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.
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.
ECEI featured in Sooner Magazine
The Winter 2018 edition of the Sooner Magazine includes an article about how the Early Childhood Education Institute at OU-Tulsa has changed the field of Early Childhood. Read about the Institute's history, its growth through the years, and its continued influential reach.
Free Seed Sower Lecture - Thursday Nov. 2
"Understanding & Meeting Children's Needs After Traumatic Experiences"
6:30 to 8 p.m., Schusterman Learning Center, OU-Tulsa
Young children who have experienced difficult or traumatic events need consistent and supportive caregiving. When trauma affects young children, typical development can be disrupted, impacting relationships and later outcomes.
This presentation will discuss how parents, caregivers and communities can support young children with a history of trauma and learn how to identify when additional help is needed.
Allison Boothe, PhD is a clinical psychologist and associate professor at Tulane University School of Medicine in the Tulane Institute of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, where she co-developed and directs the Tulane Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation and Support Program, which focuses on supporting young children’s social-emotional development in early education settings. Dr. Boothe has published several peer-reviewed articles and has spoken to many national groups about supporting young children including Zero to Three, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the US Office of Family Assistance, among others.
Dr. Boothe received a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and a master’s and doctoral degree in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology from The University of Alabama. She completed a clinical internship and post-doctoral fellowship in infant mental health at Tulane University, where she evaluated and treated children under five who had experienced abuse and/or neglect along with their parents and foster parents.
Tulsa World: Tulsa known as 'magical' place for early education research
Tulsa’s national reputation for offering innovative early childhood education programs has attracted another long-term study to see what exactly makes these classrooms so effective.
Researchers from Georgetown and Harvard universities are partnering with the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa’s Early Childhood Education Institute to take the next step in understanding why pre-K programs work.
The project is expected to add a significant layer to the burgeoning field of early education research, adding data and analysis based on classroom observations, teacher feedback and questionnaire responses provided by parents and children.
Tulsa World: Tulsa Early Childhood Advocates to Testify Before Congress
Representatives from CAP-Tulsa and the George Kaiser Family Foundation will represent Tulsa this week at a congressional hearing (the House Committee on Appropriations). The ECEI is proud to be a long-time partner with both CAP-Tulsa and Educare as we impact the lives of young children and families in Tulsa and Oklahoma.
ECE Scholars Grantee Meeting
Group photo of recent meeting of Child Care and Head Start Graduate Student Research Scholars and their faculty members in Washington, DC. Emisha Pickens-Young, Ph.D. Candidate and ECEI Project Director, fourth from the left in the front row, and Dr. Horm, 3rd from the left in the back row, attended this meeting with promising young scholars and potential research collaborators from across the country.
One Year of High Quality Early Education Improves Outcomes for Low-Income Infants & Toddlers
Fewer than half of children from low-income families are considered ready for school at age 5. Since 85% of brain development occurs by age three, early child education is vital to a child’s future success in school.
A new study by OU-Tulsa and four other universities have found that infants and toddlers from low-income families who attended a high-quality, center-based early education program do better in language and social skills after only one year than children who do not attend the program. Participants were assessed after one year of attending Educare sites in four cities, including Tulsa Educare. Children who participated had better language skills, fewer problem behaviors, and more positive interactions with their parents than children who didn’t participate in a program.
The study appears in the journal Child Development. It is based on research conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Chicago, OU-Tulsa, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
“This study shows high-quality early childhood programming that starts in infancy makes a difference in the lives of young children who are growing up in poverty,” said Diane Horm, Ph.D., director of the OU-Tulsa Early Childhood Education Institute and principle investigator for the Tulsa site of the study. “The achievement gap has been a critical problem and this study shows the power of starting in infancy and toddlerhood, and how it will set children on a path to short- and long-term success.”
Researchers randomly assigned 239 infants and toddlers (ages 6 weeks to 19 months) from low-income families to attend or not attend local Educare programs at five schools (Chicago, Milwaukee, two in Omaha, and Tulsa). About half of the children were African American and about a third were Hispanic. One year later, they measured the children’s language skills, observed them playing with their primary caregiver (usually mothers), and asked parents to rate their children’s social and emotional skills.
The differences between children who attended Educare and children who did not attend were larger than differences seen in previous studies of similar programs, such as Early Head Start or home visiting programs. The findings from this study extend those of the Abecedarian Project and other research suggesting that starting a comprehensive early childhood education program early can improve the outcomes of infants and toddlers from low-income families. The study will follow the children’s progress through age 5 and at that time, assess their abilities in academic areas that predict later success in school.
