Tag Archives: Education

Women’s Body Composition in the Outdoors

Amber Christensen, Weber State University


Session Title Women and nutrition in the back country: How their calorie intake and calorie expenditure affect their body composition while backpacking Summary Abstract This study examines the factors that influence change in women’s body composition while backpacking through a mountainous terrain. To see the changes and why they happened, pre- and post- data was collected to measure body composition while participants filled out food logs to generate calorie intake and calorie expenditure. Full Abstract Women are becoming more frequent in the back country as the benefits of nature are becoming more known. Since men have dominated the outdoor world, there is more research conducted on men in the outdoors than there are on women. Nutrition research in the back country is also a new research subject that is gaining interest. Adding women, nutrition, and the back country for research is a topic that not many have touched on. Why is this all relevant and what could it mean? From looking into women and their nutrition in the back country, we can get an inside look at what changes their bodies are making and what factors are causing these changes. During this study women over the age of 18 enrolled in a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) course of their choice went into the back country of Wyoming for thirty days. Before they left for the back country, pre-tests were recorded of their body composition using Weber State University’s Bod Pod which recorded lean muscle masses and body fat masses. During their expedition they were asked to keep a food log. Their leaders recorded their distance traveled during each day which was then calculated into energy expenditure. Upon returning, post-tests were recorded using the Bod Pod to compare results between before and after. Measurements and data have been collected on these women as well as their food logs. A conclusion will be made from analyzing the data from both Bod Pod measurements and the food and nutritional intake vs energy expenditure. Currently the process of entering this data is underway and will be completed within the coming months. Once this data is entered and analyzed with the results from the Bod Pod, conclusions can be made to determine if these women received adequate calorie intake to at least match calorie expenditure and what affects their nutrition intake had on changes to their body composition. Measurable Outcomes 1. Changes in body composition; lean muscle mass vs fat mass. 2. If calorie intake was sufficient to support calorie expenditure. 3. Nutritional value of the foods consumed and how they affected performance.

Childhood Obesity

Claudy Eckardt, Weber State University


Obesity is a growing epidemic in the United States. Statistical facts show that one third of U.S. children, between the ages of 2-19, are obese. A common health risk found in children who are overweight is that they will continue to stay overweight throughout the course of their lifespan. Long-term health consequences of obesity only to be found in adults have become more prevalent in children as well. Prevention is the key to reducing this dangerous epidemic and its consequences. The purpose of this study was to investigate children’s knowledge on the causes and consequences of being overweight. This study used a qualitative research method. Two participants were interviewed for case studies. Both participants were between the ages of 8 and 11 and were from different ethnic backgrounds. Each child was given nine questions to answer. Each child was given an adequate amount of time to thoroughly understand each question and respond. Interviews lasted between five to ten minutes. Parental consent was given before the interview process. Results showed that the participants were exposed to the risk factors of obesity. Each child demonstrated a clear understanding that obesity has negative health consequences and expressed preventative measures as well. Furthermore the participants proved that obesity was not only limited to the school or home environment but multiple environments.

Parents’ Perceptions of Nature-Based Play

Kassandra Sqrow, Weber State University


Opportunities for children to interact and connect to the natural environment through play are declining. The benefits of outdoor play are well documented (Little and Wyver, 2008) and show the important role it contributes to healthy child development. Yet, fears and anxieties parents have about the outdoor environment are the most potent forces that prevent parents from allowing their children to play outdoors (Furedi, 2002; Louv, 2006). Identifying the beliefs and attitudes parents have about outdoor-based play can provide valuable insights for recreation and youth professionals to understand how to encourage outdoor play in families. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore parents’ perceptions on factors that constrain or facilitate the level of outdoor play that they encourage in their children. Parents with children ages 4 to 10 years old were recruited through a local school to participate in focus groups. Research participants were asked about their perceptive on the role outdoor-play has on their child’s development and characteristics of outdoor play spaces that influence the level of outdoor play their children engage in. Data will be analyzed by identifying recurring themes and patterns of parents’ perceptions and factors that influence the level of outdoor-based play in their child’s life. The data for this study is currently being collected and will be analyzed by November 2014. Implications for practice will be discussed.

