2014-2015 Seed Grant Awardees

During the 2014-2015 academic year, several opportunities were available within the College of Education and Human Ecology’s Office of Research (OR) and the Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy (CCEC) to support the scholarly activities of its students and faculty. There were three separate grants programs, as follows:

  1. OR Faculty Seed Grant Program on Risk, Resiliency, and/or Vulnerable Populations,
  2. CCEC Faculty Grants to Support Research on Children’s Well-Being, and
  3. CCEC Student Grants to Support Mentored Research Projects.

The following indviduals were awarded seed grants for the 2014-2015 academic year.

2014-2015 Office of Research Faculty Seed Grants

Troyan, Francis J. (Teaching and Learning) & Bengochea, Alain. (CCEC)  Investigating ideologies and responsive practices in language immersion education for emergent bilinguals: A pilot study.
The goal of this pilot study is to investigate the current state of language immersion (LI) education in Columbus City Schools (CCS) as the basis for longitudinal research on the capacity of LI programs to positively support the educational experiences of emergent bilinguals (EBs) in Columbus. The focus will be on the academic, linguistic, and sociocultural needs of Latino, African American, and African Franocophone EBs, three particularly vulnerable student populations who are placed at risk due to poverty, race, ethnicity, language, and other factors, and who are rarely well served by their schools.

To our knowledge, no systematic research has been conducted on the academic and language learning experiences of these student populations in the LI schools in Columbus; therefore, little is known about the programs that serve them. This pilot study will use ethnographic (e.g., interview data, school artifacts) and discourse analysis methodologies to depict the current and historical context of Columbus’ two LI schools and the instructional practices used in each school to support students’ learning.

Preliminary data from this pilot study will inform the preparation of research proposals to external funding agencies that contribute to a long-term research initiative to develop sustainable teacher and administrator professional development that specifically addresses the academic and language development needs of this vulnerable student population.

Hatsu, Irene. (Human Sciences), Slesnick, Natasha. (Human Sciences) & Hade, Erinn. (Medicine)  Micronutrients deficiencies and mental health among homeless youth.
Approximately 66%-89% of homeless youth experience mental health problems. A critical gap still exists in research as related to what causes these problems and how they need to be managed. There is evidence that homeless youth have poor dietary and nutrient intake. This introduces vulnerability to micronutrient abnormalities which is worsened by substance misuse. Prior studies in normal adult populations associate micronutrient abnormalities with poor mental health. Nutrition is therefore a critical component of mental health.

Building on earlier studies, the goal of this pilot study is to address the critical knowledge gap on the inter-relationship of micronutrient status to mental health outcomes among homeless youth by examining abnormalities in vitamins B12 and D, folate and zinc levels. Fifty homeless youth will be included in the study.

The findings from this study will form the basis for future studies to determine the relevance of nutrition therapy as an effective addition to the treatment of mental disorders among homeless youth.

Lin, Tzu-Jung. (Educational Studies) & Anderman, Eric. (Educational Studies)  Promoting the social and cognitive competence of early adolescence.
This study is a preliminary evaluation of a small-group intervention featuring dialogic inquiry and prosocial norms to promote peer-rejected early adolescents’ social and cognitive competence. If the dialogic and prosocial intervention is successful, the findings will lay the foundation for a grant proposal for larger-scale implementation and evaluation of the intervention.

The overarching goal of this study is to provide insights into how to improve learning environments for peer-rejected students. Students who are rejected by their peers are at risk for academic failure and school maladjustment. Rejection is often due to inability to establish positive interactions with peers. Peer rejection is particularly detrimental to early adolescents transitioning from primary to middle school.

The proposed intervention involves a small-group discussion approach in which students reason together about social-moral issues that arise from social interactions, such as inclusion and exclusion. Prosocial norms featuring mutual respect, social support, and equal participation are established through goal setting, modeling, scaffolding, and self-reflection strategies.

