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Kelly Banneyer was in high school when she first became fascinated with the fact that your brain can be the source of sickness. One of her friends was suffering from a mental illness and Banneyer saw, firsthand, the way the disease can take away much of what’s good in a person’s life.

That epiphany’s fueled her studies for seven years, all the way into what’s now her fourth year of a doctorate in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Psychology.

As part of her doctoral program, Banneyer works at the college’s Texas Child Study Center (TCSC), Central Texas’s premier pediatric mental health service facility. The Center was created in partnership with Dell Children’s Medical Center and, in addition to seeing patients, offers training for future psychologists and psychiatrists like Banneyer.

Kelly Banneyer“I’m a graduate assistant for Dr. Kevin Stark, the co-founder and current director of the Center,” said Banneyer, “and I’m working with him on a major treatment study of anxiety in children. This means I get into the nitty-gritty of collecting and analyzing data, in addition to recruiting, assessing, and working with study participants. I also supervise a team of 11 undergraduate and 12 graduate students, whom I recruited and who are being trained at the Center. And I see around 8-10 patients per week.”

Although Banneyer’s focus of study is anxiety, students with a wide array of interests can be accommodated by the Center. Whether a doctoral student wants to specialize in obesity and behavioral health, oncology and mental health issues, or autism, the Center’s partnership with Dell Children’s opens the door for topnotch training opportunities.

“You can’t imagine how often parents come in and say, ‘My child is exactly the way I was at that age and I’d give anything to have had the help he’s getting. They tell us we’re lifesavers. Who wouldn’t want a career like this?” – Kelly Banneyer

“It’s amazing how many choices we have,” said Banneyer. “I like working with children who suffer from anxiety, specifically, because it’s so debilitating but so treatable. There’s definitely help and hope. One of the most promising aspects of the treatment we use is how effective the parent training portion is – when you couple parent education with therapy for the child, the outcomes are very positive.”

Banneyer relates the story of one little boy she treated who had such severe separation anxiety that he couldn’t go to school without his parents. Either mom or dad had to be in the classroom and on the field with him when he was playing sports, and when he was at home he couldn’t remain in a room alone. By working with the child, in stages, on having his parents physically away from him and giving the parents strategies they could use at home to model desirable behavior, Banneyer saw her patient’s behavior steadily improve.

Another child she’s helped had a debilitating obsessive-compulsive disorder that was triggered when anyone was physically near him. He was constantly moving, multiple times a minute, and couldn’t do simple things like sit with the family on the couch and watch TV. Or ride in the car with others. Or be hugged by his parents. In fact, when he initially went to the TCSC, he could not sit in a therapy room with his parents and the therapist – the rooms simply weren’t big enough.

Kelly Banneyer Group Photo“He’d always had a few behavior quirks but nothing that disrupted his life to this extent,” said Banneyer. “When he entered middle school, though, that was the stress trigger that set off this extreme reaction. We’ve noticed that middle school can be one of the top triggers for the presentation of anxiety disorders in boys.

“Fortunately, our therapy seems to be working and now when you see him out in the waiting room he’s leaning comfortably against his dad and playing with his phone. He’s even gone on several road trips with his family.”

It’s students like Banneyer, ones with excellent research and clinical skills, who have helped the TCSC gain a national reputation as a great training facility.

“Our graduate students are obtaining degrees in school psychology, and normally school psychology students don’t get the plum, more competitive clinical internships, but ours are being placed at the top internship sites in the nation.” – Kevin Stark

“Our graduate students are obtaining degrees in school psychology, and normally school psychology students don’t get the plum, more competitive clinical internships,” said Stark, “but ours are being placed at the top internship sites in the nation. Since we opened the Center, our trainees have consistently completed their internships at Harvard/Boston Children’s Hospital and at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which is the number one internship in the country.”

Banneyer’s ultimate aim is to be director of an anxiety disorders research center, combining her love of research with the actual application of it. Right now she’s gathering copious amounts of data for the anxiety study, writing many papers, and presenting at conferences around the nation in preparation for attaining that goal.

“You can’t imagine how often parents come in and say, ‘My child is exactly the way I was at that age and I’d give anything to have had the help he’s getting,’” said Banneyer. “They tell us we’re lifesavers. Who wouldn’t want a career like this?”

David Scheinfeld is a doctoral student who’s using his research and practice as well as his “9-5” job at Outward Bound for Veterans to help returning service members and veterans adapt to life at home after military service. Outward Bound offers wilderness courses that draw on the healing benefits of teamwork and challenge experienced in a natural environment, with all of the participants working together toward a common objective.

