Dr. Vidya Thirumurthy

Grant Category: Fulbright-Nehru Senior Researcher
Field of Specialization: Early Childhood Education
Name: Dr. Vidya Thirumurthy  
Official Address: Department of Instructional Development and
Leadership, School of Education and Movement
Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, Washington
Indian Host Institution: Stella Maris College
Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Duration of Grant & Start Date : Duration: 6 months
September 2011

Brief Bio:
Dr. Vidya Thirumurthy earned her Ph.D. and M.Ed. from State University of New York at Buffalo and B.Ed. from Annamalai University, India. She earned her B.A in music and fine arts from Stella Maris College, University of Madras. As an Associate Professor at the Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington she teaches foundation courses, curriculum and instruction, and multicultural perspectives in the graduate and undergraduate programs. Dr. Vidya has over 18 years of teaching experience in institutions of higher education in three different states in the U.S. Her experience with young children in the preschool, elementary and middle school for over twelve years has given her the opportunity to understand child development and curriculum from a broader perspective. She has published widely on international/intercultural perspectives of early childhood education. The topics include computer technology in today's schools in India, special education in India, gender and parenting in the Indian context. One of the manuscripts accepted for publication later this summer discusses the importance of building cultural bridges through International Children's Literature in Childhood Education. In 2008, she co-authored an article with Uma and Muthuram describing the relief efforts of one non-profit organization in protecting children in Tamil Nadu during 2004 Tsunami. Apart from these, she has been involved in several cross-cultural research projects. She held the elected office of secretary for the Association for Childhood Education International from 2008-2011.

Dr. Thirumurthy's Fulbright-Nehru research is titled as "Cognitive Development of Children through Everyday Socio-cultural Activities. Cognitive development of children has its origins in everyday socio-cultural activities. These seemingly mundane occurrences have hidden academic concepts and skills. The proposed ethnographic case study will focus on explicating such academic concepts and skills from everyday practices and the interactions that take place in those contextualized activities. For her research she intends to select four to six children between 4 and 7 years of age from Muslim and Hindu communities so that they could be observed for 60 to 80 hours over a period of six months. Units of activities that have cultural overtones and relational interactions will be isolated for data analysis to illuminate the academic concepts and skills children learn.