Gabriella Garcia is working with LISD students to prepare them for the upcoming school year through conducting assessments and hands-on research
Human Development and Family Sciences (HDFS) graduate student, Gabriella Garcia, is pursuing her master's degree and studying the growth of knowledge from three and four-year-olds while attending a Lubbock ISD pre-k camp. Garcia is pursuing her master's and doctoral degree with the HDFS program and has partnered with three individuals from LISD on the program, Pave the Way to Pre-K.
Pave the Way to Pre-K is a three-week program for children attending a half-day pre-k camp that helps prepare them for the upcoming school year. Garcia and her team administered the Bracken School Readiness Assessment (BSRA) at two points during the camp. They aimed to measure how much knowledge the children came into the camp with and how that knowledge expanded after the time spent at the camp.
“The BSRA is used to assess a child's school readiness by examining their understanding of foundation academic concepts,” Garcia said. “These concepts include colors, letters, numbers and counting, sizes and comparisons, and shapes.”
The assessment measures children's comprehension of academic success and classroom communication topics. The assessment was administered during the first and last week of the camp, so in the second week, Garcia and her team could attend the lessons, field trips and help out in the classroom. She enjoyed getting to know the children and learning how they developed over the camp.
“My favorite part of the research process is the collection of data and the interactions I have with the children,” Garcia said. “I can see their mind working and how excited they get when they see certain pictures or colors.”
Programs like Pave the Way to Pre-K are important to research because they highlight how much children can absorb, learn, and grow in such a short amount of time. Despite the short time frame, Garcia noticed amazing growth, including their interactions with teachers and each other, development in their language and recognition of more letters, numbers, and colors.
“The impact of this research emphasizes just how important programs like this are and makes it really exciting to see just how much they will learn once they begin a full school year in the fall,” Garcia said.
Garcia was inspired by her love for helping children develop and reach important milestones. She has always enjoyed working with children and helping them learn and develop. Garcia says she wanted to continue working with children and conduct research that would benefit children through the HDFS program.
“I knew I wanted to further my education by working with children in a variety of settings, so when the opportunity presented itself to work with children in schools, I knew I couldn't turn it down,” Garcia said.
Garcia says she felt supported and encouraged by the department leaders, her advisors, colleagues, and the department's staff. She is constantly motivated to help children through her research efforts and what she has learned through the Human Development and Family Sciences program.
“Human Development and Family Sciences is constantly helpful in all research endeavors,” Garcia said. “The amount of support and encouragement from the entire HDFS department is wonderful and without it, the research could not be done.”
Within the HDFS program, graduate students are surrounded by resources and experts in the field. Students can conduct research that benefits the community and makes an impact. Garcia's research will help educators and teachers understand more about child development and learning in the classroom.