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Child Studies Program

Undergraduate Research


Emily Fayram, Maggie May and RFP Team

Overview of the Resilient Families Program

A graphic explanation of the Resilient Families Program.

Grace Ma, Nicole Nasser and Morgan Carpenter

Family C.A.R.E. (Community Art, Resiliency, Education)

We have developed a program to host once or twice a month next fall at Sacred Heart Community Center in San Jose where the whole family can gather and bond through art, through which they can express stressors facing the community, talk about healthy relationships, and practice mindfulness. We hope that by inviting both parents and children, this will create a safe space to strengthen familial relationships, foster healthy ways of communication and expression, and build community.

Gilly Dosovitsky, Marianna Moore, and Sarah Vaccaro

Community Assessment in Thriving Neighbors Initiative

The Thriving Neighbors team collected data from the residents of the Washington Neighborhood community in order to better understand the needs of the community. Our project focused on what the results were from the surveys and how best to get that information back out into the community.

Kimya Sabzbalouchibam, Alexa Casale, Alyssa Byerly, Anga Graczyk, and Kathleen Vogt

ReMoved: Understanding Foster Care

This video informs the general public about the impacts the foster care system can have on children and youth. We presented the film to promote advocacy for children in order to educate others about this important issue, as well as inform the public about ways they, as individuals, can make a difference. Next year we will expand our reach across other campuses!

Demi Khoury, Hannah Williams, and Cordelia Franklin

Promoting the Arts for Middle School Students

Lillian Nguyen, Marianna Moore, and Karen Robles

Being of Service to Others

Haley Houser and Sydney Johnson

Promoting Safety

Alexsia Chitwood

Preparing for College

Makinzi Myers and Alexa Casale

Honesty Among Middle School Students

These videos foster the development of the Search Institute's Developmental Assets. Developmental Assets combat youth risk factors and are aimed to foster overall well-­‐being. The videos will be uploaded on Santa Clara County's Project Cornerstone YMCA's website where children, teens, parents and community members can benefit from this resource.

Emma Ellis

Developing a Resilient Families Program for Children at Sunday Friends

A description of a program, structure and rationale, designed for preschool children focused on mindful awareness which will be implemented at SundayFriends in Fall 2016.

Bianca De La Piedra, Roberto Gil and Julie Vaccaro

Community Views of the Resilient Families Program

A video showing community responses to the Resilient Families Program at Sacred Heart Community Center.



Sonya Chalaka and Dr. Kirsten Read, Psychology Department

The Role of Rhyme in Language Learning

Among preschool-aged children, vocabulary growth is the bedrock of language learning, which serves as an excellent predictor of future academic success. Previous research has demonstrated that predictability enables more efficient word learning (Arnon & Clark, 2011; Read, 2014). Our study furthers this idea, determining whether rhyme can facilitate word predictability even without explicit knowledge of rhyme as a literary device. In a two-phase story game experiment, 2-to-5- year-old children were read short stories; children were placed into one of two-story conditions. In both conditions, the final word in each story was missing and three pictures were presented as fill in-the-blank options for story completion. In the rhyming condition children heard, for example, Dan went for a jog, with his friend who is a…, and were presented with the picture choices (1) cat, (2) bird, or (3) dog. In the control or non-rhyming condition children heard, for example, Dan went for a run, with his friend who is a…, and were presented with the same picture choices. Children in the rhyming condition chose the correct picture significantly above chance, while children in the nonrhyme group chose the correct picture at chance level. These findings demonstrate that even without explicit knowledge of rhyme, preschool-age children can still use rhyme to anticipate familiar words in unfamiliar stories, which may improve children's retention of words from rhymes. In phase two, we attempted to explain this rhyme ability by measuring overall language ability with a vocabulary assessment and a pattern detection ability test. However, neither of these measures predicted performance on the story completion task, suggesting that the use of rhyme for language learning and retention is a unique skill available to preschool-aged children. This finding opens up an avenue of future research on the promising role of rhyme in language development.

Erin Furay and Dr. Kirsten Read, Psychology Department

The Benefits of Strategic Pauses in Storybook Reading with Young Children

Two people stand by a presentation titled

Children benefit from storybook reading when they predict and reflect on novel words during dialogic reading (e.g., Whitehurst et al., 1998). Prior research has established a positive relationship between how often parents dramatically pause before target vocabulary, allowing children to make a guess to complete a sentence, and how well that vocabulary is later retained and learned (e.g., Read, Macauley & Furay, 2014). Evans et al. (2011) also showed that pausing after new information during storybook reading and asking a child to reflect can benefit the child’s vocabulary retention. However, research has yet to experimentally differentiate between these dialogic reading methods; the present study compares the effects of both location and type of prompting or pausing on children’s novel vocabulary retention. Our stories featured novel monsters named at the end of rhyming stanzas, making the monsters’ names maximally predictable and memorable (e.g., Read, 2014). Half the children were randomly assigned to a “pretarget”condition, in which the experimenter either silently paused for 3 seconds prior to saying the monster’s name (e.g., “This funny monster’s called a …smooze”) or asked, “What’s he called?” during the pretarget pause. In a “posttarget” condition,children either heard the story with silent pauses inserted after the monsters’ names, but beforepage turns, or the same question, “What’s he called?” asked after the monsters’ names. We measured children’s accuracy in novel monster name identification with multiplechoicetest trials after the stories. Results from 28 participants show a significant interaction ( p =0.02) between location of the pause (preorposttarget) and whether it was silent or filled. When the reader paused just before monster names, children retained those names more often with a silent pause than with a,“What’s he called?” prompt. However, when the pause came after the monsters’ names, the effect was reversed; children remembered more novel monsters when prompted to repeat their names with a, “What’s he called?” than with a silent pause. Thus, pausing before versus after target information may encourage different routes to learning, but how the child is prompted along each route makes a difference.

