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SEED Study Research Brief Released

Our SEED (School Experiences and Early Development) Study released a new research brief on recent findings from experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. "What We Lose When We Focus on Learning Loss" reveals that upon returning to in-person school, 3rd grade teachers faced a broader range of abilities among their students than they had in prior grades. Supporting teachers and providing individualized teaching for children will help children catch up and resume their typically rapid pace of learning. Visit Medium to read the brief and download a copy.  

Big Idea Challenge Year One Update

Our Big Idea Challenge co-investigators Drs. Sherri Castle and Connie Chapple were featured in a recent Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships' newsletter. Their "Well-Being Across the Lifespan: Early Childhood Experiences and Opportunities in Oklahoma" is investigating adverse childhood experiences, food and child-care deserts, criminal justice contact, social isolation, mental illness, substance abuse disorders, and early mortality across Oklahoma with the goal of developing practice and policy solutions.

Drs. Castle and Chapple (along with their transdisciplinary team) recently completed the first year of the study and they have some updates for us. Check out the video update here.

The What and Why of Child Assessments. What you need to know.

Watch: Sherri Castle's Presentations to the NHSA

Dr. Sherri Castle recently led two presentations for the National Head Start Association’s “The What and Why of Child Assessments.”

The four-part webinar series was designed to provide a better understanding of the types of child assessments, why they are conducted, and how programs can choose the best assessments for them.

The webinar series is part of an effort from NHSA’s Senior Director of Data, Victoria Jones. As she points out here, Head Start Program Performance Standards require programs to use child assessments but they don’t require or recommend any specific tools. That often means educators are responsible for choosing, administering, interpreting, and using the results of child assessments.

Castle said that a lot of programs will use the same assessment but will use it in ways that are outside the boundaries of what that data will support.

“These webinars let us provide technical information to help these programs equip themselves to make the best decisions to support children,” she said

Session 1 – Child Assessments in Early Head Start

Session 2 – Child Assessments in Head Start


Liz Frechette

Liz Frechette Selected to Participate in National STEM Program

Dr. Liz Frechette, ECEI’s post doctoral fellow, will be part of the 2021 cohort of the National Science Foundation Quantitative Research Methods for STEM Education Scholars Program.

She is one of 20 scholars selected to participate in the year-long program that will include a virtual Summer Institute and multiple workshops each month.

Participants are paired with quantitative mentors to help develop their skills in design, measurement, and analysis. Participants will design and implement a study that they will present at the end of the year.

“I am so excited for what this opportunity means for Liz as well as for the ECEI,” said Sherri Castle, ECEI assistant director of research. “She will receive specialized training to enhance her methodological and analysis skills and also expand her network of scholars and mentors who study STEM education with rigorous approaches. This program will be a real boost to her and the ECEI’s continued development.”

The scholars program, funded by the National Science Foundation and offered through the University of Maryland, College Park, is aimed at building capacity in STEM education research.

All program participants have a research focus related to issues of access and equity of underrepresented populations in STEM within either pre-K through 12 or post-secondary settings.

Shinyoung Jeon and Sherri Castle

Two ECEI researchers receive national recognition for their work

Please join us in recognizing our research team for their tireless efforts to drive advancements in early childhood education.

Last month, two of our researchers were recognized nationally for their contributions to the field of early childhood research while several others had their work highlighted at national conferences.

Shinyoung Jeon receives early career award from AERA

Dr. Shinyoung Jeon, our senior research and policy associate, received the American Education Research Association’s Early Education and Child Development Special Interest Group 2021 Early Career Award.

The award is given annually to an individual with an early and promising record as a researcher and scholar in the early childhood field.

Jeon’s work is primarily focused on three areas: longitudinal developmental trajectories of children from low-income families with a focus on resilience; impacts of early education intervention programs on developmental outcomes of children from low-income families; and teacher-parent partnerships and family engagement in early care and education.

She has published 16 peer-reviewed articles in top-tier journals and given more than 30 presentations since 2017.

Sherri Castle receives national award for dissertation

Our Assistant Director of Research, Dr. Sherri Castle, was named the American Education Research Association’s 2021 Early Education/Child Development SIG Outstanding Dissertation Award winner.

The award recognizes dissertations of exceptional merit that relate to the development of children between birth and age 8, including studies focused on families, teachers, and others who care for and educate young children.

