2013 NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellows
Stacey Alicea, New York University
Stacey Alicea is a doctoral candidate and adjunct faculty member in the Psychology and Social Intervention Program of NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Applied Psychology. She also holds an MPH in Population and Family Health from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Before starting her doctoral degree, Stacey coordinated and directed a variety of federally- and foundation-funded intervention and service research projects through her work at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the HIV Center at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University. These projects used community collaborative approaches to develop and evaluate interventions targeting promotion of adolescents’ health, education, and development across multiple domestic and international urban contexts (e.g., families, clinics, schools, and communities). More recently, as part of her doctoral studies, Stacey has expanded her research to include strength-based approaches to adolescent development and emergent adulthood in high school and community college settings. This work has three primary foci: (1) the study of social networks in community college settings as conduits for youth social capital accrual and positive educational, employment, and psychosocial outcomes, (2) the development of rigorous and reliable classroom-level measurement tools for community college settings, and (3) the application of this work to intervention and policy targeting social capital accrual and life skills development in secondary and higher education settings. She has published in Developmental Psychology, Journal of Early Adolescence, Journal of Adolescent Health, Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Clinical Social Work Journal, AIDS Care, and Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies: An International Interdisciplinary Journal for Research, Policy and Care. As she moves forward with her career, she is particularly interested in further unifying her public health and education-based research interests to design and implement interventions that shape youths’ holistic development in context.
Youths’ Social Networks in Community Colleges: Influences on Social Capital Accrual, Academic Achievement, Employment Skills and Psychosocial Wellbeing
Social capital – the resources and supports embedded in social networks that facilitate the accomplishment of goals – is associated with positive academic and employment youth outcomes. Community colleges are one of the few settings post-high school through which low-resourced youth in the U.S. can access social networks containing social capital needed to pursue life goals. Yet little is known about characteristics of these networks and how they influence youth outcomes. My dissertation addresses limitations in the literature through two innovative studies. Study 1 uses social network theory and methods to develop an in-depth understanding of the structure and composition of existing social networks in community colleges for ethnic and immigrant origin youth. Study 2 uses structural equation modeling to examine associations between social network structures and composition, social capital and three youth outcomes: academic achievement, employment skills, and psychosocial wellbeing.
Andrew Barr, University of Virginia
Andrew Barr is a PhD candidate in the Department of Economics at the University of Virginia. He received his BA in economics from the University of Virginia. He has worked extensively with Professor Sarah Turner on a series of papers which examine the effect of the Great Recession on higher education and the educational choices of displaced workers. Andrew’s primary interests are in post-secondary education and the effects of financial aid on enrollment, school choice, and educational attainment. He is working on several projects related to the impact of the recently increased veterans’ education benefits (Post-9/11 GI Bill) on the educational choices of veterans and their transition back into the labor force.
From the Battlefield to the Classroom: The Impact of the Post-9/11 GI Bill
The Post-9/11 GI Bill brought about the largest expansion in veteran education benefits since World War II. While nearly a million Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans have used these benefits to invest in education, there is little evidence demonstrating how the availability of these benefits has changed educational outcomes. I create the first large panel dataset to consist of detailed year-by-year information on veterans and their educational choices by linking administrative military and education data. Using multiple empirical techniques and associated sources of variation, I am able to measure how the changing benefit generosity of the GI Bill affected collegiate outcomes. Measures of ability (AFQT) and prior experience contained in my data allow me to provide more general evidence as to the types of individuals affected by financial aid as well as the extent to which education benefits affect older adult educational attainment.
Travis Bristol, Teachers College- Columbia University
Travis J. Bristol, a former high school English teacher in New York City public schools, is a clinical teacher educator for secondary English in the Boston Teacher Residency program and a fifth-year PhD candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University. His research interests focus on the intersection of gender and race in organizations. Specifically, Travis examines how the various policy levers used by local, state, national and international actors influence teacher and student outcomes in schools. Travis’s most recent work includes consulting for The World Bank in Washington, D.C. and Georgetown, Guyana. He holds a BA in English from Amherst College and an MA in the Teaching of English from Stanford University. Travis was recently awarded a Minority Dissertation Fellowship from the American Educational Research Association, a Ford Dissertation Fellowship from the National Research Council of the National Academies and the Spencer Dissertation Fellowship from the National Academy of Education. He is a product of the New York City public school system.
Men of the Classroom: An Exploration of how the Organizational Conditions, Characteristics, and Dynamics in Schools Affect the Recruitment, Experiences, and Retention of Black Male Teachers
In response to Secretary Arne Duncan’s teacher recruitment campaign, “Black Men to the Blackboard,” and the high rate of Black male teacher turnover, the study explores the in school experiences of this subgroup. Only in the past decade have researchers turned their attention to an empirical investigation of Black male teachers. The burgeoning research has focused on understanding pathways into the profession and how these teachers enact their practice. There have been limited attempts to understand how the organizational conditions in schools shape Black male teachers’ experiences. To fill the empirical gap, this dissertation explores how organizational conditions, characteristics, and dynamics in schools affect the recruitment, experiences, and retention of Black male teachers. Drawing on a theory of numbers and group composition, I carry out a phenomenological study using semi-structured interviews and participant observations of Black male teachers in fourteen schools in one urban school district. I select two types of schools; seven with one Black male teacher and seven with several Black male teachers.
