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School of Education Research Center (SERC)

The SERC conducts research on a number of different topics in the realm of P-20 education. In addition to its direct research, it also supports faculty and student research at USD, as well as provides support and evaluation for grants. Other support efforts include monthly training, guidance and connecting scholars within the School of Education to data, resources and outside partners that can help support their scholarly success. Since July of 2017, SERC has met over 80 times with faculty, staff and students on ways the department can support research and scholarly efforts inside and outside the School of Education.

Furthermore, SERC strives to cultivate new knowledge that is applied to teaching and learning done here at the university.

Recent Publications and Presentations

Report series: Teacher competencies

Ben Schaap, Amy Schweinle & Karen Kindle

The SERC and the Division of Curriculum and Instruction have collaborated to launch a report series that highlights the yearlong teacher residency program here at USD. The first wave of reports focused on our teacher candidates’ self-efficacy for intentional use of technology in the classroom, as well as the support given by clinic residency instructors to teaching candidates.

Science of Learning Group (SOLRG)

The USD Science of Learning Group (SOLRG) is driven by the mission of connecting teaching and learning theory to real-world practices in a way that frames learning into the social and cultural contexts of learners. Some of the projects the group are involved in include:

  • Studying how adults change their behaviors using social media during competitive weight-loss programs
  • Exploring how preschoolers learn to use and apply technological skills
  • Studying the relationships between well-being, context and learning in elementary school children

Recent Publications and Presentations

A phenomenological exploration of the role of digital technology and media in children’s subjective well-being

Lisa Newland, Daniel Mourlam & Gabrielle Strouse

Published in Child Indicators Research

Newland, Mourlam and Strouse conducted a phenomenological study examining children’s subjective well-being, linking it to their use of digital technology and media (DTM). The study found that children reported that DTM was not essential to their well-being, but was important to it, nonetheless. Children reported DTM as rewarding and contributes to their personal contentment. Additional reports discussed DTM as valuable to their social connection, self-acceptance, competency growth, among other traits.

Co-viewing supports toddlers' word learning from contingent and noncontingent video

Gabrielle Strouse & colleagues

Published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology

Strouse and colleagues studied word learning of toddlers by examining the differences between using pre-recorded and live video, as well as the effect of parental involvement and no parental involvement in accompaniment to the video. Results indicated that children increased their engagement when using live video and parental involvement. However, subsequent word learning only increased with parental involvement. Thus, children improve their word learning when their parents are present to model the correct responses to the cues provided in the video.

The role of book features in young children’s transfer of information from picture books to real-world contexts

Gabrielle Strouse & colleagues

Published in Frontiers in Psychology: Developmental Psychology

A new body of research has begun to investigate the features of picture books that support children’s learning and transfer of that information to the real world. This paper discusses how children’s symbolic development, analogical reasoning and reasoning about fantasy may constrain their ability to take away content information from picture books. The study concluded that a child’s ability to learn and transfer content from picture books can be disrupted by some book features.

Kinesiology and Sport Management (KSM)

The Kinesiology and Sport Management (KSM) program is an online program designed to accommodate professional students who already work as coaches, athletic directors, teachers or sport administrators in the region.

Recent Publications and Presentations

Prediction of calcaneal bone competence from biomechanical accommodation variables measured during weighted walking

HS Yang and colleagues

Published in Human Movement Science

Yang and colleagues investigated the relationships between calcaneal bone competence and biomechanical accommodation variables. Relationships were analyzed by using ultrasound and by measuring how participants adapted their walking style as they carried a weighted object in front of them while on a treadmill. Results found a significant relationship between the variables (between 29-54% of variance explained by accommodations of the foot and ankle), indicating how people adapt their gait has an impact on calcaneal loading, bone adaptation and bone competence, and as a result, impact musculoskeletal loading during movement.

Neighborhood physical environments, recreational wellbeing, and psychological health

Drew Pickett and colleagues

Published in Applied Research in Quality of Life

Pickett and colleagues found that neighborhoods with access to services (walkability) and that were attractive and well-maintained contributed to individuals’ wellbeing, and ultimately, their health, happiness and life satisfaction. This study serves as a recommendation for improvements that community planners can implement to enhance the quality of life in their communities.

Child/Adolescent Development

The child and adolescent development team examines family, peer and societal interactions on child and adolescent well-being, attachment and learning.

