Dr. Tiffany Berry (CGU)

Tiffany Berry

Tiffany Berry is a Research Associate Professor in the Division of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences. She is a Core Faculty member in Positive Developmental Psychology, regularly teaching and providing research supervision to masters and doctoral developmental students. In addition, she is an active educational program evaluator at the Claremont Evaluation Center (CEC) at CGU. Dr. Berry's research focuses primarily on evaluating educational programs, including K-12 educational curricula, early childhood education programs, after school programs, and comprehensive school reform initiatives. Across these evaluations, she has used a variety of methods, ranging from experimental randomized control trials designed to assess program impact to program monitoring methods designed to facilitate program improvement. Together, these evaluations have supported three broad domains of interest that lie at the intersection of positive developmental psychology and program evaluation.

Research and Evaluation Interests

Dr. Berry is interested in examining how the developmental trajectory of children at risk for academic failure may be modified by participating in various educational interventions, both in school and out of school. Conducting program evaluations that measure multiple developmental outcomes across different educational contexts over time helps identify the extent to which developmental trajectories are modified. This work was started several years ago when Dr. Berry provided evaluation consulting to one of the nation’s largest and most well-respected after school programs, Los Angeles’s Better Educated Students for Tomorrow (LA’s BEST). In line with her interest in afterschool programs, Dr. Berry’s currently conducting an evaluation of a local middle school afterschool program in Southern California, Afterschool All-stars, Los Angeles. Results from this multi-faceted evaluation, which involves measuring program implementation, social outcomes, and academic outcomes through student surveys, interviews, focus groups, and archival academic data will be available late 2009.

A second area of interest is in evaluating family-level interventions designed to improve overall family functioning and promote children’s social and cognitive development. Within the context of several Even Start Family Literacy Programs, she has evaluated the effectiveness of their interventions as well as examined the interactive relationship risk and protective factors play in predicting program attendance (and retention) as well as children’s school readiness. Current funding from the California Department of Education supports this program of research.

The third prong of Dr. Berry’s research is focused on evaluating the efficacy of the curricula that community-based programs and/or K-12 schools implement. Understanding how curriculum materials facilitate or inhibit effective teaching and learning is part of her current funded program of research. With funding from Pearson Education, Dr. Berry has completed a series of national, Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) examining a range of topics, including Biology, Language Arts, and Mathematics. Currently, she’s initiating an evaluation of an elementary reading program called Reading Street (please see the attached flyer for more information). Together, this research is designed to document the impact of curricular materials on student learning, provide useful information back to product development, and help strengthen the scientific base of educational curriculum in response to the No Child Left Behind legislation. In fact, she’s recently co-edited a volume of New Directions for Evaluation entitled the “Consequences of No Child Left Behind for Educational Evaluation” which specifically details how this legislation has affected, and continues to affect research and evaluation in the K-12 school system and community programs that are school-linked.

Supervising and Mentoring

Dr. Berry has the pleasure to supervise MA students and doctoral students enrolled in the Positive Developmental Psychology Program. Not only do her students get evaluation experience working on her funded projects, many of them use these experiences as a springboard to develop their own research projects. Three of her current doctoral students are working on issues such as positive youth development, the roles risk and resiliency play in the evaluation of educational programs, and understanding what characteristics (e.g., student, program, school, etc.) lead to positive experiences in after school programs.

E-Mail: tiffany.berry@cgu.edu

Teaching Interests

In addition to conducting research and evaluations, Dr. Berry regularly teaches courses in the School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences. Below are descriptions and links to the syllabi of the two courses which she teaches most frequently.

Psych 351q: Applied Developmental Psychology (click course title for full syllabus)

This course addresses the definition of applied developmental psychology, as well as fundamental issues underlying its practice:

    • the methodological foundations of applied developmental psychology

    • how to reconcile differences between basic and applied research

    • a discussion of how both basic and applied research are needed to solve the social problems that plague impoverished children and families

    • the impact of disasters and terrorism on children’s development

The class also discusses real-world examples of good applied developmental research, including:

    • the effects of day care on child functioning

    • the impact of welfare reform on children’s cognitive and social development

    • the current state of child welfare issues (such as foster care and adoption)

Psych 352i: Evaluating Developmental Interventions (click course title for full syllabus)

This applied course examines how developmental psychology and program evaluation work together to inform effective intervention programs serving children and families. An ecological approach is used to explore how concepts of risk and resiliency at the child, family, and community level positively (or negatively) impact child developmental outcomes.

Also, in-depth case studies of intervention programs that target different age ranges (i.e., early childhood, school age, and adolescence) are presented so that students can critically examine how each intervention has been evaluated, including:

    • the type of evaluation design employed

    • the quality of the measurement instruments used

    • whether the selection of outcome measures were developmentally appropriate