Elizabeth Buckner, Stanford University
Elizabeth Buckner is a PhD Candidate at Stanford University Graduate School of Education, specializing in International and Comparative Education, where she studies how globalization is affecting national education policies and specifically, higher education. She has been the recipient of various fellowships, including: the NSEP Boren Fellowship (2012), CAORC Multi-Country Fellowship (2012), and an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (2011). She was a Fulbright Scholar to Morocco (2006-2007). Her research has been published in: Comparative Education Review, Comparative Education, International Studies Quarterly, Prospects, and Educational Technology Research and Development. She holds an MA from Stanford University in Sociology and a BA with Highest Honors from Swarthmore College.
Privatizing the Public Good: The Worldwide Rise of Private Higher Education
My dissertation examines the rapid and recent worldwide rise of private higher education, which now substantially outpaces the growth of public higher education. My research takes a mixed-method approach that analyzes factors affecting the rapid growth of private higher education sectors from the level of global educational policy discourse to national higher education systems, to specific national policies and reforms.
My dissertation is structured as three chapters, each of which examine factors affecting the spread of private higher education: a) shifts in global educational policy discourse; b) nation-level economic, demographic and historical factors; and, c) country-specific factors that shape higher education reforms in Jordan and Tunisia.
My dissertation will shed light onto when, why, and how nation-states are shifting responsibilities for structuring educational opportunities away from the state towards the market.
Brianna Cardiff-Hicks, Stanford University
Brianna Cardiff-Hicks is completing her PhD in Economic Analysis and Policy from Stanford Graduate School of Business. She uses empirical analyses to study questions in the areas of public finance, labor, political economy, and education. Her principal interest is using the tools of economics to determine the effects, both intended and unintended, of public policies and sharing those results with students, other academics, and the wider community. Before attending graduate school, Brianna worked as a policy analyst for a non-profit organization outside of Washington, D.C. She researched congressional legislation and wrote blogs, policy papers, and op-eds. She received a joint Economics/Mathematics B.A. from the University of California, San Diego graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.
The Effect of Tuition Increases on Student Quality
This dissertation examines the effect of tuition increases on student college choices. After state funding cuts, tuition increased by 187% on average at California public universities from 2000 to 2010 and the changes are likely to persist. Using individual level College Board data and the changes in California, I explore the effect of tuition increases on several important educational choices, such as where to attend college, and what major to pursue, as well as educational features, such as college peer groups. California is an ideal experimental setting due to its diverse population and its colleges that span the range of price and quality. I use a conditional logit econometric model to empirically estimate the impact of tuition changes on college choice. The detailed data enables me to estimate whether tuition affects students differentially based on characteristics such as income and aptitude. Understanding how tuition impacts student choices informs policy and future research.
Benjamin Castleman, Harvard University
Ben Castleman is a doctoral candidate in quantitative policy analysis at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Ben’s research focuses on policies to improve college access and success for low-income students. Several of his papers examine innovative strategies to deliver high-quality information about the college-going process to low-income students and their families, and to ease the process of students and families getting professional support when they need assistance. He has conducted several randomized trials to investigate how the offer of college counseling during the summer after high school impacts the rate and quality of low-income students’ college enrollment. Before completing his doctoral work at Harvard, Ben was a teacher and district administrator at The Met Center school district in Providence, RI. He is a graduate of Brown University.
Assistance in the 11th Hour: Experimental Interventions to Mitigate Summer Attrition Among College-Intending High School Graduates
Despite decades of policy intervention to increase college entry among low-income students, substantial inequalities remain. Policy makers have largely overlooked the summer after high school as an important time period in students’ transition to college. Following graduation, however, students encounter a range of financial and informational barriers to college enrollment, yet no longer have access to high school counselors, have not engaged with supports at their college, and may come from families with little college experience. Recent research documents surprisingly high rates of summer attrition among students who intended to enroll in college as of graduation, with particularly pronounced attrition among low-income students. In my dissertation I will evaluate two large-scale randomized trials I designed to investigate the role of technology and the value of high school-university partnerships in mitigating summer attrition and helping students enroll and succeed in college.
Nadia Chernyak, Cornell University
Nadia Chernyak is a 6th year graduate student in developmental psychology at Cornell University. Her research focuses on young children’s moral development, and how concepts of choice, morality, and prosocial behavior are transmitted to young children in early childhood. During her time at Cornell, she has also been involved with teaching through the Cornell Prison Education Program, as well as serving undergraduates through a Graduate Residence Fellowship.