Li, Weidong. (Human Sciences), Cao, Lei. (Medicine) & Ziouzenkova, Ouliana. (Human Sciences)  Impact of overtraining on hippocampal neurogenesis and potential mechanisms: Establishing a mice model.
Research in humans and animals has demonstrated that exercise enhances hippocampal neurogenesis, a process that contributes to improving learning and memory. However, there are two gaps existing in the literature. First, most of the evidence currently available is related to the positive effects of normal regular exercise on hippocampal neurogenesis. A recent study with a small sample size reported that smaller hippocampal volumes and a slower reaction time on cognitive tests were detected in college players with years of football experience as compared to those with fewer years of experience.

This provided some evidence supporting the negative effects of overtraining on hippocampal neurogenesis. No knowledge is available with regards to whether overtraining enhances or inhibits hippocampal neurogenesis among children and adolescents. Secondly, the mechanisms of the effects of overtraining on hippocampal neurogenesis are not well understood. Constant exposure to physical and psychological stressors could produce an excess of glucocorticoid secretion, which can potentially suppress hippocampus neurogenesis and reduce dendritic arborization within the hippocampus.

Therefore, there is a critical need to establish a mouse model that represents how overtraining affects hippocampal neurogenesis and would ultimately allow us to elucidate the mechanisms underlying these effects. Knowledge generated from this study will be very important, because without it, we cannot completely understand the important molecular mechanisms of overtraining on learning and memory, and we cannot design effective exercise interventions that would maximally optimize learning and memory benefits among children and adolescents. It would also provide critical insights on development and refinement of future human clinical interventions on optimal exercise for maximum cognitive benefits, thus informing health and physical education policies by providing a comprehensive empirical rationale for the amount of exercise that children need to engage in to achieve cognitive benefits.

 2014-2015 CCEC Faculty Grants

Pratt, Keeley. (Human Sciences), Gunther, Carolyn. (Human Sciences), Goodway, Jackie. (Human Sciences) & Purtell, Kelly. (Human Sciences)  School-based health clinic utilization and barriers to participation: improving the health-related quality of life and SFC parents and youth.
School-based health clinics have increased in number over the past decades with results promising long-term health benefits from receiving preventative care, managing chronic illness and mental/behavioral health conditions. The objectives of this project are to assess the Schoenbaum Family Center Healthcare Clinic (SFCHC) utilization and the barriers to participation in clinic services, and to survey SFC families about their health-related quality of life, perceptions, and concerns about current and future health status. This project will generate insights about how to increase use of services at SFCHC and to inform future SFC family-tailored health interventions for children, parent/guardian(s), families, and community members.

 Gugiu, Mihaiela. (CCEC), Gugiu, P. Cristian. (Educational Studies), Barnes, Michael. (Educational Studies) & Sanders, Margaret. (Educational Studies).  Poverty and education: Estimating the impacts parents have on their children’s early educational performance.
Poverty has been identified as the biggest threat to a young child’s development and well-being—the greater the depth and duration of poverty the greater the risk. Parents (or primary caregivers) have been recognized as playing an important role in moderating the negative impact economic adversity can have on children’s development and their academic performance. The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact parental factors—their beliefs about education, family stress, and coping strategies—have on the educational performance of their kindergarten children.

2014-2015 CCEC Student Grants to Support Mentored Research Projects

Tsuda, Emi. (Human Sciences), Goodway, Jackie. (Human Sciences – mentor) & Famelia, Ruri. (Human Sciences)  Who is sitting on the playground: examining the underlying mechanisms associated with being physically active during free play on the playground?
Early childhood is the timeframe in which to develop the motor competence and physical activity (PA) patterns for life as PA/inactivity tracks from childhood into adulthood (Sttoden et al., 2008). One might assume that young children engage in PA as a part of their free play time on the playground. However, recent research shows that levels of PA are low in child care (Head Start) centers and when given the opportunity to be physically active many children chose to be sedentary or engage in light PA (Pate, 2001). Thus, our study is a first step in better understanding the PA levels, motor competence, and perceived motor competence of young children. Children will be assessed on PA levels, fundamental motor competence, and perceived motor competence. This study will serve to inform future intervention studies and has the potential to have widespread impact and relevance to early childhood practice and policy.