2004 NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellows
Yuko Goto Butler, University of Pennsylvania
In Search of “Post-Native Models” of Teaching English as an International Language: East Asian Perspectives
As the English language has gained momentum worldwide, the goals of English education in various Asian countries have changed dramatically. This can be seen in particular in the recent introduction of English at the elementary school level in countries such as Japan and Taiwan. Yet implementing these policies has been a challenge for local teachers. In many cases, regular homeroom teachers who have not been trained to teach English have been asked to do so. The governments of these countries have promulgated new curricula that require teachers to emphasize the development of oral communicative skills in English. Furthermore, the policies regarding English language teaching (ELT) at elementary schools have been implemented based on trial and error given the lack of empirical data regarding how best to teach English as a foreign language at this level. This study, while focusing on ELT at the elementary school level in Japan and Taiwan, will be one of the first empirical attempts to closely examine and document the challenging and important process of developing new models of ELT that are sensitive to local needs.
Until recently, many in the field of English language education accepted the view that native speakers (and native-like fluency) should be the model that learners strive to emulate. One result of this belief is that teaching methods that were designed primarily for native English speaking teachers (NESTs) have exerted significant influence on ELT practices in various contexts (e.g., Braine, 1999; Holliday, 1994). However, as English has become a widely-accepted means of international communication, the number of non-native English speakers currently outnumbers that of native English speakers (Graddol, 1999), and more learners of English are taught by non-NESTs than by NESTs worldwide (Canagarajah, 1999). This has lead to a fundamental change in terms of both the characteristics of English learners as well as in their objectives. Researchers therefore have begun to suggest that the traditional model of the native speaker is no longer appropriate as the goal of learners of English as an international language (e.g., Brutt-Griffler, 2002). In its place, many have suggested that educators develop teaching methods that are appropriate for local contexts.
In the process of searching for suitable methods, some teachers and schools in East Asia have become recognized locally as representing “good models” that are worthy of emulation. Such methods typically become models for observation and learning by other teachers. This study will focus on a small number of such locally recognized models. Models from Japan and Taiwan will be selected as case studies. What do such locally recognized models look like? How did teachers develop such models? What do they perceive as constituting “good practices”? How do they perceive or attest to the “effectiveness” of such practices? And are such practices perceived differently between Japan and Taiwan, as well as within each of these countries? Japan and Taiwan were chosen for this study because of the differences in their policy contexts. While the Taiwanese government took the initiative in implementing English at the elementary school level as an academic subject, the Japanese government has given local schools greater autonomy with regards to the extent to which English is introduced, allowing them to introduce English within the broader framework of promoting “cross-cultural understanding.” The study attempts to answer the questions noted above through in-depth interviews with teachers and classroom observations, as well as through examination of current and past curricula, teaching materials, student performance data, surveys, and other relevant sources. The cases offered by Japan and Taiwan thus allow us to observe the creation of locally-adapted methods of teaching English as an international language (what may be called “post native-speaker focused models” of ELT) under varying policy contexts in East Asia.
David Campbell, University of Notre Dame
Civic Norms in America’s Schools
This project will examine how adolescents learn civic norms in their schools. Understanding how young people develop a sense of civic obligation can shed light on the precipitous decline in young people’s political engagement, given the evidence suggesting that America’s youth are increasingly individualistic and thus have a diminishing sense of public responsibility. The eventual aim of this project is to identify ways in which participatory norms can be encouraged within schools, much as public health scholars have identified ways to facilitate norms against smoking and drinking among young people. But in order to design strategies to strengthen civic norms, we need to know how they develop in the first place.
The primary dataset for this analysis will be the U.S. component of the IEA Civic Education Study (CivEd), an unparalleled source of data for civic outcomes, whether the unit of analysis is the individual student or the school. CivEd consists of interviews with roughly 2,800 students in 124 schools across the United States. The study will test a variety of potential factors affecting the strength of participatory norms within a school. Some will be of relevance to school teachers and administrators and include the degree to which students have voice in the governance of the school, the methods of civics instruction employed within the school, and the prevalence of community service among the school’s population. Other factors will be of greater relevance to policymakers, including the socioeconomic and racial diversity within the school and whether it is in the public or private sector.
