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Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University

Counseling & Applied Educational Psychology

Undergraduate Directed Study in Research

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CAEP 4991 Directed Study in Research

Bouvé College of Health Sciences

Department of Counseling and Applied Educational Psychology

Overview of Directed Study in Research

The Directed Study Research is a four-semester-hour course for a letter grade. This course offers undergraduate students the opportunity to explore a research topic in depth and participate in a “hands on” research experience in applied psychology under the supervision of a full-time faculty member in the Department of Counseling and Applied Educational Psychology.  This experience is best suited for highly motivated individuals who are capable of taking initiative, accepting feedback, and working as a member of a team. Depending on the nature of the project, the work may entail either laboratory or field-based work. The grade will be a function of completing research tasks on time, as well as the quality of the work accomplished. Students will be expected to produce a final product in order to receive a passing grade, the format of which will be determined in conjunction with the supervising faculty member (see Directed Study Requirements below).

Rationale for the Directed Study Research

The course provides undergraduate students majoring in health sciences, psychology and related disciplines with an opportunity to learn about research methods in applied and professional psychology by means of participating on a research team. The directed study is particularly appropriate for undergraduates who are considering careers in professional psychology, behavioral health, academia or applied psychological research. In this regard, the Directed Study may help them clarify their career objectives and obtain important skills that would prepare them for graduate school. This type of mentoring experience can complement and enhance the students’ other coursework by providing them with an opportunity to intensively explore one research topic.

Directed Study Requirements

Prior to registering for the course, students are required to contact, meet with and obtain approval from the faculty member who will be supervising their work. A list of CAEP faculty members offering Directed Study Research (CAEP4991) during each academic year will be posted on the department’s website. Faculty approval may depend upon many factors, including available openings on the research team, the needs of the research project, and the student’s relevant skills. 
In addition to submitting the Undergraduate Directed Study Registration Form prior to the end of the second week of the term, the supervising faculty member and student are required to complete and sign an Undergraduate Directed Study Agreement that specifies:
(a)    number of credit hours
(b)   learning goals
(c)    activities that the student will perform to attain the goals
(d)   culminating product(s)
During a fall or spring semester, students are expected to devote 3 hours per week for each semester hour of credit. This time may be spent engaged in activities such as conducting literature searches, engaging in independent reading, collecting or analyzing data, and preparing publications or presentations. Students must produce a final report in order to receive a passing grade. In some cases, a submitted manuscript or presentation proposal at a scientific meeting may be considered in lieu of a final report.

Important Notes

1.   Students with disabilities, including “invisible” disabilities, such as chronic diseases and learning disabilities, are encouraged to discuss accommodations, which might be helpful for them after class or during my office hours appropriate.  The disability must be verifiable.  On campus, the Disabilities Resource Center (20 DG; x2765; can provide you with information and other assistance.
2.   Academic honesty: Plagiarism and cheating is not allowed under penalty of failure.  They will be dealt with in accordance with University policies described in the Student Handbook. Northeastern’s Academic Integrity Policy can be found at
3.   Students are expected to complete all work assignments on time. Tardy work must be accompanied by a written explanation justifying the delay.  Should the professor judge the explanation to be reasonable, you will receive the same credit you would have received had the assignment been completed on time. If the professor determines that the delay is not justifiable, then he/she reserves the right to alter or assign no credit for the work assignment.
4.   An incomplete grade for a Directed Study must be approved by the professor at least three weeks prior to end of the semester. Incomplete grades will only be considered when a valid medical/personal reason is provided. Performing poorly in the Directed Study is not in and of itself a valid reason to receive an incomplete.
5.  Course Withdrawal: If a student chooses to withdraw from the Directed Study, he/she must complete the appropriate form from the Registrar’s Office. Please consult the Registrar’s calendar for deadlines of dropping the course without and without “W” with a “W” grade.

Current Research Team

APPEAR (Applied Psychology Program on Eating and Appearance Research)

Principal Investigators: Dr. Jessica B. Edwards George, Dr. Debra L. Franko, & Dr. Rachel F Rodgers

Team Members: Nike Balogun, Alexandra Convertino, Alyssa Iannuccilli, Megahn Lovering, Stephanie Luk, Atsushi Matsumoto, Pamela Naab, Wendy Pernal, Kayla Yates, Kristine Zhang.

