Ed Psych Insider - Fall 2018
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Ed Psych Insider

Fall 2018
They say that good things come in threes.
  That’s certainly true in Educational Psychology of late.
    This Fall, we welcome three new faculty members to the Department two in the School Psychology area and one in Human Development.
     We also have three new training grant awards that will take effect next year. Two of them are from the U.S. Department of Education that will provide funds to train School Psychology students about special education issues. The third, the PIE Scholar Program, will bring together students from across our four program areas to foster skills in innovative, interdisciplinary and multi-method research.
     And three of our outstanding young faculty members are up for promotion to Associate Professor this Fall. Add to this the anticipation of starting our newly approved practitioner training program (M.S./Ed.S.) for school psychologists, scheduled to begin next Fall, and you can see why the Department continues to be a vibrant center of research and learning.


Prof. B. Brad Brown
Chair, Dept. of Educational Psychology




Our Department is launching an exciting, new program designed to train incoming graduate students in an interdisciplinary approach to education. The Prevention, Intervention, and Enhancement (PIE) training program creates synergy across disciplines to help students develop a holistic orientation to educational systems to maximize positive outcomes for all children.
     Each doctoral applicant to the Ed Psych Department can apply to be a PIE Scholar. Those selected will enhance their program of study by participating in a four-year curriculum with advisors from two program areas. PIE Scholars will receive guaranteed funding for four years. The funding covers a
stipend, tuition and student fees, and eligibility to enroll for health insurance.
     The PIE Scholar curriculum includes targeted study across all areas of the Ed Psych Department, including an emphasis on development, learning, prevention and intervention, as well as quantitative and qualitative research methods. PIE Scholars will receive exposure to the range of populations and issues in education. Scholars will also receive training in a diverse set of research methods that are suited to examining pressing issues and identifying evidence-based approaches to support all children.
     This innovative approach to graduate training will position PIE Scholar graduates as uniquely suited to apply an interdisciplinary and holistic perspective to education and have population-level impacts on children’s learning, development, and well-being.
     For more information, visit the PIE Scholars webpage here.
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Grad Student Spotlight:

Zachari Swiecki

Like many, Zachari Swiecki’s passion was piqued as an undergrad.
     “I did a lot of tutoring and helping other students, so I got really interested in not only how people learn but also the best ways that people learn,” he says. “And through that, I developed an interest in what teaching techniques are the most valuable for different types of people.”
     From there, he took it a step further – a step toward technology.
“It occurred to me that there may be better ways to use technology to help people learn and to assess what people were learning,” he continues. “So, I began exploring how people learn with games and simulations, which seemed like the best way to help people learn in a new, engaging fashion.”
     Now, after five years, Swiecki is a dissertator in the Department’s Learning Sciences program with a focus on how best to assess technology-aided learning.
     “I’m looking at how people learn with technology or think differently when they’re using technology and what that means for assessment,” he explains. “What does it mean to assess somebody when they’re using some type of technology like a computer or a simulation and what does it mean to assess that learning?”
     Currently, Swiecki is researching how learning assessments differ when teams of people complete a task versus when one works individually.
     “I'm looking at how assessment should change when we shift from assessing individuals to assessing individuals in collaborative settings,” he explains. When people engage in teamwork, their actions do not occur in isolation; what one person does affects what others do and these complex interactions evolve over time.”
     “So, specifically, I'm looking at how we can assess the performance of individuals in collaborative settings while taking into account how their actions depend on the actions of others and how their actions influence others,” he continues.
     For his dissertation, Swiecki says he’s “hoping to show that an assessment tool that the Epistemic Analytics lab has developed, Epistemic Network Analysis (ENA), is a particularly good way to address this issue and that it can be modified to provide a more valid assessment technique in team contexts compared to existing methods.”
     Looking forward, he’s planning to “work on ways to integrate assessments like ENA into real-time representations that teams, researchers, and educators can use to better understand and improve team performance." 
     Once he defends his dissertation and graduates next summer, Swiecki has a number of career options.
     “I feel like I’ve been in school my whole life, so it’s hard to imagine something outside of academia,” he jokes. “So, I’m definitely leaning towards the academic path and am looking to become a professor at a research university. But there are also opportunities to work in the private sector, especially in educational technology.”

Ed Psych Highlights

  • Human Development Profs. Percival Matthews and Haley Vlach were both recently awarded ‘Understanding Human Cognition’ scholar awards from the James S. McDonnell Foundation. The awards are an effort to re-emphasize the central role of cognitive psychology in advancing the understanding of neural and cognitive bases of behavior. Recipients are committed research applying cognitive principles to problems in teaching, learning, and recovery from brain injuries.
  • Two graduate students from the Department’s Quantitative Methods programs recently won awards for poster presentations of their research at the annual meeting of the International Meeting of the Psychometric Society. QM student Youmi Suk earned an award for her research poster, titled “Measuring the Heterogeneity of Individual-Level Treatment Effects with Multilevel-Observational Data” and another QM student, Nana Kim, earned an award for her research poster, titled “An Item Response Model for Discrete Option Multiple Choice Items.”
  • Prof. Haley Vlach was also awarded tenure and promoted to Associate Professor. Her research is on children’s learning and cognitive development and she is the director of the Learning, Cognition, and Development Lab.
  • School Psychology Prof. Jenny Asmus, along with Department Emeritus Prof. Tom Kratochwill and Rehabilitation Psychology & Special Education Prof. Kimber Wilkerson, was recently awarded a collaborative training grant to improve the quality and supply of personnel who serve children with disabilities in skills needed to perform effectively on problem solving teams implementing evidence-based practices. The grant was awarded by the U.S. Dept. of Education Office of Special Education Programs.
  • MSPE graduate Dr. Bridgett Willey was awarded the President's Community Collaborator Award from the Urban League of Greater Madison for her work providing providing a program for youth of color (and others) to have more access to information about health careers through the University as director of UW Health's Allied Health Education and Career Pathways.
  • Professor Emeritus Robert Clasen passed away March 17, 2018. A beloved member of our faculty for many years, Bob will be remembered for bringing Head Start to Madison schools, initiating the College for Kids program, and designing many other programs to promote young people's creativity.