Marie Coppola, University of Chicago
Developmental, Cross-Cultural, and Familial Influences on Deaf Children’s Gesture Communication Systems (Home Signs)
Picture a child living in a typical family who has never encountered a language. Would such a child be able to invent a language on her own? Some deaf children are normally socialized and normally developing but lack access to any conventional linguistic input. Profound hearing loss prevents them from acquiring a spoken language naturally. Because their parents have chosen oral education, they are not exposed to a sign language. These deaf children nonetheless gesture with family and friends, creating gestural communication systems called “home sign.”
Current evidence suggests that these home signs are simple, do not change over time, and show no cross-cultural differences. This study examines how home signs become more complex over time and how family interaction and the surrounding culture influence children’s internal learning tendencies. Comparing child and adult home signers will uncover the contribution of development to language creation. Culture may also play a role: Nicaraguan speakers display greater gestural richness than do American speakers. Further, Nicaraguan parents have lower expectations for their child’s assimilation into the hearing world. Consequently, Nicaraguan parents appear more willing and able to gesture with their deaf children, allowing us to observe the effects of having an uninhibited gesture communication partner on early home sign complexity.
Beyond revealing an individual child’s language-making capacities, home sign addresses fundamental questions of language origin posed by Nicaraguan Sign Language (NSL). NSL emerged in the late 1970s as a large group of deaf people came together for the first time, each bringing their individual home sign system to the task of language creation. Thus, understanding home sign structure can also illuminate the processes of language genesis and conventionalization.
Deaf children’s created gestures reflect the extremes of children’s language creation abilities. This work examines the cultural and family interaction patterns that influence how all children structure information in their environments. Through understanding the abilities that children bring into the classroom, we can enrich the critical input that teachers and other educators provide to children.
Christina de Bellaigue, Oxford University
Behind the School Walls? A Comparative Study of Girls’ Education in England and France, c. 1810-1867
As a National Academy of Education / Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow based at the Stanford Institute for Research on Women and Gender, my aim will be to extend and revise my doctoral dissertation for publication. My thesis explores the development of secondary education for girls in England and France from 1810 to 1867. Uncovering the expansion of private schooling for girls, the recruitment of schoolmistresses, the strategies involved in establishing a school and claiming professional standing, and the instruction girls received, my work illuminates unexplored areas of the history of women’s education. It reveals that in both countries, private lay boarding schools had an influence on the development of female education that has often been overlooked. By adopting a comparative perspective, my research also underlines the national peculiarities of the history of education on either side of the Channel. It demonstrates that the period saw the emergence of two distinct models of female schooling in France and England, which might respectively be characterised as ‘conventual’ and ‘domestic’. Exploring the contrasts between these conceptions of the school, my work sheds new light on the evolution of secondary schooling in Europe.
By comparing the experiences of women on either side of the Channel, my research also engages with the question of national differences in notions of femininity. Using the comparative study of girls’ boarding schools as a prism through which to explore how conceptions of femininity were shaped and acted out in practice, my thesis uncovers the complex interaction of the forces shaping women’s lives in the nineteenth century; it demonstrates the interpenetration of gender with all aspects of life, decisively undermining any notion that gender, or religion, or notions of the state, can be treated as dominant.
I will use the fellowship year to build on these finding and to broaden the scope of the thesis. After reviewing my interpretation in the light of recent work on gender and education, I will draw on new research to write two new chapters. First, expanding my study of the role and status of women teachers, I will examine literary and artistic representations of schoolmistresses. Images of forlorn governesses proliferated in the 1840s, generating support for the reform of female education. Yet caricatures of ‘strong-minded women’ were also multiplying, revealing hostility to the idea of female learning. I will look at how such images influenced debates about women’s education and examine the ways in which schoolmistresses might benefit from or be constrained by them. A second new chapter will examine the lives of those women who crossed the Channel and analyse their contribution to the development of educational studies. Women teachers were active in disseminating the pedagogical practices of Pestalozzi and Fröbel in a period that saw the emergence of comparative education as discipline. Did those crossing the Channel in this period help to foster pedagogical innovation? I will explore this question while uncovering the ways in which education might enable women to cross both national and gender boundaries through their work.
