2016 NAEd/SPENCER POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWS
Laura Aull, Wake Forest University
Laura L. Aull is an Assistant Professor of English and Linguistics at Wake Forest University. Her research focuses on rhetorical and corpus linguistic analysis of academic and popular genres and can be found in Written Communication, Assessing Writing, Corpora, College Composition and Communication, Journal of English for Academic Purposes, and Composition Forum. She is the author of First-Year University Writing: A Corpus-Based Study with Implications for Pedagogy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).
A Generalizing Genre: The Development and Dangers of the American Essay in School and Public Discourse
American mass readership essays, such as those in Harpers and New Yorker, developed in the early 20th century alongside the expansion of U.S. higher education and the middle class. Consistent with these developments, the genre intimated a shared U.S. culture, one in which subcultures or groups were largely glossed over in favor of collective American experiences and beliefs. Today, the generalist essay persists in many contexts, from secondary and college assessments to popular magazines and op-ed pieces; and it continues to be characterized by universalizing language that bears more scrutiny. This project uses corpus linguistic analysis of large text databases to identify recurring linguistic patterns related to generalizations and to examine their appearance over the past 100 years in generalist U.S. essay writing. In doing so, it considers how the generalist essay developed in the twentieth century, how it is used today, and what implications follow given its frequent use in U.S. schooling and public debate. In particular, it explores implications for the discursive legacy of the essay–repeatedly, if subtly, characterized by generalizations–in a world of diverse perspectives.
Bianca Baldridge, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Bianca J. Baldridge is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Dr. Baldridge earned her PhD from Columbia University’s Teachers College. Her scholarship examines the political and social context of community-based educational spaces and afterschool education. Dr. Baldridge’s work critically examines the confluence of race, class, and gender, and its impact on neoliberal economic and educational reforms that shape community-based educational spaces engaging youth of color in marginalized communities. Further, Dr. Baldridge’s scholarship explores the organizational and pedagogical practices employed by youth workers/community-based educators and their connection to school spaces amidst neoliberal education restructuring. As an ethnographer, she closely examines the experiences of youth and educators within community-based educational spaces. Her work has been published in the American Educational Research Journal, Race, the journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Education, and Contemporary Sociology. Dr. Baldridge’s experiences as a community-based educator within community-based youth programs continues to inform her research in profound ways.
Exploring Race and Opportunity within Community-based Educational Spaces
While schools are consistently included in discourse about race and educational opportunity, community-based educational spaces (e.g., afterschool programs, community-based youth organizations) and the pedagogical strategies they employ are overlooked in the ways they both challenge and reproduce racial disparities and inequities. This study explores how racial disparities discourse manifests in a context where liberal and progressive ideas are overtly expressed even as persistent racial and structural inequities pervade these ideas. As such, this research examines the processes community-based educational spaces cultivate to assist Black youth in making meaning of racial disparities and educational opportunity.
Under neoliberal models of reform, measuring academic achievement is often reduced to test scores; as such, the social, political, and cultural education within community-based spaces are compromised (Baldridge, 2014). This study explores how youth workers resist this pressure and strive to build spaces where students can process racial disparities and its connection to education. While educational research has explored the racial meanings young people make within their school contexts and how it shapes their academic performance and engagement with the school environment (Carter, 2005; Lewis & Diamond, 2015; Pollock, 2005), few studies highlight how racial narratives about Black youth inform the practices of youth workers within community-based spaces or how social issues stemming from schools and neighborhoods are mitigated within community-based spaces.
This qualitative study will employ a critical ethnographic approach and will consist of multiple data sources, including historical mapping and narrative collection of the ways racial discourse has shifted over time via media archives and interviews with longtime community members regarding how Black youth are and have been engaged around issues of race in community-based educational spaces. Additionally, the organizational and pedagogical practices of specific community-based after school spaces will be studied. Youth response and sense making of these practices will be captured.
This study attempts to fill gaps in research on community-based educational spaces and explore the role they have in shaping, resisting, or reproducing racial narratives about Black youth. This project seeks to affirm youth voice and the knowledge and expertise of youth workers (1) to help legitimize the work of community-based educators who are often intimately aware of complex struggles facing youth in settings where racial disparities are immense even as progressive discourse thrives, and (2) to recognize the critical role that community-based educational spaces can play in fostering racial identity and critical consciousness of young people, and their educational experiences and outcomes. While community-based programs are generally regarded as important places to provide youth with a wide range of opportunities for academic and social development, they are still on the periphery of educational discourse. Greater scholarly attention must be given to the pedagogical processes employed by community-based educational spaces in order to move them from the periphery to the center of educational discourse and pedagogical innovation. Implications from this work can complement school based research on race and educational opportunity and encourage meaningful school-community partnerships for optimal educational experiences and outcomes for Black youth. Scholarship produced from this research will help foreground the pedagogical possibilities within community-based educational spaces.
