CEHD Research In Press: April-May 2022


Dr. Ryan Summers was awarded a National Science Foundation, Discovery Research K-12 grant entitled Investigating How Intensive and Modest Supports Effect Rural, Elementary Teachers’ Science and Engineering Practice. The four-year research grant is worth over $2.9 million, making it one of the largest in the history of the UND College of Education and Human Development. A summary of the project is below:

This study will investigate factors influencing teacher change after professional learning (PL) experiences and will examine the extent to which modest supports for science and engineering teaching in grades 3-5 sustain PL outcomes over the long term. One hundred eighty elementary teachers situated in small, rural school districts will be recruited for the study, bringing together 45 teachers from four states: North Dakota, California, Montana, and Wyoming. The teachers will participate in intensive online PL over the span of 5 days. After completing the initial PL, teachers will engage in modest electronic supports including a half-day refresher session the year after the initial PL, virtual meetings, social media connections among participating teachers, and access to archived Webinars on a range of topics related to teaching elementary school science. Modest support for replacement of consumable supplies needed for hands-on classroom engineering tasks will also be provided. The project will examine the extent to which these modest supports individually and collectively foster the sustainability of PL outcomes in terms of increases in instructional time devoted to science, teacher self-efficacy in science, and teacher use of reform-oriented instructional strategies aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. The effects of contextual factors on sustainability of PL outcomes will also be investigated.

Dr. Emily Midkiff’s essay in Publisher’s Weekly entitled, “Sci-Fi for Kids Is a Missed Publishing Opportunity” explains the research results in her new book, Equipping Space Cadets: Primary Science Fiction for Young Children (May 2022). 

Dr. Julie Robinson’s collaborative NSF-funded project between Education and Engineering, Project ExCEED, is being included in the 2022 STEM for All Video Showcase. Her presentation is entitled, Teachers’ Culturally Relevant Engineering Self-Efficacy

Dr. Renae Bjorg’s book, Guidelines and Games for Teaching Efficient Braille Reading (2nd ed.) will be released during the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of Blind and Visually Impaired International conference in St. Lewis, MO this summer. The publisher (American Printing House Press) invited Dr. Bjorg to sign books at a special book signing event during the conference.  According to the APH Press Newsletter, this book will be the first-ever APH Press book available for purchase with Federal Quota funds. Dr. Bjorg was also interviewed by Changemakers on May 17, 2022. Changemakers is a podcast produced by American Printing House. The podcast features people from around the world who are making a positive change in the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired.    

Dr. Grant Tomkinson’s latest publication found, while BMI has long been used as the primary anthropometric index for monitoring weight status in clinical and public health settings, research shows that indices involving waist circumference (WC) rather than BMI, are better associated with non-communicable diseases such as cardiometabolic risk. Using a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults who were directly measured for standing height, body mass, and WC, we found the optimal anthropometric index associated with cardiometabolic risk to be WC divided by body mass to the power of 0.333 (WC/M0.333). Instead of using BMI, we recommend using WC/M0.333 in clinical and public health practice to better identify U.S. adults at potential cardiometabolic risk. 


Dr. Renuka de Silva is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching, Leadership & Professional Practice at UND. She is the Program Director of Indigenous Language Education (ILE) and Indigenous Teacher Education (ITE). Both programs are grant-funded, and she is the Project Director and the PI for these grants that collectively add to approximately $ 3,000,000.00. Dr. de Silva earned her Ph.D. in Educational Foundations and Research at UND in 2019. As a qualitative researcher, Dr. de Silva examines issues and trends in Indigenous education, diversity, equity, inclusion, and cultural contexts of higher education. Her primary research focuses on Indigenous epistemology and the importance of storytelling in Native and Indigenous cultures regionally, nationally, and internationally: de Silva, R. M., & Hunter, J. E. (2021). Puhi in the Tree and Other Stories: Unlocking the Metaphor in Native and Indigenous Hawaiian Storytelling. Qualitative Report, 26(6). Dr. de Silva is also an artist and an activist. Her activism centers on creating pathways for scholars from underserved communities to engage in research that is non- Eurocentric. As an artist, Renuka’s research examines relationships between artists and their works connecting activism and transnationalism: De Silva, R. M., & Hunter, C. A. (2019). Art and the Voices Within: Exploring Kānaka Women’s Storytelling in the Visual Medium Through Portraiture and Kānaka’ Ōiwi Methodologies. Te Kaharoa, 12(1).   

