Tag Archives: Michael Wells

Bringing Swedish Lessons to Australia: Presenting at the 16th Annual Helping Families Change Conference

I recently had the opportunity to present some of my research findings at the 16th Annual Helping Families Change Conference (HFCC) in Sydney, Australia. In order to see a list of all the presentations, along with most of their respective powerpoints, click on this HFCC link or click here to read presenters’ abstracts.

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The symposium I was in was called Parenting in a Cross-Cultural Context, and I was able to present next to Dr Rachel Calam from the University of Manchester and PhD Candidate Konstantinos Foskolos (his ResearchGate link) from Oxford University. Another researcher, Dr Susan Stern from the University of Toronto was supposed to present her findings, but unfortunately she fell ill right before the conference.

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Dr. Calam was presenting on behalf of one of her students who couldn’t make it to the conference. They had completed an RCT in central America, showing that parents (mothers) who received Triple P could benefit from the program.

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Konstantinos Foskolos presented his findings from his RCT on Cypriot parents (mothers) receiving Triple P, although some of the findings were not significant.

Below is his powerpoint presentation (click on it to open the full powerpoint):

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I, Michael Wells, along with Dr Raziye Salari presented findings on which background factors mothers and fathers have when comparing those who do and do not participate in a universally-offered, practitioner-led parent support program (Triple P).

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As it turns out from our Swedish sample, mothers possessed 5 characteristics that made them more likely to participate: 1) if they were born in Sweden, 2) had a college degree, 3) were overreactive with their parenting, 4) had a boy, and 5) if they perceived their child as having behavior problems.

Fathers were more likely to participate if they perceived themselves as stressed and if they perceived emotional problems in their children.

Clearly mothers and fathers participated for different reasons. Therefore, when marketing a parent support program or when giving the intervention, practitioners should be aware of the parents’ different needs, especially if trying to recruit and retain fathers.

In other words, just talking about behavior problems in children will not get fathers in the door nor keep them attending sessions–as they are not concerned with this problem, mothers are. Fathers would like more information on how to manage children’s emotional problems.

Additionally, we found that the more background factors a parent had, the more likely they were to attend. Therefore, if mothers were only struggling with behavior problems, but did not have a college degree, were from another country, had a girl, and didn’t overreact when managing their child’s behaviors, then they weren’t likely to attend, even though they could still benefit from the program.

Therefore universally-offered programs may be reaching the parents most in need, but that doesn’t mean they’re reaching all of the parents in need.

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In another symposium entitled Implementation Issues: Current and Future Issues of Significance, my co-researcher, Dr Raziye Salari, gave a presentation. 

Dr Raziye Salari also gave a presentation on marketing parenting programs to families through online advertisements. One picture had a preventative message, while the other showed a promotion ad. The prevention picture is highlighted by a child giving “the finger” while the promotion ad is highlighted by a child giving the peace sign–with the idea being that you either don’t want this to happen to your child or come get the skills so that life can go well.

Dr Salari and her co-researcher, Anna Backman, concluded that while the prevention ad receives more clicks, neither program is more likely to have parents actually sign-up for the parent support program; These findings are contrary to the theoretical work that these researchers found, where parents stated that they would be more likely to join if they saw the promotion ad.

However, both ads may attract different parents, and therefore both types of ads should be used when trying to promote a parent support program to parents.

Click here to read about the conference as a whole.

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My First Newspaper Interview: Head Start, Teacher Retention, and NPR

In the beginning of March 2013, I was contacted by Elle Moxley to do an interview on my preschool teacher retention research.

Elle Moxely works for StateImpact Indiana: A Reporting Project of NPR Member Stations. See Elle’s reporting here.

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She had somehow heard that I had worked for the University of Indianapolis and that I had done research on preschool teachers of Head Start and the reasons they would give for staying or leaving their place of employment (perhaps through my blog). When she contacted me via email though, I, Michael Wells, was already living in Sweden, where I’m a PhD student in Social Pediatrics.

I became quite excited by the prospect of someone picking up my work and wanting to share it with a greater audience. After all, that’s a reason researchers go to conferences–to spread the word about their research findings. Only now someone will come to me!

After explaining that I lived in Sweden, we decided to do the interview via Skype. However, shortly after saying that I was a PhD student in Social Pediatrics, Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Faculty of Medicine, Uppsala University, Elle quickly changed the conversation from discussing Head Start teacher retention issues (which I had researched) to my political thoughts on President Obama’s stance towards early childhood education (which I had not researched)…and then stated that I used to work at the University of Indianapolis (perhaps because that adds more validity to my research than citing the University that I’m now working for?).