As a National Academy of Education/Spencer Post-Doctoral Fellow, I look forward to contributing to current debates and to benefiting from intellectual exchange with leading scholars in both education and gender studies. With the support of the NAE and Spencer Foundation, I hope to produce a book offering a stimulating and original contribution to ongoing debates about national differences in notions of femininity and significantly extending our knowledge of the history of education in Europe in the nineteenth century.
Vanessa Fong, Harvard University
The Motivations and Experiences of Youth From the People’s Republic of China Who Study in First World Countries
My project will follow a cohort of young adults from Dalian City, China on their quests to study in First World countries such as Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Most of these youth are subjects of a longitudinal project I began in 1997. Some of them are already abroad, while others are trying to get opportunities to study abroad. I will spend time living with those currently abroad, as well as with those currently in China. Using a survey and participant observation, I will try to answer the following questions: Why do Chinese youth want to study abroad? What factors enable some of them to do so? What factors prevent most of them from doing so? What factors cause some of them to continue seeking opportunities to study abroad even after many setbacks? How do they choose which countries to study in? Why do some of them try to become permanent immigrants after studying abroad? Why do some of them return to China after studying abroad? My study will provide insights about the motivations and experiences of international students that will be helpful to educators, policymakers, and international students themselves.
In addition to documenting the experiences of Chinese students who permanently immigrate to their host countries, I will also be able to document the experiences of two kinds of people that usually fall between the cracks of scholarship on immigration and international education: Those who initially want to study abroad but are prevented from doing so or lose their desire to do so; and those who return to their home country after studying abroad. I will also be able to learn about the factors that cause individuals to choose particular countries as their study abroad destinations, and compare the experiences of Chinese youth studying in different First World countries. Finally, I will be able to document the experiences and motivations of international students who fall into a broader academic and socioeconomic range than that represented in the existing literature on international students.
The bulk of my previous research was conducted in Dalian, a northeastern Chinese city where I observed the home and school lives of teenagers born under the one-child policy that began in 1979. My proposed study of Chinese youth who study abroad will be part of a longitudinal project that follows members of this cohort throughout the course of their lives.
The process of applying for student visas and admission to First World schools often takes several years, during which many applicants put their lives on hold, avoiding courtship, marriage, opportunities for further education in China, and jobs that require long-term contracts. Chinese citizens’ visa applications are often rejected by First World countries. Some applicants give up on the idea of study abroad after the first setback; others, however, continue pursuing study abroad opportunities for years, often targeting several different countries in succession. My project will examine the social, economic, and psychological factors that cause some youth to be more eager and persistent than others in the pursuit of study abroad. I will also examine how Chinese youth understand and evaluate differences between different countries’ policies regarding visas, international students, and immigration.
I hope that the results of my project will help educators and policymakers make it easier for international students to achieve their goals. My analysis will also provide international students and prospective international students with a comparative perspective on the options, obstacles, and opportunities they might experience in their quests to study abroad.
David Gamson, Pennsylvania State University
The District Undone: Reorganizing, Reforming, and Reinventing the School District, 1925-2005
After enduring decades of vilification, the American school district has recently been rediscovered as a vibrant mechanism for school reform. Across the country, cadres of practitioners and policymakers are returning to the once unfashionable notion that school districts are essential in fostering instructional improvement. This upbeat analytic attitude is, of course, not shared by all observers of contemporary American education. Since the 1960s, politicians, scholars, and reformers of multiple ideological perspectives have argued that many local school systems—especially those in large urban areas—have ossified into rigid bureaucracies that stifle innovation and creativity. In recent years, some innovators have sought to render the district irrelevant, or at least powerless, through vouchers, charter schools, whole-school reform networks, or through statewide standards-based curriculum and testing.
