Conference celebrates education, human development research
Annual event recognizes excellence at UND College of Education & Human Development
Maybe the early April blizzard that forced the postponement of the UND College of Education & Human Development’s annual Research Conference was a lucky break, because May 16, the day the rescheduled conference was held, was the picture of perfect weather.
That weather surely made the short walk from the Education Building to the UND Memorial Union all the more pleasant.
The Memorial Union has now been designated as the site of future CEHD Research Conferences, instead of the Education Building. Doing so means that scholars, graduate and undergraduate students and any interested member of the campus community can more comfortably interact with one another throughout the conference.
Because interaction is key, organizers say. The annual event, this year rebranded as the Research Conference instead of the Research Fair, is the opportunity for CEHD faculty and graduate students to get together and discuss their research projects. That’s now done through talks given from a stage in the Memorial Union Ballroom, and through presentation posters that distill months of scholarly work down into a readable object for discussion. It is also the time the college recognizes people with Research Excellence Awards.
“It’s a great space,” said Robert Stupnisky, CEHD associate dean for research & faculty development, of the Ballroom. Stupnisky said the conference had grown too large to comfortably be held in the Education Building. Mostly though, he was looking forward to the upcoming presentations that day, and the chances for people to touch base on their recent scholarly work, he said.
“I’m really excited for everybody to come and see us showcase to each other, and to the campus community, all the research that we’ve done over the last year, and especially our three award winners,” he said.
That Tuesday, 12 people took the stage to discuss their work and answer follow-up questions, and discussions were held around the more than 20 research posters.
Hyonsuk Cho, associate professor and Hopper Danley Faculty Fellow of Teaching & Leadership, was one of the poster presenters. Among other areas, Cho’s work revolves around TESOL, and she was preparing to discuss her recent research into Head Start teachers’ willingness and confidence in teaching young children who may speak a different language at home, while acquiring English at school. Research results may inform on how to develop curriculum for people studying early childhood development to be such a teacher.
In fact, Cho said there may need to be more professional training experiences focusing on teaching English-language learners.
“There are perceptions about dual-language learners and (teachers’) perceptions about their competence to teach them, their willingness to teach them, especially in North Dakota, where there aren’t many dual-language learners,” Cho said. “They haven’t had many experiences with multilingual students, so we were interested in knowing their perceptions about their confidence level.”
Zarrina Azizova, assistant professor of Education, Health & Behavior, gave a talk on her research into requiring high school graduates to submit SAT or ACT test scores when applying to a university. Many professors are neutral on having students do this, but there are pockets of scholars of who are more strongly for or against this requirement, she said.
And then along came the pandemic caused by a novel coronavirus, and many schools went test blind. The incoming class of 2020 in the University of California system, Azizova said, was the most diverse in the schools’ history, though it’s too early to tell if many of those students are faring well in their studies, or even still enrolled, and what the impact actually is of not having to submit test score means. That means more research is needed on graduation rates, among other factors, to see if going test blind is working.
“And by ‘working,’ I mean: did we end up having a more fair, more diverse applicant pool in those who got admitted?” she asked.
Azizova said she’d like to refocus the debate on opportunity gaps that exist in the U.S., which she said are reflected in test scores — people coming from more affluent backgrounds and certain schools with more AP courses tend to do better on tests because they can afford the coaching and test prep activities. Adjusting policy to provide those opportunities across the board should help raise all test scores and impact student success when applying to more select schools that routinely require the tests.
And the winners are…
Throughout the conference, and during a lunch provided by University Catering, people spoke about their recent research efforts, but three scholars were recognized by the college with CEHD Research Excellence Awards. Each award recipient received a plaque and time to discuss their research. Awardees are determined by vote after a process of peer nomination and committee review. The award recipients follow below:
Terrill Taylor received the Inspire Award for Graduate Student Research Excellence. Taylor gave a recorded talk about his research, as he was in Texas for postdoctoral work at the time of the conference. Taylor was recognized for his work: Does race matter? An experimental vignette study on harm severity, college student discipline, and restorative justice.
Ryan Summers, associate professor and Rose Isabella Kelly Fischer Professor of Teaching & Leadership, received the 2023 Aspire Award for Early Career Excellence in Research and Scholarship. Summers investigates students’ attitudes toward science, school science and the perceived usefulness of science. He is involved in the North Dakota EPSCoR program and received a $2.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation for the STEM STRONG program, which examines professional development with modest supports.
Christopher Clark, assistant professor of Teaching & Leadership, received the 2023 Excellence in Research & Scholarship Award. Clark was recognized for research “highlighting the ideological influences on secondary teachers and their teaching of news media in their classrooms.” Clark’s research has been covered by different publications, including Politico and NBC News, and he has been recognized by the National Council for the Social Studies.