Open Access Publications

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Open access publications by faculty, postdocs, and graduate students in the School of Education.


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    The Effects of Bookworms Literacy Curriculum on Student Achievement in Grades 2-5
    (Scientific Studies of Reading, 2023-12-03) May, Henry; Strong, John Z.; Walpole, Sharon
    Purpose In this study, we investigated the effects of a schoolwide program, Bookworms K-5 Reading and Writing, on student achievement. Method The study included seven cohorts of students (N = 8,806) in grades 2–5 in 17 elementary schools across three school years. We used a comparative interrupted time-series design, conducting multilevel growth curve models of Measures of Academic Progress reading scores with up to 10 data points per student. By modeling each student’s growth curve, including a time by treatment interaction term, we were able to estimate the change in students’ achievement trajectories corresponding to the implementation of Bookworms. Results Results confirm a significant positive impact of Bookworms on achievement, with gains compounding over time and producing an overall standardized effect size of .26 by the end of 5th grade. Students who began third grade with relatively weaker achievement experienced more growth than those with average achievement, and those with average achievement experienced more growth than those with the highest achievement. Conclusion This study provides evidence that a comprehensive literacy curriculum that emphasizes high-volume reading of grade-level texts and the use of evidence-based instructional practices produces positive effects on student achievement for students with a range of initial reading achievement.
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    U.S. parents' attitudes toward playful learning
    (Frontiers in Developmental Psychology, 2023-12-15) Wright, Charlotte Anne; Pasek, Josh; Lee, Ji Young; Masters, Ally S.; Golinkoff, Roberta Michnick; Thomsen, Bo Stjerne; Hirsh-Pasek, Kathy
    Introduction: There has been a surge of research on the power of play to facilitate learning in recent years. Guided play, specifically, has emerged as an optimal learning approach over free play and direct instruction. However, whether parents' attitudes toward play align with the emerging research remains largely unexplored. Addressing this gap, the present study is the first to operationalize play by using the playful learning spectrum (i.e., free play, guided play, games, and direct instruction) to investigate parents' attitudes toward play. Methods: The study surveyed a broad, national sample of parents with at least one child aged 2 to 12 years living in the United States (N = 1,172). To understand preferences for each approach and the factors related to those preferences, we examined how individuals regarded each of the four learning approaches and ran a series of regressions predicting perceptions of learning from the approaches as a function of demographic and attitudinal factors. These regressions were estimated in two different ways, allowing us to identify which predictors were related to each outcome as well as which explained these perceptions uniquely, over and above other predictors. Results: The findings revealed a preference for play over direct instruction, with parents likely to perceive free play as most conducive to learning. Regression analyses uncovered significant variations in perceptions based on demographic and attitudinal factors, with highly educated respondents most likely to endorse free play, more knowledgeable respondents most likely to endorse guided play and the least educated respondents most likely to favor direct instruction. Discussion: While the study reveals parents' evolving, positive attitudes toward play, it also underscores a gap between academic research, which highlights the advantages of guided play, and parents' perceptions. Implications for parent support initiatives are discussed.
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    Predictors of middle school students’ perceptions of automated writing evaluation
    (Computers & Education, 2023-12-29) Wilson, Joshua; Zhang, Fan; Palermo, Corey; Cordero,Tania Cruz; Myers, Matthew C.; Eacker, Halley; Potter, Andrew; Coles, Jessica
    This study examined middle school students' perceptions of an automated writing evaluation (AWE) system, MI Write. We summarize students' perceptions of MI Write's usability, usefulness, and desirability both quantitatively and qualitatively. We then estimate hierarchical entry regression models that account for district context, classroom climate, demographic factors (i.e., gender, special education status, limited English proficiency status, socioeconomic status, grade), students' writing-related beliefs and affect, and students' writing proficiency as predictors of students' perceptions. Controlling for districts, students reporting more optimal classroom climate also reported higher usability, usefulness, and desirability for MI Write. Also, model results revealed that eighth graders, students with limited English proficiency, and students of lower socioeconomic status perceived MI Write relatively more useable; students with lower socioeconomic status also perceived MI Write relatively more useful and desirable. Students who liked writing more and more strongly believed that writing is a recursive process viewed MI Write as more useable, useful, and desirable. Students with greater writing proficiency viewed MI Write as less useable and useful; writing proficiency was not related to desirability perceptions. We conclude with a discussion of implications and future directions. Highlights • We study middle school students' perceptions of an AWE system called MI Write. • Students with LEP and lower SES perceived MI Write more useable/useful. • So too did students who liked writing and believed that revising was important. • Less proficient writers more strongly agreed that MI Write was useable and useful.