Aishah Salihue

The Importance of Good Quality Secondary Education

This is a research paper about the importance of comprehensive and well established secondary education and the elements needed to create such a education system. This paper focuses on the following elements; increased financial stability, increased chance of success later in life, teach students important life skills (how to utilize resources, take initiative, work with others), provide stability at a time of great change in students' lives (latter half of teenage years), and personalized and integrative learning opportunities for students.

Chelsea Andon

Empowering Girls Through Education

For my capstone, I chose to research the relationship and current realities of girls’ education, specifically in developing nations. By doing so, I examined how traditional and societal values impacted a young girl’s access to education while understanding how education worked to empower girls in their studies, their goals and their ambitions.



Misja Ilcisin, Shelby Crespi, Elizabeth Sherwin, Julie Vaccaro, Saron Goitom, Maggie May and Barbara Burns

Serving Latino Families Affected by Trauma with Evidence-Based Community Interventions

Three people in front of a poster on Latino families.

Serving Latino Families Affected by Trauma with Evidence-Based Community Interventions Latin@s in the United States are disproportionately impacted by poverty, community violence, stress, and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). These stressors affect parents’ abilities to maintain a stable environment for their families. The Resilient Families Program (RFP) utilizes the science behind resilience to develop a culturally relevant program designed to strengthen the key factors of resilience: stress management, emotional regulation, attachment and executive functioning.

Misja Ilcisin, Shelby Crespi, Elizabeth Sherwin, Julie Vaccaro, Saron Goitom, Maggie May and Barbara Burns

The Resilient Families Program: Promotoras

Three people standing in front of the

The Resilient Families Program (RFP) is a community-based intervention designed to strengthen stress management, emotional regulation, attachment and executive functioning-the necessary components of resilience. The RFP team trained past RFP participants as community leaders, promotoras, at Sacred Heart Community Services and Washington Elementary. The promotoras now lead the RFP program, improving their communication and leadership skills while further promoting the habits of resilience in their community.

Shelby Crespi, Stephanie Dong, Emily Fayram, Misja Ilcicin, and Molly Schuller

The Resilient Families Program: Train the Trainer in Louisville, KY

From March 22 - 24th 2016, Dr. Burns and five members of the Resilient Families Program (RFP) team traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to provide a 3-day training on RFP for stakeholders in various community organizations. On the first day the RFP team gave background research on RFP’s theory of change and the RFP program. Additionally, the team helped identify shared goals with community partners. The second day was focused on the core components of RFP, the six RFP workshops, and the rationale for the Resilient Families games and mindfulness exercises. On the final day the team worked with attendees to successfully tailor the RFP program to their diverse community settings.\

Cordelia Franklin, Kathryn Franke, Stephanie Dong, Shawna Richardson and Molly Schuller

Commemorating The Resilient Families Program at Sacred Heart Community Service: A Mural

Two women standing beside a scientific poster presentation.

Artistic expression and game play are significant components of the Resilient Families Program. Mothers and children work to strengthen their bond through purposeful games and crafts. To commemorate this important relationship, we have planned, designed, and executed a 4’ x 8’ RFP mural to be installed outside the SHCS preschool classroom. This mural will symbolize the important role that SHCS has played in shaping RFP and our hope to continue instilling resilience within our community in partnership with SHCS. We also hope to create a life-size game board for our Race to Success game to further foster executive functioning skills and cognitive development.

Four people are standing in front of a decorated bulletin board.

Emily Fayram, Cordelia Franklin, Kathryn Franke, Stephanie Dong, Shawna Richardson, Molly Schuller, and Barbara Burns

Traumatic Stress in Latino Preschool Children

Two people looking at posters on a wall in a preschool.

The Resilient Families Program Child Team have conducted extensive research regarding traumatic stress in Latino preschool children with the ultimate goal of publishing a paper entitled Traumatic Stress in Latino Preschool Children. The purpose of this article is to review literature surrounding trauma in Latino children so that we can best address this trauma through the Resilient Families Program (RFP). The location of RFP is the primarily Latino community in the Washington neighborhood in San Jose, CA. Research findings from this project will further guide how to address the impacts of trauma and stress on Latino preschool children in order to better serve this community.

Shawna Richardson, Molly Schuller, Cordelia Franklin, Katie Franke, and Stephanie Dong

Continuing the Habits of Resilience: Extending the RFP Curriculum

The majority of children who attend preschool at Sacred Heart Community Service have participated in the Resilient Families Program (RFP) multiple times. In order to extend RFP to further engage these children, we developed a new curriculum to further promote appropriate early childhood functioning. The foundation of our curriculum is the creation of three separate stations that the children rotated between during the duration of our sessions. As part of the curriculum, the children were presented with the option to choose from one of the three stations (sensory play, mindful movement, or games designed to promote executive functioning) at which they could begin their rotation. The ultimate goal of this new curriculum was to foster autonomy in the preschool children at SHCS through providing them with opportunities to think independently. The process of the mastery of these stations demonstrates that the children at SHCS have a healthy parental attachment and a strong sense of safety.

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