Yet, although we know a good deal about the development of the local control of schooling in the nineteenth century and about the rise of large, centralized, and bureaucratized school systems during the Progressive era, we know remarkably little about the evolution of the school district, that fundamental democratic institution, since WWII. I suggest that the pervasive view of district history—that the school district has remained a relatively static institution since the early twentieth century—has shrouded a fascinating story of the ways in which districts have evolved in response to state and federal mandates, national reform movements, and a shifting political climate. My preliminary research and analysis suggests that the traditional authority, duties, and expectations of the American school district have been significantly altered—if not eroded—through multiple, and often conflicting, demands over the past half century, beginning with desegregation and continuing with such factors as teacher unionization, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, and special education, among others. As a result, educators and multiple other actors have defined and understood the role of the “school district” in strikingly different and distinct ways throughout the century.
My analysis focuses on the evolution of school districts in the mid-to-late decades of the twentieth century through the development of local case studies about districtwide curriculum reforms, statewide efforts to create intermediate district units of education, and the impact of desegregation on key district instructional and administrative responsibilities. I anticipate examining districts in one or two midwestern states (Minnesota or Illinois, potentially) that undertook serious curriculum reform between the 1930s and 1970s and at districts in southern states or border states (possibly Florida, Virginia, and Missouri) that engaged in both curriculum reform and desegregation during the same period. Southern and border states are especially important to this study, because, since the Civil War, most of these school systems have utilized the county unit as the primary local education agency. St. Louis, for example, offers an intriguing case of a city that experienced nationally recognized curriculum reform during the 1920s-30s and desegregation in the 1950s-60s, all the while nested within a county system of local control.
Leslie Morrison Gutman, University of Michigan
Understanding the Effects of School Context on the Academic Achievement of African American and White Students
It has been almost half a century after Brown v. Board of Education, yet the achievement gap persists between African American and White students. How does the school context contribute to the achievement gap between African American and White students from middle school to college? The proposed study addresses this critical question. Specific aims include: (1) To examine how changes in students’ perceptions of the school context from middle school to high school influence their academic trajectories; (2) To investigate how school-wide characteristics moderate the relation between students’ perceptions of the school context and their academic trajectories; and (3) To analyze how these processes predict the quantity and type of tertiary education in which students are engaged. Research aims will be examined using a six-wave, longitudinal study of African American and White students from diverse socioeconomic status backgrounds. Analytical techniques will include hierarchical linear modeling, multiple regression, and logistic regression. These findings can provide important insights into avenues for school intervention. For example, results from this research could help identify the school experiences and characteristics that allow many African Americans to negotiate higher education institutions successfully. Understanding the factors that contribute to the achievement gap between African American and White students is essential for addressing disparities in educational outcomes as well as in subsequent earnings.
Michael Inzlicht, New York University
Losing Self-control: The Impact of the Gender, Racial, or Ethnic Makeup of a Classroom
Individuals belonging to socially disadvantaged groups now occupy positions in schools, employment settings, and legislative bodies that were once reserved for White males. Yet education research continues to paint a portrait of under-representation for these individuals. Women, for example, currently comprise only 38% of faculty in American universities, and less than 10% of physics and engineering graduate students. Similarly, only 12% of all students enrolled in undergraduate programs at US colleges and universities are Black. This under-representation reflects a number of barriers for these groups. For the past few years, however, my research has shown that this under-representation can also contribute to the problems these groups face. For example, my research has shown that being outnumbered in a group can impair the optimal intellectual performance of stigmatized groups and create what I call a threatening environment. Finding ways educators can effectively buffer people from threatening intellectual environments is the ultimate aim of the proposed research. To fulfill this aim, I will pursue two overarching goals. One is to better understand the causes and consequences of threatening environments—what factors influence their effects, and what educational outcomes do they influence? The second goal is to test theoretically derived methods that may reduce the impact of threatening environments.
Although my research shows that group-composition can undermine performance, we still don’t know what underlies these deficits. One possibility is that minority environments drain self-control strength, which can be defined as the mental effort individuals use to regulate or alter their behavior. Research is now beginning to reveal that people have only a limited supply of self-control strength, and that any task requiring controlled, willful action quickly depletes this central resource. In this proposal I examine whether minority environments can limit the amount of self-control that stigmatized individuals can exert and so impair their cognitive functioning. I examine how the gender composition of (a) university classrooms and (b) ad-hoc laboratory groups, can impact the self-control and intellectual performance of female math students. In addition, I will conduct a theoretically derived intervention that teaches students how to improve their self-control and so overcome the barriers present in their everyday minority environments. Discovering that minority environments hamper self-control—and educational outcomes as a consequence—has profound implication for both theory and application. It would reveal the underlying causes of threatening intellectual environments and so help us develop interventions that address these issues.
