Kristin Finn, PhD, professor in the Teacher Education Department, has recently been exploring the problem of childhood obesity. Research consistently affirms the negative relationship between Body Mass Index (BMI) and academic outcomes, although the reasons for this relationship have not been adequately explained. One possible explanation is weight bias – prejudiced attitudes toward children who are obese.
Finn is currently conducting an investigation that examines whether weight bias among teachers leads to grade discrimination. Finn is collaborating with Drs. Clancy Seymour and Dennis Koch in the School of Education and Human Services (SEHS) on this investigation. They hypothesize that samples of students’ school work will be graded more harshly for obese than non-obese girls. This work is being supported by the SEHS Dean’s research support award and is being conducted at professional development schools that have established partnerships with the SEHS. Dr. Finn’s upcoming sabbatical will be devoted to exploring mediating factors of the link between obesity and academic success.
Submitted by: Sara Morris, PhD, associate vice president, academic affairs