Research

Current Projects and Research Focus

Teacher stress: Understanding behavioral and psychophysiological correlates of high-quality teacher-child interactions (A multi-country project)

Collaborators:

  • In the UAE: Professor Lydia Barza, Zayed University Abu Dhabi
  • In Finland: Professor Marja-Kristiina Lerkkanen, University of Jyväskylä
  • In Kosovo: Dr. Fitim Uka, University of Prishtina “Hasan Prishtina", Kosovo

Funded By:

  • Zayed University Research Incentive Fund # R15114
  • New York University Abu Dhabi Research Enhancement Fund 2017

Project Summary

The primary goal of the study is to understand role that stress response regulation plays in potentially promoting or inhibiting a teacher’s ability to provide positive teacher-child interactions. More specifically, the project aims to explore whether the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis regulation relates to the quality of teacher-child interactions through its impact on teachers’ executive functioning. Moreover, it aims to explore similarities and differences in the patterns of associations across four different educational contexts. The second goal of the study is to investigate direct and indirect relations between teacher-child interactions and kindergarten students’ emerging academic outcomes.

For a subsample of teachers from the UAE and Finland, mobile eye-tracking glasses were used to measure teachers’ visual attention during classroom interactions. This part of the project aims to contribute to a new model of understanding the mechanisms underlying teacher professional vision, as barriers or facilitators, to high-quality instruction. The goal is (1) to explore teachers’ visual attention during classroom interactions and to link teachers’ eye gaze to key events in classroom interactions and students’ learning; and (2) to investigate the cultural nature of teachers’ visual attention and identify specific differences and similarities among patterns of visual attention in a sample of teachers from the United Arab Emirates and Finland.

Research Brief —Patterns of Dialogic Teaching (PDF)

Selected Publications


Through parents’ eyes: Exploring parents’ eye gaze during parent-child interactions (A cross-cultural comparison)

Collaborator:

  • In Germany: Professor Joscha Kärtner, Westfälische Wilhelms-University Münster
  • In China: Professor Florrie Ng, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Funded By:

  • New York University – University Research Challenge Fund

Project Summary

Exploring parents’ eye gaze can shed light on how parents cognitively process key events in parent-child interactions. Such knowledge is essential for understanding the dynamics of social processes or interactions between a parent and the child. Eye movements are thought to provide an indicator of the focus of attention at any given moment. The project uses advanced mobile eye-tracking technology to measure parents’ eye gaze in real-time while they interact with their child. The goal of the project is to explore parents’ visual attention during three different everyday parenting situations (play, book-reading, receiving a gift) and link parents’ eye gaze to key events in parent-child interactions.

Selected Publications


Exploring the feasibility of physiological measures in the study of caregiver-child interactions in humanitarian and fragile settings

Collaborators:

  • In Jordan:
    • Dr. Rana Dajani, We Love Reading and  Hashemite University (Co-Investigator)
  • Dr. Alice Wuermli, NYU Steinhardt School, Global TIES for Children
  • Professor Paul Hastings, UC Davis

Funded By:

  • 2019 Global TIES for Children: NYU Abu Dhabi Faculty Seed Award

Project Summary

In recent years, intervention research identified program implementation as key aspect to gain insights into a program’s effectiveness. The project aims to have a careful look at the feasibility of assessment procedures in humanitarian and fragile settings. A major challenge is the development of sensitive and accurate yet culturally-appropriate measures. This might be particularly relevant for physiological measures that can provide proxies for underlying psychological processes, such as stress. Recent technological innovations make it possible to take classically lab-based physiological measures into real-life settings. Yet, most measures have been used thus far in predominately stable, economically developed contexts. Implementing physiological measures in humanitarian and fragile settings may involve cultural challenges regarding the measures’ applicability and feasibility. The goal of this project is (1) to test physiological measures in the study of caregiver-child interactions in humanitarian and fragile settings, and (2) to investigate caregiver-child synchrony (or asynchrony) as physiological covariation (i.e., the amount of correlation between caregiver’s and child’s physiology within a single time period that is believed to result from shared experiences or environments). 

The project is aligned with a larger initiative at NYU’s Global TIES for Children, i.e., Sesame Seeds, a large-scale early childhood development program in humanitarian and fragile settings (PIs Drs. Hirokazu Yoshikawa and Alice Wuermli), to inform the implementation of the Sesame Seeds Home component. Sesame Seeds Home, a caregiving program delivered through home visits and mobile messages, targets the most high-risk families with children ages 8 and younger affected by the Syrian humanitarian crisis; a main goal is to reduce the impact of stress on the well-being of the family and to support caregivers in providing their children with a nurturing environment to help them reach their full developmental potential.