Keynote speaker Russ Whitehurst presents on the topic “Pre-K Research and Social Policy: Be Careful What You Wish For."

Student research recognized

CEHD's 30th annual Marion H. Steele Symposium showcases scholars


3:23 p.m., May 21, 2015--This year marked the 30th anniversary of the Marion H. Steele Research Symposium, held annually by the University of Delaware and coordinated by the College of Education and Human Development.

Fifty students majoring in education, human services and dietetics presented their research papers and posters April 24 at Embassy Suites in Newark, highlighting their knowledge about topics such as writing methodology for first graders, parent advocacy and parent-school discourse, and bullying between students with and without disabilities.

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Over the past three decades, more than 400 undergraduate and graduate students have had the opportunity to showcase their research at this symposium, modeled after professional research conferences. 

The Steele Symposium honors the memory of Marion H. Steele, who graduated from UD in 1928. She began her professional career with the American Home Economics Association before becoming editor of the Journal of Home Economics. She dedicated herself to producing a journal that reflected the strongest research of its time. 

In 1985, J. Rodman Steele Jr., a 1963 engineering alumnus and nephew of Marion Steele, approached the Delaware Home Economics Association, looking to create a memorial to honor his aunt. 

In recognition of Marion Steele’s roots in home economics and family and consumer sciences, students from human development and family studies, fashion and apparel studies, nutrition, dietetics and education are invited to participate.

“Without the support of the Steele family, students would not have this opportunity to share their work among each other and the UD community, and gain professional experience presenting research,” said Lynn Okagaki, dean of the College of Education and Human Development.

Students presented their posters and papers to faculty, friends and staff throughout the day. Awards were given during lunch, followed by a presentation by keynote speaker Grover (Russ) Whitehurst of The Brookings Institution, who spoke on "Pre-K Research and Social Policy: Be Careful What You Wish For."

The 2015 Steele awards were presented to:

  • 1st Place, Graduate Paper Award – Ai Ye, doctorate in education, “Combating the ‘Sophomore Slump:’ Investigating the Contributions of On-campus Living.”
  • 2nd Place, Graduate Paper Award – Alison Hooper, doctorate in human development and family studies, “How Does Early Childhood Teacher Certification Influence Kindergarten and First Grade Students’ Academic Outcomes.”
  • Undergraduate Paper Award – Caroline Cameron, senior in human services, “Policy’s Role in Improving Sex Education in Schools.” 
  • Undergraduate Poster Award – Amanda Dell, senior in dietetics, “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Usage at Farmers Markets.”

Loren Marks, recipient of the 2002 Marion H. Steele Award, spoke highly of his experience, stating, “The Steele Symposium provided my first opportunity to have a solo-authored manuscript reviewed, critiqued and judged by an independent body of reviewers. It was an important day which demonstrated the quality and diversity of research conducted by my peers.”   

Today, Marks holds the Kathryn Norwood and Claude Fussell Chair at Louisiana State University, where he teaches family studies classes and conducts research on family relationships. 

Colleen Leithren, a UD employee pursuing her master of education degree in educational technology, said she was grateful for the experience. “This symposium is a really valuable chance to get our feet wet, overcome fears and practice being comfortable presenting.” 

Rod Steele and his wife, Karen, said they were pleased to attend the 30th anniversary event. “The symposium has progressed nicely over the years, and I hope that it will help trigger future research,” Rod Steele said. “This experience is an opportunity for students to develop the skills needed for leadership positions, as well as gain confidence to set out in the world and have a positive impact.”

Article by Alison Burris

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson and Elizabeth Adams

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