What Our ADP Students Are Doing


                                                                                          Prepared 1.2022             


1. Conducting Research with Faculty

Examples of Ongoing Research Projects

  • Investigating parents’ promotion of their children’s educational development. This project investigates which parental beliefs and home-based practices foster reading, math, writing, and science development of different groups of children, particularly those at risk for academic difficulties. Of particular interest are similarities and differences among income, racial/ethnic groups, and immigrant status groups during and before COVID-19. (Susan Sonnenschein)


  • Investigating notions of school readiness with immigrant parents, preschool and kindergarten teachers. Parents’ views of school readiness should be related to how they socialize their children’s readiness. Documenting such views and comparing them to those of teachers should help us better understand group-based differences in the skills children bring when they start kindergarten (Susan Sonnenschein)


  • Evaluating the effectiveness of a community based literacy intervention in elementary schools serving low-income, inner city children during and before COVID-19. College students are serving as volunteers in first and second grade classrooms to assist the teachers in the language arts classes. Is this related to children’s interest in reading, the frequency with which they choose to read, or their actual reading skills? (Susan Sonnenschein)



  • Evaluating whether populating preschool libraries with mathematics books fosters children’s mathematics engagement and development. Most preschool classroom libraries contain very few mathematics-related books. Will allowing children more exposure to such books increase their interest in mathematics? (Susan Sonnenschein)


  • Examining college students’ views of their parents’ academic socialization. This project examines what college students from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds and immigration status report that their parents did to foster their educational development. (Susan Sonnenschein)


  • Understanding Chinese and Korean immigrant families and their 3-5-year-old children: Parents’ adaptation, well-being, acculturation, social networks, and their culturally-specific parenting beliefs and behaviors are examined in relation to their preschool children’s social emotional development, physical health, and transition into American society. (Charissa Cheah)


  • Exploring Muslim-American adolescents’ identity development and adjustment in the United States: We study the role of different cultural or contextual (e.g., multiculturalism, socio-political context, cultural socialization), interpersonal (e.g., parenting, peers, discrimination), and individual (e.g., identity, religiosity, gender) factors promote or undermine Muslim-American adolescents’ development and adjustment (e.g., positive youth development, civic engagement, psychological well-being, mental health). (Charissa Cheah)


  • Studying the positive outcomes of emerging adults across various countries: This project examines and compares the development of emerging adults (18 to 25-year olds) in several different countries, and the individual, relationship, and familial factors that contribute to their outcomes, including risk behaviors, mental health, and academic performance. (Charissa Cheah)


  • Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. Five UMBC faculty, including one ADP faculty (David Schultz), are involved with a state-wide initiative to improve training of “home visitors.” Home visitors meet with pregnant women and mothers of newborns to support prenatal and infant health, positive mother-infant interactions, and other issues mothers and infants face. Ongoing evaluation examines the effectiveness of these and related trainings. (David Schultz)


  • Assessment of Hostile Attibution Biases in Early Elementary School. This project examines how well young children’s understanding of others’ intentions is and how best to assess if some children have a tendency to see others as mean and hostile. (David Schultz)


  • Measuring different dimensions of engagement in college math and science courses. Engagement refers to students’ involvement in, reactions to, and interactions with learning activities in a specific physical, instructional, and social learning environment. In this project, a self-report measure is being developed to capture college students’ behavioral, cognitive, and emotional engagement in math and science courses. (Shuyan Sun)


  • Evidence-Based Technology Use in STEM Education. In this NSF-funded project, meta-analyses are being conducted to synthesize the effectiveness of two technologies (adaptive learning and simulation) in STEM education and identify how to best practices for student learning outcomes.  (Shuyan Sun and Nicole Else-Quest)


  • Methodological studies of applied statistics and measurement models  and their applications in child development (Shuyan Sun)


  • Assessing and treating various behavior challenges identified by preschool teachers in a local preschool. This project is conducted using a behavioral approach and involves direct observation and measurement of behaviors such as noncompliance, tantrums, sharing, and academic task completion that teachers would like help with in a preschool setting. (John Borrero)


  • Understanding common behavioral intervention techniques in a human operant laboratory. Several techniques that are commonly used to treat problem behavior, such as differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO), are evaluated in a controlled setting using undergraduate students as participants. The primary goal is to better understand the mechanisms involved in these techniques and what variables influence their effectiveness. (John Borrero)


  • Assessing choice making for smaller, sooner rewards or larger, delayed rewards. To help identify how token economies can be programmed best in educational and clinical settings, this study evaluates preschoolers’ and college students’ choice making for either immediately available rewards or larger, delayed rewards. (John Borrero)


