The Reach of Research - 2013

THEORY TO PRACTICE, ISSUE NO. 5, FALL '13
The Reach of Research
The Reach of Research

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

United States

Greensboro, N.C. | Kingston, R.I. | Bethlehem, Pa.

Now in the second year of a five year longitudinal study, the TRAC Project is seeking to identify how students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, may differ from their peers with respect to psychological, social, and educational functioning.

George DuPaul, professor of school psychology, is working with peers from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the University of Rhode Island on the study. As part of the study, DuPaul is currently collecting second year data on 72 students (39 ADHD, 33 controls) who were first-years last year at Lehigh University, Muhlenberg College and Lafayette College. He also is recruiting another 70 students (35 ADHD, 35 controls) from current first-year students at the same three schools to take part.

DuPaul and the other researchers are hoping the data will identify factors that may predict success vs. difficulties for students with ADHD as they progress through four years of college.

Bethlehem, Pa.

A 20-day climate change curriculum for middle school students developed by Lehigh University in partnership with the Bethlehem Area School District in Pennsylvania is effective in increasing student understanding of important concepts, according to research. Teachers also found that it provided new ways of teaching climate change science content with a technology-integrated curriculum developed by Al Bodzin, associate professor of science education, and others at Lehigh.

The Environmental Literacy and Inquiry (ELI) curriculum is a coherent sequence of learning activities that include climate change investigations with Google Earth, web-based inter-activities that include an online carbon emissions calculator and a web-based geologic time-line, and hands-on laboratories. The climate change science topics include the atmosphere, Earth system energy balance, weather, greenhouse gases, paleoclimatology, and “humans and climate.”

Comprehension increased significantly from pre- to post-test after enactment of the ELI curriculum in the classrooms, research found. ELI is sponsored in part by the Lehigh Environmental Initiative. 

Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Missouri

More than half of high school students with severe behavioral issues never make it to graduation.

Thanks to Professor Lee Kern and her $9.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, there’s now a center where a group of special education and mental health experts are collaborating to make these children a national priority. 

Kern, who is associate chair and professor of special education at Lehigh, has used the generous grant to develop the National Research and Development Center on Serious Behavioral Disorders at the Secondary Level. There, she and her fellow researchers have studied a range of interventions designed specifically for high school students experiencing intensive emotional and behavioral disorders over the past four years; the Center has one more year of funding.

Research shows at least 2 to 3 percent of all school-aged children have severe behavioral disorders, and many more experience mental health problems that prevent them from succeeding in school. With that in mind, Kern’s work is imperative to making sure these students become fruitful members of society.

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.

China

Peggy Kong, assistant professor of comparative and international education, is conducting research on private supplementary tutoring in China, Hong Kong, and Japan. Kong is examining the influences of family background, definitions of private supplementary tutoring, and the forms of private supplementary tutoring within the context of Asia.

Germany

The intersection of mass education systems and the phenomenon of “scientization” worldwide is the focus of a project involving Associate Professor Alex Wiseman and faculty colleagues at the University of Tuebingen, Germany. They are concerned with the historical development of knowledge societies as a result of educational systems and the scientization of knowledge that accompanies educational institutionalization.

Ghana

Jill Sperandio, associate professor of educational leadership, is working in Ghana on an international project looking at school principals’ understanding of social justice leadership. She also just returned from a Ghana conference designed by Women Leading Education, which brings women together who are studying, experiencing, or promoting women’s leadership in educational activities.

Haiti

Professor Arpana Inman and Associate Professor Iveta Silova are working with two graduate students to improve public health training courses in Southeast Haiti. In collaboration with two partnering organizations, their students solicited feedback from 120 participants in a community health course focusing on maternal and child health and communicable disease prevention.

Indonesia

Associate Professor Alex Wiseman is faculty director for an internship program that will send five Lehigh students to Indonesia for eight weeks next summer. The students will work with Universitas Gadja Mada students and faculty on one of three projects: batik-making/tourism development; medicinal herbs/economic growth; or family welfare/community facilitation.

Czech Republic

Christine Novak, professor of practice in school psychology, is working with NGOs in the Czech Republic to promote social inclusion and educational outcomes for Romani youth living in isolated communities. Next summer, she will accompany five Lehigh undergraduates to work with three NGOs as part of Lehigh’s International Internship for Global Leadership program.