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    Student engagement with teacher and automated written corrective feedback on L2 writing: A multiple case study
    (The JALT CALL Journal, 2023) Afifi, Sara; Rahimi, Mohammad; Wilson, Joshua
    The present multiple-case study, based on the multi-dimensional perspective on student engagement with Corrective Feedback (CF) proposed by Ellis (2010), set out to scrutinize students’ behavioral, cognitive, and affective engagement with written corrective feedback (WCF) provided by two different sources: teacher WCF and automated written corrective feedback (AWCF) provided by Writing Mentor. To this end, four Iranian EFL learners – two limited proficient and two modestly proficient writers – were selected purposefully from two sections of an academic writing course, one providing teacher WCF and the other AWCF. Participants in both sections wrote five argumentative essays during an academic term, received feedback on grammar, usage, and mechanics, and made revisions. The results demonstrated that the participants had different engagement levels and were categorized as highly engaged, moderately engaged, and minimally engaged students. In section 1, both participants who received teacher WCF were behaviorally and cognitively engaged with the feedback; however, one participant spent more time, used more resources, and showed more revision acts. Regardless of their behavioral and cognitive engagement level, they both demonstrated deep affective engagement with teacher feedback. In section 2, while one participant who received AWCF demonstrated deep and active engagement in all three dimensions, the other participant was reluctant to respond to the feedback and demonstrated a minimal level of engagement. Findings indicate that students’ engagement with WCF, whether provided by a teacher or automated writing evaluation system, is influenced by students’ beliefs and attitudes toward feedback and the sources of that feedback. Students’ writing proficiency was not clearly or consistently related to their degree of feedback engagement.
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    Informant Discrepancies in Universal Screening as a Function of Student and Teacher Characteristics
    (School Psychology Review, 2023-10-02) Zakszeski, Brittany N.; Ormiston, Heather E.; Nygaard, Malena A.; Carlock, Kane
    Despite the widespread use of school-based universal screening systems for social, emotional, and behavioral risk, limited research has examined discrepancies in ratings provided by teachers and their secondary students. Using the Social, Academic, and Emotional Behavior Risk Screener (SAEBRS; teacher report) and mySAEBRS (student report) scores from a middle school sample, we examined the magnitudes and prevalence of informant discrepancies as well as associated student and teacher factors. Analyses revealed discrepancies consistently in the direction of teachers reporting lower levels of risk than students and were starkest for the Emotional Behavior Risk subscale. Across subscales, multiple student and teacher factors significantly predicted variance in discrepancies. We discuss these findings in the context of implications for selecting screening informants at the secondary level and opportunities to advance practical guidance in this area. Impact Statement Middle school students and their teachers provide discrepant ratings within universal screenings of students’ social, emotional, and behavioral risk. In this sample, students self-reported higher levels of risk than their teachers reported for them. This was especially true for risk in the Emotional Behavior domain and for students and teachers with certain demographic characteristics.
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    Fostering word fluency of struggling third graders from Germany through motivational peer-tutorial reading racetracks
    (Reading and Writing, 2022-01) Barwasser, Anne; Urton, Karolina; Grünke, Matthias; Sperling, Marko; Coker, David L.
    Automation of frequently used words is a key component in the development of reading fluency. However, acquiring fast word recognition skills is a serious challenge for many children in their early years of formal education. Lagging word recognition leads to general reading problems, as fluency is a vital prerequisite for text comprehension. Recent research shows that the percentage of struggling elementary school readers in Germany is increasing, speaking to the need for widespread implementation of effective word recognition interventions. This pilot study aims to provide preliminary evidence of the effectiveness of peer-tutorial reading racetrack training with an integrated motivational system for the sight word fluency of German struggling elementary school students. The intervention comprised twelve 15-min teaching units over a period of three weeks. To encourage reading motivation, the intervention included graphing of performance scores and a group contingency procedure. A control-experimental group design (N = 44) with pre-, post-, and two follow-up measurements (each after five weeks) was employed to investigate the impact of the treatment on decoding sight words at an appropriate speed. Results demonstrated a significant performance increase in the treatment group, relative to the control group. The effect size can be considered very high (partial η2 = .76), indicating that this brief training has the potential to enhance the word recognition of struggling elementary students.