In February 2022, Dr. de Silva was elected as the Co-Chair of Qualitative Research SIG of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) for a three-year term. As the first woman of color elected to this position, Dr. de Silva plans to institute her expertise in connecting with underserved communities nationally and internationally, bringing their voices to the forefront through programmatic pathways to showcase research that has gained little notice. She hopes to promote and support scholarly work where embodied experiences are [k]new knowledge that continues to shape people and creates identities that are meaningful to themselves. From this space, scholars will interrogate imposed identities with prefabricated borders and limitations placed on everything that is self and the physical body 

Dr. de Silva’s most recent research work centers on inequities in women’s higher education in rural sectors in Sri Lanka and the inequalities of access to education during the Covid-19 pandemic. Later this year, she looks forward to presenting the following two research papers at the Human Development & Capability Association (HDCA) in Antwerp, Belgium. These two papers are How is caste a long-sustained unjust social structure affecting girls’ higher educational trajectory and beyond in the Rural sector of Sri Lanka? and Inequalities in Access to Education during the COVID019: Spatial Analysis at the District Level in Sri Lanka. Dr. de Silva hopes to align these works to expand and explore similar inequities and structural inequalities experienced by Native women in the Dakotas with the support of her connection to Native communities. 


CEHD faculty are in bold, and CEHD students are underlined


National Science Foundation, Discovery Research K-12, Late-stage design and development. Investigating how intensive and modest supports effect rural, elementary teachers’ science and engineering practice. $2,935,632. R. Summers (Principal Investigator), R. Hammack, A. Iveland, M. Inouye, C. Ringstaff (co-Principal Investigators), J. Robinson. August 2022 – July 2026. 


Nevill AM, Lang JJ, Tomkinson GR. What is the optimal anthropometric index/ratio associated with two key measures of cardio-metabolic risk associated with hypertension and diabetes? Int J Obes. (5.1 Impact) 2022 April 4. DOI: 1038/s41366-022-01113-3. Online ahead of print. 

Guskey, T. R., & Link, L. J. (2022, April). What teachers really want when it comes to feedback. Educational Leadership, 79(7), 42-48. 

Kidokoro T, Tomkinson GR, Noi S, Suzuki K. Japanese physical fitness surveillance: A greater need for international publications that utilize the world’s best physical fitness database. J Phys Fitness Sports Med, in press. 

McGrath R, Lang JJ, Ortega FB, Chaput JP, Zhang K, Smitha J, Vincent B, Castro-Piñero J, Cuenca-Garcia M, Tomkinson GR. Handgrip strength asymmetry is associated with slow gait speed and poorer standing balance in older Americans. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics. 2022;102:104716. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.archger.2022.104716. 

Bjorg, R. T., & Olson, M. R., (2022). Guidelines and games for teaching efficient braille reading (2nd ed.). Louisville, KY: APH Press. 


Link, L. J. (2022, April). Classroom assessments that improve learning. Presented district-wide to McKenzie County Public School District #1, Watford City, ND. 

Mitic, R.R., DiBenedetto, K., Klassen, R., & Lowery, R., & Patel, P.R. (2022, April 28). Examining Baccalaureate Degree Completion: The Role of Debt Load and Dependency Status. Presentation the AIR/NCES Data Institute Research Reports. 

Chang, C. L. & Oancea S. C. (2022, accepted). Trend analysis of the association between physical activity for leisure and obesity before and after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic (Poster presentation). Society of Epidemiology Research, 2022 conference. 


The Research in Press blog will be going on a summer hiatus, returning in the fall to share the latest news on CEHD faculty and student research. Have a great summer! 



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