COE faculty, students make special trip to Mexico

Faculty and doctoral students from the University of North Texas traveled to Guadalajara recently to solidify a partnership between the university and the Secretariat of Education for the State of Jalisco, Mexico.

According to Nancy Nelson, professor of education and Meadows Chair for Excellence in Education at UNT, the partnership is more than 15 years old and has significant benefits for both the university and the secretariat.

"The benefits are largely intercultural," Nelson said. "Being involved with people who are from a different culture and speak a different language is a great learning experience. It also enriches our programs. We have this relationship with a whole state, which means all of their educational programs – the ones for school-aged students, higher education, their normal schools and their research institutions."

The Secretariat of Education supervises early childhood education, elementary and secondary schools and higher education, which includes a number of universities, colleges and research centers. The state of Jalisco includes Guadalajara, Mexico's second largest city.

Rossana Boyd, a principal lecturer in the Department of Teacher Education and Administration at UNT, said the partnership helps future teachers become better educators. Experiencing new cultures shows how different students can learn in different ways – and that benefits teachers on both sides of the border.

"The partnership is important to teachers in Jalisco and to the students participating here at UNT," Boyd said. "There's a significant impact on the students who travel to Jalisco with us and on the state we're visiting."

Above, faculty and students visit the "Process of Education" mural in Guadalajara, Mexico.

KHPR student organization hosts basketball tournament to raise scholarship funds

By Mary Murphy

The Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation Professionals (KHPRos) student organization hosted its third annual Mean Green Madness basketball tournament this spring semester, raising $500 to help fund scholarships for students in the KHPR department, part of UNT’s College of Education.  

KHPRos is a networking organization that help KHPR students connect with professionals in their future career fields. The organization often brings in guest speakers from various areas of the KHPR field, many of whom provide KHPRo members with internship or shadowing opportunities. The KHPRos also have hosted 5K fun runs, small fundraisers and previous Mean Green Madness tournaments.

Last year’s Mean Green Madness raised $200 for scholarships, and the amount was matched by the dean of students. Over the past two years, the KHPRos have raised more than $1,000 total for KHPR student scholarships.

“I have enjoyed seeing how the tournament grows and improves every year,” said Danielle Blankenship, KHPRos outgoing vice president. “Each year we have more participants, more sponsors and donations, and therefore we raise more money for scholarships.” 

According to Blankenship, the basketball tournament is a valuable experience for KHPRo members because it teaches them event management skills such as how to get sponsors and promote an event.

Nicholas Romero, KHPRos president, said the tournament gives students an opportunity to relieve some of their end-of-semester stress, have fun and make new friends. Romero said he enjoys the competition and sportsmanship the students show during the tournament.

“I see people who are out there competing, and they want to win, but they’re also good sports about it,” Romero said. “If someone gets tripped up, other players aren’t walking away, they’re helping them up. When a player gets a good shot in, other teams will actually give them a handshake or high-five and tell them, ‘Wow, that was a great shot’.”

Twelve teams participated in Mean Green Madness this year, each of which had three to five players. The tournament was open to anyone 18 years or older, but most of the team members were UNT graduate and undergraduate students. Teams were also allowed to hold informal practices on their own before the big day since there weren’t any scheduled practices for the tournament.

This year’s winning team received gift cards to Dickey’s Barbeque, Cartwrights, Cowboy Chicken, Hoochies and Recycled Books; a gym bag from Boot Barn filled with miscellaneous items; and champion T-shirts.

Romero said he hopes the Mean Green Madness tournament will continue to grow, gain more participants and raise more money for scholarship funds. He also hopes the event becomes more well-known campuswide.

“I just hope that next year is an even greater year,” Romero said. “I’m always hoping it gets bigger and better to where every student in school, when they hear Mean Green Madness, they’ll think, ‘Oh, yeah, the KHPRo fundraiser? I’m going to sign up for it!’ That’s what I’m hoping for.” 

Top photo, members of UNT's KHPRos student organization; bottom photo, the Mean Green Madness basketball tournament's winning team, The Raptors.

COE Educational Psychology professor assists in creating, editing 'Family Relations' special issue

Family Relations, an interdisciplinary journal of applied family studies, recently published a special issue that was edited by Wendy Middlemiss, an associate professor in the UNT College of Education's Educational Psychology department. Middlemiss suggested the subject matter for the special issue: bio-social models of family science.

Over the past two years, Middlemiss has been working with Ronald Sabatelli, Family Relations editor, and various researchers to put together this special issue that explores the connection between bio-social, bio-physiological and neuroscience research and family science practices.