Main Objectives: The main objective of our research lab is to develop and evaluateevidence-based interventions that succesfully promote positive body image and healthyeating patters. As such, our work focuses on the identification of risk factors for bodyimage and eating that may serve as targets in interventions. In addition, we aim todevelop and evaluate the efficacy of interventions aiming to improve body image andsupport healthy eating patterns, in particular through Internet and mobile technology. Ouroverall approach emphasized the importance of health as opposed to weight, and ourwork aims to be translational in that its focus ranges from the individual to the social andpolicy level.

Main Current Research Projects: (1) The development and evaluation of interventionsaiming to decrease body image and eating disorders capitalizing on technology; (2) Thedevelopment of sociocultural models of body image and eating concerns; (3)Psychological and behavioral correlates of adherence to medically necessary dietaryregimens in pediatric populations, such as children with gastrointestinal disorders andfood allergies; (4) The role of working memory in body image and eating disorders.

Contacts: or or

Mindfulness in Everyday Living for Mental and Physical Wellness

Principal Investigator: Dr. Mariya Shiyko

Team Members: none yet

Main objectives: The overall goal of this research is to understand the role of mindfulnessin the context of daily living and develop mindfulness-based training that can beintegrated into everyday life and benefit physical and mental health. Mindfulness isgenerally defined as a non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. The state ofclear awareness can be developed through daily formal and informal practices. We areinterested in understanding 1) the state of and fluctuations in mindfulness in trained anduntrained individuals; 2) contextual factors associated with heightened and dull states ofmindfulness; 3) approaches to training mindfulness in the context of daily living. Wemake use of modern approaches to assessment and intervention that involves technology(e.g., mobile phones, and other portable electronic devices).

Main research projects: Ongoing research projects include a) ecological momentaryassessment of mindfulness in a sample of cancer patients; b) Facebook-based survey ofgeneral interest in technology-based mindfulness training programs; c) development of atechnology-based mindfulness training program for stress reduction in younger adults; d)meta-analysis of mindfulness-based training programs to alleviate stress and workburnout in physical and occupational therapists.

Contacts: Mariya Shiyko

Motivational Interviewing Health Disparities (MIHD) Research Lab

Principal Investigator: Dr. Christina Lee

Research Team Members:  Tonya Tavares, Julissa Ayala, Elian Roberts, Janelle Alabiso

Main objectives:  Reduce risky health behaviors among under-served urban, immigrant populations; co-morbidity poor mental health and drug use; social determinants of mental health, acculturation stress, ways of coping, HIV and treatment engagement; measuring behavioral outcomes of integrated care

Main Research Projects and funding: a. Motivational Interviewing translated and adapted for Latino hazardous drinkers: A randomized clinical trial: culturally-tailored Motivational Interviewing (NIH Funded, NIAAA, 2012-2017); b. Development of a brief motivational intervention to enhance treatment retention among HIV+ patients (Dean’s Office Funding); c. The impact of Integrated Care on physical and mental health outcomes* (Research funded by the Kenerson Faculty Award for Community Service)

We have an active study research site at the South End Community Health Center, where Dr. Lee directs the Integrated Behavioral Health Program

Contacts: Christina Lee 617-373-2470; Tonya Tavares, Project Director 617-373-6891;

Behavior Disorders Research Team

Principal Investigators: Drs Amy Briesch & Robert Volpe

Team Members: Jacquelyn Briesch, Ruth Chaffee, Brian Daniels, Alysa Dempsey, Matt Dubois, Josefine Eriksson, Marissa Goyden, Betsy Hemphill, Genevieve Krebs, Petrina Provenzano, Megan Roth, Beth Rutman, Christina Sakelarakis, Victoria Summerlin, Mary Varner, Arielle Wezdenko

Main objectives: To design and evaluate sustainable procedures to prevent and treat emotional and behavior disorders in school settings; To provide members of our research team with opportunities to provide service to children, families, and school systems; To provide team members with an understanding of applied psychological research in school settings. At present our research team is involved in evaluating academic and behavioral interventions, evaluating the psychometric properties of assessment tools, and designing efficient and psychometrically adequate assessment tools to inform intervention.

