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Debbie O'Leary
School of Education

Richard Doty
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Thursday, May 15, 2003

Learning Matters

News tips about education from Indiana University

A project in Marion County designed to coordinate services for children with emotional and behavioral challenges and their families is leading to improvements in functioning for the young people who participate, according to recent research findings by two IUPUI professors. Additionally, the younger the child, the more likely it is that significant improvements will occur during the first six months of involvement. The Dawn Project, which started in 1997 and has served over 700 young people with the most serious mental health needs and their families in Marion County, integrates the principles of systems of care and wraparound, within a care management framework. The goal is to coordinate services, put the family at the center of all decision-making, develop and strengthen natural supports, and improve outcomes for kids at home, in school and in the community. Education Professor Jeffrey Anderson, co-principal investigator, and Sociology Professor Eric Wright, principal investigator, are conducting a six-year longitudinal study of the project, and recently they held their fourth Annual Dawn Project Evaluation Study Briefing for the Indianapolis community. In sum, they reported that Dawn appears to be reaching its target population and that its ability to use flexible funding seems to be a critical ingredient in its success. They also found that local leaders in children's services view Dawn as being associated with some positive changes in Marion County, including improved system-level communication, dissemination of strengths-based approaches, and increased levels of authentic family involvement. "Obviously, we still have a long way to go to fully support children with serious mental health needs and their families. However, the evidence is starting to accumulate that the Dawn Project system of care approach is having a variety of positive impacts on children and their families, and also on the wider child-serving systems in the community," Anderson said. Anderson can be reached at 317-274-6809 or The briefings are available at

The first cohort in the new early childhood education program recently graduated from the School of Education. The innovative program integrates special education and diversity training throughout the redesigned two-year program. "One class dealing with special education and diversity simply was not enough experience and education for early education students," explained Mary Benson McMullen, associate professor in curriculum and instruction at the School of Education in Bloomington. The new format infuses diversity and multi-literacy education into each course of the program. Faculty members from a variety of education disciplines collaborate to plan the coursework and class structure and perform administrative duties. "It's not an easy prospect collaborating effectively across disciplines," McMullen said. "Many faculty members are in compartmentalized programs. We've all really got to come out and participate to make this work well." The program, which took years to plan and involved discussions between many education stakeholders, has been a hit with students. "The first cohort really participated and provided us invaluable feedback," she said. "They call themselves the guinea pigs." For more information on the new early education program in the School of Education, contact McMullen at 812-856-8196 or

Maximum accreditation has been achieved for the IU School of Education. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education accredited for the maximum five-year period all professional education offerings at the school for both the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses. Strengths of the school that were praised by NCATE include the high quality of the faculty and its production of scholarly works, along with the availability of sophisticated computer technology for the students. School of Education Dean Gerardo Gonzalez said, "Accreditation means that we have been recognized by the profession for excellence and our commitment to quality teacher preparation. We take great pride in preparing knowledgeable educators who demonstrate the skills needed for successful entry into their chosen field." For more information, contact Gonzalez at 812-856-8001 or

Teachers can study coral reefs firsthand this summer through a pilot program in the Caribbean that is coordinated through the Underwater Science Program at IU Bloomington. High school and elementary school science teachers will visit Bonaire in the Netherlands Antilles June 14-22 to pursue snorkeling or scuba diving at the Bonaire Marine Park. "This is one of the world's most beautiful, accessible and oldest marine protected areas," said Charles Beeker, who directs the Underwater Science Program in the IU School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. The goal of the project, which is coordinated with the Teachers Field School in Columbus, Ind., is to allow the participating teachers to incorporate their field experience into classroom teaching plans. Activities at Bonaire will include daily lectures and snorkeling or diving. For more information, contact Beeker at 812-855-5748, or visit the Teachers Field School Web page at

A compact pocket guide to help students select a college is available at no cost through the National Survey of Student Engagement at the IU School of Education in Bloomington. The guide lists questions that prospective students should ask to help them determine how much they will learn, grow and develop during their collegiate years. The questions are organized into categories such as academic challenge, campus environment, out-of-class experience, active learning, student-faculty interaction, diversity and technology. "The answers will give students a more realistic basis on which to compare institutions before they decide to apply or where to attend," said George Kuh, director of NSSE and Chancellor's Professor in the IU School of Education. NSSE annually surveys students at hundreds of colleges and universities to determine how involved they are in the learning process and the extent to which their institutions use effective educational practices. For more information, contact NSSE toll-free at 866-435-6773 or