Children’s Misconceptions about Space and What Needs to be Don e About It

Raschelle Davis, Dixie State University


The general populace in America has many misconceptions concerning space; this is due to lack of explicit, clear education. As children grow and observe the world around them they can create misconceptions about how things work. Research shows that this is particularly true when children are learning about space (Brunsell and Marcks, 2007). Many of these misconceptions can be corrected or avoided if the teacher has specific knowledge of the science content and how to teach it (Bulunuz and Jarrett, 2009). As a mother of a young boy I have been asked many questions about space and how it all works. I was never sure how I should answer those questions, since I did not fully understand how it worked myself. This past year I became involved in a NASA astronomy project in my teacher education program that teaches space science to students using a hands-on approach. During my first astronomy event I could not help but be amazed with the questions and the confusion that some of the students had about space while looking through the telescopes. This gave me the desire to learn more about space and teaching children about space. This research project explores children’s misconceptions about space, the problems with how children are currently being taught about space, and how students could more effectively be taught about space in order to reach clear understanding.

Content-Form Trade-offs in the Spontaneous Stories Told by Chi ldren with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Implications for Assessment and Instruction

Samantha DeLucchi, Telesha Fricke, Kamilla Okey and Brigid Crotty, Utah State University


Children with ASD often experience marked difficulty achieving proficiency in narration, and often require explicit instruction to learn this important discourse skill. The present study was designed to extend the work of Colozzo et al., 2011 by examining the relationship between content and form in the narratives of school-age children with ASD as they participated in a narrative intervention program to improve their knowledge of story structure and ultimately, to improve their ability to create coherent, organized narratives. Children received two, individual, 50-minute intervention sessions weekly for a period of about 7 – 11 weeks. Children were asked to make up their own stories once weekly. These stories were scored for narrative proficiency and for grammatical accuracy. Findings revealed that prior to beginning narrative treatment, all of the children’s grammatical accuracy was high while their narrative proficiency scores were low. In the first weeks of treatment, all children experienced a significant decrease in grammatical accuracy (<70%), however their narrative scores were observed to increase. Narrative proficiency scores continued to increase and become stable for all children. Interestingly, grammatical accuracy returned to normal (90% or greater) during the last weeks of intervention as children’s narrative proficiency became stable. The findings from this study support the presence of a content-form tradeoff, as children learn difficult linguistic skills, other skills that are ordinarily stable, may fluctuate until the new skill is mastered. The absence of grammatical errors may not be taken as an indication that the student is proficient in constructing a coherent, organized narrative. Further implications are discussed.

Improving the Use of Mental State Verbs by Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Two Narrative Production Tasks: Story Retelling and Spontaneous Story Generation

Mary Ann Hammon, Sydney Sneddon, Madeline Williams and Brigid Crotty, Utah State University


Children diagnosed with ASD often experience marked difficulty in the comprehension and production of narrative discourse that extends well into their adolescent and adult years (7, 8, 9, 10). These narrative difficulties appear to be linked directly to the core symptoms of ASD that manifest in failure to plan using information from multiple sources, a hyper-focus on details at the expense of gist-level propositions and limited use of mental state and causal language to encode goals and motivations of characters (11). Theory of Mind (ToM) accounts propose that a core deficit in ASD is an inability to infer the emotional or mental states of others. Deficits in ToM have been shown to significantly impair one’s ability to engage in ongoing social interactions and to develop the linguistic knowledge (e.g., mental state and causal language) necessary for understanding the relationship between events in discourse (9). Mental state and causal language is necessary for the establishment of a causal framework to link story grammar elements together. The overarching goal of this project was to test whether a program designed to teach narrative language skills was effective for increasing the use of mental state and causal language for children with high functioning autism (ASD). A multiple baseline across participants study was conducted with 5 children with ASD (ages 8-12). Intervention was provided for two 50-minute individual sessions per week for a total of 21-33 sessions (depending on the student). Children’s spontaneous stories and story retells, collected weekly, were analyzed for the use of mental state and causal language before, during and after intervention. All of the children made clinically significant gains after participating in the instruction, with clear changes in the use and complexity of mental state verbs during both types of narrative production tasks (story retell, spontaneous generation). The gains were maintained after intervention was discontinued.

Grammatical and Narrative Content Adequacy in Story Retells Told by Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Before, During and After Narrative Instruction

Emily Kunz, Shea Long, Melany Reeder, and Brigid Crotty, Utah State University


It has been proposed that asking a child to make up their own story, rather than to retell a story, is a more stringent test of narrative ability and may tax the linguistic system revealing weaknesses not apparent in less difficult contexts (eg., retelling stories). At least one study has shown that children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) experience content-form tradeoffs as they master narrative discourse (DeLucchi, Fricke, Kaye, Crotty and Gillam, 2015). The content-form tradeoff was observed when children with ASD with typical grammatical skills and poor narrative proficiency were shown to experience significant grammatical difficulties as they mastered narrative discourse. The purpose of this study was to determine whether content-form trade-offs were observed in stories children with ASD were asked to retell. Five children with ASD ranging in age from 9-12 were asked to retell stories weekly, during a baseline and narrative treatment period over the course of 12-16 weeks. The stories were scored for grammaticality and narrative proficiency. Story retells were observed to be grammatical whether elicited during baseline, early, mid or later treatment sessions. Children with lower language skills experienced times when they were completely unable to recall a story, particularly early on in instruction, although when they did, they experienced good grammatical accuracy. Children with higher language skills were always able to remember parts of the story and were highly grammatical. The story model (retell) may make it less difficult for students with ASD to focus on and remember content while also maintaining grammatical accuracy.

