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The Developing Ecology of Human Development

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The Developing Ecology of Human Development: Paradigm Lost or Paradigm Regained?

Urie Bronfenbrenner at the University of California - Berkeley in the 1980's.

First introduction by Dr. Campos, second introduction by Dr. John A. Clausen, then director of the Institute of Human Development at Berkeley.

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The American Family: Who Cares?

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Urie Bronfenbrenner recorded by Cornell University Media Services in August 1976.

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Talks at Twelve: Marianella Casasola, Thursday, December 10, 2015

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Marianella Casasola, Professor in Human Development, portrait picture.

Spatial Language and Spatial Play in the Early Development of Spatial Skills
Marianella Casasola, Human Development

Thursday, December 10, 2015
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

This talk is open to all. Lunch will be served. Metered parking is available in the Plantations lot across the road from Beebe Hall. No registration or RSVP required except fo groups of 5 or more. We ask that larger groups email Patty at letting us know of your plans to attend so that we can order enough lunch.

Spatial skills contribute to a number of important abilities—navigation, building from instructions, or imagining an object’s appearance from a different angle. In a one-month study, Dr. Casasola found that providing spatial language as preschool children engaged in constructive play (e.g., building with blocks) yielded greater gains in their spatial skills than constructive play alone. In a Head Start training study, she found that constructive play provided a better context for acquiring spatial language than other play activities (e.g., arts and crafts, book reading). These findings point to a synergistic relation between spatial language and constructive play in the development of young children’s spatial skills and suggest an accessible, cost-effective approach to promoting spatial skills and spatial language in preschool children.

Marianella Casasola is an associate professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology. She received her Ph.D. (2000) and M.A. (1995) from the University of Texas at Austin, and her B.A. (1992) from the University of California at Berkeley. She has been associate editor of Developmental Psychology since 2012 and a board member of the Cognitive Development Society since 2013. Casasola’s talk reports on work done as a BCTR Pilot Study Grant recipient. She is also a current BCTR Fellow, one of three in the program’s inaugural year.

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Student Profile: Catherine Riffin

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Catherine’s primary line of research at the BCTR concerns the impact of chronic pain on family relationships. As a member of Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life (TRIPLL), she works under the direction of Drs. Karl Pillemer and Cary Reid in examining how older parents’ chronic pain has implications for their adult children’s psychological well-being. She is also currently involved in a project concerning research priorities in the field of palliative care (PIs: Karl Pillemer, PhD and Cary Reid, MD).

Catherine is currently a third year doctoral student in Human Development. Upon completing her B.A. from Mount Holyoke College in 2008, she pursued pediatric anxiety research at Brown Medical School. While at Brown, she developed a strong interest in exploring how the early years of development serve as the foundation for subsequent trajectories, and how family relationships foster salubrious outcomes in later life. In particular, she studied between- and within-family differences in coping with childhood anxiety and related disorders. At Cornell, she has continued to investigate intergenerational relationships with a focus on adult interactions by applying the dyadic mechanisms present in the formative years of life to parent-child relationships in adulthood. Her research now concerns both the relational and psychological components of providing care to an older parent in pain.

Catherine recently completed her master’s thesis, which focused on the association between care recipient personality and caregiver health. Her hope is that this work will have direct clinical implications for family involvement in the treatment and care of older adults. Upon completion of her doctoral degree, Catherine hopes to obtain a post-doctoral position in a research institution or faculty position in an academic setting. Her goal is to merge research and practice within the context of her work on chronic pain and family caregiving.

Catherine enjoys being in the great outdoors, swimming in the ocean (or any body of water!) and spending time with friends and family.


See the Student Profiles page for more BCTR student stories.

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Talks at Twelve: Andrew Jefferson, Thursday, November 8, 2012

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Why Researchers and Educators Who Don’t Play Video Games Should Care About Them
Andrew Jefferson, doctoral student, Human Development

Thursday, November 8, 2012
12:00-1:00 PM
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

Lunch will be served. This talk is open to all. Metered parking is available in the Plantations lot across the road from Beebe Hall.

Video games are becoming increasingly pervasive in modern culture, generating excitement about their potential as educational tools. However, understanding how to productively use games as a tool for education and research can be difficult for those unfamiliar with the medium. In his talk, Andrew Jefferson will highlight the properties of video games as a medium that make them suited to education and research. He will explore these properties looking at both commercial games and academic interventions, with special attention to which advances in commercial game design are useful for educational and research projects. Finally, Mr. Jefferson will discuss the limitations of using these tools and lessons learned from previous failed projects.

 Andrew Jefferson is a fifth year doctoral candidate in Human Development in the College of Human Ecology. He received his MA from Cornell (2011) for work on scientific reasoning and how people change theories in response to new information, and a BS in Neuroscience from the College of William and Mary (2007). He is currently working on his dissertation project with the ASSET program (Assisting Secondary Science Education with Tetrahymena) and an interdisciplinary team to develop an educational game for high school biology students, and study its impact on reasoning, motivation, and behavior.


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Talks at Twelve: Emily Kahoe Chen, Thursday, October 13, 2011

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Program Adaptation for the Real World: Using Principles of Community-based Participatory Research to Adapt Evidence-based Programs
Emily Kahoe Chen, graduate student, Human Development

Thursday, October 13, 2011
1:00 - 2:00 PM
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

Emily Kahoe Chen Brownbag Event

Evidence-based interventions (EBIs) are an important tool for community health practitioners, but there is often a mismatch between the population in which the EBI was validated and the target population in which it will be used. Methods of planned adaptation identify differences in the new target population and attempt to make changes to the EBI that accommodate these differences without diluting the program’s effectiveness. We have developed an innovative method for identifying population differences and making program changes that uses systematic and detailed feedback from program participants to guide adaptation. The Method for Program Adaptation through Community Engagement (M-PACE) outlines procedures for obtaining high-quality participant feedback and adjudicating recommendations in order to decide on program changes. M-PACE was developed during the adaptation of an evidence-based, arthritis self-management program for older adults. The application and results of the M-PACE method are presented using this case as an example.

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