A group of students approached Human Development and Family Studies faculty member, Dr. Sherwood Burns-Nader, with an interest in participating in research. With guidance from her, these students completed a research project focused on children. Their abstract was selected for presentation at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research held at Kennesaw State University this spring.
Each of the five students conducting research were involved in UA’s Emerging Scholars program. Three are focusing on the CHES Child Life concentration and two are biology majors. All continued to participate in research in the lab after having completed the Emerging Scholars program.
What did they investigate – the effectiveness of a non-invasive pain relief product called Buzzy. Their abstract says it all:
Congratulations to these emerging researchers: Amber Wesoloski of Moon Township, Penn., Emily Goldstein of Santa Clarita, Cal., Shannon Anderson of Mobile, Ala., Molly Lukas of Lakeland, Tenn., and Lily Small of Fairhope, Ala.!
what's happening in the college
Dr. Maria Hernandez-Reif sought to answer this question with a research study she recently completed. Read about her study below and view a report from WBRC on her findings.
A University of Alabama College of Human Environmental Sciences study of 393 pre-kindergarten children in the Tuscaloosa City School System indicates that more than 80 percent are ready for kindergarten.
Initial results show the system’s pre-K teachers helped the children develop the needed skills for starting kindergarten, said Dr. Maria Hernandez-Reif, UA professor of human development and family studies and the primary investigator.
The study examined “school readiness” as defined by the Office of School Readiness in the state’s Department of Early Childhood Education.
Areas that indicate readiness include: an eagerness to learn; skills to function in a social setting; age appropriate skills to communicate and participate in problem solving or learning; age appropriate emotional skills; and good physical development and optimal health.
The study was funded by the Malone Family Foundation, Project LAUNCH and the UA College of Human Environmental Sciences and assessed children at the beginning and end of the 2017-2018 school year.
Tools used to evaluate the TCS pre-K program included a scale, developed by the Alabama Partnership for Children and modified by Hernandez-Reif, that identifies indicators that help children become ready for school. Teachers completed scales on children in their classrooms at the beginning of the year to provide a baseline and again at the end of the school year to measure improvement. Over 90 percent of children in TCS pre-K programs were assessed.
“Child Development Resources does a lot of work with providers and families to promote optimal child development,” said Dr. April Kendrick, director of Child Development Resources at UA and collaborator on the project. “We are so pleased to see that young children in our community are performing well and are socially and emotionally prepared for kindergarten.”
The analysis also found that family involvement greatly influenced children’s skill development over the school year. Children whose family were “rarely” or only “sometimes” involved in their pre-K child’s education made smaller gains compared to those whose family were “almost always” involved.
Results also indicated that although the majority of the children reliably made it to school on time, a little over 10 percent of the children were sometimes or almost always absent or tardy during the first two months of school. Children whose parents were “rarely” involved were also more likely to be tardy or absent from school.
“This highlights the importance of helping parents understand that they have a great opportunity to help prepare their child for school by enrolling them in pre-K and that getting them to school on time is important,” Hernandez-Reif said. Examining barriers that may be preventing parents from being involved in their young children’s education is an area that is prime for program development, she said.
Hernandez-Reif said she is eager to expand the research, looking more closely at the impact of the relationships among family, teacher and child.
“This research opens doors to further explore how we can support children and families.”
Hero to Our Heroes
Dr. Carroll Tingle, chair of the Human Development and Family Studies department at the College of Human Environmental Sciences, received the “Hero to our Heroes” Thank You Award from Jefferson State Community College on Thursday, April 6, 2017. The award was given for her work to provide a pathway for JSCC Child Development Students to continue their education, for support of the JSCC Program, and for her great example.
Kathi Wales, Jefferson State Child Development Program Coordinator, said “Prior to UA creating this educational avenue, our students were 'dead in the water' when they completed their associate degree with us and some of them really wanted to continue their education. So we approached several universities about the critical need and UA came through thanks to Carroll’s efforts and the faculty at the time who agreed to do it."
"There are really no words of gratitude adequate to thank her and UA. Now other colleges and universities have followed but UA opened the door first. Carroll has been an advocate for our program not only in opening the door but she faithfully attended our advisory meetings, answered a ton of my questions, offered assistance when we went through our first accreditation and our re-accreditation. She spoke with peer reviewers about our program each time.”
Congratulations Dr. Tingle on this well-deserved honor!