his lab, describes her struggles with face blindness and why this research is so compelling for her. You may see the story here.

How much do you really know about your partner? How much do you want them to know about you? The answers to these questions are often surprising, according to two University of Minnesota researchers who recently published a new book, Knowing and Not Knowing in Intimate Relationships.

RosenblattP-2002.jpg"Many of the people we talked to revealed that they hungered to be known and yet kept secrets from their partner," said Paul Rosenblatt, professor emeritus of family social science. "Some hid past relationships or that they had an affair, while others hid issues of money, addiction, health, or personal failures."

Rosenblatt, and co-author Elizabeth Wieling, an associate professor of family social science at the U, based their findings on intensive interviews with 37 adults.

WielingL-2008.jpg"This book shows that knowing and not knowing are central to couple relationships," said Wieling. "They're entangled in love, sexual attraction, trust, commitment, caring, empathy, decision making, conflict, and many other aspects of couple life. Often the entanglement is paradoxical. For example, a person saying she wants to be known very, very well, and yet keeping some things hidden from a partner."

The researchers also found that many partners investigate their significant others in the early stages of a relationship -- from talking to family and friends of the person they're interested in to snooping on cell phones, going through drawers, or even talking to the partner's minister.

"Trust is a huge issue in relationships and must be present," said Rosenblatt. "We found that some people never recovered from a break in that trust, which had a major effect on the relationship. On the other hand, some relationships survived and even became stronger after major violations of trust."

The researchers did find differences between men and women, as well as between age groups.

1RosenblattWieling.jpg"Many young women struggled with what's expected of them versus what they needed to be in an intimate relationship," said Wieling. "While women wanted shared meaning and experiences with their partner to feel intimate, some men indicated that sex was the main factor for a feeling of intimacy."

"Of the older people we interviewed, many reported that knowing everything about their partner was not of paramount importance," added Rosenblatt. "We heard that more often among younger people, which may be a sign of the times or a sign of what goes on in earlier stages of relationships."

Glenn Roisman, professor at the Institute of Child Development, has been made a Fellow by the Division of Developmental Psychology (Division 7) of the American Psychological Association (APA).

Fellow status is an honor awarded to APA members when they have shown evidence of unusual and outstanding contributions or performance in the field of psychology that have had a national impact. Division 7 also seeks to award Fellow status for work that has contributed to the resolution of important issues in the field, opened up new and fruitful areas of investigation or served as a primary basis for the work of others.

Congratulations, Glenn!

Steven HarrisDepartment of Family Social Science professor Steven Harris co-authored Should I Try to Work It Out?: A Guidebook for Individuals and Couples at the Crossroads of Divorce, which was released this year.

The book serves as a resource for individuals at the "crossroads of divorce" and tries to answer the questions people faced with this challenge often struggle with.

Harris is also director of the Couple and Family Therapy program in FSOS, as well as associate director of Minnesota Couples on the Brink.

Examining the Association of Children's Academic Performance with Their Exposure to Parental Intimate Partner Violence and Child Maltreatment is the newest brief from Minn-LInK (Minnesota-Linking Information for Kids).

The purpose of the study was to "explore[] the association of children's exposure to parental intimate partner violence (IPV) and child maltreatment (CM), as well as combined exposure (IPV-CM), to children's academic achievement and school attendance over time." The study was meant to fill a research gap on individual and combined associations of children's exposure to IPV and/or CM with school success.

Results of the study are consistent with prior research that shows child exposure to both CM and IPV have a negative impact on school success.

View the brief here to learn more about the study and related research. You can also view the supplement to the brief here.

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