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Psychology students to present research

March 4, 2010

Several UW-River Falls students will be presenting posters at the National Association of School Psychology (NASP) annual convention in Chicago from March 2-6.

There are two student groups presenting: one consists of school psychology students Emily Krousey, Jessica Muszynski and Hetty Whitmore; the other group consists of school psychology students Katie Everson and Jeffery Osterhout.

“We are very honored and excited to be presenting our research at the National Association of School Psychology in Chicago next week,” Muszynski said.

The annual NASP convention is the world’s largest and most important gathering of school psychologists, offering professional excellence at its best, according to NASPonline.org.

The convention will include multiple events. It will have nearly 1,000 educational sessions and special events. It will provide cutting-edge research and skills training, according to the Web site. There will also be moderated discussions on hot topics in the profession such as response to intervention, a method that integrates assessment and intervention within a multi-level prevention system to maximize student achievement and to reduce behavior problems, according to the National Center on Response to Intervention.

Everson and Osterhout conducted research regarding RTI entitled “Evaluating School Psychologists’ Connections to Change, Leadership, and Resources in RTI Implementation.” It investigated levels of implementation of RTI in schools. To measure level of implementation they sent out a survey nationally to 1,000 school psychologists, of which 326 responded, all of whom were members of NASP, according to Everson.

Their survey investigated levels of RTI implementation between urban, suburban and rural schools as well as investigated connections between school psychologists and change, leadership skills and their access to RTI resources. The result of the research revealed that location has an influence on the level of RTI implementation within schools. It also confirmed that school psychologists with a higher level of leadership skills, greater access to resources and more positive attitudes toward change will have higher levels of RTI implementation in their schools, according to Osterhout.

The team of Muszynski, Krousey and Whitmore will be presenting a poster on their research titled “The Influence of Student Participation on Transition Planning on Post-Secondary Education of Students Receiving Disability Services.” Transition planning is a requirement for high school students with disabilities that maps out the services and supports students need to move from high school to post-secondary education, according to Muszynski. Traditionally, transition planning is dominated by teachers and staff, leaving little input for the student.

They surveyed students at four and two year post-secondary programs about their participation in transition planning and looked at how much student participated in their transition planning and how that influenced their plans after high school. They found that students attending four year schools participated more in their transition planning than students attending two year programs. They also found that the more students participated in their transition planning, the more it influenced their post-secondary choices, according to Muszynski.

“This is a very prestigious opportunity for our students,” advisor and program director of the School Psychology program, Scott Woitaszewski, said.

The students presenting at the convention, as well as many other students in the program, have had work published in various local and state publications. Students frequently get their work published, but not many get to present at such an important convention, according to Woitaszewski.

The last two years, there have been more UWRF students presenting at the conference than ever before, and there has been a growing number in recent years, according to Woitaszewski. UWRF students Amanda Yenni, Amie Hartman, Brooke Fails, Theresa Gulbransen and Cassandra Feldkamp presented at the annual conference last year in Boston.

“For my group along with the professional growth we have gained a valuable friendship,” Muszynski said. “Long hours, failed plans, lots of research and life have led to a valuable relationship.”