Morality in the Classroom: Experimental Tests of Moral Learning in the Preschool Period
Much of morality is acquired by the preschool period, but little is known about the specific mechanisms for how morality is learned, or how early childhood educators may contribute to young children’s moral acquisition. The studies outlined in this proposal test three concepts related to moral acquisition. Studies 1 and 2 tests how schooling and culture affects whether young children are more likely to view themselves and others as moral agents (people capable of acting morally and immorally). Study 3 tests how 2-year-old children evaluate adult-given explanations for rules, and which types of explanations are more likely to elicit rule-following behaviors. Finally, Study 4a tests how providing children with choice relates to sharing behavior. Study 4b provides evidence that choice increases intrinsic motivation by allowing children to learn about their own preferences. Together, the studies aim to paint a more complete picture of how morality is learned during the preschool years.
Hilary Falb, University of California- Berkeley
Hilary Falb is a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department at the University of California Berkeley. She is currently writing her dissertation entitled, “The Formation of State and subject: Educators in Iraq, Jordan and Palestine 1917-1958.” Her work uses a collective biography of local educators in the British Mandates in the Middle East in order to shed light on the relationships between national affiliation, schooling and governance during the seminal period of state creation in the region. She graduated from Brown University in 2006, with Honors in Middle East Studies, Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa. In 2011-2012 She received an Institute of International Education Graduate Fellowship for International Study with Funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in lieu of the canceled Fulbright-Hays DDRA fellowship. In 2012-2013 she was the recipient of a research fellowship from The American Academic Research Institute in Iraq (TAARII) as well as a Graduate Fellowship from the Sultan Interdisciplinary Program in Arab Studies at the University of California Berkeley. These fellowships have supported research in the United Kingdom, Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank and Jordan. Her findings regarding Iraqi archival materials located in Israel will be published in the forthcoming issue of the TAARII newsletter.
Educators in Iraq, Jordan and Palestine: the Formation of State and Subject 1917-1958
My project offers a new account of education and political culture by examining school teachers and administrators employed by the British Mandates for Iraq, Palestine and Transjordan throughout the seminal period of state creation in the Middle East, 1917-1958. Using oral histories, social history and discursive analysis, my project highlights the connections between Mandate-era schooling and the networks of education and knowledge begun during the Ottoman period. This project also explores the wide variety of ideologies educators believed in, as well as how teachers and those they taught sought to change the nature of the state from within and below, more frequently through negotiation, bargaining, petitions and protests rather than coups or armed rebellion. By focusing on state-sponsored education, specifically those individuals who designed and implemented its policies, my dissertation investigates the juxtaposition between prescriptions for ideal societies and citizens expressed in educational policies as well as the mundane concerns of their execution. Located at the front lines of the transition from empire to nation, government-employed educators provide a unique perspective into the consequences of education in the Middle East and how identity and affiliation become resonant in a colonial framework.
Joanne Golann, Princeton University
Joanne W. Golann is a Ph.D. student in Sociology at Princeton University. Her dissertation examines a very concentrated effort by No Excuses schools to teach social and behavioral skills to low-income, minority students, and reveals the tensions between establishing social control and preparing students to be independent, creative, and assertive. Joanne’s research focuses on culture, education, and inequality, and employs both qualitative and quantitative methods. Joanne received a bachelor’s degree in English from Amherst College and a master’s degree in social science from the University of Chicago. Prior to graduate school, she conducted research on the high-school to college transition at the Community College Research Center at Teachers College and worked as a Fulbright English teacher in Taiwan.
The Promise and Perils of Teaching Social and Behavioral Skills at a “No Excuses” School
This dissertation examines the difficulties that high-poverty urban schools face in establishing order while teaching students the behaviors they need to operate in a middle-class world of initiative, flexibility, and creativity. Specifically, I focus on the tensions experienced by new teachers in becoming strict disciplinarians while pursuing more lofty teaching aims; by students, in adopting behaviors that help them get to college while resisting loss of autonomy; and by staff, in seeking full behavioral compliance while maintaining student and teacher satisfaction. Drawing on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork at a “No Excuses” school, I will analyze the successes and failures of one very concentrated effort to teach dominant behaviors to low-income, minority students. This study adds to the understanding of a prominent and controversial charter school model, and elucidates the problem of maintaining school order while teaching non-cognitive skills.
Lina Haldar, University of California- Berkeley
I am a Ph.D. candidate at the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, studying mathematics cognition and learning. I have earned a B.S. and M.A. from Columbia University, and taught 11th grade at a high school in New York City. Watching my students wrestle with algebraic ideas piqued my interest in the development of early mathematical thinking and how to better prepare students for secondary mathematics. My dissertation investigates 4th graders’ developing understandings of arithmetic generalizations, which are the properties of arithmetic operations that hold true for all numbers, and which have been identified as a key entry point for early algebra.
Students’ Understandings of Arithmetic Generalizations
My dissertation study represents an important step of a broader research agenda aimed at fostering the development of algebraic thinking in the elementary grades. It reports on the findings from an interview study with 4th grade students to examine their understandings of arithmetic generalizations, the properties of arithmetic operations that hold true for all numbers. Researchers and educators have highlighted the importance of arithmetic generalizations in the development of algebraic thinking in the early grades. However, systematic research on children’s reasoning is needed to productively integrate arithmetic generalizations into the elementary curriculum. I interviewed 4th graders (n=48) to examine how they reason with additive and multiplicative tasks that require arithmetic generalizations. Overall, students demonstrated robust understandings of the arithmetic generalizations and qualitative analyses of the data allowed me to identify four distinct levels of generality with which students treated the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Further quantitative analyses revealed that student thinking was not always consistent and often varied across the different types of arithmetic generalizations and particular problem sub-types. These findings suggest a model of development, which can inform the design of an instructional sequence and help teachers extend students’ understandings.
