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Focused Thought 

David Perkins of the Harvard Graduate School of Education chats with graduate students Angela Lui and Diana Akhmedjanova in the Campus Center Ballroom during School of Education Day on Friday. Perkins later delivered the keynote address. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 12, 2016) — “Dave taught me how to think,” said Heidi Andrade, associate professor and associate dean in the School of Education, as she introduced keynote speaker David Perkins at the annual UAlbany School of Education Day. “He taught me that people can be trained to think in the same way that athletes can be trained to use their bodies.”

School of Education (SOE) Day, held this year at the Campus Center on Friday, Sept. 9, is a celebration of recent research conducted by UAlbany faculty and students. More than 180 students, faculty and visitors from around the campus and the Capital Region came to hear 13 paper presentations and a keynote address, and to examine 19 posters in conference style.

“The faculty asked for this,” School of Education Dean Robert Bangert-Drowns said of the annual event. “They told me that we see each other all the time, but we don’t always get the chance to explore each other’s research.”

Featured research was sampled from all the departments of the SOE. Presentations included such topics as the effects of informative feedback on learning and teaching; genetic influences on adolescent behavior; strategies to foster literacy, particularly among disabled and “at risk” students; effects of PCB exposure on adolescent development; cooperative learning in engineering mathematics; fostering young people’s civic engagement; SBIRT training (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment) for professional psychologists; and using technologies to support metacognition and collaborative knowledge-building.

“SOE Day is a great opportunity for our graduate students to meet with faculty as colleagues, exchanging ideas and really learning more about their mentors’ research,” Bangert-Drowns said.

Perkins’ keynote address, “Hacking the Mind,” dealt with identifying simple strategies that can trigger powerful cognitive capabilities and foster learning. A senior professor of education at Harvard Graduate School of Education, Perkins was a founding member of Harvard Project Zero, which studies human symbolic capacities and their development, particularly in creativity and critical thinking. SOE Associate Dean Andrade worked with Perkins and Project Zero for 10 years, prior to joining UAlbany in 2002 in the School of Education’s Division of Educational Psychology and Methodology.

In his opening remarks, Bangert-Drowns noted that educational research draws from many disciplines, including psychology, sociology, economics, genetics, neuroscience, philosophy, business, health, social welfare and law. The School of Education brings those disciplines together, and SOE Day highlights that interdisciplinary work.

“This is an exciting time to be a student and a scholar of education,” he said. “Education has received more national political attention in recent years than ever before, and citizens, parents, politicians and policy-makers are clamoring to find solutions to long-standing educational inequities that result from, and reinforce, social inequities.”

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.