Kabria Baumgartner, College of Wooster
Kabria Baumgartner is an Assistant Professor of History at the College of Wooster in Ohio. Her research and teaching interests focus on early American history, African American women’s history, social movements, and the history of education in the United States. Her recent publications have appeared or are forthcoming in the Journal of African American Studies, New England Quarterly, and Journal of the Early Republic. She is currently working on her book manuscript, A Right To Learn: African American Women and Educational Activism in Early America, which is the first full-length study of African American women’s education in early America. Her work has been supported by the Spencer Foundation, American Antiquarian Society, and the Library Company of Philadelphia, where she was a Mellon Fellow in the Program in African American History in 2014-15. Baumgartner completed her Ph.D. in African American Studies and a Certificate in Feminist Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
A Right To Learn: African American Women and Educational Activism in Early America
A Right To Learn: African American Women and Educational Activism in Early America explores how free and enslaved African American women in the nominally free states of early America fought for educational access and opportunity. This study analyzes a range of initiatives that African American women pursued, from writing children’s literature and campaigning for school desegregation to teaching. Instead of viewing these initiatives as discrete actions, this study juxtaposes them. I argue that African American women such as Sarah Mapps Douglass, Susan Paul, and Sojourner Truth launched a dynamic, grassroots campaign for education to empower themselves and their communities to claim social, political, and economic rights. In doing so, these women acted as educational reformers, defending their right to learn.
Michelle Bellino, University of Michigan
Michelle Bellino is an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan School of Education. Her research centers on young people’s understanding of historical injustice, whether experienced directly or shaped through school curriculum, family narratives, or social movements. In her work, she traces youth experiences from schools to their homes and communities in order to understand how knowledge and attitudes toward injustice travel across public and private spaces, as well as between generations. She asks how young people construct understandings of justice and injustice, while shaping an evolving sense of themselves as local and global civic actors. Her work has been featured in Harvard Educational Review; Education, Citizenship, and Social Justice; Comparative Education Review; and collections on history education and human rights. She has been recognized as a Peace Scholar by the United States Institute of Peace; a Concha Delgado Gaitan Presidential Fellow by the Council of Anthropology and Education; and a Gail P. Kelly Dissertation Award recipient by the Comparative and International Education Society for her work on equity and social justice in international contexts.
Education and belonging in the context of an unknowable future: Youth aspirations in Kakuma Refugee Camp
As unprecedented numbers of forcibly displaced youth migrate and integrate into stable and weak democracies across the globe, it is crucial to understand the purpose and relevance of education for this population. Research has demonstrated the significant role of schools in shaping young people’s evolving sense of civic identity, agency, and belonging. Yet we know little about how educational experiences of refugee youth shape their long-term prospects for social mobility, belonging, and civic participation, within and across national borders. Drawing on participatory and ethnographic methods, this study employs the framework of youth citizenship as a lens into educational interactions in a refugee camp setting, where opportunities for participation and inclusion are constrained. Through participant observation in classrooms and communities, this study documents the educational trajectories of a youth cohort over three years as they develop their aspirations amidst protracted uncertainty. The participatory dimension of this work explores the ways in which refugee youth leverage their voice to advocate for educational change. Findings resulting from this study can deepen our understanding of how schools convey, constrain, and create youth civic pathways, so that we can contribute to young people’s sense of inclusion and their civic capacities to shape a better future.
Kendra Bischoff, Cornell University
Kendra Bischoff is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Cornell University. Her research focuses on social stratification and inequality, education, and urban sociology. In current and past projects, she investigates the causes and consequences of racial and economic residential segregation, the effect of school context on student outcomes, the civic aspect of K-12 education, and the changing relationship between schools and their local neighborhoods. She received her B.A. from Pomona College and her Ph.D. in Sociology from Stanford University where she also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Equality of Opportunity and Education in the Center for Ethics in Society. She was awarded the AERA Education Policy and Politics Outstanding Dissertation Award, and her work has been published in a variety of outlets, including the American Journal of Sociology, Demography, Urban Affairs Review, and Theory and Research in Education. Prior to graduate school, Dr. Bischoff was an Americorps volunteer in a high school in New Mexico and a researcher in the Education Policy Center at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC.