Ling Hsiao, Harvard University
Ling Hsiao is a doctoral student with an emphasis in Human Development and Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She received her B.A. in anthropology and sociology at Carleton College and her Ed.M. in technology in education at Harvard. She began her career in education exploring formal and informal science learning both as a classroom teacher in the Boston Public Schools and as an exhibit developer at Museum of Science, Boston. At Harvard, Hsiao has examined the extent to which medical simulations at Children’s Hospital Boston supported clinicians’ capacity to prevent team medical errors. Currently, her research is focused on teacher development and the fidelity of implementation of large-scale interventions. She is researching how classrooms in 13 treatment schools are implementing Word Generation, a discussion-based literacy program for grades 4-8, primarily in urban schools. In these interventions, Hsiao studies how professionals acquire new skills, made decisions when they are uncertain, and develop professional expertise, especially at points when student performance seems to be below average.
Decisions Under Uncertainty: How Teachers Move Discussions Toward Student Learning and Participation
Authentic classroom discussions can impact student performance when students think critically about multiple perspectives and challenge peers’ propositions. Teachers foster authentic discussions through effective ‘talk moves,’ strategies promoting analysis and development of ideas in student talk. Yet, authentic discussions are rare in practice, suggesting that effective moves are not being implemented. Changing instructional practice to advance student performance relies on understanding how teachers make decisions. Thus, I conduct a multiple case study examining six teachers’ instructional decisions during whole class discussions on social studies or science issues. I will analyze for teacher talk moves in videotaped discussions and afterwards, interview teachers on how and why they chose these particular moves. This study investigates teachers’ developing expertise in using academic discussions to elevate student performance and seeks to contribute toward a model of teacher change.
Huriya Jabbar, University of California- Berkeley
Huriya Jabbar is a doctoral candidate in the Policy, Organization, Measurement, and Evaluation program at the University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. She studies school choice, education markets, and the role of research in policy. She has an M.A. in Economics from the New School for Social Research and a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
‘Voodoo Economics’: A Study of Competition and Regulation in New Orleans Schools
Policymakers expect school leaders to respond to market pressures by working to improve the efficiency of their schools and the effectiveness of instruction. The expansion of school choice is therefore a “tide that lifts all boats.” But this theory of action rests on several important and unexamined assumptions. This study tries to understand how school choice creates school-level actions. It highlights the social and political aspects of competitive markets in education, with attention to how local government interacts with and supports these markets. Using mixed methods, including qualitative interviews, network analysis, and the statistical modeling of network data, I examine how competition influences the strategies and perceptions of school leaders in New Orleans, the school system that most resembles a pure market in the U.S.
Kevin Johnson, Mississippi State University
Mr. Johnson is a doctoral candidate in history at Mississippi State University in Starkville, MS. In 2003, he was graduated from the University of Mississippi with bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and history. He earned his master’s degree in history from Mississippi State in 2010. Before graduate school, Mr. Johnson worked as a newspaper reporter at several weekly and daily newspapers in Mississippi, including the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson. During his time as an education reporter, Mr. Johnson developed an interest in the state’s education system, its history, and the continuing challenges it faces. His dissertation explores several aspects of Mississippi’s public schools with a focus on reform coalitions and race politics. Entitled “Guardians of Historical Knowledge: Textbook Politics, Conservative Activism, and School Reform in Mississippi, 1928-1988,” Mr. Johnson analyzes conservative ideology and a variety of reformers’ efforts to sanitize social studies textbook content in an effort to control historical knowledge.
Mr. Johnson has received numerous honors and awards while at Mississippi State, including the James W. Garner Scholarship, the History Department’s 2010-2011 Teaching Assistant of the Year award and the 2012 John F. and Jeane A. Marszalek Lecture Series Prize for the best original research paper by a graduate student on Jacksonian America, the Civil War, or Twentieth Century Race Relations.
Guardians of Historical Knowledge: Textbook Politics, Conservative Activism, and School Reform in Mississippi, 1928-1988
This case study examines how pressure groups changed history instruction and textbook content in Mississippi’s school system. Following World War II, conservative activists allied with civic-patriotic organizations such as the DAR, American Legion, and Farm Bureau. They used political connections to alter state law and curriculum standards. I argue that state-sanctioned curriculum both reflects and affects Mississippi’s political culture and the reformers’ conservative ideology. The guardians of historical knowledge wanted social studies curricula to reflect intense patriotism, religiosity, white supremacy, and romantic history and they proved adept in successfully overcoming resistance from various state officials, teachers’ associations, and the state’s newspapers. Education reform in Mississippi has been a struggle between the forces of retrenchment and the forces of change, and the curriculum battles over historical interpretation became a battleground over how to move forward.