Main research projects: a. Creation and validation of behavioral assessment measures for monitoring the effects of school-based interventions; b. Computer-aided instruction targeting early literacy skills; c. Examination of school-based behavior screening practices across the U.S.; d. Meta-analysis of classwide interventions to support student behavior

Contacts: Amy Briesch:, Rob Volpe:

Violence in Dating Relationships Research Team

Principal Investigator: Dr. Christie J. Rizzo

Team Members: none yet

Main objectives: The goals of this research are to 1) better understand the intrapersonal and interpersonal factors that contribute to the development of violent dating relationships during the adolescent years, 2) to develop evidence-based intervention programs that offset dating violence and other relationship risk behaviors; 3) effectively disseminate prevention programs through school, juvenile justice, and child welfare organizations; and 4) harness technology to disseminate prevention strategies in a way that reaches youth most at risk (e.g., juvenile justice, DCF involved).

Main research projects: Ongoing research projects include:a. an efficacy study of an indicated dating violence and sexual risk prevention program targeted to high school girls with histories of serious dating violence exposure (physical and/or sexual violence);b. study examining factors that impact treatment response, including family history, parenting strategies, and individual risk profiles; c. a study examining mechanisms of treatment response, including change in mental health symptomatology, emotion regulation skills, and partner selection practices.

Contacts: Christie J. Rizzo

Project Play
Principal Investigators: Drs. Karin Lifter, Emanuel Mason, and Amanda Cannarella

Team Members: Ashley Cameron; Kristin Concannon; Summer Klug; Genevieve Krebs; Kate Vertucci; Brianne Fitzpatrick; Minh Nguyen; Michelle Berton; Alexandra Colpack; Brittany Morley; and Christine Chao.

Main Objectives: To adapt the research version of the Developmental Play Assessment (DPA-R: Lifter, 2000) into a user-friendly version for practitioners (DPA-P); scale and validate the new instrument; and test an online training program for practitioners to use the DPA-P. The DPA-R is used to determine a child’s progress in play (i.e., provide a profile of play) in order to identify instructional goals centered on play. Children with delays in cognition, language, and social interaction show delays in play. We think instructional goals for such children should include attention to developments in play, too, which is why we developed the DPA-R.

The study’s participants include young children, their parents/caregivers, and their service providers/teachers. A total of 500 children with and without delays, from the ages 8 months to 5 years, are being recruited for calibrating and scaling the DPA-P. A subset of these children (n = 200) is being followed every 6 months to verify the longitudinal sequence of the categories and predict readiness for school from the play and other measures. The children’s parents/caregivers play with their children during the play observations in their homes. Service providers and teachers (i.e., practitioners) are being recruited to learn about and administer the DPA-P. Their training includes participation in an on-line training package and the administration of the DPA-P. The participants will receive toys, gift cards, and payments for their participation.

Main research projects: Project Play is focused on observational, descriptive research at this point. These studies are in preparation for future intervention work. The current projects are: a. Data collection in the field; b. Data coding of the videotaped play observations; c. analyses of the descriptive data on play to determine the developmental sequence of play from 8 months to 60 months in children with and without disabilities; and d. analyses of practitioners online training; and e. analyses of the comparisons between the DPA-R and the DPA-P.


Analysis of the Psychological Effects of Poverty

Principal Investigator: Dr. Emanuel Mason

Team members: Ashley Cameron, Caley Arzamarsky

Main objective: To utilize population representative datasets from private andgovernmental agency sources to analyze relationships and test hypotheses about effects ofecological and environmental factors related to poverty and their effects on academicperformance, aspirations, social adjustment, parenting, careers, and other aspects of life,development and adjustment. Such research permits the practical assessment of theory,the development of new theory, and can be the source of new research investigations inthe field.

Current Projects: This is a new research team, with two current projects, the effects ofthe degree to which services are available in the schools on the services for children withautism, and the effects of poverty on parenting practices.

Contact: E. Mason

High Stakes Testing: Risk, Resiliency and Culture

Principal Investigators: Drs. Louis Kruger & Chieh LiTeam Members: Kalyani Krishnan, Ashley Cameron, Rachel Ruah, Edward Kimble, Diana Stoianov, Kristin Holborn

Main objectives: The purpose of our research is to unravel the mystery of why some individuals give up after a failure and others persevere and eventually succeed. More specifically, we are investigating the internal and external risk and protective factors that lead to either success or failure in academics among youth from low-income urban communities and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Main research projects: Our current study is exploring former high school students’ perspectives on (a) why they failed their state’s mandated high stakes test, (b) the psychological effects of failing a high stakes test, (c) the psychological and ecological factors that contributed to their resilience after this failure, and (d) culturally responsive intervention strategies.

