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Friday, April 24th

Dance as a Tool for Proprioceptive Training for Children on the Autism Spectrum

Samantha Mathews, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: Julianna Hane, M.F.A.

There are many questions on the topic of balance and proprioception in dance, specifically on the subject of children with sensory challenges. Children on the autism spectrum often have difficulty with their balance and proprioception. Could dance help give children the tools to develop these senses? This research paper discusses these questions and focuses on the possible benefits of dance for children who may have sensory issues. How does our sense of balance work, and does every individual’s work the same? What is proprioception? Emotional and social dance therapy is common among children on the autism spectrum, but would children benefit if there were more emphasis placed on the physical aspect of dance therapy? Research of dance and its kinesthetic impact on proprioception is used to answer these questions and give an explanation of the physical benefits dance may have for children on the autism spectrum.

How Does Dance Education Impact Student Learning?

Kensley Brandemuehl, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: Julianna Hane, M.F.A.

How does dance education impact student learning? Is it simply a fun elective or an after-school activity? This question is personally relevant because this is an ever-growing career, especially in this region. Dance education is much more than that. Because it is my future career, I wanted to know how I will impact my students. In my research, I have found many studies that prove dance and other arts education affect the cognitive function of the brain and strengthen the synapses, as well. Additionally, it has been noted that schools that have added dance into their curricula have seen improvements in behavioral issues, attendance, overall student engagement, and standardized test scores.

Implicit Bias: What We Can Do to Change the Narrative

Naomi McQuiller

Faculty Mentor: Ginger Williams, Ph.D.

Implicit biases are unconscious prejudices that we have about other groups of people and their experiences. Bias affects how we see the world and how we interact with those around us. This research focuses on implicit bias in the Pre-K through age 8 classroom, or infant classrooms through third grade. This topic is vital to our development as a country that wants to move toward peace, healing, and the understanding of multiple perspectives. The question at hand is, knowing that bias exists, how can classrooms be modified to be more inclusive, and how can we train teachers to recognize their own personal biases. The purpose of the research is to provide methods that have been proven to help reduce implicit bias. It also will take experts and scholars from more than one discipline to come together and form a potential solution. Implicit bias is an issue that is seen across the board in multiple disciplines, including education and social work, which are the two disciplines used to construct this paper. Scholars from both fields of study have written research that supports this. Social workers and educators arguably have the most interaction with and influence on young children in our schools. After conducting extensive research, it can be said that by ridding ourselves of the “savior complex,” using anti-bias curriculum and culturally responsive instruction and activities, and constantly reviewing our own personal biases through an accountability system, implicit bias can be reduced, and eventually eliminated in the classroom setting.

Managing Mental Health in Schools

Isaiah Drayton

Faculty Mentor: Ginger Williams, Ph.D.

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Mental illness is closely associated with poverty, wars, and other humanitarian disasters, and in some cases, leads to suicide, one of the most common causes of preventable death among adolescents and young adults. Mental illness is the pandemic of the 21stcentury and will be the next major global health challenge. Adolescents’ mental health issues are on the rise due to community poverty, limited affordability and access to mental health services, and lack of family education or awareness of mental health concerns. These issues are well known hindrances in many adolescents’ lives. The goal is figure out how school districts can manage and improve the mental health services provided in their schools and communities. I will be using the disciplines of psychology and education to provide contextual information to examine what services and methods can be implemented to help manage and reduce mental health issues for children in high-poverty and urban schools. I will argue that, with the right framework, implementation of health services, and validity of results, schools will be efficient and successful as they continue managing and reducing the number of adolescents who are in need of services.

Opinion Survey of South Carolina Public School District Superintendents Concerning the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunities Act and Potential Outcomes for Public School Systems

Richard Lyda, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: Hye-Sung Kim, Ph.D., and Scott Huffmon, Ph.D.

In order to understand the present attitudes of South Carolina public school administrators and staff toward the proposed Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunities Act, this study directly surveyed South Carolina’s 81 district superintendents, along with a convenient sample of other staff working within the districts. The administered survey focuses primarily on the opinions of state superintendents regarding how the proposed bill may affect their districts and the overall public education system in the state. Education Freedom Scholarships were first introduced by United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, along with Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Republican Representative Bradley Byrne of Alabama in February 2019. The bill, which has 109 republican cosponsors, was introduced in the House of Representatives on February 28, 2019, and was sent to both the Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Education and Labor. The proposal would create a $5 billion nonrefundable, dollar-for-dollar tax credit to encourage individual and corporate taxpayers to contribute to state-identified scholarship-granting organizations. It is hypothesized that superintendents and staff members who perceive their districts to be inadequately funded are more likely to oppose the bill, while superintendents and staff members who perceive their districts as well funded are less likely to oppose it. It is also hypothesized that, while political alignment will affect likelihood to oppose or support the proposal, perceptions about state funding to the school district will be a more reliable indicator of a respondent’s position regarding the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act.

