Minnesota Nursing magazine

Partnering for healthy student outcomes

Barb McMorris
Barb McMorris, Mabel Wafula Etchinson (from Makerere University in Uganda) and Monrudee (Chin) Chokprajakchad (from Mahidol University in Thailand) attended an open house explaining the program to parents.

What happens when both middle school students and teachers are engaged in efforts to promote positive youth development? As principal investigator for Partnering for Healthy Student Outcomes, Barb McMorris, PhD, associate professor in the School of Nursing and Department of Pediatrics, is addressing this important question. McMorris and her team are testing a social-emotional learning program for students in combination with a professional development program for teachers in Twin Cities area middle schools. The study is core research of the Healthy Youth Development-Prevention Research Center.

Partnering for Healthy Student Outcomes aims to improve teens’ academic and health outcomes during middle school, a time of rapid psychosocial and physical change. The study strives to increase teachers’ capacities to engage students in learning through training in positive youth development and educational equity. The program helps students develop skills to engage with their teachers and peers, manage their own emotions and make healthy decisions.

With the study at its mid-point, McMorris is optimistic. “Teachers describe positive personal and professional growth,” she said. “For example, a teacher recently noted that training on the importance of student-teacher relationships and strategies for keeping stress levels down have had big impacts in her classroom.” This summer, McMorris’ team will examine student surveys and school records to analyze whether the program promotes students’ academic success and reduces risky behaviors, including bullying and substance use. “Providing training to adults who work daily with youth not only supports teachers as educators, it also helps them build stronger relationships with their students — which we know leads to healthier youth,” said McMorris.


Center for Adolescent Nursing

Renee Sieving

Center Director: 
Renee E. Sieving, PhD, RN, FSAHM, FAAN

Improve the health and well being of young people by educating nurses and other health professionals to respond to the unique and emerging health needs of young people in families, schools, and communities.

For more information:
Phone: 612-626-4527
Fax: 612-625-7091
Email: sievi001@umn.edu