The University Record, July 6, 1993

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS

Editor’s Note: These summaries of research projects were presented to the Regents at their June meeting by William C. Kelly, vice president for research. The material here was prepared for the Record by the staff of ResearchNews, a publication of the Division of Research Development and Administration.

Getting Started: An Environmental Education Directory

Teachers interested in trying environmental education in their classes aren’t always sure how to start, what to do, what to expect, or where to find information to help them. Assistant research scientists Lisa Bardwell and Martha Monroe and a team of students from the School of Natural Resources and Environment want to find out if stories about successful teachers can help overcome some initial barriers to getting started.

In collaboration with the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation, the team currently is developing a resource directory for teachers. The directory will include information and ideas about how to incorporate environmental education into the classroom, and it will profile about 50 teachers who have added environmental concepts to their curriculum. The true accounts will include teachers from a range of disciplines, grade levels and settings.

The project is funded by a one-year, $9,775 grant from the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation, Inc., which also plans to print and distribute 20,000 copies of the directory.

Michigan Women’s Leadership Project

Women often are drawn to work in organizations that focus on social change and empowering women or that provide services such as education and training, shelters for domestic violence survivors, rape crisis assistance, and economic development. These organizations often find themselves over-burdened and under-financed. Yet their leadership has few opportunities to enhance organizational skills because most training programs are too costly.

To address such limitations, Carol Hollenshead and Susan Kaufmann, director and associate director, respectively, of the Center for the Education of Women, are creating a leadership training program for directors of non-profit or public agencies serving women and girls in Michigan. The Michigan Women’s Leadership Project is being undertaken in collaboration with the Michigan Women’s Foundation. Project participants will examine the dynamics of leadership in “women’s organizations,” and will increase their awareness of their own leadership and management styles.

The project is funded by a four-year, $100,000 grant from the Nokomis Foundation and a $90,000 grant from the Frey Foundation.

Transforming the Learning Disabled into Self-Regulated Learners: The Construction and Implementation of an Early Literacy Curriculum

Teachers aim to help their students become self-regulated learners: learners who engage in an assignment and gain meaning from it that they can apply to their lives. Students gain meaning through social interaction—through discussions of texts and through feedback on writing. Annmarie Palincsar, associate professor of education, has found that the students who have the greatest difficulty in becoming self-regulated learners—special education students—have the fewest opportunities to engage in social interactions in the classroom and thus the fewest opportunities to develop into self-regulated learners.

Palincsar, doctoral students Laura Klenk, Andrea Parecki and Eric Anderman from the School of Education, and a group of special education teachers are developing a new approach to the special education curriculum stressing lessons that involve interaction. The research team currently is videotaping and assessing most of the newly developed lessons, and will interview students and teachers to determine whether the curriculum changes have resulted in better learning for special education students.

This project is funded by a $69,802 grant from Michigan State University (MSU) through a grant that MSU received from the U.S. Department of Education.

Mental Health Service Needs in Children of HIV Parents

In 1993, an estimated 6,000 children will be born to parents who are infected with HIV. Twenty to 40 percent of the children themselves become infected by the virus at or near birth. But whether or not they contract the disease, children in HIV-infected families face special needs.

Medical epidemiologist Dawn Smith is interested in identifying intervention strategies that can help children in families with HIV infection. However, before effective intervention programs can be implemented, Smith and her colleagues must get a more detailed description of the emotional and developmental problems and strengths of children born into HIV-infected families, and obtain better information on the causes of the problems identified. Smith is collaborating with investigators at the University of Chicago, who have recruited families for her study from Chicago hospitals.

This research is funded by a two-year, $322,206 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to the University of Chicago, with a $129,411 subcontract to the U-M.