This article appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of the Erikson on Children newsletter, under the headline “Innovation Fund feeds spark of new ideas.” More from this issue

Three recent grants from the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Faculty Innovation Fund are giving young faculty researchers support as they pursue work in three key areas: developmental delays, literacy among urban schoolchildren, and maternal depression.

Assistant Professor Pam Epley—Developmental delays

Pam Epley
Pam Epley

The majority of studies on children with development delays are done with small, unrepresentative samples. That’s about to change. Pam Epley will use her grant to help her develop a research study design and data analysis plan for examining cognitive and social-emotional development in children who have developmental delays. Her data set for the work will be one of the largest of its kind—the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS).

The federally funded study is a nationally representative sample of a cohort of 14,000 children born in 2001. Unique in its potential to answer complex questions about children’s development, the ECLS was designed to provide detailed information about children’s early life experiences, information drawn from children, parents, child care providers, and teachers. It includes data on health, education, and care as well as development.

Assistant Professor Jane Fleming—Literacy among urban schoolchildren

Jane Fleming
Jane Fleming

Does multicultural urban literature encourage children to read more or make them better readers? How can teachers use this literature effectively in the classroom? Assistant professor Jane Fleming is examining how professional development of teachers in the use of multicultural urban classroom libraries may contribute to greater literacy of children in low-performing schools. (See story.) Fleming’s innovation fund grant will enable her to hire a research assistant to help her complete a literature review.

Assistant Professor Tracy Moran—Maternal depression

Tracy Moran
Tracy Moran

Maternal self-efficacy and well being—how well you think you’re doing as a mom and how good you feel about your performance in the role—are measured with something called the Adult Psychotherapy Measure (APT).

Like many such measurement tools, however, the APT was developed primarily for use with white, middle class mothers. Tracy Moran has begun the work of adapting the APT to make it more culturally sensitive, thus giving researchers a tool better suited to an ethnically diverse population of mothers and fathers. Her grant will enable her to hire a research assistant to help with the validation trials and translate the instrument to Spanish. Moran’s ultimate goal is to examine the link between maternal depression, self-efficacy, and parents’ interaction with their very young children.