|January 20, 2016||Posted by M. P. under Education, Research, Youth Development|
The inclusion of ethnic studies (ES) in high school curricula is a topic of much debate, with one state banning some ES classes and another state’s Governor vetoing a bill that would have mandated them in public schools. Although both critics and supporters of culturally relevant teaching have strong views regarding its impact on students, there was little quantitative research in this area. Until now.
A study out of Stanford University found statistically significant increases in key academic outcomes among at-risk students in ES classes. Data from several student cohorts from 3 schools in the San Francisco Unified School District indicate that those students enrolled in the classes increased school attendance by 21 percent, GPA by 1.4 points and academic credits earned by 23. Male students and Hispanic students showed the largest increase in positive outcomes.
The authors of the study note that while their work offers empirical evidence of the impact of culturally relevant pedagogy on student performance, questions remain on the scalability of the approach and the size of the effect (if any) on students with higher levels of academic achievement. The paper is available for download on the Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis webpage.
Citation: Dee, T., & Penner, E. (2016). The Casual Effects of Cultural Relevance: Evidence from an Ethnic Studies Curriculum (CEPA Working Paper No.16-01). Retrieved from Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis: http://cepa.stanford.edu/wp16-01
|January 7, 2016||Posted by M. P. under Elderly, Health, Research, Youth Development|
As a kind of addendum to my previous post, I wanted to note that another study has identified links between social interaction and health, not just with the elderly but at two distinct stages of life. Researchers associated with the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill used data from four national samples to determine if an association existed between elements of personal relationships and physical health markers. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study concluded that level of social involvement and size of social network are associated with the risk of poor health. Among senior citizens, social connection was associated with lower risk of disease development, particularly around obesity and hypertension. An even more interesting finding – the level of social engagement among adolescents predicted their risk of health complications later in life.
Citation: , , , , , and Social relationships and physiological determinants of longevity across the human life span. PNAS 2016 ; published ahead of print January 4, 2016, doi:10.1073/pnas.1511085112
|December 5, 2015||Posted by M. P. under Elderly, Health, News, Research|
At this time of year there is heightened awareness of the needs of others. We donate dollars, coats, toys and gifts, bags of food, or whatever else is needed to help make the holiday season a little less difficult for those facing economic hardship. But social needs are also important, and when they are neglected due to self-imposed or situational isolation, there is an emotional and physical toll. A holiday advertisement from the German store chain Edeka has been in the news this week for its powerful imagery of a lonely widower who is only able to bring his children and grandchildren together at Christmas by his (fake) death. Well played, Grandpa.
Sniffle inducing commercials aside, there are scientific links between loneliness and poor health. Studies released this year indicate that loneliness can make you ill and can be detrimental to longevity. Research out of Brigham Young University suggested that social isolation is as much of a risk factor to well-being as obesity, regardless of whether a person prefers solitude or is around others but feels alone. Even for younger people in the sample, little or weak social connection was a mortality risk.
Advancing their research on how loneliness results in changes at the molecular level, a research team including experts from the University of Chicago, UCLA and the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California-Davis, found that perceived social isolation leads to stress signaling, which affects genetic expression and cell production and lessens the body’s resistance to infection and illness. The cells of lonely individuals contained “conserved transcriptional response to adversity” or CTRA (genes linked to inflammation in previous research). In this study however, loneliness was identified as a predictor of future genetic changes and a related decrease in the effectiveness of the immune system. The team plans to continue their work on the links between loneliness, disease, and mortality to better understand the health risks and outcomes related to social isolation.
Holt-Lunstad, T. B. Smith, M. Baker, T. Harris, D. Stephenson. Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality: A Meta-Analytic Review. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2015; 10 (2): 227 DOI: 10.1177/1745691614568352
Steven W. Cole, John P. Capitanio, Katie Chun, Jesusa M. G. Arevalo, Jeffrey Ma, John T. Cacioppo. Myeloid differentiation architecture of leukocyte transcriptome dynamics in perceived social isolation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2015; 201514249 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1514249112
|October 27, 2015||Posted by M. P. under Interview Series||
Jesse Solomon is the Director of Programs for the Woodlands Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults with disabilities and chronic illness. The Woodlands offers overnight and day programs at their 52-acre site in Wexford. Jesse volunteers with the Special Olympics, Exceptional Adventures, Get Involved! Inc., and the Muscular Sclerosis Association. In addition, she is a member of the #412Project which has the goal of giving exposure to local amateur photographers.
Years in the Pittsburgh area: I was born and raised in Pittsburgh!
What was your first job?
My first job was teaching was as an Autism Support teacher for Mt. Lebanon School District.
How were you drawn to nonprofit work?
After high school I served as a Corps Member in AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) for the United States. AmeriCorps NCCC strengthens communities and develops leaders through direct, team-based national and community service. In partnership with nonprofits—secular and faith-based—local municipalities, state governments, federal government, national and state parks, Indian tribes, and schools, members complete service projects throughout the region they are assigned. This experience was instrumental to introducing me to the nonprofit sector.
What is the first thing you do each day?
Walk my 2 dogs, a Pug and a Boston terrier.
What keeps you motivated?
The reality that I am living my dream is the biggest motivator for me. Running my own camp for individuals with disabilities has been the legacy I have always wanted to leave, and I get that opportunity every day with the people I work with. The Woodlands is a second home to our campers, our staff and volunteers. Knowing this makes coming to work an absolute privilege, even on the toughest days.
What are you reading?
Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
What is your go-to time-saving/productivity hack?
Every evening when I leave the office, I prepare my desk with documents or tasks for the next day. This way, when I arrive in the morning, I just work my way through my pile.
What major issue or trend is currently affecting your corner of the nonprofit sector?
There is a lot of attention on disability rights and the right to work occurring in the communities and in press right now. The 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrations that are occurring this year have put a spotlight on the positive direction our society is taking. However, we have a long way to go. In my opinion, many people want to join the conversation, make a difference and get involved. Consequently, they are seeking opportunities to work or volunteer with organizations like The Woodlands.
What is one goal that you hope to accomplish in 2015?
I’d like to join a Board of Directors in the nonprofit sector that focuses on community, specifically around youth leadership and development.
What’s coming up at The Woodlands?
In preparation for the holiday season, the Woodlands holds the Rum Cake Sale starting in October and running through December. Last year The Woodlands had 13 volunteer groups come to bake cakes in support of the Rum Cake Sale.
The Rum Cake Sale was founded in 2004 by Dr. Kamthorn Sukarochana, or “Dr. Kam” as he is known by friends and Woodlands colleagues. His cooking talents inspired the charitable sale, which has grown in popularity since its inception 11 years ago. To date it has raised over $50,000 for the Woodlands programs. For more information visit www.MyWoodlands.org