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American Parents Are Way Too Focused on Their Kids’ Self-Esteem

For two kids who share so much of their DNA, my children couldn’t be more different in their displays of self-confidence. My 7-year-old recently got toothpaste on her dress while brushing her teeth, and in response, she burst into tears, dropped to the floor, and rolled around screaming, “I’m the worst person ever!” My 10-year-old, however, acts as though his knowledge already surpasses that of Albert Einstein. Whenever we point out that he’s wrong about something, he disagrees, as if the number of moons orbiting Jupiter is a matter of opinion. Sometimes I wonder if my daughter’s self-esteem is too low and my son’s is too high. How important is having the right amount of self-esteem? Does the right amount even exist?

Chris Barry.

America’s obsession with self-esteem makes evaluating and encouraging it difficult and messy. U.S. parents often have a hard time estimating how much self-esteem their children have. “It’s a really complex construct in our day-to-day lives,” Chris Barry, a developmental psychologist at Washington State University, told me. For instance, some American kids (and adults) with low self-esteem outwardly project confidence in an attempt to appear self-confident. On top of that, parents tend to overestimate their children’s self-esteem—perhaps both because kids are adept at hiding their issues, and because parents assume that healthy self-esteem is crucial and desperately want to believe their kids are doing fine.

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WSU faculty receive $1.4 million grant for assessment addressing truancy in schools

Several Washington State University faculty are the recipients of a $1.4 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to refine and expand an assessment that helps address truancy in K-12 schools.

Nicholas Lovrich.
Paul Strand.

Paul Strand, WSU Tri-Cities professor of psychology, Brian French, Berry Family Distinguished professor and director of WSU’s Learning and Performance Research Center and Psychometric Laboratory, Nick Lovrich, WSU Regents professor emeritus, and Bruce Austin, research associate in educational psychology and the LPRC, have worked since 2014 to evaluate and refine WARNS. With the grant, the group is also adding the following members to their team to help refine the tool: Chad Gotch and Marcus Poppen, both WSU assistant professors in education, and Mary Roduta Roberts, an associate professor of occupational therapy at the University of Alberta.

Strand said the new grant will allow the team to update the instrument in a few ways. He said a variety of new issues have arisen that have impacted school attendance and performance in recent years. Examples, he said, include the prevalence of vaping and social media use.

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More bullying of LGBTQ+ students in politically conservative districts

Students who identify as LGBTQ+ in Washington state school districts with conservative voting records reported experiencing more bullying than their peers in more politically liberal areas, according to a new study.

Paul Kwon.

“To my knowledge, nobody has really looked at this connection between a school district’s political attitudes and the experiences of LGBTQ+ students in schools,” said Paul Kwon, professor of psychology at Washington State University and coauthor of the study. “This project highlights an inequity that is not talked about a lot and shows the need for more explicit and inclusive anti-bullying legislation and policies that help mitigate the risks to LGBTQ+ youth regardless of district political attitudes.”

While each school district in Washington is mandated to enact policy that at minimum, complies with legislation prohibiting harassment, intimidation and bullying, Kwon and colleagues suggest individual school boards, regardless of political leanings, implement policy that goes beyond minimum protections for LGBTQ+ youth.

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U.S. News & World Report
The Spokesman Review

Researchers use video conferencing app to study memory effects of high-potency cannabis

Even before the pandemic made Zoom ubiquitous, Washington State University researchers were using the video conferencing app to research a type of cannabis that is understudied: the kind people actually use.

For the study, published in Scientific Reports, researchers observed cannabis users over Zoom as they smoked high-potency cannabis flower or vaped concentrates they purchased themselves from cannabis dispensaries in Washington state, where recreational cannabis use is legal. They then gave the subjects a series of cognitive tests.

“Because of federal restrictions to researchers, it was just not possible to study the acute effects of these high-potency products. The general population in states where cannabis is legal has very easy access to a wide array of high- potency cannabis products, including extremely high-potency cannabis concentrates which can exceed 90% THC, and we’ve been limited to studying the whole plant with under 10% THC.”

Carrie Cuttler.

Carrie Cuttler, Lead Researcher and Psychologist, WSU.

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Five faculty receive inaugural awards from WSU President’s Teaching Academy

The Washington State University President’s Teaching Academy has named five faculty members from five colleges as inaugural recipients of two prestigious awards.

The Outstanding Publication in the Scholarship of Teaching in Higher Education Award is available to those who published on the topic in a peer-reviewed article within the past two years.

  • Elizabeth Canning.

    Elizabeth Canning ($500), assistant professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Deptartment of Psychology, first author on the article “Feeling Like an Imposter: The Effect of Perceived Classroom Competition on the Daily Psychological Experiences of First-Generation College Students.” It was published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, 11(5), 647-657.

The WSU President’s Teaching Academy serves as the institution’s premier organization dedicated to teaching excellence. It is open to a select number of faculty with academic responsibility to the university who have records of sustained excellence in teaching and are recognized for their scholarship in teaching and learning. The newest members were installed in May 2020, bringing the membership total to 60.

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