"Evidence for the Contribution of COMT Gene Val158/108Met Polymorphism (rs4680) to Working Memory Training‐Related Prefrontal Plasticity"
Genetic factors have been suggested to affect the efficacy of working memory training. However, few studies have attempted to identify the relevant genes. Methods: In this study, we first performed a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to identify brain regions that were specifically affected by working memory training. Sixty undergraduate students were randomly assigned to either the adaptive training group (N = 30) or the active control group (N = 30). Both groups were trained for 20 sessions during 4 weeks and received fMRI scans before and after the training. Afterward, we combined the data from the 30 participants in the RCT study who received adaptive training with data from 71 additional participants who also received the same adaptive training but were not part of the RCT study (total N = 101) to test the contribution of the COMT Val158/108Met polymorphism to the interindividual difference in the training effect within the identified brain regions. Results: In the RCT study, we found that the adaptive training significantly decreased brain activation in the left prefrontal cortex (TFCE-FWE corrected p = .030). In the genetic study, we found that compared with the Val allele homozygotes, the Met allele carriers' brain activation decreased more after the training at the left prefrontal cortex (TFCE-FWE corrected p = .025). Conclusions: This study provided evidence for the neural effect of a visual-spatial span training and suggested that genetic factors such as the COMT Val158/108Met polymorphism may have to be considered in future studies of such training.
We performed a meta-analysis of dual-task experiments to assess the robustness of the effects of conducting working memory secondary tasks on arithmetic performance. Four hundred effect sizes from 21 studies from 1,049 participants were analyzed across a variety of specifications. Results revealed that increases in working memory load resulted in slower (7% to 19% reduction) speed of solving of arithmetic problems. Of the potential moderators, working memory load type (i.e. central executive, phonological loop, and visuospatial sketchpad), arithmetic task type (e.g. addition verification, approximate addition, exact multiplication), and authors’ predictions for significance which served as a proxy for cross-talk were statistically significant across specifications, but participants’ age was not. Working memory load type was the most substantial moderator, with central executive tasks leading to the greatest slowing of performance, suggesting that the cognitive complexity of a working memory task may exert a larger influence on performance than the domain-specific overlapping processing demands of similar tasks. We discuss the apparent discrepancy between these findings and findings from correlational studies of the relation between arithmetic performance and working memory, which have reported similar correlations across working memory domains, on average.
"Presenting with Joshua Yuan and Nora Renteria at the STEAM Symposium was an amazing experience," Gagnier said. "Their voices amplified the message of the presentation and was inspirational for educators in attendance. It truly excites me to be able to work with future teacher leaders such as them and see them share their enthusiasm and passion for innovating education."
Attendees included PK-20 educators, educational administrators, non-profit organizations, community associations, policymakers, educational technology companies, and industry business partners.
"Anchored in Equity and Social Justice: STEAM and PBL for Everyone."
Synopsis: How do we use STEAM and PBL to transform pedagogical spaces? We transform learning by engaging students with topics related to equity and social justice, and by teaching student agency through action research. This session addresses issues of equity and social justice within STEAM and beyond the classroom, while embracing the principles set by the CA Department of Education's description of equity: "Ensuring equity in education is a necessary component in narrowing the achievement gap. Teachers and school leaders ensure equity by recognizing, respecting, and attending to the diverse strengths and challenges of the students they serve. High-quality schools are able to differentiate instruction, services, and resource distribution to respond effectively to the diverse needs of their students, with the aim of ensuring that all students are able to learn and thrive."
Arduinos for the 1:1 NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) Classroom."
Synopsis: All students deserve Computer Science education, Engineering education, and Science education. California State adopted standards and teachers agree with this, however, the pathway can be seen as extremely difficult, especially for those without a background in technology. This presentation aims to demystify the complexity of robotics and coding for STEM teachers. To accomplish this, practical methodologies for implementation, digital resources, and hands-on experience with Arduinos will be shared with all in attendance. An Arduino is a small programmable device that can be used to collect data with sensors and complete mathematical computations. Attendees will see how to use Arduino to replace current probeware, enhance existing laboratory experiences, and inspire students to go further with the devices in STEM projects and competition.
In his time as an undergraduate, Castaneda also played a part in changing campus culture by helping students develop a sense of belongingness. He accomplished this in his capacity as the president of a spoken word poetry club on campus and as a community assistant at the Vista del Campo Norte housing community. He supported students’ developing belongingness through hosting club meetings that allow students to have a safe space to express their emotions in an artistic manner. Castaneda acted as a role model and resource for his 72 assigned residents and many of the other more than 1500 residents that live at the housing community. He also attended the University of California, Irvine's All-University leadership conference which includes a select number of students who all have similar mindsets and ambitions to create a campus more inclusive for different types of marginalized groups.
As he approaches completion of the CalTeach program, Castaneda is expecting to earn his degree in biological science and his preliminary teaching credential by the end of the school year. He is currently student teaching at Buena Park High School, having had field teaching opportunities at the elementary and middle school levels at Newport-Mesa and Santa Ana School Districts.
"I have enjoyed working with all different grade levels of students, but I discovered I prefer teaching high school students because they will soon be entering the real world," Castaneda said. "I expect to be a resource and mentor to students, especially those students from minoritized backgrounds who are interested in attending college."
In November, 2019, Castaneda received a 2019-20 President's Educator Fellowship, awarded to excelling students who have committed to working in public schools that primarily serve students from low-income families. Receiving the President's Educator Fellowship was especially well-timed for Castaneda, since he has had to cut back on his work hours due to his dedication to his studies and his current placement at Buena Park High School, where he expects to exceed 600 hours of work this year.