Contacts: Louis Kruger 617-373-5897; Chieh Li 617-373-4683

Center on Population Health and Health Disparities: Boston Puerto Rican Health Study (Collaboration between UMass, Northeastern University and Tufts University)  Based at Northeastern University: Project 2: Social Indicators of Psychosocial Stress Among Puerto Rican Elders in the Boston Area -

Principal Investigators: Drs. Katherine Tucker; Luis Falcon (UMass Lowell); Dr. Irina Todorova (Co-Investigator for Project 2)

Team Members: Irina Todorova; Wallis Adams; Mariana Guzzardo; Zlatina Kostova

Main objectives: Project 2: Social Indicators of Psychosocial Stress Among Puerto Rican Elders in the Boston Area - The long term goal of this work is to contribute to understanding psychological, social and environmental contexts of health disparities of older Puerto Ricans. The objective of this proposal is to examine, in our study population, how stressors, personal resources, social networks, and perceptions and characteristics of the local environment relate to physical and mental health outcomes over time. We draw on the large scale longitudinal data set (N=1200) being collected at three time points; as well as on in-depth interviews conducted with a sub-sample of the larger cohort.  The use of mixed methods and the multi-level examination of individual, social, and environmental factors will contribute to a fuller approach in answering the research questions. Our results will further the understanding of the complex processes leading to health disparities, and provide evidence for policy changes, the development of successful interventions, and more efficient use of resources for lowering health disparities.

Main research projects: a. To assess the impact of stressors on health disparities experienced by Puerto Rican adults over 5 years. b. To assess the characteristics and effects of social networks on health outcomes over 5 years.  c. To assess associations between depressive symptomatology, psychosocial stress and cardiovascular risk. d. To assess the characteristics of social networks and their effects on cardiovascular risk.e. To provide in depth understanding of experiences through ethnographic methods and interviews with a subset of participants. These interviews focus on the social domains of migration, family, stress, social support, meanings of aging, health and illness and cultural identity.

Contacts: Irina Todorova, PhD

Multiple Identities Research Team

Principal Investigator: Dr Tracy Robinson-Wood

Team Members: Nike Balogun, Isabelle Biennestin, Noreen Boadi, Shelly Collins-Rawle, Atsushi Matsumoto, Bianca Poindexter, Ami-Popat, Amanda Weber, Elda Zeko-Underwood

Main objectives: To investigate the prevalence and nature of microaggressions among highly educated racial, gender, and sexual minorities and to chronicle coping strategies. In addition, our team is exploring the presence and type of racial socializations messages that white mothers and black mothers give to their black/white biracial children.

Main Current Research Projects: In an effort to provide members of our research team with an understanding of applied psychological research, we engage in the following activities: 1) Review the research literature; 2) Write grants; 3) Collect and analyze data;3) Prepare proposals for poster and conference presentations; and 4) Co-author manuscripts for publication in counseling related peer reviewed journals. Understandingthe psychological and physiological impact of microaggressions on staff, students, and faculty, our research team is a safe space for sharing and telling of microaggressions and is comprised of members who are diverse across ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, andsexuality. We are working on the development of an instrument to measure multiple, distinct, and simultaneous microaggressions.

Contacts: Tracy Robinson-Wood:


Principal Investigator: Dr Oscar Gonçalves

Team Members: Sandra Carvalho, Jorge Leite [JL1] , Ana Gonçalves, Carmen Armengol, Brandon Frank, Silvia Carvalho, Leonor Garcia-Gomez

Main objectives: The main objective of our lab is to combine neuroimaging, neurophysiology and neurotherapheutics to study the interface between brain and behavior, in both healthy and clinical populations. Our mission is a twofold: to conduct basic research on neurocognitive and neuroemotional processes relevant to the understanding of clinical phenomena; and to do applied research, assessing the effectiveness of novel treatment interventions combining neuromodulation, psychopharmacological and psychotherapeutic interventions

Main current research projects: (1) The use of an interactive tDCS intervention in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; (2) A Closed Loop System for the Improvement of Motor and Cognitive Symptoms in Parkinson´s Disease

Contacts: Oscar F. Gonçalves 617-373-8120;

Contact Info

Óscar F Gonçalves, PhD
404 Int'l Village
Boston, MA 02115
Tel: 617.373.2485
Fax: 617.373.8892

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