Neighborhood Inequality, School Choice, and the Changing Relationship between Schools and Local Communities
Neighborhoods and schools are two of the primary social contexts influencing child development, educational attainment, and wellbeing. Historically, the racial and socioeconomic composition of schools and their surrounding neighborhoods have been highly correlated in the United States, in large part because most students attend school based on their residential location. However, substantial changes in the demographic composition of urban neighborhoods and in the degree of choice in urban education may be decoupling schools from their local neighborhoods. These transformations raise important questions for sociologists and education policy-makers about the evolving relationship between schools and neighborhoods, and pose new challenges for understanding how social inequality is generated and maintained.
This project explores a set of questions relating to the link between school and neighborhood populations. First, my research investigates how neighborhood characteristics affect the demographic link between neighborhoods and schools. For example, in which kinds of neighborhoods is the association between neighborhood and school poverty strongest or weakest? And, how does growth in neighborhood socioeconomic advantage and school choice options affect changes in the link between schools and local communities over time? Second, I investigate whether school choice affects preferences for the racial and socioeconomic composition of neighborhoods. Although scholars have studied how school choice affects school segregation, few have directly addressed the relationship between school choice and residential segregation.
Brian Burt, Iowa State University
Dr. Brian A. Burt is Assistant Professor of Higher Education in the School of Education at Iowa State University. His program of research utilizes qualitative methodological approaches to study the experiences of graduate students, and the institutional policies and practices that influence students’ educational and workforce pathways. His current research projects fall in two strands: 1) understanding the science of team science, and 2) exploring the experiences of underrepresented graduate students of color in engineering. He is the PI of a project funded by the National Science Foundation’s Iowa Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). Through this project he seeks to understand the experiences of Black men in engineering graduate studies that promote or turn them away from engineering pathways. The implications of his research have the capacity to improve student-to-faculty (as well as student-to-student) interactions, and inform recommendations for the (re)design of supportive teaching and learning environments. Brian earned his Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of Michigan, a M.A. in Educational Policy and Leadership Studies (with a concentration in Higher Education Administration) from the University of Maryland-College Park, and a B.S. in Secondary English Education from Indiana University-Bloomington.
Exploring Learning and Theorizing Engineering Identity: The Key to Sustaining STEM Participation for Black Men
Why are Black men underrepresented in engineering fields? For those who make it to graduate school, what makes them stay? Embedded in these questions are several assumptions: that the choice to participate in STEM is that of Black men themselves; that there are not larger social structures that prevent Black men from participating in STEM; and, that there are not pervasive systems that make it easier for Black men to “choose” to leave STEM. My current research suggests that engineering students develop a perception of what it means to be an engineer and do the work of engineering (i.e., what I refer to as “engineering identity”) that shapes whether – and in what ways – Black men in graduate school come to view themselves as long-term participants in STEM.
This theory-generating study seeks to better understand engineering identity and its role in long-term participation in STEM. Extending a current project funded by the National Science Foundation’s Iowa Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), and drawing from its research design, this proposed study will include two rounds of one-on-one interviews with 20 Black men who are graduate students in engineering attending two Association of American Universities (AAU) institutions (10 students at each university). Interview questions will focus on identifying the critical contexts and relationships that shape Black men’s engineering identity. At the conclusion of this study, a new theory on engineering identity will be generated to expand existing understandings of the complexities of STEM participation for Black men. This new scholarship will be useful in developing policies and practices that improve graduate experiences and increase the likelihood of continued participation in engineering for Black men.
Katharine Destler, Western Washington University
Katharine Destler is Assistant Professor at the Political Science Department at Western Washington University. She specializes in public policy and American politics, with a focus on education policy, civic participation and policy implementation. She comes to Western from George Mason University, where she served as a faculty member in the School of Policy, Government and International Affairs. A former K-12 English and social studies teacher, she graduated from the Evans School of Public Affairs with a PhD in Public Policy and Management. She also holds an AB in Comparative Literature from Brown University and a Masters in English Teaching from the University of Virginia. Destler has published research on performance management policy, organizational climate, teacher pay, and charter school policy in a range of peer-reviewed journals. She is currently at work on a project that examines how race, class and diversity affect citizen involvement in schools. Professor Destler is committed to applied policy work. In the past, she has worked with both school districts and non-profit organizations, helping them not only design new policies but also manage the politics of enactment and implementation. At Western, Destler teaches courses on American politics, public policy and bureaucratic politics.
