Megan R. Holmes, PhD
Megan Holmes in the News:
Jun 12 2015
As part of a larger initiative to promote active learning, researchers at the Mandel School participated in a yearlong project to integrate active instruction and academic technologies into their social work courses.
The use of interactive technology and technology-based peer-to-peer active learning was considered a natural fit to teach clinical practice skills in social work—techniques designed to recognize students’ diverse learning styles and promote the hands-on application of skills in classroom and field settings.
Led by Assistant Professor Megan R. Holmes (pictured at far right), the researchers implemented the following innovations:
• A foundation methods practice course was “flipped”—students viewed online lectures and instructional videos at their own pace before meeting for class, allowing classroom time to be reserved for collaborative work and case-study exercises to engage students and deepen their understanding.
• Google technology was used in both foundation and advanced masters courses to: help bridge the gap between field and classroom work through case study discussions with community practitioners through video conferencing; create an online and in-class learning community; and promote student collaboration.
• The integration of newly designed interactive classroom learning spaces and collaborative technology to promote a shift toward active learning.
The new approach is described in the Clinical Social Work Journal article “Moving from the Flipcharts to the Flipped Classroom: Using Technology Driven Teaching Methods to Promote Active Learning in Foundation and Advanced Masters Social Work Courses.”
In summer 2013, Case Western Reserve built two active learning spaces designed to promote collaboration, small group exercises and problem-solving. In contrast to typical classrooms with technology mainly for the instructor’s use, these rooms provide several large computer screens for students to use, software to collaborate in small groups and share their work with the class, movable furniture and multiple writing surfaces, which promotes active learning and collaboration.
In the upcoming renovation of its main school building, the Mandel School plans that two of the four renovated classrooms will be active learning and that the other two will be converted in the future.
An example of an active learning in-class project is writing up the psychosocial characteristics of a case study client and assessing the individual’s needs that can guide the social worker.
Teams of students work on assessments using a shared Google document, with each team contributing a portion of the material. And in real time, teams can read what other groups have contributed and learn from it, Holmes said. And when class is over, each has a template to use as a guide in new client assessments.
“Without spending time lecturing, students are freed to experience and practice skills they need as social workers,” Holmes said, “and they collaborate with others and learn from the process.”
Student feedback through course assessments and evaluations indicated that that some enjoyed the variation of group activities and that such activities produced a sense of classroom community. Based on feedback from 46 students in two social sciences courses:
• Students liked the flexibility of moveable, comfortable seating.
• They liked the ability to collaborate using the large screen displays.
• Students also noted the importance of multiple electrical outlets for them to charge their personal devices, often a challenge in more traditionally designed classroom space.
• However, some students were initially somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of new technologies used in the courses. Two comments included that both unfamiliarity with Google drive or being a non-traditional student required a little more “hand holding to understand the technology” and “struggles to access the electronic/computer information.”
• The students felt that once they understood how to use them, they were helpful, but the beginning of the course did create some anxiety.
• The feedback provided by these students, along with the data supporting the benefit of using these applications, have led the program to incorporate technology training in the student orientation.
Elizabeth M. Tracy (pictured at far left), Grace Longwell Coyle Professor in Social Work and associate dean for research and training at the Mandel School, combines traditional lectures enhanced with technologies to draw students into the learning experience for the required “Theory and Practice Approaches in Direct Practice Social Work” course.
“Since most students bring their laptops to class, it just makes sense to actively use this technology during class time in ways beyond taking notes,” said Tracy, who also contributed to the article.
Lori Longs Painter (pictured at center), MSSA 1987, LISW-S, who is on the field education faculty and an adjunct instructor at the Mandel School, used technology to connect students with field instructors in the community so they could get expert advice on case study assessments and interventions.
Holmes, Tracy and Painter are among 24 faculty members in the past two years who received an Active Learning Fellowship. Faculty make a year long commitment to attend workshops and design a course using active learning techniques and technologies. The ITS active learning workshops help faculty understand active learning and how to integrate the method into teaching, said Tina Oestreich, an ITS faculty support and academic technology leader at Case Western Reserve.
