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Micki Caskey
Micki Caskey

In the Middle

Teaching and learning about young adolescents

Micki M Caskey, Professor and Doctoral Program Director in the College of Education, has a passion for the education of young adolescents. She contends that young adolescents are often lost in the shuffle when it comes to schooling. "They're not children, and they're not yet adults," she said.  A former middle school teacher, Caskey conducts research about practices and policies that best serve this 10- to 15-year-old age group. "Early adolescence is a critical phase in human development," Caskey articulated, "with rapid physiological, cognitive, social and emotional developmental changes. This age is a turning point—where youth can adopt positive habits that will last a lifetime." 

"On the one hand," Caskey said, "Young adolescents are intensely loyal to peer groups. On the other, they want to assert their own unique identity." To accommodate both needs, she noted, these students need opportunities to talk with their classmates in small, safe groups—what Caskey called "social interaction with a purpose"—as well as time to crystallize their own thoughts in writing. At this age, actual growing pains and fluctuations in metabolism mean that young adolescents need physical activity as part of their education too. Caskey's overarching goal is to make the middle grades a safe, enriching, and culturally sustaining place for learning.

To advance middle grades education, Caskey serves as the co-series editor of The Handbook of Research in Middle Level Education and The Handbook of Resources in Middle Level Education—publications of the Middle Level Education Research Special Interest Group (MLER SIG) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). She is the former editor of Research in Middle Level Education Online,  past chair of the MLER SIG, and past chair of the Association for Middle Level Education's (AMLE) Research Advisory Committee. She is also the 2012 recipient of the AMLE’s John H. Lounsbury Award for Distinguished Service. Caskey continues her work in middle grades education and collaborates with education colleagues in the United States, New Zealand, and Australia.

Recently, Caskey began to engage in research on the scholarly experiences of doctoral students. In particular, she has been exploring doctoral students' identity and experiences as academic writers and researchers. This work fits well with her current teaching and service responsibilities.

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