How did you get involved with Outward Bound for Veterans?

My parents instilled a love of nature in me and showed me how it has the power to shift one’s perspective about the world. I had attended two Outward Bound courses in high school and those ignited my passion for the organization. I developed an even greater love of outdoor education while in college at the University of Puget Sound and then took a job as an instructor at Outward Bound in 2003 – I’ve been working with them in one capacity or another ever since.

What’s the work with Outward Bound for Veterans like?

Currently, I’m primarily instructing Outward Bound backpacking and rock climbing courses in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I’ve also been an instructor for a Florida Keys sailing course and a Boundary Waters canoeing course in Minnesota, as well as with Montana Outward Bound and North Carolina Outward Bound. Unfortunately, there are no Texas courses right now. Veterans from any state can apply for a course and if they’re accepted, Outward Bound for Veterans will pay for their airfare and all associated costs.

How is your doctoral work intersecting with what you’re doing at Outward Bound?

The majority of my time right now is spent at the Austin Veterans Health Administration completing my clinical internship for a Ph.D. in counseling psychology. With veterans’ posttraumatic stress (PTS) becoming a growing public health concern, my clinical passion is helping veterans address and reduce PTS. There are a large number of returning veterans who could benefit from mental health services but tend to underutilize them or drop out prematurely. To deal with this issue, it’s critical to look at alternative programs and interventions that will address their mental health concerns while also increasing their motivation to seek out mental health assistance. Outward Bound for Veterans, which is a therapeutic adventure intervention, is an alternative approach that’s shown a lot of promise. With Outward Bound, I’m an instructor as well as a researcher.

After you get your doctorate, what do you plan on doing?

It would be great to keep researching alternative and complementary mental healthcare approaches for veterans. Through Outward Bound for Veterans, I hope to work with veterans who are more resistant to traditional forms of therapy while also working as a therapist and researcher at the VA. I’d like to develop programming that uses therapeutic adventure as a complementary and alternative approach to traditional therapy– the therapeutic adventure component wouldn’t be a stand-alone experience, but rather a springboard to bolster veterans’ mental healthcare outcomes.

If you weren’t pursuing this particular area of study and career, what would you want to do?

I’d love to be drummer in a famous band … that didn’t travel too often.

Jane GrayPsychologist Jane Gray is Director of Behavioral Health at the Texas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity, Director of Psychology Training at the College of Education’s Texas Child Study Center, and a clinical assistant professor in the college’s Department of Educational Psychology. Gray’s positive experiences with faculty, research, and coursework in the College of Education compelled her to maintain strong connections to the college even after graduation and into her career.

Your Story

The educational psychology doctoral program was excellent training for a career in clinical work, training, and research. It prepared me very well for my internship at a pediatric hospital, postdoctoral work on clinical research projects, and my current position at the Texas Child Study Center. As a student I was a research assistant for various research projects, including Dr. Kevin Stark’s ACTION project. Working with the ACTION project allowed me to fine-tune my skills in cognitive behavioral therapy and offered an opportunity for program development and supervision of peers. I then went on to explore research interests of my own in the areas of internalizing disorders and the dissemination of evidence-based practices. Additionally, my work with the college’s Texas Autism Project rounded out my assessment and therapy skills and helped me develop an integrated perspective on the patient’s identified problems.

Why UT?

I applied to graduate programs during my last year as an undergraduate and, although I was fairly sure of my interests, I cast a wide net and applied to a variety of clinical and school psychology programs. I was drawn to UT in particular because it had a great reputation as a strong, highly ranked school psychology program that integrated a child clinical perspective, and there was a match between my interests and the faculty’s areas of research. The quality of the training and faculty was immediately apparent when I met with faculty and current students. In addition to being active in research, faculty members were licensed psychologists in their own practices, and they were involved in professional organizations like the American Psychological Association. The students reported feeling well-supported in their training, and I could sense the camaraderie among students, which was very important to me.

Life After UT

I did postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School’s Judge Baker Children’s Center, and that was invaluable in helping me refine my research skills and become better at training and supervision. During that time I also was an instructor for an undergraduate course in development across the lifespan. When I returned to Austin, I was one of the first psychologist hires at the College of Education’s Texas Child Study Center. I began to develop an obesity program for Dell Children’s Medical Center, became director for the psychology training program for the Texas Child Study Center, and created a new psychology internship program. Being part of the obesity program has allowed me to become involved in national initiatives to develop best practices in the assessment and treatment of youth with obesity. I’ve been part of a national focus group of 25 pediatric obesity programs and I serve on the American Psychological Association’s obesity panel to create clinical practice guidelines for professionals.