"The fellowship is providing tremendous help when it comes to paying for rent in Irvine and the cost of daily transportation to and from Buena Park," Castaneda said.
Castaneda looks forward to returning to San Bernardino and teaching high school biology.
The project ultimately wants to show parents that teaching their child can be entertaining and engaging by modeling how fun, hands-on math activities can easily be incorporated into everyday routines at home.
As a doctoral student at UCI, Khan was advised by Distinguished Professor of Education Jacquelynne Eccles. “The opportunity to work with someone as brilliant as Dr. Eccles was the main driving force for me to get my Ph.D. at UCI,” Khan said. “She taught me how to be a better and stronger writer, how to measure the nebulous concept of motivation, and how to think critically about the impacts of my research.”
In her second year, Khan was selected as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow to conduct research that explored academic motivation beliefs among adolescents and undergraduates. As an example of the fascinating terrain of nurture versus nature in the educational field, she designed and implemented a longitudinal study with UCI undergraduates assessing change in students’ growth mindsets and their academic motivation. She utilized this data for her dissertation, which contributed to research on the popular notion that a growth mindset (believing that your intelligence has the potential to grow over time with increased efforts and strategies), is the most beneficial for students’ learning and engagement.
During the final year of her doctoral program, Khan completed an internship as a research analyst at EvalCorp, an applied research and consulting firm. She analyzed programmatic outcome data and designed reports for nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Khan’s work informed future directions for youth education programs and helped secure additional years of funding.
Khan attributes her ability to be a conscientious educational researcher to the rich learning opportunities she was exposed to at the UCI School of Education.
“When I first visited UCI, I was drawn to the sense of camaraderie that existed between faculty members and students and the opportunity for cross-collaboration between the multiple disciplines within education and psychology.”
"Quantifying the Difference between Active and Passive Control Groups in Cognitive Interventions Using two Meta-Analytical Approaches"
Despite promising reports of broad cognitive benefit in studies of cognitive training, it has been argued that the reliance of many studies on no-intervention control groups (passive controls) make these reports difficult to interpret because placebo effects cannot be ruled out. Although researchers have recently been trying to incorporate more active controls, in which participants engage in an alternate intervention, previous work has been contentious as to whether this actually yields meaningfully different results. To better understand the influence of passive and active control groups on cognitive interventions, we conducted two meta-analyses to estimate their relative effect sizes. While the first one broadly surveyed the literature by compiling data from 34 meta-analyses, the second one synthesized data from 42 empirical studies that simultaneously employed both types of controls. Both analyses showed no meaningful performance difference between passive and active controls, suggesting that current active control placebo paradigms might not be appropriately designed to reliably capture these non-specific effects or that these effects are minimal in this literature.
"Predicting Second and Third Graders’ Reading Comprehension Gains: Observing Students’ and Classmates Talk During Literacy Instruction Using COLT"
The more a student talked, the greater were his/her reading comprehension (RC) gains. Classmate talk also predicted RC outcomes (total effect size = 0.27). We found that 11 types of teacher talk ranged from asking simple questions to encouraging students’ thinking and reasoning. Teacher talk predicted student talk but did not predict students’ RC gains directly. Findings highlight the importance of each student’s discourse during literacy instruction, how classmates’ talk contributes to the learning environments that each student experiences, and how this affects RC gains, with implications for improving the effectiveness of literacy instruction.
Adriana Villavicencio to speak about Research Alliance for NYC Schools at Teacher Learning Group Meeting
One of the leading developmental scientists of her generation, Eccles has made seminal contributions to the study of achievement-related decisions and development. Most notably, her expectancy-value theory of motivation and her concept of stage-environment have served as perhaps the most dominant models of achievement during the school years, contributing to extensive research and reform efforts to improve the nature of secondary school transitions.
Eccles will receive the Outstanding Mentor Award at the 2020 SRA Biennial Meeting - From Genome to Globe - March 19-21 in San Diego, California.
About the Society for Research on Adolescence (SRA):
SRA is a community of researchers dedicated to advancing understanding of adolescence and enhancing the wellbeing of youth in a globalized world. The organization promotes high-quality research that considers the biological, psychological, and sociocultural aspects of development in context. SRA aims to lead and shape scientific and public discourse on youth and adolescence, and to guide parenting, schooling, programs, and policies."
“Working with the PBS team has been an incredible opportunity," Shea said. "It’s been a creative joy to incorporate my literacy background with my experiences with the Science Project at UCI. We anticipate that the series will invoke a great love for science for all children.”
Shea also collaborates with George Washington University in its GWTeach program, where she co-teaches the Introduction to Education courses. At both universities, she supervises student teachers in the field.
Shea said she can now pass along the training and mentoring she received at UCI to her pre-service teachers.
"I was fortunate to work with outstanding professors who are dedicated to developing excellent teachers and making schools better places,” Shea said. “I had the great fortune to work closely with Professor Judith Sandholtz to learn deeply about teacher education, Distinguished Professor Greg Duncan on rigorous statistical methodologies, Dr. Rebecca Black on qualitative research methodologies, and with Professor Mark Warschauer to ensure that my work was of the highest quality.”
Looking ahead, Shea plans to continue to publish, present, and consult in the field of language/literacy integration in content while working with pre-service teachers to ensure equitable and high-quality experience for all students.
"As teacher-educators, we have a responsibility to prepare the next generation of teachers to incorporate robust methodology while teaching them how to take on the role of advocate for all learners."