In Brief: Education research news

The Faculty of Education has a proud tradition not only of producing great educators, but great educational research. Here are some recent stories you may have missed about UAlberta education researchers and the important work they do to improve teaching and learning in Alberta, in Canada and around the world.

Researchers write the book on learning the alphabet

After discovering about a quarter of children starting school don’t know the alphabet, and the resources used to help them learn it once in kindergarten might not be much help, two education researchers decided to take matters into their own hands.

Linda Phillips (Elementary Education) and Denyse Hayward (Educational Psychology) wrote Alphabet Stage to help children aged three to six practice recognizing and remembering letters and letter-sound correspondence, and to develop oral and written vocabulary. All aspects of Alphabet Stage—from choice of font and page layout to word choices that reflect the most common sound represented by each letter to the use of repetition to help readers practise—are based on research, the authors say.

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Pilot project aims to help students learn to make the most of their mistakes

A pilot project to help young students benefit from the mistakes they make and become more successful learners in the classroom and throughout their lives launched this September in Alberta Charter Schools.

The project, developed by UAlberta educational psychologist Jacqueline Leighton, involves creating opportunities that will serve as learning interventions for teachers to talk with their students in kindergarten to Grade 6 about what it means to make mistakes in math and science and how they can use feedback on their errors to improve their learning.

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Program dramatically improves reading of at-risk students at an early age

George Georgiou (Educational Psychology) is entering the third year of a research project that started following 290 Grade 1 students with reading difficulties across 11 Edmonton public schools. In two years, Georgiou and his colleagues have reduced the number of children continuing to struggle in reading to just seven, a mere 2.4 per cent of the number of children they started with.

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Transgender youth are the real experts at identifying the challenges they face, study finds

A groundbreaking survey has found that safety, violence and discrimination are major issues for transgender youth in Alberta. And the University of Alberta education professor who led the research in the province says the solutions to these challenges start with listening to experts—the young people themselves.

Kristopher Wells (Education Policy Studies and iSMSS) says the research represents the experiences of 114 Albertan youth aged 14 to 25. Their survey responses indicate that alienation from family, violence, discrimination, harassment and lack of access to medical and mental health services are part of the daily realities trans youth face.

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Feature image: Education researcher George Georgiou