Educare includes specific components that may contribute to the positive development of children from low-income families. In particular, all teachers have at least a B.A. degree, and many have an M.A. degree. They are supervised by master teachers, who provide ongoing professional development and coaching on research-based best practices. Educare staff conduct at least two home visits and two parent conferences each year. In addition, they offer meetings, activities, classes, and social events geared to parents and families.
“This study reinforces the incredible results Educare’s evidence-based, early childhood education program has on the outcomes of children from low-income families,” said Caren Calhoun, executive director of Tulsa Educare. “Educare is specifically designed to let children explore, learn and develop in a safe space. Our commitment to small class sizes, well-trained and bachelor degreed teachers and family engagement helps our students develop the skills necessary to be socially and academically successful.”
The research was funded by the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, the Brady Education Foundation, the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ounce of Prevention Fund, and an anonymous foundation.
The ECEI is part of the OU Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education. It is one component of the Early Childhood Education research and academic programs available at OU-Tulsa.
OU-Tulsa is a nationally-recognized center for higher education offering a wide range of 30+ undergraduate, Master’s, and Doctorate level degrees, as well as graduate certificates. Programs include architecture, engineering, education, nursing, public health, occupational and physical therapy, human relations, library and information studies, organizational dynamics, public administration, social work, as well as medicine through the OU-TU School of Community Medicine. Since 1957, OU-Tulsa has provided higher education to NE Oklahoma and moved to the 60-acre Schusterman Campus in 1999. For more information, visit ou.edu/tulsa.
Educare is an early education program for children from 6 weeks to 5 years that operates in 21 schools in 18 U.S. cities. The program is designed to reduce the achievement gap between children from low-income families and those from more economically advantaged families. It offers full-day, year-round comprehensive services, including enriching educational experiences, in infant-toddler classrooms of 8 children and 3 adults.
Summarized from Child Development, Child and Parenting Outcomes After One Year of Educare by Yazejian, N (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Bryant, M (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Hans, S (University of Chicago), Horm, D (University of Oklahoma-Tulsa), St. Clair, L (formerly at University of Nebraska Medical Center, now at Omaha Program Evaluation Services), File, N (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), and Burchinal, M (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). Copyright 2017 The Society for Research in Child Development, Inc. All rights reserved.
OU-Tulsa Grad Student Receives Prestigious Early Education Grant
The power of a quality early education stuck with Emisha Pickens-Young, who has risen from being a child in a Head Start program to landing a highly competitive research grant in early education as a graduate student.
Pickens-Young, 41, a doctoral student at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa, has been selected as one of six graduate students in the country — and first ever in Oklahoma — to receive the prestigious federal Head Start Graduate Student Research Grant, which is an award of about $25,000.
The grant will go toward her dissertation studying teaching teams at local Head Start and Early Head Start programs, specifically on how those teams affect classroom quality and child outcomes. Her findings are expected to be examined across the country because of a lack of data in the early childhood education research literature. Her focus is on how brain research connects to parenting styles.
“I want to be able to understand research in a practical, easy manner,” Pickens-Young said. “This grant will open opportunities to lead me in that direction. ... I want to see more information out there so parents can understand it.”
Pickens-Young plans to complete in May a doctorate in instructional leadership and academic curriculum in the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education at OU-Tulsa. She also works as a project director for the Early Childhood Education Institute at OU-Tulsa.
This interest began as a child growing up in Ardmore with two brothers and a single mother, who had her first baby as a teenager. Head Start was her introduction to school.
“I still remember my teachers and try to stay in touch with them and their children. In Ardmore, everybody knows everybody,” she said. “That’s where I got my start. I remember it being fun with plays, songs and the centers. My teachers were very loving. That stood out more than anything. Looking back, I thought school was a fun place to be and took a liking to it.
“More than anything, it gave me the foundation to want to learn and to know that school is a great place to be. There is so much research showing the impact of having a positive teacher for (a child’s) first three academic years. That was true for me. I love going to school, and that stayed with me, obviously, up until this point. I still have same love of learning.”
Pickens-Young graduated from Langston University in 1998 with an elementary education degree. Her experience includes working as a teacher at a church, serving as director of the child development center at the YMCA Hutcherson branch and teaching children at the Tulsa Head Start program, administered by the Community Action Project. While at Tulsa’s Head Start, she was a lead preschool teacher, master teacher and coach for new teachers.
After completing a master’s degree from Oklahoma State University-Tulsa in curriculum leadership and development, she wanted to delve more into research of early education, from birth to 4 years old.
“I’m most interested in the early ages,” she said. “It’s my focus and something I’m passionate about because of my own experience with Head Start, having a sweet and loving teacher and being a Head Start teacher.”