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    The Design and Characteristics of School Improvement Plan Templates
    (AERA Open, 2023-04-29) VanGronigen, Bryan A.; Meyers, Coby V.; Adjei, Rachel Antwi; Marianno, Latrice; Charris, Linda
    Resources for school improvement efforts, such as school improvement plan (SIP) templates, can espouse governmental entities’ perspectives on and requirements and recommendations for the school improvement planning process. These resources, in turn, can influence how educators enact school improvement efforts generally and the school improvement planning process specifically. In this exploratory qualitative study, we leveraged a conventional content analysis to rigorously examine SIP templates used by schools in the United States before and after the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015. We were particularly interested in learning how a sample of SIP templates espoused the school improvement planning process before and after ESSA’s passage. Findings suggest that SIP templates focused more on developing SIPs than implementing SIPs, raising concerns about SIPs continuing to be enacted out of compliance rather than as a mechanism for spurring and sustaining improvement efforts in schools.
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    “The Good Struggle” of Flexible Specificity: Districts Balancing Specific Guidance With Autonomy to Support Standards-Based Instruction
    (American Educational Research Journal, 2023-03-30) Stornaiuolo, Amy; Desimone, Laura; Polikoff, Morgan
    This study examines implementation of college-and-career-ready (CCR) education standards across five school districts in Ohio, Texas, California, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. Drawing on the policy attributes theory, we found that the specificity of districts’ approaches to two long-recognized policy levers, curriculum and professional learning, was critical in shaping how stakeholders implemented and experienced CCR policies. We identified an approach we called “flexible specificity”—flexibility informed by ongoing data collection and evaluation that allowed districts to develop specific, useful guidance about curriculum and professional learning based on stakeholder needs. We present four shared practices characterizing this approach in two districts, analyzing why those districts seemed to find the right balance of specificity and flexibility while others struggled.
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    Evoking Learning by Examples through Reducing Misconceptions and Highlighting Procedures
    (The Journal of Experimental Education, 2023-07-10) Barbieri, Christina Areizaga; Silla, Elena M.
    Prior research highlights a positive effect of incorrect worked examples on mathematics learning. Yet the mechanisms underlying these benefits are unclear. To investigate potential mechanisms of the benefits of various worked example types, we examined process data from a previously published classroom-based experiment. More specifically, we analyzed students’ explanations made while explaining worked examples in three varying example conditions as well as students’ problem-solving errors made when solving problems. These data operationalize two potential mechanisms: a reduction of misconceptions (i.e., fewer targeted conceptual errors), and an increase in principled algebra knowledge (i.e., explanations focusing on principles underlying procedures). Mediation analyses revealed both as important mechanisms of varying effects. A reduction of misconceptions explained greater benefits of all three worked example conditions, compared to a problem-solving control, on an algebra concepts posttest. More principled explanations of procedures explained the benefits of incorrect worked examples on problem-solving at posttest compared to the two other example conditions. These findings help explain differential findings in prior work by example type and may elucidate potential avenues for errorful instruction.
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    What Might Have Been: A First-Rate Black Correspondence School, 1927-1930
    (American Journal of Distance Education, 2023-02-16) Hampel, Robert L.
    Nine distinguished Black scholars created an academically rigorous correspondence school in 1927. It lasted only three years. This article explores the reasons why the school failed.