Building Bridges or Raising Walls? School Choice and the Distribution of Students Across Schools
Since the first charter school opened in 1992, school choice has had a persistent, if at times uneven, rise throughout much of the country. In some cities, the majority of public school students attend a school other than the one assigned to them based on where they live. These changes have important implications for students’ and families’ social and economic opportunities and for their connections to each other, their neighborhoods, and their schools. Cox and Wilco write, “Indeed, if choice programs help to create social capital this may be reason enough to support them”(2008).
Not all social capital is equal, however. Putnam has usefully distinguished bridging social capital, which unites diverse groups, from bonding social capital, which tightens links within groups to the possible detriment of cross-group relations (2001). By enabling families to opt into schools outside their neighborhood boundaries, public school choice programs may provide an alternative mechanism to bring together parents with distinct social and economic backgrounds. Yet school choice can also exacerbate social divisions by enabling families to self-segregate into homogenous communities.
Research to date has been mixed (Bifulco & Ladd, 2007; Frankenberg, Siegel-Hawley, Wang, & Orfield, 2012; Gulosino & D’entremont, 2011; Kahlenberg & Potter, 2014; Ritter, Jensen, Kisida, & McGee, 2010Weiher & Tedin, 2002). We need to know more about whether, and under what conditions, school choice provides the base conditions for bridging and bonding social capital. Toward that end, this project asks:
What is the relationship between school choice and the racial and economic composition of school communities?
To answer this question, I combine quantitative analyses of national student enrollment data over multiple years with qualitative interviews of policymakers, school leaders, and community members in a select sample of American cities. By examining multiple sites, I move beyond questions of whether school choice perpetuates or mitigates segregation to identify the conditions under which school choice is most likely to foster bridges across groups.
This project has significance for theory and for social policy. To the extent that schools of choice foster bonding social capital at the expense of bridging social capital, they may increase the isolation of underrepresented communities, thereby reinforcing inequality and social stratification. This isolation may undermine the ability of communities to organize on behalf of their children and may limit access to economic opportunities for both adults and children. Conversely, if school choice provides a means for greater bridging across diverse communities, it may enhance opportunities for parents, students and communities alike.
Alan Shane Dillingham, Spring Hill College
Alan Shane Dillingham is assistant professor of history at Spring Hill College, in Mobile, Alabama. His research interests include modern Latin America, indigenous histories, and the Global 1960s. His current research project examines the intersection of indigenous development and anti-colonialism in southern Mexico in the second-half of the twentieth century. In addition to a Spencer Dissertation Fellowship (2011-2012), his work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Inter-American Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Smithsonian Institution. Prior to teaching at Spring Hill, he received his Ph.D. in Latin American History from the University of Maryland in 2012, after which he worked as a visiting assistant professor at Dickinson College and Reed College, respectively. He is the author of “Indigenismo Occupied: Indigenous Youth and Mexico’s Democratic Opening (1968-1975)” (published in the October 2015 issue of The Americas).
Speaking of Difference: The Politics of Indigenous Education and Development in Southern Mexico
This project is one of the first historical studies of mid-twentieth century efforts aimed at incorporating native peoples into national political and economic structures in Latin America. It examines the relationship between indigenous peoples and state initiatives, particularly primary education efforts, through a regional focus on southern Mexico and the state of Oaxaca. For rural and indigenous regions of Latin America, education and development efforts were articulated as dual components of indigenous modernization. The orthodox critique of policies of indigenous modernization, collectively termed indigenismo in Latin America, emphasizes how state celebrations of indigenous aesthetics contribute to a notion of a degraded indigenous present. Scholars have argued that indigenista polices have been at best folkloric in their treatment of native peoples, and at worst a form of ethnocide.
In contrast, this project’s starting point is an understanding of modernization as a contested project, and explores the ways in which indigenous peoples articulated and acted upon their own visions of modernization and education. Through the use of oral histories of indigenous teachers, the project places schooling at the center of the modernization project in order to develop a more nuanced understanding of how indigenous communities experienced the process. By combining attention to both policy and on the ground practice, the research demonstrates the multiple challenges to implementing truly bilingual, what some term intercultural, education in indigenous communities.
The project contributes to the history of Mexican education, by considering together questions that have so far been studied in isolation. Federal rural teachers were central actors in the formation of the postrevolutionary state in Mexico. Federal policymakers understood rural education and literacy campaigns as key achievements of the Mexican Revolution. In the 1930s, Diego Rivera’s murals in the national ministry of education depicted rural teachers as revolutionary heroes, with a book in one hand and a gun in the other. Scholars of Mexican education history have established a robust literature on the role rural teachers played in stitching together an often fractious country, building a national cultural politics synthesized from local practices. Teachers, and the trade unions they went on to found, became key players in a corporatist political culture dominated by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The national teachers trade union, the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE), the largest in Latin America, was a key player in Mexican politics and remains so in the twenty-first century. Scholarship on the teachers union itself focuses on internal struggles for democratization of the union and its relationship to political power. In turn scholarship on education reform focuses on national-level policy debate and institutional change while the scholarship on indigenous communities remains primarily close ethnographic study. This project connects all three of these literatures to examine how trade union practices have shaped classroom instruction, paying particular attention to how national policies intersected with local conditions in southern Mexico.