Adrienne Keene, Harvard University
Adrienne Keene is a doctoral student in Culture, Communities and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where her research focuses on college access for Native (American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian) students and the role of precollege access programs in student success. As a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Adrienne has a deep personal commitment to exploring research methodologies that empower Native communities and privilege Native voices and perspectives, with the ultimate goal of increasing educational outcomes for Native students. Outside of HGSE, she is dedicated to pushing back against stereotypes and misrepresentations of Native peoples on her blog, Native Appropriations (nativeappropriations.com), which has received national and international attention as a voice on contemporary Indigenous issues.
“College Pride, Native Pride” and Education for Nation Building: Portraits of Native Students Navigating Freshman Year
With this thesis, I plan to examine the experiences of a group of Native (American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian) college freshmen, all of who are alumni of a pre-college access program for Native students called College Horizons. Using Portraiture (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Davis 1997), a qualitative methodology that “seeks to combine systematic, empirical description with aesthetic expression, blending art and science” (3), I will utilize data from longitudinal interviews conducted throughout the first year, participant observation, Facebook, and document analysis to co-construct a series of connected portraits that document the ways these Native students conceptualize their experiences in the freshman year of college, especially in relation to their varying and complex Native identities. Additionally, I will seek to understand what ways, if any, their experiences in a culturally grounded pre-college access program have affected their college transition. My goal in this research is to increase our understanding of Native students in higher education, and to highlight stories of success amidst narratives of failure. Statistics show that the college students are most likely to drop out after the freshman year (ACT Institutional Data File, 2012), so through an understanding of how these Native students are negotiating the challenges and rigors of their first year, we can begin to better serve these students and those like them.
Nicholas Limerick, University of Pennsylvania
Limerick is a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology and in educational linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania. My dissertation research is based on my work with Quichua educational leaders. This research has largely taken place in the Ministry of Education in Ecuador, and in intercultural bilingual schools, where I have examined how the language Quichua is used on a daily basis. More broadly, my research interests include linguistic anthropology and education, political anthropology, semiotics, and Latin America. I have a BA with highest honors in anthropology from Emory University.
Cultural Politics, Contested Language Ideologies, and the Mediation of Intercultural Bilingual Education in Ecuador
My dissertation is a two-year, multi-sited ethnographic study of Indigenous language use in Quito, Ecuador. More specifically, I investigate identity politics in Ecuador and the uses of Indigenous languages in intercultural bilingual Quichua-Spanish education. I examine how leaders utilize Quichua and language ideologies about Quichua for the coordination of intercultural bilingual education, how such ideologies emerge vis-à-vis state policies, and how such policies are reformulated across domains, especially where teachers and students may bring contrastive views to language education.
Loren M. Marulis is a doctoral candidate in the Combined Program in Education and Psychology at the University of Michigan whose research interests center on the malleability of early cognitive development and learning and the subsequent impact on academic trajectories. Her strongest interest lies in bridging the gap between research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and education, and educational practice using a multitrait, multimethod approach (e.g., observation, interview, self-report, facial coding, neurological using the ERP technique, meta-analysis, experimental manipulation) across domains (i.e., reading, mathematics, science) in early childhood (i.e., pre-school through early primary grades). Currently, she is examining factors that are predicted by and predictive of metacognition (knowledge, monitoring and regulation of cognition) and self-regulation in young children framed within and interpreted through Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory and Feuerstein’s Structural Cognitive Modifiability Theory. She also studies the implications for and application to educational policy with the ultimate goal of examining which types of learning experiences and training provide the most improvement in early learning and integrating this into early educational curriculum policy. Her dissertation research focuses on conceptualizing and measuring metacognitive processes (metacognitive knowledge, regulation, and awareness) in preschool-aged children and examining what types of instruction, experiences, and support facilitate these processes.
Loren Marulis was a Visiting Scholar in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge during 2012-2013. She has a Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology from the University of Michigan and has previously earned Master’s degrees in Cognitive Psychology at Northwestern University and in Curriculum and Instruction at Michigan State University and was an elementary school teacher and learning specialist for seven years.
Conceptualizing and Assessing Metacognitive Development in Young Children
Though metacognition—the knowledge, monitoring and regulation of cognition—is strongly associated with academic success, it has rarely been studied in early childhood when it is most likely to affect subsequent academic trajectories. A series of studies examines metacognition at this important age (n = 82 preschoolers). Study 1 (already completed) demonstrated that preschoolers were able to articulate their metacognitive knowledge on in a meaningful task and, as predicted, showed significant growth over a school year. Furthermore, children’s metacognitive knowledge was related to their executive functioning (hot and cold) and motivation, and predicted their academic performance (controlling for previous academic performance). Study 2 will examine the convergent validity of three measures of metacognition in preschoolers. Study 3 will elucidate the facilitation of metacognition (e.g., how much can development and learning be enhanced through mediated-intervention) using microgenetic Dynamic Assessment on near and far transfer tasks. Results from multiple methods will contribute in critical ways to psychological and educational theory by explicating this critical developmental capacity and its relation to other early learning skills and cognitive change. Importantly, results from this program of research will inform the design and implementation of effective interventions to accelerate the learning, academic performance, and subsequent academic achievement of young children.
