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Advanced Training Institutes Start Summers Off Right--More To Come

More than 75 psychologists and advanced graduate students took part in these exciting training institutes.

By Nicolle Singer

The first three of the five ATIs taking place this summer are now complete! Over 75 psychologists and advanced graduate students took part in these exciting training institutes. The Science Directorate is looking forward to the final two ATIs that it will sponsor in 2007, which are planned for July and August.

After much anticipation, participants met for their week of intense study ready to hit the ground running. Background readings were provided for each ATI, as were short bios for each participant. Having the chance to meet peers prior to the program facilitates networking and builds a sense of expectation for the week’s opportunities.

The University of Virginia was once again the site of the popular ATI on “Structural Equation Modeling in Longitudinal Research.” All participants were currently using SEM in their research or had firm plans to begin using these methods, so interest was intense and questions flowed freely. The workshop included classroom lecture, demonstrations, and lab time with plenty of instructors ready to answer individual questions. Jack McArdle began the seminar by providing an in-depth overview of the principles and practice of SEM, before moving on to increasingly advanced topics. Participants were encouraged to bring along their own data and research problems to the ATI, and have reported that the hands-on nature of this program is one of its huge benefits. Psychologists must often rely upon written text in order to learn new statistics, but having a room full of instructors at hand greatly expedites the learning process.

The next two events of the summer took place in early June. Supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, the ATI “Childcare (It's More than You Think): A practical and hands-on approach to learning about large-scale databases” was a hit. This workshop focused on learning to use the large, rich set of databases developed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD). The SECCYD takes a broad view of child development among a large national sample. Data collection began in 1991 with the enrollment of 1,364 children at 10 sites and continues today, tracking many of the children from birth through age 15. Hosted by Research Triangle Institute and the University of North Carolina, the APA ATI provides participants with a thorough introduction and orientation to the datasets. As a prerequisite to participation in this program, each researcher must propose a research project for which they plan to use the data. This popular program will hold its final session in the summer of 2008. Applications will be available on the ATI website in December 2007.

The third ATI to take place so far this summer was on “Non-Linear Methods for Psychological Science.” The University of Cincinnati’s Psychology Department hosted this ATI, which provided a thorough introduction to some increasingly popular dynamical methods. At this ATI, participants learned about the design and execution of experiments using nonlinear methods; a data analysis technique of increasing importance within psychology and related disciplines. Instructors introduced various non-linear methods as good tools to add to any healthy statistical repertoire. Although linear methods have historically answered most statistical questions in psychology, this ATI discussed ways to look for non-linear structure and reasons why a psychologist may want to do so. In addition to lectures and discussion, there was ample hands-on computer time in which participants practiced using the turnkey software that was distributed at the program.

To learn about the other ATIs planned for this summer, be sure to check APA's ATI website, or email ua for further information.