Chore or stress reliever: Study suggests that washing dishes decreases stress

September 30, 2015 Leave a comment


CONTACT: Kelli Gemmer, College of Education
(850) 645-4637;

September 2015


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Washing those dreadful dishes after a long day seems like the furthest thing from relaxation. Or is it?

Student and faculty researchers at Florida State University have found that mindfully washing dishes calms the mind and decreases stress.

Published in the journal Mindfulness, the study looked at whether washing dishes could be used as an informal contemplative practice that promotes a positive state of mindfulness — a meditative method of focusing attention on the emotions and thoughts of the present moment.

“I’ve had an interest in mindfulness for many years, both as a contemplative practitioner and a researcher,” said Adam Hanley, a doctoral candidate in FSU College of Education’s Counseling/School Psychology program and one of the study’s authors. “I was particularly interested in how the mundane activities in life could be used to promote a mindful state and, thus, increase overall sense of well-being.”

After conducting a study with 51 students, the researchers found that mindful dishwashers — those who focused on the smell of the soap, the warmth of the water, the feel of the dishes — reported a decrease in nervousness by 27 percent and an increase in mental inspiration by 25 percent. The control group, on the other hand, didn’t experience any benefits.

The research team also included Alia Warner and Vincent Delhili, doctoral candidates at Florida State; Angela Canto, assistant professor at Florida State; and Eric Garland, associate professor at University of Utah.


Alumnus Damon Andrew named active fellow in the National Academy of Kinesiology

September 28, 2015 Leave a comment
Damon Andrew

Damon Andrew

Alumnus Damon Andrew was named an active fellow in the National Academy of Kinesiology, an organization that honors persons who have directly or indirectly contributed significantly to the study of and/or application of the art and science of human movement and physical activity.

“I am most flattered and humbled to be welcomed into this group, and I look forward to working with the many thought-leaders in NAK to continue to advance the field of kinesiology as a whole,” Andrew said.

Andrew graduated from the FSU College of Education in 2004 with his Ph.D. in Sports Administration (currently Sport Management) and also served as coordinator of academic support services for the division of undergraduate studies during his time at FSU. He now serves as dean and E.B. “Ted” Robert Endowed Professor of the LSU College of Human Sciences and Education.

Prior to LSU, he was dean and professor of the College of Health and Human Services at Troy University. He has taught at the University of South Alabama, University of Florida, and Florida State University. His research productivity includes a textbook, 27 funded grants and contracts, and over 120 peer-reviewed articles, reviews, proceedings, and book chapters. Last year, Andrew was awarded the 2014 FSU College of Education Distinguished Alumni Award for Postsecondary Systems: University.

Read the press release by LSU to learn more about Andrew’s accomplishment.

FSU receives funding to enhance suicide prevention interventions

September 23, 2015 Leave a comment

Dr. Marty Swanbrow Becker

A Florida State University project is seeking to enhance existing campus suicide prevention interventions by providing more accessible resources to academic departments across campus.

The Noles CARE in Academics project will provide training to faculty, staff and students within the university’s academic departments to localize sources of support in the learning environment of students and to encourage early detection of student distress and referrals for professional help.

The project emerged as a collaborative effort from the FSU Healthy Campus 2020 Mental Health Team and the need to improve the suicide prevention resources within FSU academic departments. The goal is to increase the percentage of faculty, staff and students who feel competent identifying and intervening with individuals in distress.

“Through this project, we hope to expand our suicide prevention training and make suicide prevention resources more available to our campus community of faculty, staff and more than 40,000 students,” said Marty Swanbrow Becker, an assistant professor in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, whose research focuses on campus suicide prevention training.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is providing $306,000 over three years to fund the project.

The project will incorporate specific components into the training that address high-risk groups, such as members of the LGBTQ community, those identifying as racial or ethnic minority students, and student veterans. To facilitate the suicide prevention efforts across academic departments, the team will assess training needs across campus, build a sustainable infrastructure of easily accessible mental health resources and help shift the campus culture to encourage members of the FSU community who are considering suicide to seek help.