We are very pleased to announce that three new faculty have joined our ranks.
     Welcome to Katie, Sarah and Steve!

Prof. Katie Eklund – School Psychology
Dr. Katie Eklund is bringing her expertise and research on school mental health and the intersection between evidence-based assessment and intervention for children and youth to the School Psychology area.
     As mental health concerns are a major barrier to learning for many youth, her work includes a three-pronged approach: universal
screening and early intervention for students with mental health risks; advocacy and policy promotion of school mental health services; and strategies to improve school climate and student safety.
     Dr. Eklund was most recently an Assistant Professor in the School Psychology Program at the University of Missouri. She received her doctorate in Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
     In addition to teaching the Introduction to School Psychology course this fall, Eklund hopes to introduce a new course on school violence and crisis response soon. She says that course “will be focused on trends in school safety as well as best practice guidelines on threat and risk assessment protocols; suicide assessment, prevention and postvention, as well as helping K-12 schools create teams that are focused on positive school climate and proactive response following a crisis event on campus.”

Prof. Sarah Short – Human Development
Dr. Sarah Short has joined the Human Development area as an assistant professor and the inaugural King Endowed Chair in Educational Psychology and the Center for Healthy Minds.
     “I’ve been a Badger for as long as I can remember – my grandfather earned his M.D. here and his legacy instilled a great sense of pride in the University,” says Short, who earned her Ph.D. in biological psychology and neuroscience at UW-Madison. “This is a top-tier educational     and research institution that is internationally recognized for producing outstanding research, educators, leaders and scientific innovations. I am thrilled and honored to be back at UW, this time as a faculty member.”
     Dr. Short has a long-standing interest in the prevention of neurodevelopmental disorders and psychiatric illness and has conducted multidisciplinary research that unites the fields of psychology, biology, human development and neuroscience. Her work focuses on the identification of early risk factors and the characterization of brain and behavioral development starting at birth.
     She hopes to “advance our understanding of early brain development in typical and high-risk children,” she says. “The larger goal is to identify optimal periods of neuroplasticity and to design targeted preventive-intervention strategies for children at high risk for neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders.”
     Before joining the Department, Dr. Short was an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and most recently served as the scientific co-director and an associate scientist at the Center for Healthy Minds here on campus.
     This Fall, Dr. Short is teaching a new course in Educational Psychology titled "Brain & Behavioral Development from Prenatal to Pre-K: Setting the Stage for Learning."

Dr. Stephen Kilgus – School Psychology
Also joining the School Psychology area faculty is Dr. Stephen Kilgus.
     His research focuses on student mental health intervention and assessment. He reports his plans are to “conduct projects regarding targeted interventions for students at risk for depression and anxiety."
     His work has established evidence-based assessment procedures, as well as informed the development and validation of tools for universal screening, problem analysis, and progress monitoring.
     Previously, Dr. Kilgus was an Associate Professor in the School Psychology Program at the University of Missouri. He currently serves as an associate editor for the Journal of School Psychology.
     Dr. Kilgus is teaching the Social, Emotional and Behavioral Assessment course this fall.

Click here to contribute to the Kratochwill Dissertation Fund

Alumni Answers:

Dr. Sarah Depaoli

Now an associate professor of Quantitative Psychology at the University of California, Merced, Sarah Depaoli graduated from our Quantitative Methods program back in 2010.
     Here’s what she’s up to now and some reflections on her time here in graduate school:

What is the focus of your work as a professor at UC Merced?
I regularly teach three Ph.D.-level courses: Advanced Graduate Statistics, Structural Equation Modeling, and Longitudinal Data Analysis with Bayesian Extensions. My program of research surrounds latent variable modeling through the Bayesian estimation framework. I see many potential benefits to using Bayesian methods in this modeling context, but there are certain "problems" that can also result in its application. My research program largely focuses on developing solutions to these "problems" in order to aid in the proper implementation and estimation of latent variable models. The main goal is to provide applied researchers with statistical tools they can trust.
Why did you choose UW-Madison for graduate school?
The program is very strong and offers a breadth of training within the field of methodology. However, the real decision-maker when I was looking at programs was when I met my soon-to-be advisor, David Kaplan, during a visit to campus. I knew I could learn so much from him and that I would get along great with him. It seemed like a perfect fit programmatically and I was being paired with someone that I really admired.
What drew you to Quantitative Methods?
My initial undergraduate and master's-level training was in Psychology, and through this training I realized that my interests were in the methodology side of the field. I wanted to study the statistical methods and contribute to this area of research. 
Why would you recommend UW Ed Psych and the QM area to prospective students?
This program set me up for success. Not only was I given the opportunity to train under experts in the field, but I was also taught to be an independent scholar (which was very important when I went up for tenure). My training gave me the necessary tools to excel and succeed as a new professor in the field. The faculty are truly fantastic, and it shows that they care about their students. The program, at least when I was there, did not have an abundance of Ph.D. students, which meant that students could excel in a one-on-one training environment. It is a top program, with the BEST faculty, in a great city--students who have the opportunity to attend are truly fortunate in my view.
Copyright © 2018 UW-Madison Dept. of Educational Psychology, All rights reserved.

Dept. of Educational Psychology
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1025 West Johnson Street
Madison, WI 53706-1796

Phone: 608-262-3432

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