"This issue gives the underlying neurological or biological explanation to connections that family science researchers and practitioners are aware of so that we can have a clearer understanding of the connections," Middlemiss said. "I think in family science, one of the most powerful things you can provide is information that families can use to understand what's going on, and that's what we have here."

Middlemiss collaborated with Mary S. Tarsha and James J. McKenna to write an article for this issue titled "Potential Evolutionary, Neurophysical, and Developmental Origins of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIS) and Inconsolable Crying: Is It About Controlling Breath?" Tarsha is a graduate research assistant at Vanderbilt University, and McKenna is a professor of Anthropology and the director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame.

The article explores the possibility that sudden infant death syndrome and inconsolable crying in infants are related to a lag between volitional and non-volitional control of breathing. The article concludes with the implications of this explanation for SIDS and inconsolable crying as it impacts the family. For example, inconsolable crying can lead parents to feel incompetent in their ability to care for their infant. Understanding that there may be an underlying neuorological factor contributing to infants' inability to stop crying can help parents view the crying not as a failure of their ability to console their infant, but rather a developmental issue that will change in time.

Each article in the special issue was written by a pair of bio-physiological or neuroscience researchers and family science researchers. It includes researchers at the top in their field, such as Douglas A. Granger, a professor in the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University who is a well-known psychoneuroendocrinology researcher. With his colleague Thao Ha, Granger contributed a foundational article connecting family systems functioning and related implication for parents' and children's stress responses—responses that have clear implications for both family and children's well-being.

Granger also joined forces with Daniel Berry, an assistant professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Clancy Blair, a professor of cognitive psychology at New York University; and The Family Life Project Key Investigators to report about how children's experiences of family stressors may impact children's well-being in the child-care setting. The Family Life Project is a collaborative study conducted by the University of North Carolina and Penn State to learn more about how growing up in rural areas might influence the development of children and families. Together the team wrote an article for the issue titled "Child Care and Cortisol Across Infancy and Toddlerhood: Poverty, Peers, and Developmental Timing."

According to Middlemiss, these paired manuscripts provide valuable resources for teachers because they bring together bio-social and bio-physiological issues with family practice issues. This means that this Family Relations special issue can be used as a resource for a variety of different courses such as public health, family studies and human development. As the first issue in this year's volume of Family Relations, all articles can be accessed and downloaded without charge.

The issue covers many important topics associated with families, children's well-being, education and mental health. This is evident in the articles addressing the physiological implications of stress in regard to children's and adolescents' risk of obesity with an article by Panagiota Pervanidou and George P. Chrousos of the University of Athens (Greece) Medical School. An accompanying applied article looks at ways families can apply this information to address the current high rates of obesity both in the U.S. and other nations (by Fiese and Bost). Other topics addressed include stress as related to physical punishment (Gershoff); neurological basis of social-emotional development and typical and atypical brain development (Barrasso and Eslinger); and work-family conflict and health (Grzywacz and Smith).

Endia J. Lindo, an assistant professor in the UNT College of Education's Educational Psychology department, along with UNT faculty and graduate student colleagues, also contributed to this special issue. They examined what research tells us about the stress families may experience in caring for children with special needs. Lindo said the combination of bio-physiological and neuroscience research with family science practices in the articles is what makes this issue impressive.

"I believe this combination makes an impact because it not only effectively highlights the serious implications of factors such as ongoing stress, but also provides guides for how best to address these factors to improve individual outcomes," Lindo said.

As editor, Middlemiss arranged the articles so that the important advancement in bio-physiological or neurological science are described first, and the following article(s) in the pair explores implications of the research when it's translated to family science research, practice and policy. Middlemiss invited manuscripts from leading researchers and family science practitioners with an eye toward addressing family considerations across a life span.

"The paired manuscripts were created across a life span because Family Relations is a journal about family relations, it's not just about an age or a particular occurrence," Middlemiss said. "To be broadly of interest to the entire readership, it needed to touch on a lot of different things. I made sure to identify areas of interest in infancy and toddlerhood, early childhood, as well as in regard to marriage, work and family, and taking care of elderly adults."

This special issue of Family Relations address topics across a life span such as early adversities in childhood, child care experiences, normative stress in the family, socio-emotional development and caregiver stress associated with care of older adults. It is available for free online here.

Higher Ed doctoral student wins prestigious fellowship

Nydia Sanchez, a doctoral candidate in the College of Education's Higher Education program, was recently awarded the National Academy of Education Spencer Dissertation Fellowship for the 2016-2017 academic year. According to James Duban, UNT associate dean for research and national scholarships, Sanchez is the first UNT student to win a Spencer fellowship directly from the National Academy of Education.