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    Exploring the Prevalence of Covariational Reasoning Across Mathematics and Science Using TIMSS 2011 Assessment Items
    (International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 2023-02-01) Gantt, Allison L.; Paoletti, Teo; Corven, Julien
    Covariational reasoning (or the coordination of two dynamically changing quantities) is central to secondary STEM subjects, but research has yet to fully explore its applicability to elementary and middle-grade levels within various STEM fields. To address this need, we selected a globally referenced STEM assessment—the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)—to investigate the extent to which covariational reasoning could be applied. Specifically, we identified the frequency of items with potential to elicit students’ covariational reasoning through a content analysis of publicly released TIMSS 2011 items in Grades 4 and 8 mathematics and science. We found that approximately one-third of items in all grades and subjects had potential for covariational reasoning, and many of these items had such potential with no viable alternative strategy. Furthermore, items in every content strand and cognitive domain had potential for covariational reasoning. We interpret these findings as indicative of the salience of covariational reasoning across STEM education, and we discuss the implications of these results for research, assessment, and instruction.
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    Writing motivation and ability profiles and transition during a technology-based writing intervention
    (Frontiers in Psychology, 2023-06-21) Cruz Cordero, Tania; Wilson, Joshua; Myers, Matthew C.; Palermo, Corey; Eacker, Halley; Potter, Andrew; Coles, Jessica
    Students exhibit heterogeneity in writing motivation and ability. Profiles based on measures of motivation and ability might help to describe this heterogeneity and better understand the effects of interventions aimed at improving students’ writing outcomes. We aimed to identify writing motivation and ability profiles in U.S. middle-school students participating in an automated writing evaluation (AWE) intervention using MI Write, and to identify transition paths between profiles as a result of the intervention. We identified profiles and transition paths of 2,487 students using latent profile and latent transition analysis. Four motivation and ability profiles emerged from a latent transition analysis with self-reported writing self-efficacy, attitudes toward writing, and a measure of writing writing: Low, Low/Mid, Mid/High, and High. Most students started the school year in the Low/Mid (38%) and Mid/High (30%) profiles. Only 11% of students started the school year in the High profile. Between 50 and 70% of students maintained the same profile in the Spring. Approximately 30% of students were likely to move one profile higher in the Spring. Fewer than 1% of students exhibited steeper transitions (e.g., from High to Low profile). Random assignment to treatment did not significantly influence transition paths. Likewise, gender, being a member of a priority population, or receiving special education services did not significantly influence transition paths. Results provide a promising profiling strategy focused on students’ attitudes, motivations, and ability and show students’ likeliness to belong to each profile based on their demographic characteristics. Finally, despite previous research indicating positive effects of AWE on writing motivation, results indicate that simply providing access to AWE in schools serving priority populations is insufficient to produce meaningful changes in students’ writing motivation profiles or writing outcomes. Therefore, interventions targeting writing motivation, in conjunction with AWE, could improve results.
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    Targeted Intervention for Elementary Students With Internalizing Behaviors: A Pilot Evaluation
    (School Psychology Review, 2023-05-16) Zakszeski, Brittany N.; Banks, Elizabeth; Parks, Timothy
    The Calm Cat Program was developed in response to the need for intervention approaches that target internalizing symptoms, are developmentally appropriate for early elementary students, and are feasible for school-based implementation by staff without specialized training. The Calm Cat Program is a brief Tier 2 intervention combining behavioral skills training and mentor-based coaching. In this initial study, the Calm Cat Program was evaluated in a cluster-randomized controlled trial of 72 student participants in nine elementary schools. Over a 5-week period, school counselors implemented small-group skills training sessions, and classroom teachers provided daily coaching on targeted relaxation skills. Overall, program participation was associated with small- to medium-sized gains in relaxation skill knowledge and reductions in self-reported anxiety symptoms. In addition, both staff implementers and student participants reported generally positive perceptions of the program’s usability. Additional research is needed to ensure the program’s efficiency and effectiveness as an early intervention approach within multitiered frameworks. Impact Statement School-based interventions are needed to support young students at risk for developing emotional disorders. The Calm Cat Program is an intervention that combines behavioral skills training and mentor-based coaching. In this pilot study, the Calm Cat Program demonstrated small- to medium-sized effects in increasing students’ knowledge of relaxation skills and decreasing their self-reported anxiety symptoms.