Nan Jiang, Georgia State University
Conceptual Development in Adult Second Language Learning
When adults learn a new language, they may associate new words with pre-existing concepts or meanings, they may develop new concepts, or they may do both. Second language (L2) researchers disagree about how successful adult L2 learners are in developing a new conceptual system while learning a new language. Research evidence is scarce. This study explores the interaction of conceptual transfer and conceptual development in adult second language acquisition from a psycholinguistic perspective. A series of studies will be carried out that examine conceptual representation and development of adult L2 learners through the observation of their lexical performance in controlled lab settings. Two unique features distinguish this project from all other studies on the topic, i.e., the use of psycholinguistic experimental methods and the involvement of L2 learners at different proficiency levels, including near-native L2 speakers. The findings will illuminate the psychological processes involved in conceptual development and transfer in adult L2 acquisition. They will also provide important insights for the study of cross-cultural communication, the relationship between language and thought, and the development of effective L2 teaching approaches.
Tami Katzir, Harvard University
Reading Fluency: The Whole is More Than its Parts: A Cross-Linguistic Investigation of Reading Fluency
Cross-linguistic studies provide a unique tool for the identification of universal processes in oral and written language, both in development and in breakdown (Bates, Devescovi, & Wulfeck, 2001). Examining the differential strengths and weaknesses of average-achieving and struggling readers in contrasting orthographies can help illumine both the more universal aspects of reading development, as well as the language-specific attributes. The aim of this study is to investigate the shared and distinctive characteristics of readers from two cultures on reading and reading fluency across Hebrew and English orthographies. We will compare the performance of 80 Hebrew- and English- speaking children with and without reading challenges in fourth grade on a battery of cognitive, linguistic, and reading measures, as well as on their attitudes towards reading and home literacy background. Implications for reading assessment and intervention in the two languages will be discussed.
Jee-Seon Kim, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Testing the Impact of Omitted School Variables in Hierarchical Linear Models and Obtaining Robust Statistical Estimators
Despite decades of effort, results concerning the effects of school variables on student learning remain mixed. Recently, it has been argued that these inconsistent findings may be due in part to the inappropriateness of the models utilized in the statistical analysis. For example, if school and teacher characteristics are not included in a model, the tests for the effects of variables included in the model are invalid unless it is assumed that school and teacher characteristics are uncorrelated with the variables in the model. This restrictive assumption is often violated in reality, leading to what is referred to as omitted variable bias. Even though researchers are aware of the danger of this bias, it is often infeasible to collect the requisite data in studies that are strictly observational.
This project develops and investigates a battery of statistical tests for assessing the impact of omitted school variables in the analysis of complex educational data sets. Using a general multilevel modeling framework, this project aims to integrate a number of existing approaches into a unified methodology, and it provides new options for handling omitted variables in the types of hierarchical and/or longitudinal data sets that are ubiquitous in educational research.
Ruth López Turley, University of Wisconsin, Madison
When College Proximity Matters
The proposed study investigates the effect of college proximity on high school students’ probabilities of applying to college. It uses two main datasets: 1) a restricted version of the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS), which allows me to approximate where a national sample of about 17,000 high school seniors lived in 1992, and 2) the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), which provides data from all US postsecondary education institutions in 1992, including their locations. Using geographic software (Arcview) and the help of cartographers at the University of Wisconsin Applied Population Lab, I plan to map where the students lived in 1992, relative to where colleges and universities are located. This mapping will allow me to create a measure of how many colleges are located within a given commuting distance for each student (as opposed to only measuring the distance to the nearest college), and colleges will be grouped by type, such as 2- or 4-year colleges, and public or private colleges. Logistic regression analyses will then estimate the effect of local college opportunities on the probability of applying to college, controlling for a variety of other factors expected to influence the probability of applying to college.