To apply for the federal grant, Pickens-Young completed an application of about 100 pages. Applicants were judged based on the significance of research questions, design and methodology, management plans, collaborative partner relationships, budget, personal qualifications, and mentorship. Her mentor is Dr. Diane Horm, the director of the OU-Tulsa Early Childhood Education Institute.
“We knew Emisha’s unique experience of attending Head Start as a child and having worked as a Head Start teacher for more than six years made her an extremely strong candidate,” Horm said in a written statement. “She is a Head Start success story, and living Head Start’s mission of delivering high-quality early childhood education to children growing up in poverty gave her a unique vantage point.”
OU Celebrates 10 Years of its Early Childhood Education Institute
Ten years ago, Diane Horm was not looking for a job.
She was entering her 20th year of teaching at the University of Rhode Island. She was an associate dean with plans to build an addition onto her house. She was established in her career and social circle.
Yet, the calls to check out a new position as director of an early childhood institute at the University of Oklahoma in Tulsa were too interesting to dismiss.
“Boy was I impressed,” Horm recalls. “Compared to Rhode Island, there was so much going on in early childhood here.”
Before Horm arrived on the scene, the foundation had been laid to change the way Oklahoma viewed early experiences. Led by Tulsa philanthropist George Kaiser, business and education leaders pushed for more pre-school investment.
Convincing evidence came from emerging brain and social research showing that the first years of life are crucial in healthy development through childhood and adolescence.
No longer was watching young children considered babysitting or day care. The care of children from birth to school age evolved into an education system.
A first significant change was adding pre-kindergarten enrollment to the state’s education funding formula, allowing school districts to offer voluntary, universal pre-K. Then, programs targeting the most impoverished children were beefed up and established — federal Head Start and the nonprofit Educare.
That was just the beginning.
In 2006, the Early Childhood Education Institute was established through a gift from the George Kaiser Family Foundation. Horm has been the director of the institute ever since.
“Early childhood education suffers from a lack of public recognition that it’s a profession,” Horm said. “George Kaiser recognized we need qualified staff in lead teaching positions in Educare and Head Start. By establishing the institute, that brought attention — academically and in research — to early childhood education to focus on the need to provide prepared personnel to work in the profession.
“There is a recognition now it is a specialized knowledge and skill.”
At the 10-year anniversary, the OU-Tulsa institute has been taking stock of its achievements and what lies ahead.
Growing recognition: Horm was tasked a decade ago with two objectives: complete the bachelor’s degree track at OU-Tulsa and launch the graduate programs for early childhood education programs and start applying research with the city’s Educare and Head Start programs.
Horm’s background focused on evaluation program research. Meaning, she could analyze data to figure out the best ways a teacher can prepare young children.
For early childhood education, this was — and is — a growing research area, especially for birth to 3 years old.
Horm leveraged this wide-open field in 2011 when OU officials decided to re-compete the school’s University Strategic Organizations. That is a label designated by the school to areas of research with the most potential to attract research grants.
Arguing Oklahoma was leading the country in early education and citing an ongoing study of Tulsa programs by Georgetown University researchers, Horm was successful in landing the priority label.
It increased visibility for the early childhood research work not only at OU but also nationally.
In the future: Outcomes of children completing the Tulsa programs — backed by researchers at Georgetown and the OU-Tulsa institute — show them arriving at elementary schools prepared and even performing above age level.
Some federal lawmakers, including Congressman Jim Bridenstine and former Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, have criticized the programs, citing studies showing some achievement gaps reappearing in third and fifth grades.
Horm describes human development as a relay race, with early childhood as the first leg. The later runners also have to do their part.
“People who use fade-out as the reason to cut early childhood programs have misunderstood it as the silver bullet. It’s not,” she said.
On the horizon are questions about how to continue the gains made in early learning programs. Policymakers are examining research, including that coming out of OU-Tulsa’s institute, to strengthen the gains from pre-K through fifth grade.
Also, finding out more on the effects of mixed-income early childhood classes and following babies through middle-school years are possible areas for research.
Another factor to consider is the pay of child-care providers, which can be minimum wage in some private settings. Questions remain about how that affects quality and what characteristics make for a quality teacher.
Some of these policy questions may fall to the doctorates in early education now coming out of OU-Tulsa and its institute. The first class of doctoral students in early childhood education graduated in 2015, with one working in the field and five in academic settings.
“This is also building up the next generation of teachers in early childhood,” Horm said.
OU-Tulsa PhD Student Receives First Head Start Research Grant in Oklahoma
Emisha Pickens-Young, an OU-Tulsa PhD student, has been selected as one of only six doctoral students in the entire country — and the first ever in Oklahoma — to receive a prestigious and highly-competitive federal Head Start Graduate Student Research Grant.
