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Smart Grid Technology and Consumer Call Center Readiness

June 13, 2012 Comments off

Smart Grid Technology and Consumer Call Center Readiness
Source: Purdue ePubs

The following reasearch project deals with utility call center readiness to address customer concerns and questions about the Smart Grid and smart meter technology. Since consumer engagement is important for the benefits of the Smart Grid to be realized, the readiness and ability of utilities to answer consumer questions is an important issue. Assessing the readiness of utility call centers to address pertinant customer concerns was accomplished by calling utility call centers with Smart Grid projects and asking 6 simple Smart Grid and smart meter questions. The hypothesis being tested for this reasearch is that only a minority of utility companies will have systematically prepared their call centers to answer consumer questions. Results showed that utility companies do not provide enough information through their call centers. There is a significant opportunity for utility call centers to better prepare and educate their customer service representatives and educate and engage utility consumers.

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Timing of Dessert but Not Portion Size Affects Young Children’s Intake at Lunchtime

June 13, 2012 Comments off

Timing of Dessert but Not Portion Size Affects Young Children’s Intake at Lunchtime
Source: Purdue ePubs

Multiple factors effect children’s capability to make healthy choices when it comes to food intake. A field of study pertaining to pediatric nutrition that has not been well studied relates to children’s modification of food intake in response to the meal served. The purpose of this repeated exposure, randomized, cross-over quasi-experimental study was to determine food preference and portion control in two-to-five year old children of Caucasian and Asian descent (n=23). The study had two within-subject factors (portion size of main course and timing of dessert) and was conducted in West Lafayette, Indiana, from January-April 2011. Whether children participated in the study or not, all children at the child care center were served two study lunches (fish or pasta, each with dessert) twice a week for 12 weeks. The two interventions were: a) an increased portion size by 50% and b) dessert being served with or after the main course. Analyses of variance conducted on energy intake from the main course and dessert at lunch yielded significant portion size x timing of dessert interactions. Serving dessert after the meal was associated with higher kilocalorie (kcal) consumption from the main course (73 versus 64 kcal, P=0.03), from dessert (90 versus 84 kcal, P=0.04), and as total intake at the meal (162 versus 148 kcal, P<0.01). Portion size did not change the amount of food consumed. These results provide novel information supporting childhood obesity research.

Contributions of parenting and family factors to the cognitive catch-up and behavioral improvements of internationally adopted children

May 14, 2011 Comments off

Contributions of parenting and family factors to the cognitive catch-up and behavioral improvements of internationally adopted children
Source: Purdue ePubs

Internationally adopted children are at a greater risk for cognitive and behavioral problems largely due to pre-adoptive histories that frequently involve neglect, malnutrition, high turnover of caregivers, and related consequences of institutionalization. Attachment problems may arise as a result of these experiences, presenting additional challenges to adoptive parents. While age at adoption is an established significant predictor of cognitive and behavioral outcomes (with infants adopted prior to 6 months experiencing the fewest problems), considerable variation in catch-up persists even for children adopted very young.

The present study focused on whether parenting and family factors might help to explain some of the variance in cognitive and behavioral changes in early childhood. In total, 42 children were examined at 2 time points, the first time 5-14 months after adoption into the United States and a second time 12-months later. This study is unique in that enrolled children were examined shortly after being adopted into the United States and were relatively young at the time of adoption (ranging from 5 to 27 months). Cognitive and linguistic abilities were examined at both time points, attachment security was assessed at baseline, and behavior problems were assessed at 12-month follow-up. Parenting and family factors were examined at follow-up. Hierarchical linear regression was used for hypothesis testing.

Age at adoption and baseline cognitive abilities were the best predictors of cognitive and linguistic catch-up in this sample; parenting and family factors generally did not account for a significant increase in explained variance. Attachment security at baseline was the best predictor of behavior problems at follow-up. Both perceived parenting stress (related to the child) and degree of family mastery were significant independent predictors of behavior problems. Results from this study help to extend our current knowledge of cognitive and linguistic catch-up in IA children, as well as the behavior problems that may occur after these children have been in the United States for a relatively short period of time. Future research should address potential transactional relations among the variables, particularly how parenting and family factors can be influenced by the behavior problems of the IA child.

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The Externalities of Strong Social Capital: Post-Tsunami Recovery in Southeast India

April 18, 2011 Comments off

The Externalities of Strong Social Capital: Post-Tsunami Recovery in Southeast India
Source: Purdue University ePubs (Journal of Civil Society, Forthcoming)

Much research has implied that social capital functions as an unqualified “public good,” enhancing governance, economic performance, and quality of life (Coleman 1988; Cohen and Arato 1992; Putnam 1993; Cohen and Rogers 1995). Scholars of disaster (Nakagawa and Shaw 2004; Adger et al. 2005; Dynes 2005; Tatsuki 2008) have extended this concept to posit that social capital provides nonexcludable benefits to whole communities after major crises. Using qualitative methods to analyze data from villages in Tamil Nadu, India following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, this paper demonstrates that high levels of social capital simultaneously provided strong benefits and equally strong negative externalities, especially to those already on the periphery of society. In these villages, high levels of social capital reduced barriers to collective action for members of the uur panchayats (hamlet councils) and parish councils, speeding up their recovery and connecting them to aid organizations, but at the same time reinforced obstacles to recovery for women, Dalits, migrants, and Muslims. These localized findings have important implications for academic studies of social capital and policy formation for future disasters and recovery schemes.

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