In addition, NELS asked the students’ parents about the importance of having their children “attend school while living at home.” Along with economic factors, this measure of parents’ wishes will help determine which students are geographically limited due to social pressures from home. Additional measures of home obligations, such as contributing toward household living expenses and providing childcare for younger siblings will also be explored. Early analyses suggest that parents who feel it is important for their children to live at home while attending college have a significant negative effect on their children’s chances of applying to college. Students whose parents feel it is important to live at home (about 50% nationwide) are significantly less likely to apply to college than comparable students whose parents do not feel it is important. Furthermore, the college application gap is actually wider for high achievers than for low achievers, suggesting that high achievers are particularly disadvantaged when their parents want them to stay home for college.
This rich mix of geographic, sociological, educational, and economic data are a unique opportunity to investigate the contextual influences on a student’s probability of applying to college. In particular, the interaction between a student’s social context in the home and his or her geographic location will help determine the extent to which college proximity matters and if it matters more for some students than for others. I expect to find that students whose parents want them to live at home during college and who do not have many colleges within commuting distance are particularly likely to forego applying to college, even if they are academically qualified. Students whose parents want them to stay home but who live close to colleges (appropriate for their qualifications) will probably be more likely to apply to college but not as likely as students whose parents do not feel it is important for them to stay home. Empirical analyses will help address some of the ways in which geographic and social barriers to education can be reduced.
Mairéad MacSweeney, University College London
Exploring the Contribution of Phonological Processing to Reading in People Born Profoundly Deaf
Despite normal non-verbal cognitive skills many deaf children leave school aged 16 with a reading age of 9-years-old (Allen, 1986). A functional level of literacy is becoming more and more vital for everyday life. Improving literacy education is of even greater importance if deaf people are to reach the professional status in their working lives that is commensurate with their non-verbal cognitive skills. Sensitivity to the phonological structure of a spoken language is thought to be fundamental to learning to read that language (e.g., Goswami & Bryant, 1990). Given that deaf people have limited access to spoken language phonology their awareness of phonological structure is usually poorer than that of their hearing peers (e.g., MacSweeney et al., 1996). Although not acting in isolation, poor phonological skills are often regarded as the primary contributor to the generally poor reading attainment of deaf children (see Perfetti & Sandak, 2000).
The main goal of the proposed research is to explore phonological processing in people born profoundly deaf. The focus will be on spoken language phonology, but sign language phonological processing will also be explored. This will contribute to the controversial issue of whether or not sign language knowledge can be used as a bridge to literacy for deaf people (e.g., Mayer & Wells, 1996). This research will be carried out in collaboration with Prof. Helen Neville at the University of Oregon. Alongside behavioural data, event-related potentials (ERPs) will be measured. This allows examination of ‘brain-waves’ evoked when different cognitive tasks are performed. Deaf and hearing subjects may both judge hair and bear to rhyme, however they may have reached this decision based on different phonological representations and/or by using different phonological processes. The ERP technique allows us access to neural ‘signatures’ of these underlying processes.
This research project forms part of a more extensive research program in which I have explored reading skills in deaf adults who are good or poor readers, and native signers of British Sign Language. I have used a variety of measures of phonological awareness and looked at the neural systems underlying this skill using fMRI. This allows good spatial resolution of where processes occur in the brain but provides poor information regarding timing. The current project complements this research perfectly by employing the ERP methodology which provides excellent temporal resolution. Measuring ERPs will offer fresh insights into phonological processing during reading in people born deaf. These studies will provide novel evidence which will allow better evaluation of the phonological approach to literacy education in deaf children.
Yolanda Majors, University of Illinois, Chicago
A Study of Working Intelligence
This study proposes to continue a line of research that closely examines the skilled practices of working participants within a high-tech, multifaceted, urban African American hair salon and spa. I look to consider how cultural funds of knowledge correspond with domain specific skills to achieve work-task related goals. My central concern is how speakers of African American English (AAE) grapple with work related tasks by making use of related knowledge, skills and culturally situated norms for talk.
I intend to identify the skilled, manual performances on multiple tasks within one workplace and their systematic characteristics as they contribute to teaching and learning within that context. I will analyze audio and videotapes, field notes, focus group interviews and transcripts of recorded activity. Analysis will focus on task related skills, interaction patterns, the role and structure of discourse, and the nature of task related problem solving. Based on the questions addressed in this study, I will then be able to take this knowledge and inform curriculum design.
