Two University of Memphis teams of faculty researchers have been selected to receive research grants from the Tennessee Board of Regents in a competitive evaluation process. Each grant is for $40,000. One team of faculty researchers (Dr. Yonghong Jade Xu, Dr. Chloe Lancaster and Dr. Cynthia Martin) is from Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research and the Office of Institutional Research; the other (Dr. Gregory Washington, Dr. Susan Neely-Barnes, Dr. Susan Elswick, and Dr. Robin Lennon-Dearing) is from Social Work. Congratulations to each of these researchers on securing this funding!
In November 2013, the TBR Office of Academic Affairs disseminated a call for research proposals designed to support faculty research with the primary focus on underrepresented and target sub-populations with the overarching goal of increasing the understanding of pluralism in the education enterprise and the global world in which our institutions must function. The TBR received twenty proposals related to numerous aspects of diversity, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. They are recommending funding eight proposals –two from U of M.
The Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research proposal focuses on STEM student graduation rates. Dr. Cynthia Martin, with OIR, explains, “In Tennessee, the six-year graduation rate of science, technology, engineering, and mathematic (STEM) students in four-year institutions is only about 20 percent, with African American students at a rate lower than 15 percent. Consistent with the goal of the recently emplaced outcomes‐based funding formula that rewards the State higher education institutions ‘for the production of outcomes that further the educational attainment and productivity’, this project seeks to identify institutional interventions that will effectively improve the retention rates of STEM students, in particular African Americans.”
The Social Work proposal is titled “The Students Helping Students Program: ‘Response to Intervention’ in Higher Education.” Response to Intervention (RtI) is an evidence based practice model in K12 education that is used to identify “at risk” students and give them additional educational supports to promote success. Dr. Susan Neely-Barnes explains, “Although well established in K12 education, research on its use in higher education is lacking. The project will use Masters in Social Work students serving as graduate assistants to screen undergraduate BA in social work students on writing skills, study skills, reading fluency, stress management, and coping skills. Undergraduates who are identified as “at risk” will be offered either one-on-one or group intervention targeted to the identified skill area. Students will also be encouraged to use existing campus resources when appropriate. Reassessment will occur monthly and students will stay in the program until supports are no longer needed.”
The excellence of the proposals brings distinction to the University of Memphis and both teams are to be congratulated for their outstanding success.
M. David Rudd, Provost