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CEHD Research Centers

This fall, the College of Education & Human Development welcomed two new research centers – the Center for Pediatric Locomotion Sciences and the Urban Child Study Center. These centers join the Center for School Safety, School Climate and Classroom Management as epicenters of research on issues facing educators across the country and around the world.

Center for Pediatric Locomotion Sciences

For adults, the ability to walk from point A to point B is often an unconscious means to an end. You walk from your front door to your office or classroom, to lunch, to meetings and back home again without taking much time to think about the physical act of moving.

This isn’t always the case for kids, as College of Education & Human Development Professor Mark Geil and Assistant Professor Jerry Wu can attest.

“For a child, locomotion is an adventure. It’s an opportunity to explore life, to imagine, to create a journey,” Geil said.

Geil and Wu both study different aspects of children’s movement – Geil examines prosthetic knees in children while Wu tackles the effects of physical interventions with people with disabilities. Though their research is often conducted independently, they thought they might make more strides in addressing children’s movement issues by teaming up with other researchers at Georgia State and in the metro-Atlanta area.

Thus came the idea for the Center for Pediatric Locomotion Sciences, which launched in September and focuses its efforts on improving the lives of children and adolescents with movement disorders. More specifically, the center is conducting exploratory locomotion research in four primary areas that challenge children: idiopathic toe walking, Down syndrome, lower limb amputation and cerebral palsy.

Geil and Wu work with affiliated faculty from Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, collaborating on research projects, securing funding for further study and planning a large symposium on pediatric locomotion set for this spring.

This work, in turn, could lead to changes in the way health care providers treat children who face movement challenges.

“Establishing this center will bring researchers and clinicians together to work on projects that have a huge impact in the quality of life for children who have Down syndrome and other movement disabilities,” Wu said. “We are looking forward to conducting more groundbreaking research and finding new treatment options and services we can provide to children with disabilities.”

Urban Child Study Center

Nicole Patton Terry understands that supporting children in urban schools means more than just evaluating a child’s teacher or assessing academic performance.

“Children living in urban communities face complex challenges and in order to address their needs, you need to work with their teachers, their neighborhoods and their families,” said Patton Terry, College of Education & Human Development professor and director of the newly-formed Urban Child Study Center. “We must focus on their entire lives and their entire contexts, and that means the programs we have, the research we do and the initiatives we put forth will be just as focused on the children as their communities, their families and their schools.”

The college’s location in downtown Atlanta and its emphasis on interdisciplinary research make it an ideal setting for the Urban Child Study Center, which promotes the overall development and school success of children and youth in urban contexts through innovative research that informs policy and practice.

Leveraging the college’s and university’s talent and resources, the center focuses on a number of issues, including achievement gaps and associated risk factors, learning and health disparities, language and literacy development, and teacher knowledge.

Patton Terry believes that this work will also serve as a model and give answers to educators in other major U.S. cities.

“We know that we have the resources, the expertise, the partnerships and the will to address these problems in a way that not only provides solutions for students in Atlanta, but also for children in other urban areas across the country,” she said.

Center for School Safety, School Climate and Classroom Management

The Center for Pediatric Locomotion Sciences and the Urban Child Study Center join the Center for School Safety, School Climate and Classroom Management, which was established at Georgia State University in 2000 to conduct research and outreach/service projects involving school safety, school violence prevention, school climate, classroom management and other related topics.

Faculty who work in the center have published extensively on bullying and cyberbullying, including a 2011 article in Youth & Society that identified ways students cope with cyberbullying that previous literature hadn’t identified.

So what’s next for the center? Developing the best strategies to prevent bullying before it starts.

“We’ve begun an international effort to study bystanders to bullying events and to get their input,” said Joel Meyers, the center’s executive director. “By interviewing bystanders, we want to develop ideas about how to intervene and to do preventive work in schools that hopefully will prevent bullying and reduce negative effects of bullying – not just in the Atlanta area, but throughout the country and the world.”

For more information on the center, visit