Thursday, April 19, 2012

Preschoolers' Reading Skills Benefit from One Modest Change by Teachers

"A small change in how teachers and parents read aloud to preschoolers may provide a big boost to their reading skills later on, a new study found.

That small change involves making specific references to print in books while reading to children – such as pointing out letters and words on the pages, showing capital letters, and showing how you read from left to right and top to bottom on the page.

Preschool children whose teachers used print references during storybook reading showed more advanced reading skills one and even two years later when compared to children whose teachers did not use such references. This is the first study to show causal links between referencing print and later literacy achievement."

For the rest of this article, please see the post on ScienceBlog.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Giving an Endangered Language Back to Its People

Lise Dobrin, a faculty member in UVa's Anthropology Department and a member of the IRB-SBS Board was recently featured on UVA Today for her efforts to capture a dying language.

"April 4, 2012 — Most of the people who spoke Arapesh when University of Virginia linguist Lise Dobrin conducted field work in Papua New Guinea about 15 years ago have died of old age. Their children no longer speak the language, and their grandchildren have almost no knowledge of their ancestral tongue, she said." For the rest of the article, check out this link. 

Research Finds Autonomy Plays Pivotal Role in Adolescents’ School Engagement

The signs of students’ disengagement run the gamut, from daydreaming, doodling and covert texting to ignoring assignments, acting out and skipping classes. By the time they reach high school, about half are chronically disengaged from school, and this correlates with lower school grades and higher dropout rates, according to a recent study by researchers in the University of Virginia’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning.
Increasing students’ opportunities for autonomy in the classroom may be a key factor in reversing the trend of disengagement, the study finds.
For more information about the study and it's lead author, Chris Hafen, check out this article.

University of Virginia's 'PureMadi' Brings Clean Water to Developing Countries

"Of the world's 7 billion people, less than 2 billion have a consistent supply of high-quality, regulated water, and about 3 to 4 million people die each year from waterborne diseases, including about 2 million children. We're looking to help reduce those numbers." James Smith, a U.Va. civil and environmental engineer, and Dr. Rebecca Dillingham, a U.Va. infectious diseases and international health physician and associate director of the University's Center for Global Health, co-lead the "PureMadi" project, an effort to develop a feasible method for delivering safe water to the developing word. For more information on the PureMadi project, check out this article on UVA Today.

Syphilis Experiments Shock, But So Do Third World Drug Trials

A few years ago, Wellesley medical researcher Susan Reverby unearthed documents indicating that Dr. John C. Cutler, the doctor who conducted the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis study, also conducted a similar study in Guatemala. Participants were infected with the deadly disease without their consent; 83 participants died over the course of the study. When the information that Dr. Reverby discovered was revealed, it resulted in a former apology by President Obama to the people of Guatemala. While the practices of the Guatemala Syphilis study are shocking, this ABC report highlights that issues still prevail in the developing world where medical research is conducted on the less educated and poor.