Michele S. Moses, Arizona State University
Moral Disagreement, Affirmative Action, and Meaningful Educational Opportunity
The purpose of this philosophical analysis is to investigate the enduring moral disagreement over affirmative action in light of the 2003 United States Supreme Court rulings in the University of Michigan cases in order to make sense of the different policy prescriptions that emerge despite ostensible agreement on key moral and political values. The Supreme Court’s decisions in the Michigan cases, Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger (2003), affirm the importance of racial and ethnic diversity to higher education. Nevertheless, the disagreement over race-conscious admissions policies persists; as a result, educational opportunities for the least advantaged students remain tenuous. The rulings provide a substantial opportunity to get beyond the ideological debates and shift the moral conversation in a new direction. The debate over affirmative action exposes important common concerns by those at various points on the political spectrum. For example, both proponents and opponents of race-conscious admissions policies claim to value the ideal of equality of opportunity. Similarly, each supports diversity (see Amicus Curiae briefs in the Michigan cases by American Council on Education, 2003 and United States, 2003). A central question thus emerges: How is it that those on either side of the affirmative action debate share significant moral ideals yet endorse opposing policy prescriptions? In a related vein, how are important ideals like equality, liberty, opportunity, diversity, and merit conceptualized within the political debate?
I aim to bring political philosophy to bear on reshaping the moral landscape around affirmative action and other deeply contested education policy issues that affect equality of educational opportunity. Scholars no longer need to focus singularly on arguing for or against affirmative action itself. Such analyses will do little to advance the moral conversation around affirmative action. What is needed and what I propose to tackle is an examination of the underpinnings of the disagreement that goes beyond those arguments to get at the deeper moral and political conflicts that shape how we view what justice requires of education policy. This is a pivotal time for affirmative action policy. The Supreme Court has made a momentous ruling in the Michigan cases. Based largely on the principles of libertarian political theory, affirmative action opponents are waging state campaigns to abolish affirmative action in higher education admissions despite the Supreme Court’s rulings. The political debate rages on. My aim is to shed new light on the persistent moral disagreement over affirmative action and other race-conscious policies so that, for example, equality of educational opportunity can be understood in a meaningful way, rather than just a slogan that can be easily endorsed by people with quite different policy ideas.
This research is intertwined with a larger project that analyzes other policies affecting educational opportunities for the least advantaged students, such as college outreach programs, welfare-to-work policy, and high stakes high school graduation/college entrance testing policy. A deeper understanding of the nature of the disagreement over such education policies constitutes an important step in negotiating policies that honor educational opportunities for all students.
Ann Mullen, University of Toronto, Scarborough
Gender, Socio-Economic Status, and the Link Between Higher Education and Career Choice
In the United States, though women have gained parity with men in access to postsecondary education, strong patterns of gender segregation by major fields of study persist. These patterns are troubling because they are directly linked to both occupational segregation of men and women as well as gender disparities in earnings. This multi-method study undertakes a detailed analysis of the decision making processes around college major and future occupation choice among women and men across socioeconomic levels. In addition, this study traces these choices to college graduates’ occupational outcomes, including labor force participation, salary, and occupational status. Drawing on a rich qualitative data set including 100 in-depth interviews with junior and senior university students at two sites, this study explores three sets of factors related to choice of major: educational experiences, occupational expectations and family planning. In addition, analyses evaluate how these factors may differ in character and weight by gender and socio-economic background and explore the influence of two different types of postsecondary institutions. Utilizing data from Baccalaureate and Beyond, a large-scale nationally representative survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, quantitative analyses compliment the qualitative data by providing a statistical portrait of national differences in choice of major by gender and SES as well as charting the occupational consequences of these choices.