Gabrielle Oliveira, Teachers College – Columbia University
Gabrielle Oliveira is a doctoral candidate in the applied anthropology program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Originally from Brazil, where she did research with microfinance in the favelas around São Paulo, she began her career as an applied researcher. Gabrielle holds a Master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University, where she focused on Latin American studies and gender policy. She has worked with the United Nations and with the International Organization for Migration. Gabrielle e has been doing research in immigration with children and youth in Mexico and their mothers and siblings in the United States.Her focus in on the impacts of maternal migration on education experiences and social opportunities of children and youth. She is also teaches at the School of International Affairs at Columbia University.
The Effects of Mexican Maternal Migration on Children’s Education and Social Opportunities: A Study of Both Sides of the Border
This research project examines the impact of Mexican maternal migration on the education, social opportunities, and migration aspirations of children left behind in Puebla and the children brought to or born in the New York City region. This study is a transnational, multi-sited comparative study that includes all members of what mothers consider to be their family, children’s teachers and extended family. The feminization of Mexican migration to the United States is increasing, and more mothers who immigrate leave their children behind for long periods to be cared for by grandparents or relatives in Mexico who don’t know how to read and write. This research project was conducted over an 18-month period and addresses the following questions: How do high levels of Mexican maternal migration affect the education, migration aspirations, and social opportunities of the children left behind and their siblings born in or brought to the U.S.? How might the effects vary by gender?
Raquel Otheguy, State University of New York at Stony Brook
Raquel Alicia Otheguy is a PhD Candidate in the History Department at Stony Brook University (SUNY), where she has been a Turner Fellow from 2008 to 2013. Raquel received her M.A. from the Stony Brook History Department in 2011, and her B.A. in History from Columbia University. She was awarded the NAEd/ Spencer Fellowship to support her dissertation work during the 2013-2014 academic year.
Raquel’s dissertation is about race and education in Cuba from 1878 to 1920. The dissertation uses archival sources in Cuba and the United States to interrogate how political and economic developments affected Afro-Cuban access to the public school system; how Afro-Cubans responded to the changing educational opportunities; and how educational discourses were used to address the creation of a post-emancipation Cuban society.
Before entering the PhD program, Raquel conducted research at Planned Parenthood Federation of America and at the CUNY Center for Puerto Rican Studies. She also worked in the office of U.S. Congressman José Serrano of the Bronx. Raquel has traveled extensively through Latin America for research trips and family visits, and she received her first formal education in Montevideo, Uruguay. She is a native New Yorker who speaks, reads, and writes Spanish fluently.
Education in Empire and Diaspora: Afro-Cubans at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
This dissertation considers the role that the education of Afro-Cubans played in the construction of an independent Cuban nation from 1898 to 1933. I use archival research in Cuba and the United States to explore the development of educational institutions and discourses in Cuba. I examine the public education system set up by the U.S. military government, and how Afro-Cubans responded to it, framing education as an example of black activism. Elite debates about education reveal concerns about the connection between race and national belonging. Afro-Cubans intervened in these debates with their own ideas about education, mobility, and national integration, and sustained a Diasporic connection with African American leaders thinking about education. By examining national, imperial, and transnational educational systems and debates, this dissertation seeks to expose the multiple understandings of race and nation that affected Afro-Cuban life in the early twentieth century.
Anna Rafferty, University of California- Berkeley
Anna Rafferty is a doctoral candidate in computer science at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on applying computational models to questions related to education and cognitive science. Her projects have included such topics as automatically recognizing students’ knowledge from their actions in games and virtual environments and optimally balancing diagnosis and instruction in computerized tutors. She has also worked on classroom research related to improving students’ chemistry understanding, examining how to create adaptive, automated guidance for student drawings of chemical reactions. She has been the recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship and a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship. She attended Stanford University as an undergraduate, receiving a B.S. and M.S. in Symbolic Systems and a B.A. in Feminist Studies.
Applying Probabilistic Models for Knowledge Diagnosis and Educational Game Design
My research focuses on creating formal models of teaching and learning, and applying these probabilistic models to assess student knowledge and make pedagogical decisions. One part of my research involves automatically assessing student knowledge via observed behavior in complex interactive environments, such as virtual labs and games. I have validated this approach in lab experiments, and I am now using it to assess students’ algebra knowledge and to diagnose student misunderstandings via STEM games. This model can recognize the source of errors, such as conceptual versus arithmetic errors, and does not interrupt student work. Its assessments can be provided to teachers or to a computer tutor to personalize instruction, which is the focus of the second part of my dissertation. Applying a formal modeling approach to these problems allows education to benefit from machine learning and statistics and allows one to combine ideas from different strands of educational technology research.
