VKC researchers discuss dyslexia, math education, stress intervention at Neuroscience and Education Symposium with Currey Ingram Academy

Pictured left to right: Elise McMillan, Elisabeth Dykens, and Jane Hannah. Photo by Uchida Photography.

The third annual Neuroscience and Education Symposium: The Connection was held June 2-3 on the campus of Currey Ingram Academy in Brentwood. Three VKC researchers shared their research on reading interventions, math instruction, and parent stress intervention.

Neuroscience and Education is a one-stop symposium for educators and other professionals to learn about the implications of brain research for education and evidence-based instructional strategies to promote academic performance among diverse learners.

Topics discussed at this year’s symposium included anxiety in the classroom, social emotional learning, math and reading interventions, stress management, and assistive technology, among others.

General and special education teachers, speech-language pathologists, and other professionals traveled from multiple states surrounding Tennessee for the 2-day event.

The symposium is hosted by the Annette Eskind Institute of Learning at Currey Ingram Academy and the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (VKC UCEDD), as well as the Vanderbilt Brain Institute and Peabody College at Vanderbilt.

“We are so appreciative of the Currey Ingram Academy faculty, administration, and staff for providing their beautiful campus and their services for this annual symposium,” said Elise McMillan, J.D., VKC UCEDD co-director. “This is only our third year working with them on Neuroscience and Education. Each year the symposium coordinators invite cutting-edge neuroscience and education researchers who share fascinating, up-to-the-minute information with our attendees who, in turn, are able to take it back within their respective professions.”

Headshot of Jeanne Wanzek, Ph.D.

Jeanne Wanzek, Ph.D.

Keynote speakers were Jeanne Wanzek, Ph.D., associate professor of Special Education and VKC member, and Steve Petrill, Ph.D., professor of Psychology, The Ohio State University.

Wanzek addressed “Understanding Dyslexia and Learning: What Does Current Research Tell Us?” She presented research demonstrating the effects that smaller teacher-to-student ratios have on reading intervention.

After the keynote, Wanzek led a follow-up breakout session titled “Intensive Reading Interventions for Elementary Students Struggling with Reading.” She shared research-based guidance for intensifying instruction for students with significant reading difficulties for use in designing and delivering interventions.

Keynote speaker Steve Petrill addressed “Behavioral Genetics: Learning Abilities and Disabilities.”

Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D., VKC director and Annette Shaffer Eskind Chair, spoke on “New Insights on Stress Management and Positive Growth for Parents.” Dykens is professor of Psychology, Psychiatry, and Pediatrics and VKC UCEDD co-director.

During her breakout session, Dykens shared research from the VKC Parent Stress Intervention Project (PSIP), which she directed. PSIP compared two stress reduction interventions for parents of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities–Positive Adult Development and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. The interventions were led by parents trained in these methods. Dykens discussed ways that these strategies could be helpful to a broad range of stresses that parents and families experience.

Bethany Rittle-Johnson, Ph.D., associate professor of Psychology and a VKC member, led a session on “Evidence-Based Strategies for Improving Math Instruction.” She shared examples of evidence-based strategies for math instruction, including encouraging students to explain their ideas, using problem exploration and feedback effectively, designing better problem sets, and promoting a growth mindset.

Plans are underway for next year’s Neuroscience and Education Symposium. For information on the 2017 symposium contact kc@vanderbilt.edu or (615) 322-8240.

Elizabeth Turner is VKC Communications coordinator.

Pictured top of page: Elise McMillan, Elisabeth Dykens, and Jane Hannah. Photo by Uchida Photography.

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