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    Making schools work: An equation for active playful learning
    (Theory Into Practice, 2023-05-15) Nesbitt, Kimberly T.; Blinkoff, Elias; Golinkoff, Roberta Michnick; Hirsh-Pasek, Kathy
    Research from the interdisciplinary science of learning indicates that children learn best when they are actively engaged in learning that is meaningful, socially interactive, iterative, and joyful. These principles coalesce in active playful learning, especially guided play. This active, playful pedagogy enhances learning through intentional instruction that activates students’ autonomy and intrinsic motivation while teachers guide them toward a learning goal. In this paper, we provide a framework for facilitating guided play through a 3-part equation of incorporation of cultural values, the science of how children learn, and the science of what children need to learn to thrive in school and beyond. A summary of the research supporting the efficacy of this approach is provided, as are recommendations for how to implement the equation through guided play in our schools.
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    Supporting Coherence in Classroom Discussions Across Content Areas
    (Connections, 2022) Prough, Sam; Gibbons, Lynsey; Wilhelm, Anne Garrison
    Classroom discussions have become a major focus for supporting student learning. While much research exists that describes the importance and benefits of classroom discussions for students’ development (Fitzgerald & Palinscar, 2019), the literature has rarely explored similarities and differences in classroom discussions across content areas. Making connections in teaching across content areas is particularly important for elementary teachers who are expected to engage children in discussions of their ideas to deepen their learning in the areas of mathematics, English language arts (ELA), science, and social studies. We currently work with a group of elementary teachers to promote classroom discussions in their teaching across content areas. Our goal in this article is to illuminate how elementary teachers might make sense of facilitating classroom discussions, and the similarities across content, exemplified by the opportunities and challenges of a subset of the teachers with whom we work. The mathematics education literature has shown how students' mathematical learning is supported through intentional classroom discussion (e.g., Lampert, 2001). Research on discussions in mathematics classrooms has: explored how discussions can support students’ deep disciplinary thinking (Kazemi & Stipek, 2001), examined aspects of students’ learning and participation (O’Connor et al., 2017), considered productive practices for its facilitation (Chapin et al., 2009), and specified how teachers can or should enact meaningful discussion practices (Chapin et al., 2009).
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    Associations Between Teacher and Student Mathematics, Science, and Literacy Anxiety in Fourth Grade
    (Journal of Educational Psychology, 2023-03-09) McLean, Leigh; Janssen, Jayley; Espinoza, Paul; Lindstrom Johnson, Sarah; Jimenez, Manuela
    The present study explored associations among teachers’ anxiety for teaching mathematics, science, and English language arts and their students’ own anxiety in each content area, and how these associations varied depending on student sex and socioeconomic status (SES). Participants included 33 fourth-grade teachers and 463 students from 14 schools in the Southwestern United States. Multiple regression models with cluster-robust standard errors were run regressing students’ mid-year, self-reported content-area anxiety on teachers’ self-reported content-area anxiety at the beginning of the year and controlling for students’ beginning-of-year anxiety in that content area. Two interaction effects were detected whereby teachers’ mathematics and science anxiety were each positively associated with the mathematics and science anxiety of their low-SES students. Findings provide additional evidence for processes of emotional transmission between teachers and students in the classroom and provide additional information about the learning contexts and student groups for whom these processes may be particularly relevant. Educational Impact and Implications Statement: We investigated associations among teachers’ and students’ anxiety in mathematics, science, and literacy. We found that teachers’ anxiety in mathematics and science was associated with the mathematics and science anxiety of their low-SES students. Results highlight STEM content areas as contexts in which transmission of negative emotions between teachers and students may take place, as well as highlight the particular impacts these processes might have on students from underserved socioeconomic backgrounds.
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    Establishing severity levels for patient-reported measures of functional communication, participation, and perceived cognitive function for adults with acquired cognitive and language disorders
    (Quality of Life Research, 2022-12-27) Cohen, Matthew L.; Harnish, Stacy M.; Lanzi, Alyssa M.; Brello, Jennifer; Hula, William D.; Victorson, David; Nandakumar, Ratna; Kisala, Pamela A.; Tulsky, David S.
