Applied Educational Psychology Program Researches Response to Ferguson in the Classroom

| March 3, 2015
Applied Educational Psychology: Ferguson

Stiles and Falconer led students in presenting their research on Ferguson at the 32nd Winter Roundtable.

Media outlets from around the world descended on Ferguson in 2014 covering the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting and putting St. Louis in a global spotlight. News stories focused on the facts and rumors of the case, the effect on businesses, racial history of the area, civil rights and the response of law enforcement.

Students and faculty members in Webster University’s School of Education saw one group that was not getting the media’s focus – children and youth in schools.

“After Aug. 9 we started thinking about what could we do and how can we help the kids in schools because nobody was talking about how children and teens might be affected,” said Deborah Stiles, professor of Applied Educational Psychology and School Psychology in the Webster University School of Education. “The overwhelming majority of students in the Applied Educational Psychology programs are working in area schools – they’re on the front lines. We knew we had to take our knowledge of psychology and bring that understanding to children and youth in schools.”

Applied Educational Psychology: Ferguson

Student in multiple School of Education courses worked together for more than five months discussing, studying, and writing about schools’ responses to the Michael Brown shooting and the resulting crisis in St. Louis.

The School of Education quickly created a class called “The Impact of Community Violence and Racial Strife on Children and Youth in St. Louis Schools.” Students of that class along with additional students from an Applied Research class and other Applied Educational Psychology programs worked together for more than five months discussing, studying, and writing about schools’ responses to the Michael Brown shooting and the resulting crisis in St. Louis.

The investigation included analyzing data from 54 schools, reviewing Ferguson lesson plans and curricula, studying media coverage, and interviewing two inspirational school administrators in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting.

Stiles, along with Jameca Falconer, an adjunct instructor at Webster University, and students in the class presented the findings of the research at the 32nd Annual Winter Roundtable at Teachers College in Columbia University. The Winter Roundtable is the longest running continuing professional education program in the United States devoted solely to cultural issues in psychology and education.

“We found that most schools had a minimal response to the Ferguson crisis,” said Stiles. “Some schools had a moment of silence ‘for peace’; some told staff that they should change the subject if Ferguson were to come up in the classroom.”

Early childhood and elementary educators faced challenges in figuring out a healthy way to raise the subject that was appropriate for the age and emotional development of students.

Read the full story of their research and findings in the news room at webster.edu.

Tags: , ,

Category: Faculty, St. Louis Campus News, Student Affairs and News

Comments (3)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Thomas Cornell says:

    Dr. Stiles and her students are to be commended for doing this research. Our children are our future leaders and how we help them through these experiences can shape how they respond to similar situations as adults.

  2. Francine Case, Office of Academic Affairs says:

    That’s terrific! Congratulations!!
    & sharing..
    There is a child-friendly book, with actual artwork from Ferguson and South Grand.
    Painting For Peace in Ferguson. By Carol Swartout Klein
    If you haven’t seen it, it’s on my desk.
    I think you will really enjoy it!

  3. Debbie Stiles, Ph.D. says:

    The recipients of the Shining Light Award will be Dr. Debbie Stiles, the Applied Educational Psychology and School Psychology students who made major contributions to the research study, and adjunct faculty member Dr. Jameca Falconer. Here is a list of the students who made major contributions to the study on schools’ responses to the Ferguson crisis: Ria Jackson, Lauren Klaus, Francesca DiMaggio, Chloe Randle, Abigail Birhanu, Jonathan Haynes, Nadja Cajic, Selma Kostic, Jeff Moyer, Sonja Brewer, Linda Moss, Anne Mayes, Elizabeth McMullen, Katie Reft, Jane Lucas, and Rhonda Unger.