  • Examining the juvenile plea bargain decision making process. Adolescent decision making in high-stakes, legal contexts is influenced by psyschosocial factors such as immediate gratification and peer influence.  This project examines how adolescents think through legal decisions and how families and attorneys facilitate their decision making.  (Erika Fountain)


  • Exploring the effects of structural factors on juvenile probation compliance.  While many adolescents who are adjudicated delinquent are placed on probation, compliance rates are low.  This study takes an interdisciplinary approach to examining how structural barriers may impact program success.  For example, juvenile justice stakeholders warn that children and families’ access to probation programs are impacted by barriers to transportation. This new interdisciplinary and mixed methods project combines interviews with justice-involved children and families with methods from GIS to explore how structural barriers impact families in the juvenile justice system. (Erika Fountain)


  • Minimizing escalation and physical management in the assessment and treatment of dangerous problem behavior in schools. This project involves individualized behavioral assessment and treatments that focus on building important social skills with children who exhibit dangerous problem behavior such as aggression, property destruction, or self-injurious behavior in the classroom. A primary aim of this project is the development and refinement of treatment procedures that minimize risk while maximizing safety, efficacy and child agency throughout the process. (Adithyan Rajaraman)


  • Understanding the variables that influence child preference for different learning environments. There is a large body of evidence to support the somewhat counterintuitive notion that humans and nonhuman animals prefer to work to produce reinforcement as opposed to having it delivered freely. Understanding more about this preference for contingent reinforcement may help us design teaching contexts that are more effective and preferred for school-aged children. This project examines factors influencing preference for different learning environments using a behavioral approach and single-case experimental design.( Adithyan Rajaraman)


  • Exploring variables that foster language development and concept formation. The purpose of this line of research is twofold: (a) to explore variables that facilitate language acquisition and concept formation, and (b) to use that knowledge to inform the development of better teaching interventions for individuals who have developmental delays (e.g., Autism Spectrum Disorder). (Mirela Cengher)


  • Assessment and treatment of problem behavior in individuals with developmental disabilities. Many individuals with developmental disabilities have problem behavior (e.g., self-injury, aggression, disruption) that interferes with their social and academic progress.This line of research is focused on (a) improving the assessment and treatment procedures (e.g., for individuals whose problem behavor is maintained by social avoidance), and (b) improving parent training outcomes. (Mirela Cengher)


  • Investigating the development of attention regulation. This line of research examines how children learn to regulate their attention and the ways in which we can modify the environment and instructional materials to better support children’s attention regulation and in turn their learning. Current projects focus on reducing attentional competition for young children by re-designing instructional materials (e.g., beginning reader books) as well as modifying the classroom visual environment to help children better sustain attention to the instructional task (Karrie Godwin)


  • Evaluating brain breaks as a way to replenish attention and enhance learning. Attention is a limited resource, but little is known about how best to help children replenish attention. This line of research investigates the use and effectiveness of different types of brain breaks in classroom settings. (Karrie Godwin)


Examples of Theses, Research Competencies, and Dissertations Currently in Progress

  • Laura DeWyngaert. The Contribution of Motivation and Early Literacy to 4th Graders’ Traditional Reading Comprehension and Internet Literacy
  • Lisa Shanty. Home Visitor Coaching of Parents in Parent-Infant and Parent-Toddler Interaction
  • Nicole Telfer. Campus Inclusion and Sense of Community Among Racially Minoritized Women in STEM Amid Gendered Racism and Violence


2. Disseminating their Research Findings

Presenting at National and International Conferences

  • Society for Research in Child Development
  • Society for Research in Adolescence
  • Society for Prevention Research
  • Association for Behavioral Analysis
  • American Psychological Association
  • American Educational Research Association
  • Association for Psychological Sciences
  • Association for Behavior Analysis International
  • International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development
  • Society for the Scientific Study of Reading
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children
  • National Research Conference on Early Childhood
  • Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
  • American Psychology-Law Society
  • Cognitive Science Society
  • Cognitive Development Society
  • And others


3. Publishing Papers and Program Evaluations

  • In peer-reviewed journals
  • Program evaluations
  • Book chapters
  • And others