Lorien Chambers Schuldt, Stanford University
Lorien Chambers Schuldt is a doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Teacher Education at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education. Her research focuses on writing instruction and classroom discourse in classrooms with English Learners. Her dissertation study explores teachers’ oral feedback during writing instruction, examining the quantity and quality of the feedback along with how teachers’ feedback relates to students’ language proficiency and writing performance. Lorien has nine years of elementary teaching experience in public schools serving culturally and linguistically diverse students. She graduated with a B.A. in American Studies from Wellesley College, where she also received the Stevens Traveling Fellowship to study bilingualism and literacy in New Zealand and Mexican schools.
Talking About Writing: Teachers’ Oral Feedback to English Learners
Teacher feedback can be a critical force in improving student writing, but little is known about the oral feedback that teachers provide to students. To improve writing instruction, particularly for the growing population of English Learners, a better understanding of oral feedback is needed. This qualitative study will consider the feedback that six fourth-grade teachers provided to English Learners during three non-fiction writing units. Analyses of audio recordings, videotaped classroom observations, and students’ writing performance will examine the patterns of oral feedback teachers provided and how the feedback English Learners received compared with that of their native English-speaking peers. Additionally, the study will explore oral feedback patterns in relation to student performance on writing tasks. This study will provide a more complete picture of the feedback that teachers provide to English Learners across multiple classrooms and school contexts and investigate how teacher feedback may increase writing skills.
Matthew Shirrell, Northwestern University
Matthew Shirrell is a doctoral candidate in the Human Development and Social Policy program and a graduate fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. His mixed-methods research focuses on the teacher labor force, particularly the policy- and school-level factors that influence teacher recruitment, turnover, and retention. Matthew received a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from Erikson Institute and a B.A. in English (with honors) from Grinnell College. At Northwestern, Matthew was awarded an Institute of Education Sciences Predoctoral Fellowship as part of Northwestern’s Multidisciplinary Program in Education Sciences. He previously worked as an elementary school teacher in public schools in Oakland and Chicago, where he achieved National Board Certification in 2007.
School Working Conditions and Teacher Retention: The Roles of Policy, Teacher Preparation, and School Principals
School working conditions matter to teacher retention, yet little is known about the factors that shape school working conditions, or how and when these working conditions affect teachers. My dissertation uses mixed methods and a variety of data sources—including national survey datasets, state administrative data, and original surveys—to explore the relationship between school working conditions and teacher retention. I test the causal effects of school accountability on student-teacher matching within schools (Paper 1) and the retention of minority teachers (Paper 2); examine whether school working conditions are associated with changes in student teachers’ career plans (Paper 3); and explore how new principals shape both school working conditions and school staffing (Paper 4). A more complete understanding of the relationship between school working conditions and teacher retention is crucial to efforts to improve schools as workplaces and retain the best teachers in the profession.
Maisa Taha, University of Arizona
Maisa Taha is a doctoral candidate in linguistic anthropology at The University of Arizona. Her work focuses on contemporary civic and democratic education in Spain to understand how dominant discourses of cultural progress create obstacles to multicultural inclusion in public schools. She has experience in various educational domains, from teaching to authoring textbook and testing materials, and an abiding interest in the political dimensions of language and schooling. She completed her M.A. in Spanish as a University of Iowa Presidential Fellow and received her B.A. in Spanish and history from Illinois Wesleyan University.
Crafting Civic and Civil Selves: Youth and Democratic Education in Southeast Spain
Despite ongoing European Union initiatives to promote a united, civically active citizenry, little is known about how such measures play out among those they might influence. This dissertation argues that democratic education classes in southeast Spain constitute culturally normative experiences that complicate, rather than address, social inequalities for diverse youth—particularly Moroccans. Since democratic citizenship education has been advanced from the highest levels to counteract democratic deficit, it is important to understand what happens in classrooms where “unity in diversity” is to be instilled. Twelve months of ethnographic research included participant observation, classroom audio recordings, and interviews at three high schools in the municipality of El Ejido. Analysis (a) shows how competing discourses on a life well lived shaped classroom discussions; (b) examines whether democratic education promoted student empowerment and involvement at school; and (c) brings ethnographic detail to democratic education research, which has focused on philosophy, curriculum development, and controlled assessments of language use and attitude change.
Rachel Throop, University of Pennsylvania
Rachel Throop is a joint degree doctoral student in Anthropology and Foundations and Practices in Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to her doctoral work, she taught middle and high school science in Arizona, earning a Masters of Education at Arizona State University. Rachel is an ethnographer whose research focuses on the experience of social class in the United States. She is particularly interested in the way institutions mediate and shape this experience, and in exploring the connections and conflations between identity and class politics; for her dissertation, education provides an especially fruitful site for exploring this given the conflation of educational achievement, race, and class. Beyond her research, Rachel has taught a range of courses including Urban Education, School and Society, Teaching and Learning in Urban Contexts, and a freshman Writing Seminar focused on social class in the U.S. She has worked as a Learning Instructor for freshmen through doctoral students since 2011, served as the book review editor for AEQ, and worked with Kathy Schultz leading professional development in post-tsunami Aceh, Indonesia from 2006-2009.