Swanbrow Becker is the principal investigator and is joined by members of the FSU Healthy Campus 2020 Mental Health Team on the project. They are: Amy Magnuson, health promotion director; Randi Mackintosh, director of outreach, University Counseling Center; Hillary Singer, coordinator of FSU Noles CARE Suicide Prevention Program, University Counseling Center; Thomas Joiner, Department of Psychology, and Philip Osteen, College of Social Work, who are FSU faculty members and national experts on understanding and treating suicidal behaviors; Ludmila De Faria, psychiatrist and FSU faculty member; Melissa Bolen, clinical coordinator of the Employee Assistance Program; and Darren MacFarlane, assistant dean of students and director of case management services.

For information on Florida State’s suicide prevention efforts, visit

You can also listen to Swanbrow Becker’s interview about the program with WFSU here.

Categories: EPLS, Faculty Tags: ,

Six FSU-Teach students receive Robert Noyce Scholarship

September 17, 2015 Leave a comment
FSU Teach


Six FSU-Teach students were named Robert Noyce Scholars for 2015-2016.

The Robert E. Noyce Scholarship Program was awarded to Florida State University as a Phase II grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant entitled: Preparing and Supporting Equitable Teaching in Mathematics and Science Classrooms: The FSU-Teach Noyce Program, is a collaboration between the College of Education (Dr. Sherry Southerland, Dr. Christy Andrews-Larson), the College of Arts and Sciences (Dr. Joseph Travis. Dr. Alex Kercheval), and the College of Engineering (Dr. Chiang Shih). This collaborative effort aims to bring highly qualified STEM students into high needs classrooms through scholarships to students with strong content background who are committed to learning to teach effectively in high needs settings.

Congratulations to the following students on becoming 2015-2016 Robert Noyce Scholars:

Nancy Narvaez-Garcia: FSU-Teach- Geosciences
Natalie Concepcion: FSU-Teach- Chemical Science
Ray Jackson: FSU-Teach- Chemical Science
Jazmine Sanjuan: FSU-Teach- Chemical Science
Vandie Joseph: FSU-Teach- Biology
Jenise Russell: FSU-Teach- Mathematics

Perez-Felkner finds social support in schools is key to student success

September 14, 2015 Leave a comment

CONTACT: Lara Perez-Felkner, FSU College of Education
(850) 645-8450;

September 2015


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A new Florida State University study of underrepresented high school students suggests that schools can increase student success by facilitating social support structures that enhance students’ perceptions of value and esteem for their potential.

Lara Perez-Felkner, an assistant professor of higher education and sociology and a senior research associate at Florida State’s Center for Postsecondary Success (CPS), published the study in the journal Teachers College Record. The three-year study analyzed the variation in students’ educational pathways to college by specifically asking “How can the social context of schools keep underrepresented minority students on track to transition to college?”

Perez-Felkner, using a case study of a predominantly Latino and low-income urban charter school, found that students observe and value support from teachers and peers, embedded within the school’s social context. Collectively, highly structured support networks appear to have a positive effect on student’s college transition outcomes.

“These kids work hard to get ready for college, and the stress on them and their families can take a toll,” Perez-Felkner said. “Some students seemed more likely to persist through these challenging years if they perceive support from their teachers and peers.”

The study responds to the myriad school reform efforts that are attempting to address stratification in black and Latino students’ access to higher education through extensive reform initiatives. Crucially, these efforts have not sufficiently focused on how students experience these reforms, which is essential to improving the effectiveness of support mechanisms and understanding why they have been insufficient.

“Even today, the schools most often attended by underrepresented students tend to offer fewer resources and support,” Perez-Felkner said. “While local, state and national reform efforts have targeted academic and structural dimensions of schooling, measures of their success rarely take the student perspective into account.”

The study employed traditional metrics such as college placement and academic preparation, while leveraging detailed analysis of the social fabric of the school as a potential support network to paint a detailed picture of the nuanced and at times fraught pursuit of what is increasingly a universal aspiration: college.

Nearly all students in the study encountered hurdles threatening to derail their college ambitions. Five primary and at times interrelated stressors emerged: academic grades, predicted stereotype threat, family responsibilities, family estrangement and burnout.

Among other things, the researcher measured school regard — the feeling students had that adults at school as well as their peers believed in them during stressful times, and specifically, how they regarded their capacity for educational success.