Advice For Students

My recommendation to students would be to carefully assess your skills and interests, then determine where to focus your academic energy based on your goals and objectives, not based on where your peers are focusing their energies. Graduate school is a time to take opportunities that are available and challenge yourself, but it should be a focused effort. Take advantage of professional development opportunities and definitely use mentors to learn how to be an effective professional because even the most skilled clinician or researcher may experience trouble finding a job because of deficits in the area of professional behavior. It’s also a good idea to stay in touch with those mentors even after you graduate.

Sarah Powell

Sarah Powell, Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow

Sarah Powell, a first-year assistant professor in the College of Education’s Department of Special Education, has been named a Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow by the National Academy of Education (NAEd). Powell was among 25 honorees chosen from a pool of more than 200 applicants.

The prestigious Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship program supports early career scholars working in critical areas of education research. Fellowships, which carry awards of $55,000, are funded by a grant to the NAEd from the Spencer Foundation, a private foundation that supports research to improve education.

Powell’s research focuses on developing and testing interventions for students with mathematics difficulties. She is particularly interested in peer tutoring, word-problem solving, and the role of symbols for understanding mathematics. Powell was selected for the fellowship based on a two-year research proposal she submitted that asks how math symbol and vocabulary understanding influence math performance.

“I am extremely honored to receive this fellowship,” said Powell. “It will allow me to delve into the area of math symbols and vocabulary. By collecting data across four grade levels, I can learn how math symbol and vocabulary knowledge change from early elementary to late middle school. I hope this knowledge can be used to improve math instruction for students.”

Not only are College of Education faculty and students nationally recognized for their landmark research on topics like racial inequality in schools, but also for pioneering programs like Uteach and the Kinesiology and Health Education Department’s rigorous athletic training program. Check out this sample of media coverage our top-ranked college has received from MSNBC, KUT, Alcalde and KNOW.

MSNBC
Julian Vasquez Heilig
“What’s causing racial segregation in schools”
http://www.msnbc.com/melissa-harris-perry/watch/whats-causing-racial-segregation-in-schools-258597955928

“Demography determines destiny … those schools that are triple segregated are more likely to be low performing and this is a really big issue.”

 

KUT
Richard Reddick
“Why Do Black Students Get More Suspensions?”
http://kut.org/post/why-do-black-students-get-more-suspensions-here-are-3-possible-reasons

“‘So often, schools require students to leave their culture, leave their heritage at the door and convert to what we have, instead of saying, ‘We embrace what you have,” Reddick says. “‘And that doesn’t happen unless you have a clear understanding of what the community does.'”

 

Alcalde
Uteach
“UT’s Award-Winning Teacher Education Program Goes (Even More) National
http://alcalde.texasexes.org/2014/02/uts-award-winning-teacher-education-program-goes-even-more-national/

“The U.S. faces a shortage of 283,000 science and math teachers by 2015. Increasingly, educators are agreeing that one of the best ways to bridge that gap is a program that started on the Forty Acres.”

 

KNOW
Athletic Training Program
“Open Up and Say ‘Hook’em'”
http://www.utexas.edu/know/2014/05/13/open-up-and-say-hook-em/

“Students in the university’s undergraduate athletic training degree program in the College of Education help provide support to athletic training and sports medicine staff, providing care to UT’s hundreds of student-athletes. They have to be jacks-of-all-trades, working on everything from setting up fields and courts for practices and games to providing first-aid treatment to assisting in rehabilitation for injured athletes.”

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For book lovers, summer means making a little extra time to fall in love with a new title or revisit an old favorite.

Incoming University of Texas at Austin freshmen are no exception, and the 12th annual Reading Round-up invites them to join a campus-wide book club that promises an introduction to the university they won’t soon forget. Not to mention it offers plenty of new entries for their must-read lists.

Reading Round-up shares professors’ picks for books they think new college students should read, from the classics to modern novels to practical nonfiction. Students in the Class of 2018 pick a book from the list, sign up online and read it before the fall semester begins. On Aug. 26, the day before classes start, faculty will lead small group discussions with the students who read their pick. (See the entire 52-title list here, which contains recommendations from faculty campus-wide.)

This year four College of Education faculty – James Patton, Mary Steinhardt, Keryn Pasch, and Leslie Moore – were tapped to suggest titles.

Educational psychology professor Leslie Moore, who led a discussion on the novel “A Thousand Splendid Suns” last year and will do so again this summer, says, “Having the opportunity to share this experience with curious, knowledgeable and prepared students is one of the privileges of academia.