Critique, Contradiction, and the Construction of Classed Selves: Teach for America Teacher’s Day-to-Day Negotiations of Social Class
Class is always present in classrooms, from dreams of social mobility through education, to tests scores that dramatically sort children along class lines. While we know that social class profoundly shapes educational experiences, we do not adequately understand the mechanisms via which class comes to determine educational outcomes, nor the import of the day-to-day experience of social class for teachers and students. My dissertation, a 14-month ethnographic study of Teach for America (TFA) teachers, takes these problems as a starting point. I explore the way TFA teachers navigate the contradictions and conflicts around social class that come up in their daily work. Thus far, my findings shed light on the connections between social class and self-making, demonstrating the ways in which the capacity to construct a valuable, useful self is often highly contingent on access to particular resources and educational experiences. Further, I consider the way the practice of critique, and notions of “doing good” or “working for social justice” play out in the classroom, considering the classed implications of these endeavors.
Jon Valant, Stanford University
Jon Valant is a doctoral candidate in Educational Policy at Stanford University. He studies education policies and politics, primarily as they relate to educational equity.His dissertation, “The politics of policy: Who influences education policy and what motivates them,” examines key actors in education policymaking — including state-level political parties, parental school choosers, and the American public — and how their varied interests and influence shape public policy and social outcomes. Valant also studies school choice, focusing both on how families assess and choose schools and how schools of choice serve families. He has an Institute of Education Sciences fellowship as part of the Stanford Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Program in Quantitative Education Policy Analysis. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science (MA) from Stanford University, a master’s degree in Public Policy (MPP) from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a bachelor’s degree (BA) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
The Politics of Policy: Who Influences Education Policy and What Motivates Them
This dissertation explores which individuals, groups, and institutions have power in American schooling, what defines their interests, and how these powers and interests shape schools and education policy in the United States. It features three empirical articles, each focusing on a different set of potentially influential actors. My first article examines party control of the executive and legislative branches of state government. It exploits discontinuities in gubernatorial election outcomes and the party composition of state legislatures to assess, causally, how education budgets, policies, rhetoric, and outcomes vary across times of Democratic, Republican, and shared control. My second article examines how schools might pursue different goals depending on whether they are accountable to school choice markets (which empower school-choosing parents) or more traditional democratic governance (which empowers voters). It draws upon several randomized experiments to test whether Americans have different desires for the pursuits of their own children’s schools, schools in their communities, and schools around the country. My third article focuses on the American public and its attitudes toward educational equity. Using survey experiments from nationally representative samples of respondents, I assess American attitudes toward education gaps and gap-closing policies, focusing particularly on the consequences of reframing gaps as income-based rather than race-based, and opportunity-based rather than achievement-based. Together, the dissertation offers both theoretical and empirical contributions to questions about who has power in U.S. education policymaking and what motivates them.
Terrenda White, Teachers College, Columbia University
Terrenda White is a PhD candidate in Sociology & Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her work focuses on urban charter school reform, teacher autonomy and professional development, alternative teacher education, and the role of teachers’ pedagogy(s) in cultural processes related to (re)production and transformation of social inequalities. While at Teachers College, Terrenda has served as a research associate in the Center for Understanding Race and Education (CURE), as well as served as a student coordinator for the Critical Race Studies in Education Conference hosted at Teachers College in Spring of 2012. Terrenda is a former elementary school teacher and continues to work as a part-time instructor in various schools and youth development programs across Harlem, NY. She is also a coordinator and volunteer teacher for the Prison Education Initiative which provides evening classes each week for incarcerated women in the Rose M. Singer facility on Rikers Island. Terrenda has had the opportunity to research and teach in cities as varied as NYC, Los Angeles, Chicago, as well as Durban, South Africa. She is native of Decatur, Georgia.
Culture and Pedagogy in Market-Driven Times: Embedded Case-Studies of Teaching in Two Urban Charter Schools
In the midst of market-oriented school reforms urging choice, competition, and efficient production of test scores, the complexities of pedagogy and its relationship to student culture are often overshadowed. In light of these pressures, it is unclear whether market rationales have undermined teachers’ attempts to provide their students with pedagogically innovative and culturally responsive learning. To the extent that culturally responsive pedagogy(s) are valuable approaches to teaching low-income students of color, research must explore their compatibility with market reforms urging competition and choice that now govern large swaths of urban school districts across the nation. Based on interviews with instructional leaders in charter schools across Harlem, NY, as well as in-depth case studies with teachers in two purposefully sampled charter schools, this dissertation will critically explore the forms of teaching endorsed across schools, and whether teachers who work in such schools are supported in their development of pedagogically innovative and culturally responsive teaching. The experiences of teachers in Harlem can speak volumes not only about the nature of professional autonomy in market-oriented schools today, but the particular ways in which culture and teaching, indeed pedagogy altogether, have been ‘left behind’ (Trujillo, 2011) amid intense focus on managerial restructuring, choice-based policy reform, and test score production. Through the eyes and experiences of teachers, this research helps to tease out the often ignored tensions and contradictions of contemporary school reforms and the needs of teachers who endeavor toward the development of a culturally responsive praxis amid competitive, market-driven times.