4. Applying their Knowledge to Real Life Activities

Examples of Practica

  • University of Maryland’s NICU and Follow-Up Clinic: Conducting assessments of infants and toddlers, planning interventions, and conducting evaluations of programs
  • Baltimore City Public Schools:
  • Conducting assessments of children for learning and behavioral difficulties
  • Managing compliance with Individual Educational Programs in a class of middle school students identified as having emotional/behavioral difficulties
  • Conducting an anger management program with middle school girls
  • Baltimore City and Baltimore County Head Start:
  • Planning/implementing workshops and programs for teachers and administrators
  • Implementing Second Step, a program designed to foster children’s social-emotional development
  • Baltimore County Public Schools: Conducting workshops on the development of math competencies for teachers
  • NICHD: Helping coordinate a conference and produce a published proceeding on literacy development in bilingual children
  • Anne Arundel County Public Schools: Participating in the Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) program to help middle and high school students prepare for college
  • American Psychological Association: Exploring policy implications of health issues, socioeconomic status; racial/ethnic/minority socialization processes
  • CHOICE program: Working with at-risk high school students
  • Child Trends, Urban Institute, Migration Policy Institute, Advocates for Children and Youth: Working at local think tanks
  • Mayor’s Office of Community and Human Development: Documenting community intervention programs available to children at-risk for difficulties in school
  • Maryland Office of New Americans (MONA): Reviewing availability of mental health services for refugees
  • Kennedy Krieger Institute: Assessing adolescents’ literacy skills as part of a project designed to improve these adolescents’ literacy competencies
  • Kennedy Krieger Schools: Behavioral assessment and treatment of maladaptive behaviors which interfere with learning and independent functioning in the special education setting.
  • Maryland State Department of Education: Assisting in the development of curricula and assessments
  • Appletree: Designing and implementing curricula
  • Ready at Five: Designing curricula and programs, conducting evaluations
  • UM Children’s Hospital: Examining the desirability of developing a website for families with children with torticollis
  • Child Development Clinic, Children’s National Medical Center: Conducting developmental evaluations of infants and toddlers and preparing comprehensive test reports
  • Research-to-Policy Collaboration: Optimizing strategies to translate research into policy, attending meetings with legislative staff, conducting evaluations
  • Port Discovery: Conducting evaluations of progams
  • Family Counseling Center of Greater Washington: Understanding development, psychological functioning, and family relationships among Korean American children and adolescents
  • San Francisco Federal Executive Board (SFFEB): Creating a diversity, equity, and Inclusion (DEI) toolkit for use by Federal agencies and offices in Northern and Central California
  • Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women. Mentoring students of color


5. Teaching Courses

Courses Recently Taught by Graduate Students

Psyc 100 (Introduction to Psychology); Psyc 200 (Developmental Psychology); Psyc 210 (Psychology of Learning); Psyc 211 (The Science and Profession of Psychology); Psyc 230 (Psychology and Culture); Psyc 306 (Lifespan Human Development); Psyc 311 (Research Methods in Psychology, I); Psyc 330 (Development and Culture);  Psyc 393 (Parenting); Psyc 393 (Applied Behavior Analysis); PSYC 411 (Applied Behavior Analysis), Psyc 672 (Intro to Data Analysis Procedures for I/O Psychology)


Graduate Student Teaching Fellows

  • Jessica Becraft (2013-2015), Laura Rose (2013-2014), Nan Zhou (2013-2015)

Kate Flynn (2013-2014), Amber Mendres-Smith (2014, Spring 2015), Laura DeWyngaert (2016-2018), Cassandra Simons (2016-2018), You Jung Seo (2017-2018), Mariana Castillo (2018-2019),  Kathy Vu (2019-2020), Merve Balkaya (2019-2020), Brittany Gay (2020-2021) Nicole Telfer (2021-2022), Allison French (2021-2022)