Student Attitudes toward Campus Mental Health Services

McCayla Partain

Faculty Mentor: Wendy Sellers, Ph.D.

The attitudes that students hold toward the mental health services on campus impact service utilization and overall student well-being. This project, which is currently awaiting IRB approval so that it can move into data collection, seeks to discover campus-wide attitudes toward campus mental health services, as well as student knowledge of the services that are available to them. Since these attitudes and knowledge of what services are available and how to receive them impact service utilization, and other research shows that college is a vulnerable time for student mental health, it is important to see how these factors combine in order to improve services and their availability to students. The goal of this study is to see how students view the services that are being offered to them and to see if they know how to access those services, so that both the services themselves and the process of accessing them can be improved to provide for the best interest of students.

The Potential Impact of Background Music on Creative Thinking in the General Elementary Classroom

AnnaMarie Wilde, Winthrop University

Music has been known to enhance cognitive abilities in the classroom and this study is investigating to see whether there is a similar connection between music and creative thinking in the classroom. Creative thinking is like creativity, which is defined as the ability to produce something that is both useful and novel. Creativity is not just about the arts; it is also a large part of critical thinking and problem solving. This study looks at two elementary school classrooms where approximately 45 students complete a creative thinking activity, based on portions of the Torrance Test for Creative Thinking (TTCT). The students will spend ten minutes drawing one picture which will be directly followed by ten additional minutes spent drawing ten different pictures. One classroom will be playing calm, non-lyrical background music, while the other classroom will be playing no music. After the test is over, the students will be given a short survey to see how they feel about music playing or no music playing and whether it impacted their ability to creatively think on the activity. The activity will be scored based on the originality and elaboration of the drawings, two key components to creativity. The hope for this study is to highlight whether background music is helpful while producing creative thinking in the everyday activities in the general elementary school classroom.

Transitioning Theme in Chbosky’s Adaptation of The Perks of Being A Wallflower


Haleigh Altman

Faculty Mentor: Siobhan Brownson, Ph.D.

In his 1999 coming of age novel The Perks of Being A Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky tells the exciting yet heartfelt story of Charlie’s first year of high school following the sudden suicide of his best friend, Michael, and his own continued trauma from his aunt’s molestation of him as a young boy, as well as her subsequent death. The 2012 film adaptation, directed by author Chbosky, neglects to give screen time and voice to Charlie’s mental health struggles and trauma, even though he does open up the narrative to include more of his best friends’ (Sam’s and Patrick’s) issues with belongingness and interpersonal conflict, ultimately creating a more PG-13 friendly version of Charlie’s story. While both the novel and the film resonated with those partial to the young adult genre, the film adaptation allows Charlie and the audience alike to dissociate from his ever looming trauma in favor of explorations of identity and what it means to fight for themselves and for each other. While this trauma is something no child should have to bear, it is important for entertainment media to give visibility to familial trauma and how adolescents can face that trauma while entering adulthood.

Treating and Preventing Childhood-Onset Mental Health Disorders


Katya Engalichev, Winthrop University

As the prevalence of mental health disorders in children rises, the need for integrated support systems and evidence-based practice increases, as well. Psychologists and psychiatrists recognize that childhood is the smartest and most effective time for intervention. Preventing severe and long-lasting mental health symptoms from developing also helps prevent crime, loss of productivity, substance abuse, family instability, and dependence on social services. One in five children in schools has a diagnosable mental health disorder, but about 70 percent of those children don’t ever receive the services they need. So how can parents, educators, and healthcare providers work together to both treat and prevent childhood-onset mental health disorders? The present research combines theories, practices, and other research from the fields of education and psychology to address childhood-onset mental health disorders. Psychology, as a discipline, views early diagnosis and immediate treatment of psychological symptoms as essential to recovery and positive health outcomes, but children often experience limited access to mental health services. Educators tend to focus more on the policy side of this issue, advocating for certified health education programs in every school, nationwide mental health awareness initiatives, and expanded school-based mental health services. This issue can be solved through interdisciplinary collaboration between the fields of education and psychology, both of which provide valuable perspectives. Such a collaboration should focus on implementing school-based mental health resources in both primary and secondary schools, expanding the psychiatric workforce, promoting health educator certification, and advocating for public funding.