The Spencer Dissertation Fellowship is a highly competitive program. Sanchez was one of 35 scholars chosen to receive the fellowship out of nearly 400 applicants. The $27,500 fellowship is awarded to individuals who are conducting dissertation research related to education, and it supports students whose dissertations show potential for bringing new perspectives to the history, theory, analysis or practice of formal or informal education anywhere in the world.

For her dissertation, Sanchez plans to investigate the complex factors that influence college aspirations and the development of college knowledge for Latino students and families living in a Texas border-town community. According to Amy Fann, Sanchez's professor in the Higher Education program, these communities are representative of some of the poorest and most educationally underserved counties in the nation.

During the study, Sanchez will qualitatively explore how academic capital is transmitted and co-constructed in informal and everyday spaces, and the ripple effect this activity has on the educational uplift of Latino communities. In order to closely examine and understand the operation of processes and networks that are used to develop academic capital, Sanchez will interview Latino Gates Millennial Scholarship Program (GMSP) Ambassadors, as well as a subset of families and the school/community educators they have served. Since Sanchez is a former GMSP ambassador herself, her study design is informed by her own experience and the experiences of her GMSP peers who have been engaged in informally transmitting academic capital at the community level.

Receiving the Spencer Dissertation Fellowship award is not the only notable achievement Sanchez has accomplished during her time at UNT. In the past, she has received the 2015 Graduate Fellow Award from the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education and the 2013 American Education Research Association (AERA) Carlos J. Vallejo Research Fellowship, and she served as a graduate fellow for the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education in 2012.

She currently serves as the campus liaison for the AERA Graduate Student Council and has served as a community scholarship ambassador for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation since 2004. She also founded the UNT Latino Graduate Student Association, and has worked with faculty, administrators and students across campus to co-coordinate several events and programs, such as UNT's first-ever Raza Graduation in the spring of 2012.

Sanchez's past accomplishments and most recent success demonstrate her dedication to the Latino community in the field of higher education, Fann said. Fann believes that Sanchez will continue to further the access to and equality in higher education over the course of her career, specifically for the Latino community and other communities of color.

"Nydia is preparing for a career (in higher education) and has, without a doubt, incredible promise as a scholar who will make long-term and significant contributions to educational theory, policy and practice relevant to postsecondary access and equity, writ large, for Latino and other communities of color," Fann said.

Union Parking

UNT University Union Presidential Suite (room 406)

1155 Union Circle, Denton, Texas  76203


Google Maps: Click here


Parking available at the Union Circle Parking Garage:



Directions to the suite

Enter the Union through the double doors directly across from the Baptist Student Association building. Take the stairs to the fourth floor.

Elevator directions: Take the elevator next to the Jamba Juice/Barnes & Noble entry to the third floor. Exit right from the elevator, then veer left across the breezeway and take another right down the hallway past the art installation with the words “Our Community.” Continue straight until you see another elevator on your left. Take that elevator to the fourth floor. 
The suite will be just to your left through the glass doors.

Four UNT KHPR students receive awards from SHAPE America, ICSPAH Conference

By Mary Murphy

The Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) America recently named UNT College of Education doctoral student Alan Chu as recipient of the 2016 Graduate Student Research Award. At the annual 2016 SHAPE America National Convention and Expo, held April 5-9 in Minneapolis, fellow COE student Brittany Kirkpatrick was named recipient of the 2016 Undergraduate Student Research Award. Kirkpatrick is a recent graduate of the undergraduate Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation program at UNT and plans to enroll in the KHPR master's program this

Alan Chu Xiaoxia Zhang Hongxin Li


According to Tao Zhang, associate professor in the KHPR program, this is the first time that an undergraduate and graduate student from the same university have won the SHAPE America Undergraduate and Graduate Student Research Awards at the same time.

Kirkpatrick won the undergraduate research award for her research project "Children's Motivation in Physical Education, Physical Activity and Psychomotor Skills."She and her advisor Xiangli Gu, assistant professor in the KHPR program, presented this research project at the SHAPE convention.

Two UNT Sport Pedagogy doctoral students also received awards at the International Chinese Society for Physical Activities and Health (ICSPAH) Conference April 5-7 in Minneapolis. Xiaoxia Zhang received the 2016 ICSPAH Conference Poster Presentation Award, and Hongxin Li received the 2016 ICSPAH Conference Oral Presentation Award.