The selection committee commented: “We had many strong applicants, but we were very impressed with (this) work and its implications in the field.”

Castle’s dissertation, titled “Children’s individual experiences with teachers: Precursors and associated outcomes,” focused on understanding the experiences of individual children in early education classrooms. Her finding that children who enter preschool with lower academic and self-regulation skills tend to experience less closeness and more conflict with teachers provides important insight that the very kids who need the most positive experiences with teachers may be least likely to get the types of interactions needed to support their already lagging development.

Understanding inequity, advancing equity. Virtual two-day symposium. 3:30-6:30pm, December 7 and 8. OU faculty presenters will be joined by 2 keynote speakers.

ECEI to give presentation at OVPRP symposium

The ECEI will be giving an update on its neighborhood inequities research at an upcoming OVPRP symposium.

Board Member Iheoma Iruka will be giving a keynote presentation.

“Understanding Inequity, Advancing Equity," a two-day virtual symposium, is 3:30-6:00pm, Dec. 7th and 8th. This event is free and open to the public.

Advance registration required:…/regist…/WN_wSdEj06HSp-u9lhagUTiHA.

The event is cosponsored by the University of Oklahoma Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships, teh OU College of Arts and Sciences, the OU Arts & Humanities Forum and the Early Childhood Education Institute at OU-Tulsa.


Picture is of the word Racism with a circle and a line crossed through it

ECEI Launches Initiative to Become Anti-Racist Workplace

Last month, when the ECEI joined the chorus of voices calling for change and declaring that “Black Lives Matter,” we pledged to begin working toward rooting out systemic racism, bias, and injustice.

As part of that effort, our full staff recently wrapped up a series of three study-and-share sessions on becoming an anti-racist workplace. The sessions provided our team with foundational knowledge regarding the ways that anti-Black racism shows up in our own thinking as well as in our society.

The interactive sessions concluded with each team member making an individual commitment to take action in the next month to continue their journey towards being anti-racist.

To view the full article, click here.

Teacher playing with children at a table

ECEI Pledges to Stand with Partners Against Racism

Racism, inequities, and injustice are plagues that have afflicted our society for hundreds of years.

They are present today, when unarmed men and women of color are killed by police, just as they were present 99 years ago during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

They are present when teenagers in black communities are wrestled to the ground and handcuffed for jaywalking.

To read the full article, click here.

New Publication

The ECEI is pleased to announce a new publication co-authored by Dr. Shinyoung Jeon, Senior Research and Policy Associate. “Economic Pressure, Parental Positivity, Positive Parenting and Child Social Competence” was published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies in March.

Drs. Shinyoung Jeon (Senior Research and Policy Associate at the Early Childhood Education Institute) and Tricia Neppl (Associate Professor at Iowa State University) found that maternal and paternal positivity, defined as a positive perspective on life and the future, and positive parenting, including listener responsiveness, communication, and positive mood were significantly associated with changes in child social competence from ages 2 to 5. However, economic pressure was negatively associated with maternal and paternal positivity and father positive parenting. This study suggests that parental positivity and positive parenting could be mechanisms through which financial hardship may affect children’s development.

To view the full article, click here

Sherri Castle and Diane Horm pose for a picture.

ECEI Receives NIH Grant with Georgetown to Extend Pre-K Study

OU-Tulsa’s Early Childhood Education Institute (ECEI), an applied research group focused on advancing the quality of early childhood education, has received a $2.7 million award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to extend work with researchers from Georgetown University.

With the study’s long-term focus (following children from age 3 through 4th grade), its depth (data collected from children, classrooms, teachers, parents, administrators, and health providers) as well its sources (multiple methods used across various early childhood settings) — this study is the among the most comprehensive contemporary longitudinal study of public pre-K and its associations with children's outcomes through elementary school.
This new award will allow researchers to follow the participants who are now in kindergarten for 5 years (until 2023). The longitudinal study will examine the processes in preschool through 4th grade classrooms that support children’s self-regulatory skills — skills that underlie children’s academic success and relate to their overall health. The study, titled SEED (School Experiences and Early Development), began following approximately 650 three-year-olds from Educare, CAP-Tulsa, and community childcare programs in fall 2016. Funds from NIH will allow expansion of the sample size, duration, and depth of the study.

To read more about this award, please click here