Second annual poster symposium showcases research, work in the community

Erikson faculty, staff, and students highlight the ways their projects are making a difference for young children and families.

From informing policy decisions to shaping classroom instruction to improving family support services, Erikson Institute’s research has a direct impact on the lives of young children and families in Chicago and beyond.

Our recent annual research poster symposium offered an opportunity for members of the Erikson community to learn about their peers’ projects — and for individuals outside Erikson to gain a deeper understanding about our work and its impact.

“This year’s event built on the momentum that began with our inaugural symposium last year,” says Charles Chang, Erikson’s chief research and strategy officer. “It has helped create awareness about the new knowledge that Erikson contributes to the fields of child development, early childhood education, and social work, as well as important initiatives at the community level.”

This year’s symposium, organized once again by Erikson’s Herr Research Center and Doctoral Student Association, also marked the first time individuals from outside the Erikson community were invited, helping reach a wider audience. Among the attendees were faculty members from Arizona State University, who were at Erikson for a meeting about integrating STEM concepts — science, technology, engineering, and math — into the classroom and stopped by the symposium to learn more from Erikson’s Technology in Early Childhood Center poster presentation.

For alumna Tammy Kerouac, M.S. ’95, attending the symposium meant reconnecting with some of her mentors and gaining insights that could help shape her own research. Kerouac, who is working on her second master’s degree, says that learning from Erikson’s research is helping her frame a research proposal she is creating for one of her courses.

She also works as a teacher on special assignment in a Chicago suburb helping with a transition from half-day to full-day kindergarten, and she is exploring ways to study the impact of that change.

“By seeing how Erikson researchers approach their work, I can gain greater insight in how to frame questions and gather reliable information,” she says.

Erikson faculty and staff also said they appreciated the chance gain greater insight into one another’s work, beyond surface-level conversations they have day to day. As professors Gillian McNamee, PhD, and Amanda Moreno, PhD, discussed Dr. McNamee’s research with Erikson’s New Schools Project on “Launching Young Readers and Writers,” they said they began to see in more detail how their work is connected.

Dr. McNamee notes that both professors’ research is conducted as part of projects that represent partnerships with the Chicago Public Schools. “The problems Dr. Moreno is wrestling with in her research are problems all teachers in the system experience,” she says.

“Discussing our work in a symposium setting like this adds depth to our understanding of our peers’ research,” says Dr. Moreno, who was presenting information about the study she is leading on the impact of mindfulness interventions on learning in Chicago classrooms. “We can get a level of detail that just isn’t possible to get in our regular faculty meetings.”