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The Reach of Research - 2011

THEORY TO PRACTICE, ISSUE NO. 3, FALL '11
The Reach of Research

Education in America is at a crossroads. Lehigh’s commitment to innovative research and focus on applying research to practice allows College of Education faculty to help shape education and mental-health policy across the nation. 

United States

Allentown, Pa.

With nearly 18,300 students, Allentown School District is the third largest of more than 500 school districts in Pennsylvania. It’s a rather unique urban laboratory for educational leadership, says George White, director of Lehigh’s Center for Developing Urban Educational Leaders.

He should know. Lehigh is partnering with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, Temple University’s Institute for Schools and Society, and Lehigh’s Dexter F. Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation on a $3.4 million multiyear program uniquely designed to train 14 aspiring principals in the district. The grant will focus on providing additional training in the areas of instructional leadership, organizational change and turnaround leadership to the existing 55 practicing school leaders in Allentown.  

Designed to turn around Allentown schools with the highest poverty and the lowest performance, this initiative targets half of the district’s 22 schools designated for School Improvement or Corrective Action under No Child Left Behind.

Philadelphia, Pa.

Last year, President Obama launched the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program. The ambitious program expands home visiting opportunities to young children who are typically underserved and who are primarily low-income and ethnic minority.

There is a significant lack of research methods that illustrate just how successful these programs are, however.

For the past few years, Patricia Manz, associate professor of special education, and a team of researchers from Lehigh have been striving to change that through a study called Project CARES, a four-year evaluation of the School District of Philadelphia’s Parent Child Home Program (PCHP). Although PCHP programs are administered nationally, this PCHP site is the largest urban program serving low-income Hispanic families of toddlers in the United States.

Community Services for Children, Inc. in the Lehigh Valley and the Early Childhood Office of the Philadelphia School System are both partners in the effort.

Early findings show the PCHP promotes children’s vocabulary acquisition as well as increases families’ involvement with their children’s early learning experiences at home. However, the research is particularly challenging; there is simply a lack of research methods that are appropriate for young children.

Bethlehem, Pa. and Kingston, R.I.

College students diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, are facing a harsher reality than their university peers, according to new research co-authored by George DuPaul, professor of school psychology.

DuPaul and Lisa Weyandt, professor of school psychology at the University of Rhode Island, are among the first researchers to report on the functional difficulties of students with ADHD. Over the course of two years, they closely monitored 24 students diagnosed with the incurable disorder—12 each at Lehigh University and the University of Rhode Island.

Their results showed that college students with ADHD are at a significant disadvantage and struggle to meet the strenuous demands of college life. They have more functional difficulties addressing time management, organization, classroom focus and study skills throughout their four years.

In a related study, DuPaul and Weyandt also found that 80 percent of students responded positively to Vyvanse®, a new medication offered by pharmaceutical company Shire (who helped fund the study).

Around the World

In a world that is becoming more connected, Lehigh faculty have become an integral part of the international dialogue surrounding education—particularly in regions where educational reform is undergoing intense scrutiny.

Haiti

Counseling psychology student Amanda Carr traveled to Port au Prince, Haiti in August 2010 to provide group counseling to 11 children, ages 5 to 17, living at Rescue Children Orphanage. While in the grief-stricken capital, she also conducted an organizational assessment of the orphanage as well as individual bio-psychosocial assessments for each of the children. 

Saudi Arabia 

Associate Professor Alexander Wiseman’s research into Saudi Arabia’s education and labor market portends big problems for the Middle Eastern kingdom, as non-Saudis who work in the nation’s private sector continue to be more economically stable, entrepreneurial and independent than their native (and more educated) Saudi counterparts, most of whom rely on the government for employment. 

Cambodia

Comparative and international education student Harry Mora will travel to Siem Reap, Cambodia for the third time in 15 months this fall. He’s part of a Caring for Cambodia program cohort that is developing employability initiatives for the non-profit’s students. Mora and his peers are also creating a new Career Center and alumni-tracking tool at Siem Reap’s Bakong High School. 

United Nations

As one of only 16 universities worldwide recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization delegate to the United Nations, Lehigh University blogged proceedings from the 55th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women this spring. Writing in languages as diverse as Korean, Arabic, Russian, French and English, 14 Lehigh students logged more than 50 posts in two weeks. 

Tanzania

Last year, counseling psychology student Brian Knettelor taught in a Tanzanian university and was struck by the need for public education and for mental-health care that is congruent with the local culture. He will return this year to collect information about how rural Tanzanians perceive mental illness and its treatment, and seek out any cultural disconnects that may exist. 

South Sudan

Counseling psychology student Arlette Ngoubene-Atioky is  studying the different experiences of refugees in the war-plagued Sub-Saharan African nations of South Sudan, Togo, Congo and Sierra Leone. Her focus is on adolescent refugees, ages 13 to 19, and the adaptation process they follow as they seek to readjust to new and unfamiliar communities.