COEHD students to participate in 2024 UMaine Student Symposium

Several University of Maine College of Education and Human Development students are set to present research at the 2024 UMaine Student Symposium (UMSS) on Friday, April 12, part of Maine Impact Week.

UMSS is an opportunity for UMaine students to showcase their research and creative works through posters, oral presentations and exhibits. Projects cover a range of topics in the arts, health care, science, engineering and education.

This year’s symposium is being held at the New Balance Field House and Memorial Gym from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Here’s a list of presentations featuring COEHD students:

Title: Where Are the Girls? A Content Analysis of the Top 30 Box Office Children’s Fiction Movies
Author(s): Taylor Richardson, Emma Gold, Eleanor Buskey, Genesis Madu
Faculty Mentor: Sandra Caron
Abstract: This study examined the inclusion of girls and women in children’s movies. Several studies have discussed children’s movies and the prominent role of boys and men in films. This study involved a content analysis of children’s fiction movies to determine what female characters are found in children’s movies and what role they play in the storylines of these movies. Specifically, we analyzed how female characters are portrayed in a sample of 30 top box-office children’s movies between the years 1994-2023. As the highest-grossing children’s movies, these are the films viewed by the largest audience and received the most attention from viewers. We sought to examine how female characters are portrayed in the most popular films. We coded female characters as playing either a major, secondary, or minor role, based on how often they were seen within the trailers, as well as their place in the cast list from the synopsis. Additional analyses examined the female character’s role in the film, her position within a family unit, whether she had a love interest, as well as her race, and appearance/body size.

Title: Adoption Option: A Content Analysis of Adoption Agency Websites
Author(s): Caroline Wheeler, Hailey Andrews
Faculty Mentor: Sandra Caron
Abstract: The National Council for Adoption (NCA) is the leading resource on adoption issues in the United States, providing an online directory of agencies for those interested in adoption. The purpose of our study was to conduct a content analysis of adoption agency websites listed by NCA to see what information is readily available for those individuals or couples interested in adopting. Our research focused on 20 randomly selected adoption agency websites obtained from their directory. We examined the content provided by each adoption agency’s website for similarities and common themes. We identified common themes, such as information on pregnancy services for those making an adoption plan, cost of adoption, application information, foster care services, and countries that agencies work with for international adoptions. Based on our analysis, we were able to “paint a picture” of what someone interested in adopting would find on an adoption agency’s website. Our findings and a discussion of implications will be presented.

Title: The Impact of Shooter Attacks at U.S. School: An Analysis of Gun Legislation Introduced Following School Shootings
Author(s): Ashley Cray, Carleigh DeMarco, Abigail Lynch, Brianna Russo
Faculty Mentor: Sandra Caron
Abstract: Gun violence is a public health crisis in America. More than 110 people are killed every single day by gun violence, and at least 200 more are wounded. Firearms are now the number one cause of death for children in the United States, surpassing motor vehicle deaths and deaths by all other injuries. The United States is an outlier when compared to other developed countries in both its gun death and injury rate and with gun safety regulations. The Columbine High School Shooting, April 20, 1999, is often referred to as the beginning of the school shooting epidemic. School shootings draw attention and discussion about gun policy and legislation. Groups such as “Moms Demand Action” say most Americans favor Common Sense Gun Reform including background checks on all gun sales, red flag laws, secure storage, waiting periods on gun sales, and limits on high-capacity magazines. Our research involved examining what happened in those states after the 12 largest school shootings in U.S. history. We researched the state’s legislative actions that were introduced following each school shooting. Patterns and themes of legislation introduced following each school shooting were identified. In addition, those bills were further examined to determine which ones were successful or unsuccessful in passing and becoming law. Our findings and a discussion of implications will be presented.

Title: Examining the Incidence of Suicide Attempts in Maine: Comparing the Availability of Mental Health Resources by County
Author(s): Emily Labbe, Miranda Gibbons, Olivia Hoovler
Faculty Mentor: Sandra Caron
Abstract: Our research project was designed to investigate the rate of suicide attempts in Maine by county and compare this rate to the number of available mental health services in each county (i.e., psychiatrists and psychologists; targeted case management agencies). We wanted to know if a county had a higher rate of suicide attempts, did it have fewer mental health services? Maine grapples with one of the highest rates of suicide deaths (involving firearms), despite Maine being among the top five states in the U.S. for mental health resources. According to the CDC, Maine’s rate of suicide is 19.5 per 100,000, ranking it very high – number 15 – in suicide mortality in the United States. Our research project sought to understand where the need for additional funding for mental health services is greatest in Maine by looking at the data in the previous year by county: suicide attempts vs mental health resources. Our study looked at each county in Maine. We examined the percentage of attempted suicides in each county in 2022 and compared it with the percentage of licensed psychiatrists and psychologists in each county, as well as the percentage of targeted case management agencies for mental health in each county. Our findings and a discussion of implications will be presented.