John Rudolph, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Apparatus and Epistemology: The Material Dimensions of the Science Classroom in the 1960s
The relationship between the scientific research community and the public has historically been one fraught with tension and misunderstanding. Since the inception of our modern system of mass education in the United States, school science—the science of the textbook, wall chart, and laboratory—has operated continuously to define for the public just what science is and what it has to offer society as a result. Drawing on recent work in the field of science studies, this project will examine the manner in which one component of school science—classroom laboratory apparatus—has contributed to public perceptions of how science has been practiced in the United States. The project entails the development of a historical case study that will look at the materials developed by both research scientists and commercial scientific supply companies during the flurry of educational-reform activity that followed in the wake of Sputnik. The goal is to see what fundamental notions of knowledge production these “things” embodied and possibly conveyed to students. Through this analysis, I hope to contribute to a greater understanding of the larger question of how school science serves to mediate the relationship between science and the public.
Diana Selig, Claremont McKenna College
Cultural Gifts: American Liberals and the Origins of Multiculturalism, 1924-1945
This book project reconstructs the little-known crusade against prejudice that flourished in the United States after World War I. It argues that as early as the 1920s, pluralist thinking made its way into schools, homes, and churches across the country. Drawing on new developments in social science, progressive educators taught children about the “cultural gifts” that various ethnic, racial, and religious groups brought to the United States. They countered the nativist and racist trends of the era to propose that immigrants made important contributions to the nation. These educators rejected the melting-pot theory of assimilation to suggest that ethnic identity could be compatible with Americanism.
The project analyzes the strategies, strengths, and limitations of cultural gifts education. It argues that while cultural gifts succeeded in promoting an inclusive American identity, it was marked by important oversights. In particular, its inability to account for the experience of African Americans, who suffered entrenched forms of discrimination and disfranchisement, limited its effectiveness. By the post-World War II years, cultural gifts had fallen from favor, replaced by new educational approaches to addressing difference and unity in American life. Even so, its legacy has persisted, informing more recent movements for multicultural education and ethnic studies.
Thomas Max Smith, Vanderbilt University
Will They Stay or Will They Go? Using Organizational Theory to Examine Policy Effects on New Teacher Turnover
My project will apply organizational theory to better understand policy effects on turnover among beginning teachers. The study will use the nationally and state representative Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and its longitudinal component the Teacher Follow-up Survey (TFS) to examine why new teachers quit their positions at such high rates. Specifically, the project will focus on how (a) pre-service socialization, including pedagogical coursework and the number of weeks of practice teaching, (b) socialization during the first year of teaching, including participation in induction/mentorship programs and collaborative planning with other teachers, and (c) administrative support, including principals’ buffering of non-instructional activities, are related to the likelihood that a teacher will leave teaching or change schools at the end of their first year of teaching. I will also examine whether different types of support for first year teachers attenuate a “socialization gap” that may exist between teachers receiving different types of pre-service education and experience. Finally, I will examine the extent to which state-level regulations regarding teacher hiring and state-level curriculum and accountability policies explain between-state variation in the likelihood of turnover among beginning teachers.
Olga Solomon, University of California, Los Angeles
The “Rapid Prompting” Method of Communicating with Severely Autistic Children: A Language Socialization Study
The study will analyze the innovative practice of “Rapid Prompting” in teaching severely autistic, deemed “non-verbal” children to communicate. Developed by Soma Mukhopadhyay, a mother of a severely autistic boy, and introduced by her at one of the schools for severely autistic children in Los Angeles, the method involves tactile, visual and linguistic stimuli that focus the child’s attention on written alphabetic and numerical symbols, which the child is repeatedly and rapidly prompted to indicate. The study will employ language socialization and discourse analytic methodologies, which incorporate participant observation and video recording in naturalistic environments. The study will examine video-recorded interactions between ten severely autistic children and the instructor, Soma Mukhopadhyay from the time of their initial meeting and throughout the instructional process. The training sessions between instructor, teachers and parents will be also video-recorded and analyzed to document their apprenticeship into the use of “Rapid Prompting”. The study will focus on the following analytic questions: How do severely autistic children display their communicative abilities? How does the instructor set up tasks and signal task completion? What verbal and non-verbal actions does the instructor undertake for “prompting” during tasks? The study will provide critical, baseline information concerning the communicative capabilities of severely autistic children and, importantly, the language socialization strategies that promote their realization. Documentation of the “Rapid Prompting” Method’s impact on severely autistic children’s communication with teachers and caregivers will contribute to creating new approaches to education of these children.