Recent Publications and Presentations

Attachment network structure as a predictor of romantic attachment formation and insecurity

Harry Freeman and colleague

Published in Social Development

Freeman and colleague were interested in understanding relationship building in young adults through the formation of romantic attachment and their insecurities. This new framework re-conceptualizes the attachment network structure by having respondents indicate the proximity between themselves and certain individuals they share relationships with. The results indicated that the structure of attachment networks was much more diverse than was considered previously among existing knowledge. Additionally, the new framework can allow for greater understanding of how attachment to others can have an effect on the social and developmental outcomes of young adults.

Ecological, relationship-based model of children’s subjective well-being: Perspectives of 10-year-old children in the United States and 10 other countries

Lisa Newland and colleagues

Published in Child Indicators Research

Newland and colleagues investigated the subjective well-being of 10-year-old children from the U.S. and 10 other countries using an ecological relationship model. The survey used collected demographic data, as well as data on factors centered on the home, family, neighborhood, school and peers, among others. Results suggest that family and peer relationships, and the quality of schools and neighborhoods were the strongest predictors of a child’s subjective well-being. The findings also support the model’s use internationally.

Alcohol Use/Abuse on Campus

The Alcohol use/Abuse scholarly group mission is to investigate the factors that lead to the misuse of alcohol and other substances in order to positively impact the success and wellness of college students.

Recent Publications and Presentations

Determining the effectiveness of an alcohol intervention program with Greek college students

Kathleen Brown-Rice & Adam Hardy

Journal of Addictions and Offender Counseling

Brown-Rice, Hardy and colleagues studied the effectiveness of gender-specific alcohol intervention programs on college students engaged in Greek life. Male participants in the program found it as helpful and significantly reduced risky alcohol use.

Neural and psychological characteristics of college students with alcoholic parents differ depending on current alcohol use

Kathleen Brown-Rice, Seth Olson & Amy Schweinle & colleagues

Published in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry

The goal of Brown-Rice, Olson, Schweinle and colleagues’ study was to better understand psychobiological factors that influence risky alcohol use in adult children of alcoholic parents. Neural activity was assessed using fMRI, and found changes in activity based on participants’ risky alcohol use. The study also found that those that engaged in risky alcohol use reported higher levels of depression, anxiety, PTSD symptoms, as well as increased nicotine and marijuana use compared to those who did not engage in risky alcohol use. The results of this study suggest that understanding psychobiological factors relating to alcohol use of those who have alcoholic parents may be used to implement early intervention.

Educational Leadership

The Division of Educational Leadership trains many of the region’s K-20 academic leaders. Since Fall 2016, they have produced 18 publications in many formats on the topics of school administration, urban education, equity and teaching and learning. 

Recent Publications and Presentations

Telepresence in the classroom via “Sheldon”

David De Jong

Educational Leadership was awarded a grant to purchase a robot that allows students to attend class remotely. The robot serves three primary functions. First, it allows students in the School of Education who are unable to attend class that day an option for greater interaction with classmates and faculty compared to traditional online education options. Second, the robot models to school administrators enrolled at USD the potential these robots can offer to schools who have chronically ill students. Third, the impact of this robot will be captured in a qualitative study that can serve to share how it has improved the quality of education compared to comparable remote education methods.

Comparative Study of Elementary and Secondary Teacher Perceptions of Mobile Technology in Classrooms

E. Gough, David De Jong, T. Grundmeyer & Mark Baron

Published in International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning

This study surveyed K-12 teachers in Southwest and South-Central Minnesota to identify perceptions regarding flipped classrooms. Findings suggest that flipped classroom formats create time for varied instructional techniques, including active learning and high-order thinking, as well as increased student-to-teacher interaction.

Barriers to implementing the response to intervention framework in secondary schools: Interviews with secondary principals

Mitch Bartholomew and David De Jong

Published in National Association of Secondary School Principals

This study investigates the themes, as found by interviewing nine secondary principles, that emerge around successful implementation of Response to Intervention (RtI) frameworks in elementary school settings as they can transfer to high school settings. Such themes found include lack of expertise for successful implementation, barriers to implementation and discontinuity between identifying and use of RtI in respondents’ environments.

The Relationship Between Teacher Perception of Principal Servant Leadership Behavior and Teacher Job Satisfaction in a Midwest State

Paul von Fischer & David De Jong

Published in Servant Leadership: Theory & Practice

A statewide survey was conducted to correlate the perceptions of what a superintendent believed where the characteristics of effective superintendents with what school board presidents believed where the characteristics of effective superintendents. Authors found that school board presidents considered involvement of stakeholders in collaborative goal-setting and monitoring as well as superintendent visibility throughout the community and district to be significantly more important than did superintendents. In contrast, superintendents believed recruiting, selecting, developing personnel and implementing effective evaluation structures to be significantly more important than did the superintendents.