Xiaoxia Zhang received the Conference Poster Presentation Award for her research study titled "Physical Activity Behavior of Physically Vulnerable College Students: Application of Theory of Planned Behavior." She distributed a questionnaire about physical activity to 270 physically vulnerable students from five universities in Shanghai, and 234 students responded.

Zhang chose to research this topic to understand variations in motivation such as intention, attitude and subjective norms. Motivated behavior in physical activity is a primary topic of study for researchers and educators in physical education, she said.

"My study could help the PE teachers and parents know what exactly most influences the physically vulnerable students' physical activity behavior, and then use specified proper strategies to help the students increase physical activity involvement and participation," Zhang said. 

The 2016 ICSPAH Conference Oral Presentation Award was awarded to Li for his research study "Examining Self-Efficacy, Expectancy-Value Variables, and Chinese Students' Task Challenge and Concentration in Physical Education."

"I'm very pleased and proud to have won this award," Li said. "I am thankful for my advisor, Tao Zhang; my teammates; and the UNT Sport Pedagogy program. As a first-year Ph.D. student, this is a good motivation for me."

Li's study focused on students in two middle schools in China. Li said after running two multiple regressions, his team found that self-efficacy, expectancy-related belief and task values positively predicted students' task challenge and concentration in physical education.

Tao Zhang said the number of awards won recently by the UNT Sport Pedagogy students reflect the strength and ambition of the program.

"Multiple research awards won at the national and international levels significantly enhance our UNT Sport Pedagogy research group's visibility and reputation," he said. "These four research awards highlight the strength and competence of our Sport Pedagogy doctoral program and students. Our program strongly encourages students to involve in research, which directly supports UNT's mission as a student-centered Tier One research university."

COE graduate student receives departmental Excellence in Student Engagement award for promoting autism awareness

Barbara Hobbs, a graduate student in the UNT College of Education's Educational Psychology Autism Intervention program, recently received the Excellence in Student Engagement in special education award. This award is given to students in the EDSP program who continually engage with current and prospective students and work to promote the field of special education.

According to Miriam Boesch, a UNT professor in Special Education, the faculty in the Autism Intervention program nominated Hobbs for this award because she it is a perfect example of what the award stands for.

"As a student in my courses, she is constantly engaged with her peers offering her extensive experience to those who have problems," Boesch said. "If there's a peer who is working at a school and needs help brainstorming a solution, Barbara readily offers her wisdom in a manner that helps her peer find a resolution."

Along with helping her peers, Hobbs also strives to promote autism awareness in her community. For a final project in Boesch's Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders course, students have to create something that informs the public about autism. Hobbs took this course online last fall and collaborated with Texas' Region 16 Education Service Center (which covers the Panhandle area) for her final project to create a video about autism from the perspective of a father who has a child on the spectrum.

After the course, Hobbs expanded this idea and worked with Region 16 to create a four-part video series that covers four different families that have children with autism. During Autism Awareness Month in April, these videos have been featured on Region 16's TV program "Spotlight on Education," which is shown once a week on ABC 7 News in Amarillo.

"The people I've talked to love seeing the family perspective," Hobbs said. "It was good because we recorded the video in the families' home so the audience got to see the child in a different setting. They loved hearing the parents' perspective."

The first segment shared the story of two parents who have a child with autism, and the second segment focused on a high school student with autism. The third segment aired April 21, and the final segment will air on April 28.

"[These videos] are important because it allows the disorder to be ‘humanized' for viewers who may have misconceptions about autism," Boesch said. "In essence, Barbara took the initiative to inform to create something that would have a significant impact on the community. She is someone who has shown to be an advocate for the field and is working toward enriching the lives of individuals with autism and their families."

Hobbs is also helping organize this year's Region 16 Autism Conference. The conference is for professionals, parents and members of the community. It will be free for parents of children with autism, and will have keynote speakers and breakout sessions discussing the different areas of autism.

Dr. Barry M. Prizant, clinical scholar, consultant, researcher and program consultant for children and older persons with Autistic Spectrum Disorders, will be a keynote speaker at the conference. Another highlighted keynote is Dr. Liane Holliday Willey, an individual with autism and internationally renowned author and speaker on autism spectrum conditions, communications and learning diversity. The Region 16 Autism Conference will be held June 1-2 in Amarillo.

Apply to be a student ambassador for the College of Education

Download FlyerThe purpose of the College of Education (COE) Ambassador Program is to promote and represent the College of Education and the University by assisting the COE Recruiter with outreach, working with the COE development office, and providing leadership and support for all education majors.

Why should I apply to be a COE Ambassador?