Syntactic Complexity and Narrativ e Competence for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Balancing Complexity with Content in Spontaneously Generated Stories

Mercedes Sanford, Ryan Pearson, Kate Summers, and Brigid Crotty, Utah State University


Deficits in complex syntax may not be apparent in stories that children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) create on their own. That is, in self-generated stories, complex syntactic forms are not obligatory in order to get the “message across.” However, in order to create complex stories, those that contain complicating actions and events, complex sentences are unavoidable. Although children with ASD have been said to have typical syntactic skills, it is possible, that this is due to a preference for syntactically simple utterances. The purpose of this study was to examine the syntactic complexity of stories created by 5 children with ASD as they participated in an intervention to improve their narrative skills. Stories were elicited once weekly from single scene picture prompts; recorded, transcribed and then coded for narrative proficiency and syntactic complexity. Results indicated that during baseline when children were not receiving instruction, their self-generated stories contained more simple sentences (75-100%) that contained one main verb as compared to complex sentences (0-25%) that contained two or more main verbs. Their narrative skills during baseline were judged to be below average. Over the course of instruction, children’s narrative skills and their use of complex sentences increased in a similar pattern. Individual differences were observed in the impact that this pattern of change had on children’s verbal fluency and grammaticality. These differences will be discussed in terms of a cognitive load hypothesis.

Why Do Action Research as a T eacher? Improving Mathematics T eaching and Learning

Kristine Jolley, Brigham Young University


This research-in-progress examines the role of action research in teacher movement toward reform-based mathematics education during a sustained professional development initiative. This initiative, which provided coursework for the Utah Elementary Mathematics Endorsement (UEME), was implemented as a Brigham Young University/Alpine School District partnership collaboration. Although the UEME is offered at several sites across Utah as a major state professional development initiative in mathematics education, our collaboration was unique in incorporating action research as a major component. We pose and seek to answer the following question: What happens to teachers’ knowledge and theories regarding reform-based mathematics education as they engage in action research on a reform-based mathematics education practice of their choice in their classrooms? We have examined data collected from three cohorts of participants over the 4-year duration of the grant; each participant was involved for 2 years. Of the 53 participants, 12 (4 from each cohort) were purposefully selected according to pre- and post-measures of participants’ mathematics beliefs, knowledge, and practice as well as the dimensions of gender, ethnicity, professional assignment, and years of teaching experience. Qualitative analysis of relevant data from these participants is contributing to our understanding of the role of action research in teacher movement toward reform-based mathematics education. We are currently writing the analysis section of a manuscript based on these data. Recognition of the need for improvement in mathematics teaching and learning is not new, yet implementing the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics adds a new layer of challenge. This in-depth study of action research as a professional development practice should inform decision-making regarding the inclusion of action research in subsequent Endorsement programs as well as in other professional development initiatives. Further, this study should add its own unique contribution to the research conversation on a broader scale.

The Relationship between Narrative Proficiency and Syntactic Complexity of Story Retells Elicited from Children with ASD

Taylor Anderson, Megan Israel Sen, Amy Nielsen, and Brigid Crotty, Utah State University


Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have been shown to use substantially more simple sentences as compared to complex sentences in their spontaneously generated narratives (Sanford, Pearson, Summers, Crotty and Gillam, 2015). However, Sanford et al., showed that children with ASD began to use substantially more complex sentences in their stories during and after narrative treatment (>50%). It is possible that children with ASD may experience greater difficulty using complex sentences in stories they must generate than in retelling stories they have heard. The purpose of this study was to examine story retells of 5 children with ASD before, during and after narrative intervention for syntactic complexity. Results indicated that during baseline when children were not receiving instruction, their story retells contained more simple sentences than complex sentences. The use of complex sentences was observed to increase as children became more proficient in their narrative production skills. When compared to stories children generated on their own (spontaneous stories), the story retells contained more complex sentences overall, but were often associated with less verbal fluency particularly as children were mastering narrative skills. The findings will be discussed in terms of trade-offs in verbal fluency, grammaticality and the use of complex sentences during different stages of narrative proficiency as a function of initial language knowledge.