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Department of Counseling and Applied Educational Psychology

Congratulations to Monica Torreiro-Casal of the Counseling Psychology doctoral program for being awarded the Graduate Dissertation Completion Fellowship for Spring 2014

Congratulations to Christina Lee on her recent R01 award from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health.  The goals of the five-year grant “A Randomized Clinical Trial of Culturally Tailored Motivational Interviewing” are to compare the efficacy of Motivational Interviewing (MI) tailored to social stressors and translated (Spanish) to usual MI.  The public health impact of this project, done in collaboration with the South End Community Health Center and the Boston Public Health Commission, is a program of early screening and brief intervention to minimize the burden of substance use related illness and negative social consequences that disproportionately affect Latino communities.

Congratulations to Elizabeth Markle of the Counseling Psychology doctoral program for being awarded the provost's Dissertation Completion Fellowship for Spring 2013
Liz received the award based on a two part dissertation entitled Social Sustainability, Social Capital, and Social Support: An Interdisciplinary Review and Conceptualization in Light of the Cohousing Model of Community, and her data collection entitled Social Support in Cohousing Communities: a Mixed-Method Analysis. 

Congratulations to Kathy Wu for being awarded a one year 10K grant from Policy Research, Inc., Disability Determination Small Grants Program.
Kathy received the grant based on the study titled,The "Lived Experiences" of a Chronically Homeless, Urban Population: Systemic Challenges to Achieving their Vocational and Rehabilitation Dreams
This qualitative study hopes to explore the never-before-considered stories of homeless individuals who have applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The ultimate aim of this research is to help improve the efficiency and reduce the unnecessary complexity of disability determination processes by capturing the narratives of those who have the most to gain from an improved system.


Northeastern Professors Win $1.6 M Grant to Study the Development of Play in Early Childhood and to Produce a Tool to Assess Developmental Delays

The lens of play offers a fuller understanding of learning and development.

The U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences recently awarded three Northeastern professors a four-year $1.6 million grant to perform a rigorous assessment of how young children play. The goal of the study is the comprehensive analysis and improvement of the Developmental Play Assessment (DPA), originally constructed by Karin Lifter, into an assessment that serves as a basis for education practice and policy. The research will result in a tool for educators and practitioners to use when assessing children's play skills within the context of determining their broader development.

The three professors who received the award are Karin Lifter, Emanuel Mason, and Takuya Minami of the Department of Counseling and Applied Educational Psychology at Bouvé. Their research shows that the way children play can provide critical insight into the development of a child's unique method of learning.

"Our view is that play provides a window into a child's thoughts and mental capabilities in sequences that we can observe and code through play behaviors,. These analyses are useful for designing effective instructional strategies. We think that play is a 6th domain that should be used to round out the traditional five assessment domains specified in federal law for serving children with delays and disabilities," says Lifter.

Lifter explains that delays and limitations in play often correspond with lags in other learning behavior. For example, the ability of a young child to create relationships between toys in a meaningful way, such as reassembling a simple puzzle, directly corresponds to transitions in language, such as the emergence of first words. Children who don't yet speak tend to display play activities that are limited to activities of taking the puzzle apart. As children develop, more sophisticated play corresponds with a higher level of language and learning skills, she says.

As part of the study, researchers will observe approximately 820 children (with and without identified developmental delays) ranging in age from 8 months to 60 months playing with groups of toys in 30-minute sessions that will be recorded and analyzed. Researchers and practitioners participating in the project will place four groups of toys in front of each child to observe, record, and code the play behaviors. The data will be organized into developmental sequences.  Delays, emerging skills, and patterns of play will be identified. A checklist will be generated for each child's progress that will act as an instructional guide for future play sessions.

"This is not about teaching children how to play with toys, but rather using children's play with toys to show us what children know and what they are thinking about in their development," Lifter says. The research will expand and enhance knowledge and instructional interventions for young children who are experiencing delays by providing a cutting edge assessment instrument in a playful but mindful manner.

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