The Rosenwald Generation: How the Julius Rosenwald Fund Fellowship Program Changed America
Emily Masghati

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Research Development Award

Award Year



Pennsylvania State University Behrend

Primary Discipline

Educational Psychology
Curiosity is a powerful motivator of learning and scientific discovery. Yet, prior studies have focused more on whether curiosity increases learning rather than how and for whom curiosity increases learning. Moreover, prior studies of curiosity have tended to define learning in terms of memory-based recall, rather than examining curiosity?s role in the development of scientific practices such as constructing explanations of scientific phenomena. Drawing on cognitive neuroscience research to refine theories of curiosity, the proposed study aims to answer the following question: does curiosity support learning about scientific phenomena because it changes visual processes? Using a between-subjects experimental design to test the effect of promoting curiosity through a question asking intervention, middle school students will have their eye movements recorded while they study visuals to construct explanations of scientific phenomena. Data from eye movements will be used to examine two processes implicated in curiosity (i.e. visual information seeking and mental imagery), and visual processes will be tested as possible mediators explaining the effect of promoting curiosity on the quality of students? scientific explanations. Sub-group analysis will be used to investigate whether promoting curiosity through a question-generation intervention has the potential to broaden participation among students traditionally underrepresented in science.
About Emily Masghati
Emily Masghati will be an Assistant Professor of History at Penn State Behrend in Erie, PA, beginning in the Fall of 2022. Her research specializes in the history of foundation philanthropy, examining its influence on higher education and African American intellectual history. She is especially interested in how mechanisms of exclusion have been constructed and reified in the academy. Her manuscript, tentatively titled ?The Rosenwald Generation: The Fellowship Program that Changed America,? traces the cohort of social scientists sponsored by the Julius Rosenwald Fund, which ran an expansive fellowship program for African American intellectuals from 1928 to 1949, the first of its kind. The monograph seeks to shed new light on the processes by which paternalistic promotion and strategic denial functioned as two sides of the same coin, with lasting consequences. Masghati earned her M.A. (2014) and Ph.D. (2019) in history from the University of Chicago. Her research has received the support of the Mellon Foundation, Duke University, Emory University, the University of Chicago, and the New York Public Library. Her work has been published in the History of Education Quarterly, and she has conducted research for several nonprofits, including the Illinois Humanities Council and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

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