COE Researchers Awarded $6 Million in IES Grants

The grants will support three separate education and special education projects.

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

College of Education

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) has awarded $6 million in grants to researchers in Lehigh’s College of Education to fund three separate research projects: mathematical skill development in preschool children, interventions for at-risk students headed to college or careers, and online behavioral parent education for young children at-risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

“The College of Education IES grants will help to extend and deepen our work in two essential areas: contributing high-quality research to our fields of study and supporting community development in our related professional fields,” said College of Education Dean William Gaudelli. “Lehigh faculty again demonstrate that their research is valued by funders because of its importance to scholars and practitioners. We applaud their achievements and look forward to the great work that will be created as a result of these efforts.”

The IES grants are as follows:

  • Robin Hojnoski, professor of school psychology and associate dean for graduate studies, was awarded a four-year, $1.4 million grant to develop a responsive computerized-adaptive assessment system for Pre-K mathematics. 
  • Lee Kern, professor of special education and director of the Center for Promoting Research to Practice, and Christopher Liang, professor of counseling psychology and department chair of Education and Human Services, received a three-year, $1.4 million Development and Innovation Research grant.  
  • George J. DuPaul, professor of school psychology and College of Education associate dean for research; Kern; Bridget V. Dever, associate professor of school psychology, and Shin-Yi Chou, Arthur F. Searing professor of economics and chair of the department of economics in Lehigh’s College of Business, a $3.29 million grant to examine the effects of face-to-face and online behavioral parent education for young children at-risk for ADHD. 

“This is a direct result of the important work that we all do,” said DuPaul, in recognizing the professors who were awarded funding. “We should all celebrate and be proud of this success, especially in the context of the many challenges we are facing [during the COVID-19 pandemic.]"

Only four other institutions received more IES awards in this round of funding, he noted.

Early Mathematical Skills

With early mathematics skills as strong predictors of short-and long-term achievement, Hojnoski’s project will address the need for an efficient, instructionally relevant assessment system in early mathematics. Assessment activities focus on numbers and operations, shape and space, measurement, and pre-algebraic thinking, and the tool will use an innovative, digital platform designed to actively engage children in the assessment process.

The research is a collaboration with Kristen Missall, of the University of Washington, David Purpura, of Purdue University, and Anthony Albano, of University of California, Davis. Over the four years, the team will develop a computerized-adaptive assessment that integrates universal screening and diagnostic assessment. The project aims to increase efficiency and accuracy in identifying preschoolers who may be at-risk for mathematical difficulties and understanding students’ strengths and needs to provide appropriate instruction to move students forward.

Early childhood education lead teachers from Pennsylvania, Indiana and Washington, along with their students,  will participate in the project and provide feedback throughout the development process to ensure the tool meets the users’ needs.  

College and Career Readiness

Kern’s and Liang’s project, “Supported College and Career Readiness for Secondary Students with Emotional and Behavioral Problems,” will focus on ninth and 10th grade students in diverse high schools in Pennsylvania who have depression, anxiety or behavioral issues or are at risk for those issues. The project aims to develop and evaluate an intervention package to augment school-based activities to better prepare those students for college and/or careers.

The intervention will include a bi-annual assessment to identify student strengths related to potential careers, bi-annual assistance with identifying students’ top three career choices, assistance with selecting courses each semester that are aligned with top career choices, a structured curriculum focused on essential skills for college and career, support securing work-based learning experiences and completing reflections, and structured interventions to increase parent involvement.

Children at Risk for ADHD 

DuPaul, Kern, Bridget V. Dever, associate professor of school psychology, and Shin-Yi Chou, Arthur F. Searing professor of economics and chair of the department of economics in Lehigh’s College of Business, will examine the effects of face-to-face and online behavioral parent education for young children at-risk for ADHD. 

The new research is a follow-up research project to assess an earlier IES funded research program “Promoting Engagement with ADHD Pre-Kindergarteners (PEAK).” Project PEAK evaluated both face-to-face and online early intervention family education programs and was designed to target the issues of children ages 3 to 5 exhibiting early behavioral symptoms of ADHD. Parents enrolled in PEAK with their young children gained effective behavior management strategies to use in their home and community, received support from a child development specialist, developed a personalized plan of action and connected with other parents. 

With the additional funding, the researchers will examine the program’s effect on parent understanding and adherence using the intervention strategies, parent treatment acceptability, child and parent behavior, and early academic skills for families of young children at-risk for ADHD.  The researchers also will also evaluate the degree to which post-treatment effects are maintained up to a 24-month follow-up and whether maintenance differs between face-to-face and online behavioral parent education. The impact of online and face-to-face PEAK will be assessed relative to a wait-list control condition.

The research will take place in the Lehigh Valley and the surrounding area in community settings, such as preschools, and family homes. The study will include approximately 180 3- to 5-year-old children identified with significant symptoms of ADHD and associated impairment, along with their parents, who will participate in this study over a three-year span.

Story by Mary Ellen Alu and Tamara Bartolet

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

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