Pickens-Young is earning a Doctorate in Instructional Leadership & Academic Curriculum in the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education at OU-Tulsa and works as a Project Director for the Early Childhood Education Institute (ECEI) also at OU-Tulsa.
“We knew Emisha’s unique experience of attending Head Start as a child and having worked as a Head Start teacher for more than six years made her an extremely strong candidate,” said Dr. Diane Horm, Director of the ECEI. “She is a Head Start success story, and living Head Start’s mission of delivering high-quality early childhood education to children growing up in poverty gave her a unique vantage point.” Pickens-Young was a lead preschool teacher, master teacher, and coach for new teachers at CAP-Tulsa’s Head Start for six and a half years.
Pickens-Young’s dissertation research will study teaching teams at local Head Start and Early Head Start programs, specifically how the teams impact classroom quality and child outcomes. Her research will not only be important for Head Start programs across the country, but her results will also impact the larger field of Early Childhood Education and fill a current void in the research literature.
The “Early Care and Education Research Scholars” grant application is an extensive process. Pickens-Young’s application was approximately 100 pages and all applicants were critiqued on the significance of the research questions, design and methodology, dissemination and management plans, collaborate partner relationships, budget, and qualifications of doctoral student and mentor, Dr. Horm. This federal grant is funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation within the Department of Health & Human Services.
OU-Tulsa’s Instructional Leadership & Academic Curriculum PhD program prepares researchers and leaders serving young children (Ages 0-8). The program focuses on research, leadership, advocacy, and infant/toddler studies.
The ECEI, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, has a national reputation for being on the forefront of early childhood education research, supporting Tulsa as a leader in the field.
OU-Tulsa ECEI Partners with Georgetown & Harvard to Study Three-Year-Olds' Development
85% of brain development occurs by age three, making early child education vital to a child’s future success in school. The OU-Tulsa Early Childhood Education Institute (ECEI), a research-based institute studying young children ages birth to 8 in early childhood education programs, has been selected to work with researchers from Georgetown University and Harvard University on a new long-term study.
The study, titled SEED (School Experiences and Early Development), will follow approximately 900 three-year-olds from Educare, CAP-Tulsa, and community child-care programs from now through third grade. The study will look at literacy, math skills, self-regulation executive function, and social-emotional development, especially as it applies to children from economically-disadvantaged households, dual-language learners, and those with special needs. A combination of direct child assessments, teacher reports, classroom observations, and school district and program administrative data such as demographics will be used.
“Tulsa’s reputation as a leader in early childhood education and ECEI’s previous work created the opportunity for this high-profile partnership,” said Diane Horm, ECEI director and co-principal investigator on this project. “Early childhood education is vital because it lays the foundation for all later learning and development. We are thrilled Tulsa is on the cutting-edge of national research.”
A variety of child assessments and classroom observations will be used for this study. The child assessments focus on the children’s pre-literacy, pre-math, language, and self-regulation skills. Classroom observations will examine in-class activities and teacher-child relationships. In addition, teachers will provide feedback on each child and parents will complete questionnaires regarding their child’s early experiences including child care history and information about the child’s home and family experiences.
The ECEI has a decade of expertise collaborating with early childhood programs in NE Oklahoma. As the Local Evaluation Partner for all three Tulsa Educare sites, the ECEI has assessed children, observed and provided feedback about classroom practice, and interviewed participating families. The ECEI has also evaluated the CAP-Tulsa Head Start and Early Head Start programs for over eight years, and has also provided program evaluation for the OECP (Oklahoma Early Childhood Program). For the past eight years, the ECEI has also participated in a national RCT (Randomized Control Trial) Study of children in Educare programs, and is currently following a sample of children as they move through the public school system. These projects have positioned the ECEI to partner with national leaders interested in investigating the short- and long-term impacts of early childhood experiences.
Georgetown University has conducted previous research in Tulsa when it studied Tulsa’s Pre-K program for 4-year-olds and recently released a report showing the enduring impacts of a high-quality Pre-K program on children’s development through middle school.
The ECEI is part of the OU Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education. It is one component of the Early Childhood Education research and academic programs available at OU-Tulsa.
OU-Tulsa is a nationally-recognized center for higher education offering a wide range of 30+ undergraduate, Master’s, and Doctorate level degrees, as well as graduate certificates. Programs include architecture, engineering, education, nursing, public health, occupational and physical therapy, human relations, library and information studies, organizational dynamics, public administration, social work, as well as medicine through the OU-TU School of Community Medicine. Since 1957, OU-Tulsa has provided higher education to NE Oklahoma and moved to the 60-acre Schusterman Campus in 1999.