“I had students with a variety of majors and backgrounds — from engineering to education — which added to the breadth of the discussion. If these students are representative of our future, UT is in great shape!”

 


Recommended Books:

A Thousand Splendid Suns
by Khaled Hosseini

Leslie Moore, Educational Psychology

An engrossing story of the fate and friendship of two women in modern Afghanistan. I chose this book because in our global society, it gives a personal face to a country that is now part of U.S. history. While reading about the hardships in the lives of men and women in Afghanistan, I learned about how important creating meaning in life is to people everywhere. This book starts as a slow read, but hang in there: it quickly becomes a page turner.

 


My Stroke of Insight
by Jill Bolte Taylor

Larry Abraham, Kinesiology and Health Education, Undergraduate Studies

The author is a Harvard-trained brain scientist who experienced a massive stroke and observed her own mind deteriorate. Her experience emphasizes the fascinating dichotomy between our “left and right brains,” since the right side of her brain was much less affected. Taylor’s compelling writing captures first-hand how the brain functions to control mental and physical action and how it recovers from such damage. This book is a good introduction for anyone interested in learning more about the brain; as a researcher in this area, I consider Taylor’s book a must read.

 


Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
by Dan Ariely

Keryn Pasch, Kinesiology and Health Education

Why do we splurge on dinner but cut coupons to save twenty-five cents on a can of soup? Why do we go back for seconds at the buffet when we’re already full? While we want to believe that we make smart choices, MIT behavioral economist Dan Ariely shows us that not only do we make misguided decisions, we’re quite predictable about it, too. Through experiments and everyday anecdotes, Ariely demonstrates that invisible forces like emotions and social norms can skew our decision-making abilities on everything from choosing a partner to buying a car. Learn how to break the cycle of bad decisions and make better choices with this engaging read.

 


The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business
by Charles Duhigg

Mary Steinhardt, Kinesiology and Health Education

Pulitzer Prize-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg explains why habits exist and how they can be changed. Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. Habits aren’t destiny and they can be changed. The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising or studying regularly, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. Come learn how to harness the power of habits to ensure your success at The University of Texas at Austin and prepare yourself to help transform lives for the benefit of society.

 


Change Your Life Through Travel
by Jillian Robinson

James Patton, Special Education

Travel can and will have an impact on your life in a variety of ways. This nonfiction book sets the backdrop for making travel more meaningful; our discussion of this book will spark your journeys.

(Adapted from “58 Books to Love This Summer (or Anytime)”.)

 

Photograph: Kate Ter Haar/Flickr

Catherine Riegle-Crumb

Catherine Riegle-Crumb

Math and science education expert Catherine Riegle-Crumb has received a National Science Foundation grant to take an unprecedented look at gender and racial/ethnic inequalities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education.

The funding will allow her to study student participation – broken down by gender and ethnic/racial subgroups – in STEM courses from sixth grade through college. Her findings should provide a clearer picture of the education experiences of groups that tend to be poorly represented in STEM classes, college majors, and careers.

Riegle-Crumb’s research will focus not only on students’ actual STEM course involvement and achievement but also on intended attainment. Examining how patterns of academic achievement and social inclusion vary over several years between subgroups may help explain disparities in STEM participation.

The project will draw on five large-scale and longitudinal datasets – three that are nationally representative and two that were collected in Texas and include large samples of Hispanic students. According to Riegle-Crumb this will be the first study of its kind, one that employs big data to investigate the intersection of race/ethnicity, gender, and STEM education.

“It will offer a comprehensive description and analysis of STEM inequality that’s previously been unavailable,” said Riegle-Crumb, an associate professor in the College of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

http://www.utexas.edu/know/2013/04/08/where-the-girls-aren’t/

http://www.utexas.edu/news/2012/04/04/females_lag_math/

Kevin Cokley

Kevin Cokley

Cokley Named Director of UT’s Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis

Kevin Cokley, a professor in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Psychology, has been named the new director of the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis (IUPRA). He replaces King Davis, who has been director for the past three years.

In addition to his affiliation with the College of Education, Cokley also has been a core faculty member in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies since its inception.

Cokley is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Black Psychology and past chair of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs. His research and teaching center on African American psychology, with a focus on:

  • psychological and environmental factors that impact African American student achievement
  • the influence of racial and ethnic identity
  • the correlates of mental health, including perceived discrimination, religiosity, and spirituality
  • the “imposter phenomenon”

He has received recognition for being one of the most prolific authors on ethnic minority psychology and among the top contributors to the Journal of Counseling Psychology. Additionally, he was elected a Fellow in the APA for his contributions to ethnic minority psychology and counseling psychology.

