In the News
School of Education Associate Professor and LRDC Research Scientist Jennifer Russell and her co-authors’ publication “Tennessee scales up improved math instruction through coaching” was featured in a National Association of State Boards of Education press release that accompanied the special issue “Aligning a Standards-based System.” Individual article here, full issue here.
Klaus Libertus, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, and LRDC Center Associate, and Petra Hauf, Dean of Science, St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia, have made it into the final round for a $100,000 Spotlight Award for their work “Motor Skills and Their Foundational Role for Perceptual, social, and Cognitive Development. More information on finalists here. News release from StFX here.
LRDC Senior Scientist and Clinical Professor, Instruction and Learning, School of Education, Margaret McKeown, received the Creative Thought Matters Award of Distinction from her alma mater, Skidmore College. Brief highlight
LRDC Research Scientist and Assistant Professor, Psychology, School of Education, Lindsay Page was featured in a Pittwire news brief for having been awarded the 2017 NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Academy of Education. Read here
Study Finds New Link Between Childhood Abuse and Adolescent Misbehavior
Associative learning — the process by which an individual subconsciously links experiences and stimuli together — partially explains how people generally react to various real-world situations. In a newly released study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Pitt Assistant Professor Jamie L. Hanson, Psychology, and LRDC Research Scientist, detailed the connection between impaired associative learning capacities and instances of early childhood abuse.
“We primarily found that a poorer sense of associative learning negatively influences a child’s behavior patterns during complex and fast-changing situations. Having this knowledge is important for child psychologists, social workers, public policy officials and other professionals who are actively working to develop interventions,” said Hanson, who teaches in Pitt's Department of Psychology within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences with a secondary appointment in the University’s Learning Research and Development Center. “We have long known that there is a link between behavioral issues in adolescents and various forms of early life adversities. Yet, the connection isn’t always clear or straightforward. This study provides further insight into one of the many factors of how this complicated relationship comes to exist.”
To uncover these relationships, researchers asked 81 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 to play computer games where the child had to figure out which set of visual cues were associated with a reward. Forty-one participants had endured physical abuse at a young age, while the remaining 40 served as a comparison group. The most important aspect of the test, said Hanson, was that the cues were probabilistic, meaning children did not always receive positive feedback.
“The participants who had been exposed to early childhood abuse were less able than their peers to correctly learn which stimuli were likely to result in reward, even after repeated feedback,” said Hanson. “In life we are often given mixed or little to no feedback from our significant others, bosses, parents and other important people in our lives. We have to be able to figure out what might be the best thing to do next.”
Hanson and his colleagues also observed that mistreated children were generally less adept at differentiating which behaviors would lead to the best results for them personally when interacting with others. Additionally, abused children displayed more pessimism about the likelihood of positive outcomes compared to the group who hadn’t been abused. Taken as a whole, these findings clarify the relationship between physical abuse and the aggressive and disruptive behaviors that often plague abused children well into the later stages of childhood.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany, also contributed to the study.
LRDC Alumni Roberta Golinkoff and Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, University of Delaware and Temple University, were awarded the 2017 Scientific Research Award from the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD).
In the attached photo, from left to right: Ron Dahl president of SRCD, Roberta Golinkoff, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, and Robert Crosnoe, head of the awards committee.
The Behavioral Brain (B2) Research Training Program has been renewed for five more years of funding by the National Institutes of Health. The B2 Research Training Program aims to train the next generation of behavioral science researchers who can skillfully incorporate neuroscience perspectives and methods into their programs of research, based on an understanding of brain structure and function that bridges traditional areas of behavioral research. The B2 program requirements are described in more detail here. Julie Fiez, LRDC Senior Scientist and Professor, Psychology, Communication Sciences & Disorders; Neuroscience; and the CNBC, is a B2 Co-Director along with Lori Holt, Professor, Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University.
Lindsay Page and colleagues summarize recent math course assignment policy research in the Brooks Institute Brown Center Chalkboard blog post "Does More Rigorous Middle School math Coursework Change Students' College Readiness." Blog post here.
Cho, B-Y., Woodward, L., & Li, D. (2017). Epistemic processing when adolescents read online: A verbal protocol analysis of more and less successful online readers. Advance Online Publication, Reading Research Quarterly, 1-25. Article here.
Page, P. C., & Gehlbach, H. (2017). How an artificially intelligent virtual assistant helps students navigate the road to college. Social Science Research Network. Article here.
Bathgate, M., & Schunn, C. (2017). Factors that deepen or attenuate decline of science utility value during the middle school years. Contemporary Educational Psychology. Article here.
Demmans Epp, C (2017). Migrants and Mobile Technology Use: Gaps in the Support Provided by Current Tools.Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2017(1): 2, pp. 1–13. Article here.
Galla, B. M., Baelen, R. N., Duckworth, A. L., & Baime, M. J. (2016). Mindfulness, meet self-regulation: Boosting out-of-class meditation practice with brief action plans. Motivation Science, 2(4), 220-237. Article here.
Fang, X., Perfetti, C. A., & Stafura, J. (2017). Learning new meanings for known words: Biphasic effects of prior knowledge. Learning Cognition and Neuroscience, 32(5), 637-649. Article here.
Bill, V., Booker, L., Correnti, R., Russell, J., Schwartz, N., & Stein, M.K. (2017). Tennessee scales up improved math instruction through coaching. The Journal of the National Association of State Boards of Education, 17 (2), 22-27. Individual article here, full issue here.