6. Winning Awards & Honors & Grants

Recent Awardees

  • Cassandra Simons. (2015) SRCD Travel Award
  • Jing Yu (2015). SRCD Travel Award
  • Kathy Vu (2015). Honorable Mention Ford Foundation Fellowship Program
  • Amber Mendres-Smith (2015). The Wright Family Foundation, $20,000.
  • Amber Mendres-Smith (2015). Teaching recognition award, National Residence Hall Honorary
  • Nan Zhou (2015-2017). Elected student and early career representative, SRCD International Affairs Committee
  • Nan Zhou (2015-2019). Elected representative Student and Early Career Council (SECC), SRCD
  • Merve Balkaya (2016, 2018). Jacobs Foundation Young Scholar Award to attend ISSBD meetings
  • Ying Yu (2016). Jacobs Foundation Young Scholar Award to attend 2016 ISSBD meeting
  • Ying Yu (2016). UMBC Dissertation Fellowship
  • Kathy Vu (2016). Jacobs Foundation Young Scholar Award to attend 2016 ISSBD meeting
  • You Jung Seo (2016, 2018). Jacobs Foundation Young Scholar Award to attend ISSBD meetings
  • Shari Metzger (2016). Excellence in Service Award, Residential Life, UMBC
  • Jessica Becraft (2016). Award for presentation at Student Symposium at the Maryland Association for Behavior Analysis
  • Merve Balkaya (2016) Second prize Turkish Psychological Association Early Career Scholar Research Award
  • Rose Belanger (2017). SRCD Travel Award
  • You Jung Seo (2017). SRCD Travel Award
  • Merve Balkaya (2017). SRCD Travel Award
  • Xiaofang Xue (2017). SRCD Travel Award
  • Kathy Vu (2017). SRCD Travel Award
  • Marissa Daly (2017). ABA International Travel Award
  • Shari Metzger (2017). UMBC Dissertation Fellowship Award
  • Merve Balkaya (2017). Clara Mayo Award from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
  • Laura DeWyngaert (2017). SRCD Teaching Mentorship Program
  • Brittany Gay (2018). SRA Emerging Scholar’s Student Travel Award
  • Merve Balkaya (2018). APA Policy Practica/Internship
  • Merve Balkaya (2018). Jacobs Foundation Young Scholar Award to attend 2018  ISSBD meeting
  • You Jung Seo (2018). Jacobs Foundation Young Scholar Award to attend 2018  ISSBD meeting
  • Cassandra Simons (2018). SRCD DEVSEC Travel Award
  • Merve Balkaya (2018). Dissertation fellowship from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism
  • Kathy Vu (2019). SPSSI grant-in-aid
  • Nicole Telfer (2019). Meyerhoff Scholar
  • Anika Aquino (2019). Meyerhoff Scholar
  • You Jung Seo (2019). UMBC Summer 2019 Dissertation Fellowship
  • You Jung Seo (2019). Graduate Student Travel Award, SRCD
  • Kathy Vu (2019). Graduate Student Travel Award, SRCD
  • Kathy Vu (2019.) Graduate Student WT Grant Scholar, SRCD Preconference Conceptualizing and Measuring Culture, Context, Race and Ethnicity
  • Merve Balkaya (2019). Graduate Student WT Grant Scholar, SRCD Preconference Conceptualizing and Measuring Culture, Context, Race and Ethnicity
  • Kathy Vu (2019). APA Division 7 Dissertation grant, $500
  • Merve Balkaya (2019). APA Division 36 Research Seed Award, $700
  • Brittany Gay (2019). APA Policy Practica/Internship
  • Rebecca Dowling (2020). UMBC Fall 2020 Dissertation Fellowship
  • Merve Balkaya-Ince (2020). Recipient of the AMENA-Psy Outstanding Paper Award
  • Nicole Tefler (2021-2022). Fellowship from Researchers Investigating Sociocultural Equity and Race, $3000
  • Hatice Gursoy(2021). Emerging scholar and diversity grant from SPSP to attend a statistics workshop. $300
  • Christa Schmidt (2021). Emerging scholar and diversity grant from SPSP to attend a statistics workshop. $300
  • Hyung Su Cho (2021). APS Student Grant $500 for Experiences of COVID-19 Racial Discrimination and Family Processes Among Korean Immigrants in the United States
  • Xiaofang Xue (2021). UMBC Summer 2021 Dissertation Fellowship
  • Anika Aquino (2021). Towards 2044: Horowitz Early Career Scholars Program, $2000
  • Joy Clayborne (2021-2024) Graduate Student Diversity Scholarship, sponsored by the Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, $3000
  • Hatice Gursoy (2021). APA Division 36- Social Justice Task Force Grant, “What Helps Muslim Youth to Thrive in the Face of Heightened Religious Discrimination? Parental Religious Socialization and Muslim-American Adolescents’ Civic Engagement: The Mediating Role of Religiosity,” $1000
  • Nicole Telfer (2021). 2021 APPAM Equity & Inclusion Student Fellowship, $1000 
  • Xiaoli Zong (2021).2021 Asian American Psychological Association Dissertation Research Grant, $500
  • Nicole Telfer (2021). UMBC Graduate Student Organization of the Year Award, $250


And Other Things…

  • Serving as student reviewers for journals and conferences
  • Serving on editorial board on journals
  • Serving on boards of professional and civic organizations
  • Writing story books to use as preschool educational curricula
  • Serving as board members for advocacy organizations
  • Serving as grant reviewers for research and advocacy organizations (i.e., Autism Speaks)
  • Serving as practica supervisors