Cokley has also garnered the Charles and Shirley Thomas Award from the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues for mentoring ethnic minority students, the “10 Rising Stars of the Academy” award from Diverse Issues in Higher Education, and the Association of Black Psychologists’ Scholarship Award.

The IUPRA, which was created in 2011, was a joint effort of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, John Warfield Center for African and African American Studies, and UT Austin’s College of Liberal Arts. The aim of the institute has been to advocate, through applied policy research, for equal access, opportunity, and choice for populations of color.

In a recent survey, Austin Independent School District teachers, reading coaches, and administrators reported that the Texas Literacy Initiative has significantly improved student literacy.

The Texas Literacy Initiative (TLI) is a professional development and technical assistance project launched by The Meadows Center at UT’s College of Education. The initiative works to improve school readiness and success in language and literacy of disadvantaged students, and it has benefited more than 20,000 Austin ISD students since it was implemented two years ago.

In November 2013, AISD’s Department of Research and Evaluation conducted a survey of 297 teachers, 51 literacy coaches and reading specialists, and 48 administrators.

Across the board, AISD educators reported being well supported in their efforts to improve students’ reading outcomes. In the survey, 93% of teachers and 94% of reading coaches said that their campus administrators supported their TLI work, and 83% of administrators reported that they received “the support I need” from district-level TLI staff.

An impressive 98% of administrators reported that TLI improves student literacy at their school. A substantial majority (81%) of teachers noted that TLI reading coaches are important to the academic success of their students.

TLI’s emphasis on data-informed decision-making is one of the factors driving improvement in student achievement. Data meetings helped 87% of teachers “drive my instruction to support the needs of my students.” One surveyed teacher explained that a benefit of meeting with reading coaches is “…being able to sit down and review the data showing student progress and being able to work together to collaborate on different activities that will help support our students’ learning.”

Teamwork and collaboration play key roles in TLI’s success. With a high number of AISD schools and educators involved, the implementation plan depends on consistent communication across the school sites and strong professional learning communities.

The Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts at The University of Texas at Austin works closely with the leadership at AISD to develop effective grant implementation teams and prepare literacy coaches to support teachers in meeting their instructional goals. As Marissa Campbell, the reading coach at Guerrero Thompson Elementary School, said, “Often, I feel my job enters uncharted territory—yet the [TLI] training and support help me find my path.”

To ensure that best practices for instruction, professional development, and community involvement are consistently employed, similar surveys and student data reporting will continue to track TLI’s progress in the district.

Dolly Lambdin

Dolly Lambdin

Noted physical education expert and clinical professor Dolly Lambdin recently was elected president of the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE), a 20,000-member national organization that promotes research and best practices in health and physical education, physical activity, dance, and sport.

Lambdin, a faculty member in the College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, was named to the new position at SHAPE’s annual conference.

As SHAPE national spokesperson, Lambdin will promote quality physical education, physical activity, and sports programs as well as lend expertise in national policy debates regarding childhood obesity and inactivity.

Over the course of her career she has supervised more than 100 student teachers and currently teaches undergraduate-level elementary teaching methods and curriculum courses at The University of Texas at Austin. She also has taught Technology in Physical Education, Analysis of Teaching, and Current Issues in Physical Education in the masters and doctoral programs in the department’s Physical Education Teacher Education Program.’’

Prior to becoming SHAPE’s president, Lambdin served the organization in several other capacities at state and national levels. She was president of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), one of SHAPE’s associations; a member of the NASPE executive board; and a National Workshop Leader for Program Improvement in Physical Education.

Lambdin also has received several prestigious awards from SHAPE (formerly the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance), including the Margie Hanson Elementary Physical Education Service Award, NASPE Physical Education Teacher Education Honor Award, and the Outstanding Leadership Award from the NASPE Council on School Leadership.

She has been with the College of Education for 36 years and for 14 of those also was teaching in public and private elementary schools. Lambdin has co-authored “Putting Research to Work in Elementary Physical Education” and two Texty-award-winning physical education textbooks with Lawrence F. Locke; “Fitness for Life: Middle School” with Chuck Corbin and Guy LeMasurier; and “Fitness for Life: Elementary School” with Corbin, LeMasurier, and Meg Greiner.

Also honored or featured at the SHAPE conference were professor Louis J. Harrison (Department of Curriculum and Instruction), who was named chair of SHAPE’s Research Council, and associate professor Darla Castelli (Department of Kinesiology and Health Education), who was a general session speaker at the International Forum on Physical Literacy.