Lehigh University School Study Council Hosts Annual Research to Practice Event

Wednesday, January 25, 2023 - 4:00pm

The annual event celebrates the College of Education’s research endeavors and the research-practitioner partnership.

Last Wednesday, members from 20+ local school districts who make up the Lehigh University School Study Council (LUSSC) gathered in Iacocca Hall for the Council’s annual “Research to Practice” event. This is the first time the event has been held in Iacocca since January 2020.

The event kicked off with a welcome from associate dean of research Dr. George DuPaul and featured a full schedule of research presentations followed by a question and answer session with; Dr. Minyi Dennis, associate professor and program director for the special education program, Dr. Robin Hojnoski, professor in the school psychology program and associate dean of graduate studies, and Dr. Chris Liang, professor in the counseling psychology program and department chair of the College of Education and Human Services.

The College of Education conducts research to promote success across the lifespan with four main focus areas: growth in student learning, mental health and social emotional wellness, leadership in school improvement and equity for individuals from diverse backgrounds. Although faculty numbers are seemingly small, COE researchers are leaders in autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, including a Center for Promoting Research to Practice and our Centennial School. In addition, COE research is focused on the future with the use of technology, AI and social emotional wellness. 

Brief overview of faculty presentations:

  • Dr. Dennis’ current research project revolves around math interventions and the “I do, we do, you do” approach to math learning. Her research looks at addressing the effectiveness of a new core curriculum, provides universal screenings and results, as well as comparing the screening results with the results of the benchmark tests being administered by schools, both at the school and classroom level. Her long term data shows improvement in diagnostic accuracy across different tests and compares the predictive validity of different measures of the test. 

  • Dr. Hojnoski's research project involves supporting district-wide social emotional learning. Instead of research to practice, this project focuses on practice to research. The research was initiated when a local district approached the COE with a question about addressing practical implications for mental health concerns at a student, teacher and admin level in a post-Covid world. The project addressed clear benefits to their partnership and creation of research questions together, including promoting data-based decision making, targeted efforts and the evaluation of those efforts. With the baseline of data, districts and COE can now address the next set of questions they want answered.

  • Dr. Liang’s research entitled, “Partnerships for Equity Beyond Interventions” focuses on trauma in schools. The goal of the project is to facilitate student wellness and teach buy-in at a systems level, as well as develop cultures as a prevention tool. One of the many levels of the skill-based training includes the district partner identifying trauma leadership teams, which help deepen their knowledge-base of trauma, process and teacher wellbeing, in addition to identifying youth at-risk for Emotional Behavior Disorder. Some questions the team and training address include, identifying what’s going on within the districts’ system, to be able to leverage what’s already working. The goal being to not necessarily create something new, but reorganizing the system to help with follow through. The teams focus on transformation, possibly resulting in more sustainable practice at both a district and building level. An example of this work is the implementation of peace spaces in schools. The process includes training on how to implement and use the peace spaces, identifying barriers of mindset during those training sessions (punishment needed) and the findings that peace spaces are preferred over discipline.

These are only a few of the opportunities, topics and current projects happening at the College of Education, in partnership with our local schools! If you or someone you know has a potential area of interest you’d like to discuss, please contact associate dean for research Dr. George DuPaul at gjd3@lehigh.edu

To learn more about research and scholarship at the COE, visit: ed.lehigh.edu/research-and-scholarship