“School regard was associated with students’ persistence through the transition to college — and to stronger colleges — even in the face of academic, socioeconomic, and personal challenges,” Perez-Felkner said.

As recommendations for school and policy leaders, the study underscores that while enhancing rigor and pedagogy are effective for well-resourced students, the non-academic challenges often encountered by underrepresented students can get in the way of their ability to respond to these reforms. Therefore, interventions to help students achieve a more positive school-life balance and manage non-academic stress may enhance underrepresented students’ successful transitions to college.

“Having school-based allies who think they are intelligent, capable, and worthy of pursuing and realizing their college ambition can be a crucial factor in keeping underrepresented students on-track to successfully transition to college,” Perez-Felkner said. “Schools should be organized in a way that students have the opportunity to develop close relationships at school, which can enhance and reinforce their aspirations to go to and graduate from college.”

Finally, the study notes that attempts to evaluate school effectiveness may problematically underemphasize students’ interpretation of these reform efforts. Rather, students’ perceptions of their school context may be more accurate measure of their success.

The research was funded by the Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship for Research Related to Education, with additional support from National Science Foundation, the American Educational Research Association and the Pathways to Adulthood Programme.

For more information, read the CPS policy brief with a summary of key findings and implications or the full article.


Research by mathematics education professor featured in Education Week

September 10, 2015 Leave a comment

Dr. Kathy Clark

Dr. Kathy Clark, associate professor of mathematics education, was featured in an article by Education Week regarding an NSF-funded project that she is working on.

Under a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Clark and six other university math professors are writing lesson plans around primary sources which they’ll then pilot with students around the country. While this is a common practice in history and English classes, it is rare in the math world. The idea, based on earlier grant-funded work, is that understanding the origins of important mathematical concepts will help students fully grasp and remember them later, and that exploring mathematicians’ motivations will be inspiring for students.

For Clark, who is a principal investigator, the project is about enhancing students’ ability to build their own mathematical arguments. She explains to Education Week that students who are learning Pascal’s triangle and “have gone through the words of the actual authority from 1654, when they go to work on problems based on that mathematical concept, we hope their articulation will be more nuanced because they’ve had this rich experience.”

Before Clark was a faculty member in the FSU College of Education, she taught high school for 12 years. In her work as a high school math teacher, she periodically used primary sources with her students and found them beneficial. “That’s a missed resource in high school teaching today,” she said. “I hardly see math students in high school open a book for anything other than math exercises. It perpetuates this notion that math is just a bunch of exercises you do—you crunch numbers and solve for x.” Through primary sources, students learn to “tear apart the mathematics and the meaning and put it together at the end.”

You can read the full article by Education Week here.

Sport Management alumna wins first professional golf tournament

September 8, 2015 Leave a comment
Caroline Westrup

Caroline Westrup (B.S. ’09 Sport Management)
Photo: Ron Ranew &

Caroline Westrup, FSU College of Education alumna and the only four-time All-American in the history of the Florida State women’s golf team, won her first professional golf tournament at the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge at the Willow Run Golf Course in Sioux Fall, South Dakota.

Westrup graduated in 2009 with her bachelor’s degree in Sport Management. While in school, she was also a member of the Florida State women’s golf team (2006-09). During each of her four seasons as a Seminole, she helped lead Florida State to the NCAA Tournament. As the only four-time All-American and the four-time All-ACC selection in school history, Westrup is considered to be the greatest golfer in school history.

The Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge is part of the Symetra Tour – a tour that leads to the LPGA Tour. The top 10 at the end of the season will receive 2016 LPGA Tour cards. Westrup won this tournament just four weeks after applying for a job as an assistant college coach and coming close to quitting professional golf.

“A couple of weeks ago I was ready to stop playing and now four weeks later here I am winning my first tournament,” Westrup told “This is a life changer for me. I couldn’t believe that I had won; that it had finally happened for me. The first call I made was to my parents and I’ve gotten about 40 congratulatory texts and emails. It’s such a great feeling that there are so many Seminoles following me even after the years it has been since I graduated from Florida State.”

Westrup’s accomplishment has been featured in USA Today, Yahoo News, and


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