Human Development and Family Sciences

Marion H. Steele Symposium celebrates student research with panel and poster presentations, keynote speaker and student awards

On April 29, the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) hosted the annual Marion H. Steele Symposium to share and celebrate the innovative research of its undergraduate and graduate students in education, human development and related disciplines.

Over the past 35 years, over 450 undergraduate and graduate students have presented their research in this symposium. This year, students shared their research in early childhood and elementary education, education reform, cutting-edge methodologies, teacher professional development, motivation, belonging and engagement, social issues and automated writing evaluation and more with faculty, staff, fellow students, donors and invited guests.

The event featured student presentations and poster sessions, remarks from Gary T. Henry, dean of CEHD and professor in the School of Education (SOE) and the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration, a keynote address from Peter Dahler-Larsen of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and the presentation of student awards, which recognized excellence in undergraduate and graduate research.

Supporting student research

In his remarks, Henry commended the student participants, offered a tribute to Marion H. Steele and thanked the Steele Family for their continued support of undergraduate and graduate research in CEHD.

Steele graduated from the University of Delaware in 1928 and dedicated her life to the field of home economics, now located in CEHD’s Department of Human Development and Family Sciences (HDFS). Steele spent her 41-year career at the American Home Economics Association (AHEA) and served as the longtime editor of the Journal of Home Economics. She ensured that the journal reflected the most current research to date in the area of home economics and her articles reached homes around the globe.

She was a passionate supporter of home economics, not only dedicating herself to producing a high-quality academic journal, but also taking an active interest in the development of the AHEA International Scholarship Program, which she oversaw from 1947 until her retirement in 1969. She paved the way for dozens of students to engage in international study.

“Ms. Steele’s dedication to home economics and family and consumer sciences brings together a diverse group of students from human development and family sciences, education, and from multiple disciplines for participation in this event,” Henry said. “Her groundbreaking support of international study is especially valued at the University of Delaware, where we offer our students many opportunities to engage in international travel and study.”

Henry also spoke about new, interdisciplinary graduate programs housed within the UD Graduate College, including the Ph.D. in Education and Social Policy and the forthcoming Master’s of Science in Interdisciplinary Evaluation Sciences. He thanked Louis F. Rossi, dean of the Graduate College, and the members of the Graduate College for their continued collaboration and support.

 Steele’s keynote address

Henry also introduced Steele’s keynote speaker, Peter Dahler-Larsen, professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Dahler-Larsen also leads the University’s Center for Research on Evaluation, Measurement and Effects.

In his keynote address, titled “Evaluation and Policy Change: The Case of the Danish National Tests in Schools,” he discussed the effects of institutionalizing evaluation systems—such an annual testing—and using those evaluations to evaluate the effectiveness of schools and teachers. Through a Danish case study, he showed how an appointed group of stakeholders evaluated the consequences of this policy and how their deliberative process led to change.

Dahler-Larsen recounted his work as chairman of the ministerial advisory board on the evaluation of national tests in schools, a group which also included professors, teachers, test providers, parents, school leadership and a student. In response to national demand to drop testing in Demark, the group conducted an evaluation of the tests and engaged in a careful, deliberative process—which led to the development of more than 50 recommendations, some of which evoked important changes in education policy.

 Excellence in undergraduate and graduate research

After the day’s panel presentations, poster sessions and keynote address, several undergraduate and graduate students were recognized for excellence in student research.

The following undergraduate students won First and Second Place Paper and Poster awards.

  • Caitlyn Roche, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences’ (CAS) Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science, won the First Place Undergraduate Paper Award for her paper, “Does the receipt of speech services before age five impact academics?”
  • Lauren Baran, a senior in CAS’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, won the First Place Undergraduate Poster Award for her poster, “Sleep Disparities in Adolescents: Do Stress and Sleep Alter Brain Connectivity?”
  • Sarah Minacci, a senior in CAS’s Department of Biological Sciences, also won the First Place Undergraduate Poster Award for her poster, “Genetics Knowledge: Have we moved beyond Jurassic Park?”
  • Maeve Kolenik, a senior in the Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science, won the Second Place Undergraduate Poster Award for her poster, “Motor Development in the Unaffected Siblings of Individuals with ADHD.”

The following graduate students won First and Second Place Paper and Poster Awards.

  • Majd Subih, a Ph.D. in Education student specializing in Sociocultural and Community-based Approaches, won the First Place Graduate Paper Award for her paper, “The Intersectionality of Disability, Religion, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Muslim Arab World.”
  • Ye Shen, a Ph.D. in Education student specializing in Literacy, won the Second Place Graduate Paper Award for her paper, “Different Role of Family Socioeconomic Status in Academic Trajectories between Emergent Bilinguals and Their Peers Across Primary Years.”
  • Fan Zhang, a Ph.D. in Education student specializing in Literacy, also won the Second Place Graduate Paper Award for her paper, “A Review of Writing Interventions for English Learners (ELs) in the Elementary Grades.”
  • Annette Pic, a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Sciences student, won the First Place Graduate Poster Award for her poster, “’No! I’m the driver!’: Unpacking peer conflict during outdoor and indoor free play in a nature-based preschool.”
  • Raymond Patt, a Ph.D. in Education student specializing in Learning Sciences, won the Second Place Graduate Poster Award for his poster, “Can students successfully learn at home? Learning environment predicts math performance.”

To learn more about this year’s event, its participants and the Steele Family, visit CEHD’s event webpage.

Image caption: The student award winners with dean Gary T. Henry at CEHD’s 2022 Steele Symposium.

Article by Jessica Henderson. Photo by of UD Photography/Office of Communications and Marketing.