How does a $500 stipend per semester sound? In addition to the monetary rewards, COE Ambassadors get to meet new people, share their knowledge and love of UNT and the College of Education as well as help current and prospective students every day! They also build connections throughout campus by working closely with the college's Recruiter and Student Advising Office (SAO), Development and External Relations Office (DERO) and the Dean's Office.

What will the COE Ambassador program do for my future?

Students chosen to be part of this elite group receive valuable training and develop skills in problem solving, team building, interpersonal communication, promoting diversity and public speaking, making them more marketable in today's workforce.

What is being a COE Ambassador all about?

The COE Ambassador program is an amazing opportunity for students who desire to help others and promote the College of Education. We are looking for outgoing, friendly students who possess a genuine love for UNT and the COE, and are willing to provide excellent customer service, recruit new students, and be positive role models. Being a COE Ambassador is a prestigious honor and a unique opportunity for personal and professional growth.

Applications are available in Matthews 105 (Student Advising Office).

For additional information, please contact Renee Foster at 940-565-4577 or


UNT College of Education Union Event Parking


UNT University Union Presidential Suite (room 406)

1155 Union Circle, Denton, Texas  76203


Google Maps: Click here


Parking available at the Union Circle Parking Garage:



Directions to the suite

Enter the Union through the double doors directly across from the Baptist Student Association building. Take the stairs to the fourth floor.

Elevator directions: Take the elevator next to the Jamba Juice/Barnes & Noble entry to the third floor. Exit right from the elevator, then veer left across the breezeway and take another right down the hallway past the art installation with the words “Our Community.” Continue straight until you see another elevator on your left. Take that elevator to the fourth floor.
The suite will be just to your left through the glass doors.

COE-planned conference focuses on community college issues

The 58th annual Council for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC) conference was held March 31 through April 2 in Plano. The conference was organized by Beverly Bower, a COE Counseling and Higher Education professor, executive director of CSCC and director of the Bill J. Priest Center for Community College Education at UNT, where CSCC's national office is housed. Sue Young, an administrative coordinator in Counseling and Higher Education, also helped organize the conference.

The CSCC is a subgroup of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), but this was the second year the CSCC conference was hosted separately from AACC's annual convention. Bower and Young work year-round to plan the CSCC conference logistics, such as where the conference will be held and what food will be served.

"I love the logistics - planning the conference from the beginning, coming up with food ideas and trying to meet the needs of everybody year after year," Young said. "It's a lot of fun. I think it's a very well-organized conference and that people are really pleased by it."

According to Bower, nearly 200 people from around the country attended the CSCC 2016 Conference. Bower said that conference attendees normally include professionals who teach in higher education with a specialization in community colleges, students who work in community colleges part-time while working on their doctorate, full-time doctoral students, community colleges' institutional research departments and professionals interested in research who work full-time at community colleges.

The theme of the 58th CSCC Conference was Community College Impact on Individuals and Society: Reimagining, Reconceptualizing and Redefining Research and Scholarship. The sessions showcased community college research organized around six research strands: students; organization, administration and leadership; faculty, curriculum and teaching; contexts, methods and foundations; policy, finance and economics; and international.

Multiple speakers gave presentations at the conference, including Christopher Mullin, executive vice chancellor of the Division of Florida Colleges, and Arthur M. Cohen, well-known author of The American Community College.

This year, large topics of discussion included campus carry, which community colleges plan to implement a year after universities; financing of community colleges, because free community college is a big topic for the current presidential candidates; and emerging leadership in community colleges, because many current community college presidents are at retirement age.

The conference also offered collaboration possibilities for attendees, and one session specifically focused on listening to attendees' ideas and discussing how individuals could help one another in their research.

Many publishers that have community college journals support CSCC's conference, so another session at the conference concentrated on what research publishers are looking for and what ideas they would like to see in publication. Bower said that after the conference, these journals often publish special issues including research based on this sessions' topics of conversation.

Bower hopes that those who attended the 2016 conference learned more about where community colleges and research for community colleges are going, as well as the issues community colleges have that need to be researched. She believes that if researchers know more about these issues, they will get a sense of what research will be useful at community colleges in the future and what topics they should be studying to help inform community colleges' decision making.

"This [conference] is an opportunity to really talk about the current understanding of community colleges, the current research and the emerging issues and topics for community colleges," Bower said. "It's a chance for attendees to network and share ideas, which is a lot of the opportunity, and to look at things in different ways."

The next CSCC Annual Conference will be held at the Hilton Hotel in Fort Worth April 6-8, 2017. For more information, visit