    Purpose: To empirically assign severity levels (e.g., mild, moderate) to four relatively new patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) for adults with acquired cognitive/language disorders. They include the Communicative Participation Item Bank, the Aphasia Communication Outcome Measure, and Neuro-QoL’s item banks of Cognitive Function (v2.0) and Ability to Participate in Social Roles and Activities (v1.0). Method: We conducted 17 focus groups that comprised 22 adults with an acquired cognitive/language disorder from stroke, Parkinson’s disease, or traumatic brain injury; 30 care partners of an adult with an acquired cognitive/language disorder; and 42 speech-language pathologists who had experience assessing/treating individuals with those and other cognitive/language disorders. In a small, moderated focus-group format, participants completed “PROM-bookmarking” procedures: They discussed hypothetical vignettes based on PROM item responses about people with cognitive/language disorders and had to reach consensus regarding whether their symptoms/function should be categorized as within normal limits or mild, moderate, or severe challenges. Results: There was generally good agreement among the stakeholder groups about how to classify vignettes, particularly when they reflected very high or low functioning. People with aphasia described a larger range of functional communication challenges as “mild” compared to other stakeholder types. Based on a consensus across groups, we present severity levels for specific score ranges for each PROM. Conclusion: Standardized, stakeholder-informed severity levels that aid interpretation of PROM scores can help clinicians and researchers derive better clinical meaning from those scores, for example, by identifying important clinical windows of opportunity and assessing when symptoms have returned to a “normal” range.
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    Sex.Ed.Agram: Co-created Inclusive Sex Education on Instagram
    (Sexuality and Disability, 2023-05-03) Curtiss, Sarah L.; Myers, Kaitlyn; D’Avella, Madison; Garner, Sarah; Kelly, Cailin; Stoffers, Melissa; Durante, Sarah
    Most sex education programs for adults with intellectual disabilities are led by non-disabled sexual health experts. This approach may be less effective and appropriate for adult learners. Using community-based participatory research (CBPR), we explored a program that uses an inquiry-based learning process so that members can create reliable information about sex and disseminate it on Instagram. Through thematic analysis of interviews with group participants, we identified three themes about how the program brought everyone’s different ideas about sex and sex ed together into content for Instagram: Blurring the Lines Between the Educated and Educating; Learning is Dependent on the Strengths and Weaknesses of Our Connections; and Committed to Inclusivity but Wrestling with Ableism.
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    Service models for providing sex education to individuals with intellectual disabilities in the United States
    (Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, 2023-03-16) Curtiss, Sarah L.; Stoffers, Melissa
    Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities face barriers to accessing sex education, including a lack of professional ownership over providing sex education. Limited information exists regarding educator training background, funding structure, and who they serve. We interviewed 58 sex educators of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We integrated thematic analysis and composite narratives to identify service models and the benefits and challenges associated with them. We identified seven service delivery models: clinic-based board-certified behavior analysis; mental health therapists; small businesses; public health not-for-profits; disability programs; high school-based educators; and university-based educators; and three themes that addressed the strengths and challenges of these service models: Instructional Implications of the Short-term, Drop-in Approach; Getting on the Same Page; and Questioning Who Should Teach Sex Education. Understanding these typologies and their strengths and challenges provide insights into how we can build capacity for sex education services.
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    The Role Classifiers Play in Selecting the Referent of a Word
    (Languages, 2023-03-14) Ma, Weiyi; Zhou, Peng; Golinkoff, Roberta Michnick
    An important cue to the meaning of a new noun is its accompanying classifier. For example, in English, X in “a sheet of X” should refer to a broad, flat object. A classifier is required in Chinese to quantify nouns. Using children’s overt responses in an object/picture selection task, past research found reliable semantic knowledge of classifiers in Mandarin-reared children at around age three. However, it is unclear how children’s semantic knowledge differs across different types of classifiers and how this difference develops with age. Here we use an arguably more sensitive measure of children’s language knowledge (the intermodal preferential-looking paradigm) to examine Mandarin-reared three-, four-, and five-year-olds’ semantic knowledge of four types of classifiers indicating animacy (human vs. animal distinction), configuration (how objects are arrayed), object shape, and vehicle function. Multiple factors were matched across classifier types: the number of classifiers, perceived familiarity and perceived typicality of the target, and the visual similarity of the two images paired together. Children’s performances differed across classifier types, as they were better with animacy classifiers than with configuration and vehicle function classifiers. Their comprehension was reliable for animacy, object shape, and vehicle function classifiers but not for configuration classifiers. Furthermore, we did not find conclusive evidence for an age-dependent improvement in the child’s performance. The analysis, including the oldest (five-year-olds) and youngest (three-year-olds) children, revealed a marginally significant age effect.
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