“The Active Learning Fellowship is part of an effort to transform the culture of teaching and learning at CWRU, with new learning spaces being part of the effort,” Oestreich said. “The goal is to help faculty to think more deeply about their own teaching practices, provide recognition for faculty’s participation in the fellowship, communicate their efforts to their departments, the university and beyond and provide an additional avenue for academic research.”
Holmes, Tracy, Painter, Oestreich and doctoral candidate Hyunyong Park, from the Mandel School, contributed to the research.
May 21 2015
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have begun studying 1,700 children from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) database to understand how mothers and siblings can protect abused children who have witnessed family violence.
“I want to focus on their positive characteristics in protecting children and eventually create an intervention that builds on those strengths,” said Dr. Megan R. Holmes, assistant professor of social work at the Mandel School.
Holmes is leading the two-year project, “The Longitudinal Effects of Family Violence: Sibling Factors and Maternal Parenting.” The study builds on Holmes’ investigations into intimate partner violence (IPV) between adults in the home and how it affects children, both physically and psychologically.
All the children selected from the NSCAW database have been investigated by Child Protective Services for some form of maltreatment.
The survey’s information provides researchers with first-hand accounts by parents, teachers and caseworkers about the children’s circumstances. Each child has had data collected about his or her family life at four different times from birth to 11 years old.
Holmes received $158,500 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health (grant #1R03HD078416-01A1) to support the project. She will be assisted by Dr. Adam Perzynski, assistant professor of medicine, and Dr. Sonia Minnes, associate professor of social work at the Mandel School.
The project will examine the relationship between child abuse (neglect, physical and/or psychological mistreatment), sibling dynamics (birth order, gender and number of children in the family), maternal warmth (nurturing, support, love, concern, comfort and trust) and the social and emotional adjustment of the abused children over time.
“Better sibling relationships have better outcomes,” Holmes said.
Holmes has witnessed how older children have protected and shielded younger family members from seeing and hearing violence in the homes. As a result, however, the older children tend to have more mental health problems, she said.
Through her research, Holmes hopes to change that outcome and learn how:
- Internal and external behavior patterns and social skills develop in IPV-exposed children;
- Child abuse effects this behavioral and social development in IPV-exposed children;
- Sibling factors can work to protect the abused child exposed to IPV in the home;
- And what particularly in maternal warmth buffers children against witnessing and experiencing family violence.
Holmes also has a study underway examining the quality of sibling relationships, which she expects to contribute to designing an intervention that focuses on positive factors in those relationships.
May 10 2015
The Mandel School received a two-year, $200,000 training grant to fund three studies about why some children thrive despite being abused and witnessing violence in the home. Megan R. Holmes, PhD, assistant professor and the study’s lead investigator, believes the research could help victims of abuse and neglect by learning why some children are more resilient to it. By understanding child resiliency, social workers and policymakers can implement interventions and programs that focus on protective factors that promote resiliency in maltreated children.
The training grant provides support for three studies of children ages 3 to 17: One by Holmes, plus two dissertations by Mandel School doctoral candidates Julia Kobulsky and Susan Yoon, whom Holmes will mentor.
Holmes’s study will focus on how witnessing domestic violence in the home impacts the academic performance from preschool to middle school. Kobulsky will examine the use of substances in children up to age 17, with a particular interest in those who begin using before age 13. Yoon will study the development of behavioral problems of children 4 to 13. The researchers will share what they learn with social workers and policymakers who address children’s issues. They expect to present their findings during a symposium in 2016 with the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services.
The Mandel School was one of just five schools nationally to receive this training grant funding, which was provided by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Fellowships for University-Based Doctoral Candidates and Faculty for Research in Child Maltreatment from the Administration of Children, Youth and Families division of the Children’s Bureau.
For more information, contact Megan R. Homes, PhD, Assistant Professor (firstname.lastname@example.org).