Title: Banning Banned Books: Case Studies of Efforts Against Book Challenges and Bans Across the U.S from 2022 to 2023
Author(s): Elisabeth Landry, Joseph Parent, Katelynn Fortier
Faculty Mentor: Sandra Caron
Abstract: In recent years, book challenges and subsequent book bans have steadily increased across the United States. The number of challenged books reported to the American Library Association in 2021 was higher than in the 20 years they’ve been documenting attempted bans. While data was still being collected for 2023, according to ALA there has been a 20% increase in the number of unique titles being challenged just from January 1, 2023, to August 31, 2023. A total of 1,915 books have been challenged during this period. Our research focused on identifying specific examples or case studies of efforts against the banning and challenging of books. We searched the Internet to find examples of groups or communities fighting back against proposed book bans across the United States. We used search terms such as “fighting banned books,” “preventing the banning of books,” “defending rights to read books” and “opposing book banning.” We were interested in finding out where these efforts were taking place and where there had been success in banning the banning of books. Our findings and a discussion of implications will be presented.

Title: Sexuality Education in Central Maine High Schools: What’s Happening Now and What’s Changed in Two Decades
Author(s): Morgan Inman
Faculty Mentor: Sandra Caron
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine sexuality education practices in Central Maine high schools. To do so, interviews were conducted with teachers in those area schools who are responsible for sex education classes. The interviews focused on teacher training, their goals in teaching sex education, the topics they cover, and any other sex education-related activities the school offers. Furthermore, the information obtained from these teacher interviews was compared to the findings of a similar study involving interviews with Central Maine teachers completed in 2000 by a previous UM Honors student. The current study provides a better understanding of the current state of sexuality education programs in these high schools, as well as an understanding of change over time. The findings and a discussion of implications will be presented.

Title: The Ongoing Battle for Sexual Education in the U.S.: A Content Analysis of Policies and Legislation Introduced in 2023
Author(s): Jacob Tuiasosopo, Ana Dunn, Cindy Miller
Faculty Mentor: Sandra Caron
Abstract: Our study examined current legislation that has been introduced and passed in states across the U.S. related to sex education. While there is broad support for sex education, many young people are not receiving it. According to the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS, 2023), only 29 states require some form of sex education. Thirty states require sex education to emphasize abstinence, and 16 states require abstinence-only education. Only five states require that sex education be comprehensive. Only 17 states require that the information related to sexuality be medically accurate. Even though almost every state has some guidelines on how and when sex education should be taught, decisions are often left up to individual school districts, resulting in inconsistent policies. What has happened in communities across the country is that a small, vocal group of people have introduced policies and legislation challenging the teaching of sex education. Our research study involved a content analysis of such policies and legislation introduced in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2023. The SIECUS website served as our source for this analysis. It monitors what policies and legislation are introduced in each state each year. We looked for common themes to determine what topics have been raised by these policies and legislative actions as they relate to sex education in schools. Our findings and a discussion of implications will be presented.

Title: ReMo API
Author(s): Michael Lally, Anthony Attaya-Harris, Tyler Walker, Nicholas Tassinari, Ayan Tariq
Faculty Mentor: Laura Gurney
Abstract: The world is increasingly online, and the field of education is no different. As a result, LiteracyTech is creating an online service to assist teachers in keeping track of their local libraries. In this project, we provide an Application Programmable Interface (API) to facilitate the usage of this platform as an intermediary between the database and the user. The API will support intelligent searching, to include all parameters of a book (ISBN, author, publisher, series, etc) as well as allowing users to filter down their query to get more precise results. This project will allow LiteracyTech to better serve schools and make more reading accessible to all. This API will also provide a way to interact with the LiteracyTech database in JSON format, a widely-supported way to structure information. With this, it would be trivial to build more apps/products supporting schools by reading from this API. A large focus of our project is speed, since past solutions in this field have suffered greatly from the performance needed to support so many concurrent schools/students at once. We are also using MongoDB as the database, which scales well with wide, concurrent usage where more traditional databases do not. In short, this project aims to assist educators and learners alike in sharing the world of reading.

Title: Increasing Access to Aquaculture Using Virtual Tour Technology
Author(s): Jennifer Navarrete
Faculty Mentor: Scarlett Tudor
Abstract: This project is about making an animation explaining the life cycle of one of our animals in our touch tank at CCAR, specifically the lobster. The purpose of doing this is to teach the younger generation about lobsters and their life cycle and how important it is and to inspire the younger generation to care and know the importance of lobster and how it is also crucial for the lobster fishery here in maine. How I am doing this project is all through powerpoint and I am drawing and animating the pieces together and making it fun but also informative so that the kids can both enjoy while being educated on the topic. And how I am doing the animation is by drawing on whatever I want to add in and then I can make it move to the direction I want it to move in powerpoint. It is a mix of cartoon and realism in the animation and it teaches on every detail of the lobster life cycle and how it is also being affected through climate change based on the temperature of the ocean.  There is also an activity that I am working on along with this project for kids to do in school. The activity is about having 4 pictures of animals in our touch tank in different phylums and what the kids would do is based on observation of what animals belong in which phylum. And the pictures would be handed out to the kids so they can start the activity and teach them in the process how some of these species are important for aquaculture and how they benefit the ocean ecosystem.