As a Psychology major in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Jurnee took PSY-P457 Therapeutic Interventions for Early Childhood Behavior Problems, a capstone course that takes students into the classrooms of Head Start preschools throughout Bloomington. While there, they work on developmental goals with the children and conduct their own case study of a child or children of their choice.
This case study will be their final. Jurnee will share her case study, research, notes, and goals with her class and assess her success with the child case study through their growth over the semester.
PSY-P457 meets as a class on Mondays and Wednesdays, led by Adjunct Instructor Debra Mishler, splitting time between learning new concepts in childhood interventions and holding sessions where students pose questions to the class about their research experience.
“We get to go around and discuss if there are certain things we’re having trouble with that week,” said Jurnee. “We can talk to the group and everyone gets a say. [Debra] will assign one, two, or three people a week to lead the discussions and answer questions, so we have more of a leadership role and get experience running these conversations.”
Over the course of the semester, students in the class will spend 20 hours with the children, working with them and completing research on their case studies.
Capstone close to home
In a fun twist of fate, Jurnee was assigned to the Head Start preschool she had attended as a child.
“It’s actually really funny,” she said. “My Head Start teacher is still there.” Her mother, she said, keeps up with this teacher and Jurnee hoped that she had given her former teacher a heads up that she would be returning.
“I went in and introduced myself, said hi, and she said, ‘Oh my gosh, you look so different. Glad you don’t have the bangs anymore,’” Jurnee laughed.
To start her research, Jurnee chose one child to focus on, wrote down all of her research, set measurable goals, and worked with them each week to try to meet those goals.
But how does one choose a subject for their case study?
“The goal,” said Jurnee, “is to pick one to three kids who could benefit the most from our assistance. A lot of people work with kids who are shy or have difficulty with body boundaries. We work with all the kids, but we focus on a few kids that we really want to see progress with.”
“For my kid,” she said, “I chose one who was on the shy side and I’ve been working with them to get them out of their comfort zone. My goal was to increase their positive interactions and counteract other behaviors that include acting out in an attention-seeking way.”
Besides her work with the subject of her case study, Jurnee has developed small goals for three to four other children that she works with.
“Everybody has room to grow. A big thing is child-centered play,” she explained. By playing with the children as a group, she can use proximal praise, where one child who’s playing well or behaving nicely with their schoolmates is praised, thereby encouraging other children who may not be playing nicely to reroute their behavior.
As Commencement draws near, Jurnee’s time with the children is coming to an end and she’s wrapping up her research to prepare for her presentation.
Preparing for post-grad
Leaving the children and IU has been weighing on Jurnee’s mind as the days count down to her graduation.
“[The College] has been a really good resource,” she said. “It creates a close-knit community in such a big university. Even with my degree and talking to people in other degree programs, we’re still going to have the same understanding, we’re going to be using the same resources. I’ve been to the Walter Center for Career Achievement so much in the past year. I’m constantly meeting with career coaches to talk careers, different fields, and we’ve gone over my resume a billion and two times.”
She’s applying for child development and family consultant roles as graduation gets closer, but Jurnee ultimately knows that she wants to get her master’s in school psychology. During the first semester of her senior year, she had been going back and forth between her options but, “As soon as I started my capstone,” Jurnee said, “it was almost immediate.” She knew she wanted to work with kids, and with the help of a career coach at the Walter Center, she knew she wanted to work as a school psychologist.
“Graduating is exciting but it’s going to be sad ending my capstone with the kids and seeing this chapter come to a close,” she said. “It feels like a community, so not walking to class and seeing IU every day is going to be a tough transition. I’m a bit bummed about that, but I am excited to start the next step and I’m hoping that I’ll be back for my graduate program.”