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Sadly the only aspects of my conversation that made it to print weren’t about my research nor about Obama stance, but rather arbitrary details on the cost of preschools for families. The article is printed here and says the following quote:

“Michael Wells is an early education researcher formerly with the University of Indianapolis. He says high quality preschool is out of reach for many middle-income families, let alone those below the poverty level that quality for Head Start.

But what we’re doing is saying, ‘Hey parents, at a time in your life when you’re the youngest — and that’s typically correlated with making the least amount of money you’re every going to make in your life — that’s when you need to pay $8,000, $10,000, $12,000 a year to send one child to preschool.’ “”

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Another very similar article is printed here.

This first interview taught me that:

1) I need to stick to just talking about my research

2) Reporters have their own agenda

3) I get nervous when talking on the spot (even when it’s a topic I know very well)

4) Be careful of anything that you say, because it’s being recorded and could be taken out of context when quoting you (this did not happen with Elle, but was just a lesson to be learned)

Being asked to present to Swedish doctors on father involvement

Social Pediatrics sits just beyond the others in the Faculty of Medicine (and even beyond those in the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health) at Uppsala University, both literally and figuratively.

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So, in order to help bridge that gap, Anna Sarkadi, the leader of the Social Pediatrics Research Group, thought that it would be a nice idea to bring in three presenters to speak about important topics related to health, while at the same time promoting our team by hosting the presentations and having a poster session prior to the presentations.

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One guest speaker came each month for three months to give a 20 minute presentation on some topic involving families and health. Click here to see the monthly schedule of speakers (written in Swedish and English depending on the presenters language).

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 11.45.43 AMThe first speaker was Sven Bremberg (pictured left), a huge name in Sweden, especially when talking about child health, is an Associate Professor at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.

Bendeguz Nagy, a Hungarian traveller, explores the world in his wheelchair, allowing him to photograph and experience the world from a different view-point. He gave a speech on a few different cultures he encountered, highlighting through pictures the differences in family life. To see some of his pictures click here for his photography website.

The third presenter was myself, Michael Wells, who talked about father involvement within the healthcare field in Sweden and Internationally. Click here to see the slides from my presentation.

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Unfortunately, beyond our research group, only a handful of people showed up for Sven’s and Bendeguz’s talks, so I wasn’t expecting much of a crowd. So when I saw that the room was not only packed, but people were standing, I thought that this must be an important topic that Swedish medical workers care about.

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The talked reverberated with the audience, with several people afterwards giving testimonials as fathers, while workers from the hospital described how they involved (didn’t involve) fathers. Since the talk was such a hit, Jan Gustafsson, the Head of the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, asked me to come to a lunch seminar for all pediatricians in the fall of 2013 to present for an hour and 15 minutes on the topic of father involvement in healthcare.

A Quantitative Look at Preschool Teachers’ Retention: A Study on Head Start Teachers

 

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 10.39.13 AMI was just at the 23rd EECERA Conference: Values, Culture and Contexts hosted by the European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA) in Tallinn, Estonia where I gave a presentation entitled A Quantitative Look at Preschool Teachers’ Retention: A Study on Head Start Teachers. Click here to see my presentation.

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I presented in an oral session under the heading Leadership and Quality, which felt quite fitting, as this research was completed in an effort to improve the quality of classroom instruction by motivating the leadership to make

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 10.53.59 AMneeded changes in order to keep preschool teachers teaching. My research was on head start teacher retention, and comparing those preschool teachers who stayed versus those who quit working for Head Start. I found that the reasons preschool teachers quit are due to five main factors: the center director (their boss), their stress levels, their amount of paperwork, their wanting to stay in Early Childhood Education as a career and their level of higher education.

There were two other presenters in this session: Elina Fonsen from the University of Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 3.32.20 PMTampere (Finland) who gave a presentation called “Dimensions of pedagogical leadership in Early Childhood Education and Care” and Geraldine Davis from Anglia Ruskin University (UK) talked about “Graduate Leader Plus. Making a difference beyond education.”

Elina promoted her new book chapter, while Geraldine discussed teachers’ education levels and the benefits from those who participated in Leadership Plus.

Read about the overall aspects of the conference here.

To read more about Tallinn, Estonia (and the Old Town in Tallinn) click here.