Sarah Gallo, The Ohio State University
Sarah Gallo is an assistant professor of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University. As an anthropologist of education who conducts ethnographic research across Latin@ immigrant children’s schools, homes, and communities, she critically engages in promoting school-based learning that better recognizes and builds upon young children’s mobile and heterogeneous resources. This includes the traditional and innovative bilingual language and literacy skills that are rarely recognized in their monolingual classrooms and knowledges that they develop related to their immigration experiences. Rather than positioning these educational resources as unwelcome or dangerous for learning, she seeks to bring attention to the ways that we can productively contribute to policies, educational practices, and teacher preparation that recognize bilingualism and immigration experiences—including undocumented status—as axes of difference that must be supported for effective and equitable schooling. Her research has been published in top tier education journals, such as the American Educational Research Journal and Harvard Educational Review. Dr. Gallo holds a Ph.D. in Educational Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania.
Deportations, Forced Repatriation and Transnational Schooling in Mexico
Today’s “deportation regime” in the United States, in which undocumented immigrants are increasingly targeted and deported for minor infractions (De Genova, 2010), has resulted in unprecedented deportations of foreign-born people (Lopez et al., 2011). This includes an estimated annual deportation of 90,000 Mexican parents with U.S.-citizen children. Little is known about the ways repatriated students within a context of heightened deportations navigate schooling in Mexico (González, 2011; see Perez, 2015 and Kleyn, 2015 for important exceptions). This ethnographic study seeks to contribute to this pressing and understudied issue through an exploration of how repatriated primary school students and classroom teachers in Mexico navigate transnational schooling experiences during routine pedagogical interactions. By repatriated I mean those students who have previously lived in Mexico as well as those born in the U.S. to Mexican-origin parents, who themselves have never lived in their parents’ home country. By forced repatriation I seek to focus on the ways that current immigration policies force immigrant families with undocumented members into difficult decisions regarding family separation or repatriation.
Through this study I will be able to extend my previous work on undocumented status and bilingual language and literacy learning in the U.S. by following young students affected by deportations into their Mexican schools. I will unearth the complex educational realities in primary school classrooms for students impacted by family deportations, which will provide insights on the binational educational consequences of immigration policies, how family documentation status shapes young children’s educational trajectories, and how to better support educators to pedagogically leverage the range of educational resources of their diverse students. Through this project I will extend my inquiries in ways that are responsive to the concerns and educational resources of undocumented immigrant families navigating the realities of immigration practices today and to educators on both sides of the border seeking to better support transnational students. This research is significant because it will illustrate the nuanced ways that deportation-based immigration policies shape young children’s educational realities across geopolitical borders.
Gina Garcia, University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Gina Ann Garcia is an assistant professor in the department of Administrative and Policy Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, where she teaches master’s and doctoral students pursuing degrees in higher education and student affairs. Her research centers on issues of equity and diversity in higher education with an emphasis on three core areas: Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs; postsecondary institutions that enroll at least 25% Latina/o undergraduate students), Latina/o college students, and race and racism in higher education. She looks specifically at the way organizational members at HSIs construct and enact a racialized HSI identity, focusing on how they come to serve minoritized populations, including Students of Color, low-income students, undocumented students, and first generation college students. She deconstructs the structural and organizational elements that must be in place in order to transform organizations that are inherently oppressive into equitable and inclusive spaces for these minoritized populations. She also studies the racialized and gendered experiences of Latina/o college students, looking specifically at their involvement on campus and the structures of opportunity available for them. Furthermore, Dr. Garcia does research on race and racism in higher education, including understanding people’s experiences with racial microaggressions and the occurrence of racialized incidents on college campuses, including racially themed parties and biased incidents, with the goal of deconstructing these inherently racist events. Dr. Garcia graduated from California State University, Northridge with a B.S. in marketing, the University of Maryland, College Park with a M.A. in college student personnel, and the University of California, Los Angeles with a Ph.D. in higher education and organizational change.
Hispanic Serving Institutions: Becoming Institutions that Equitably “Serve” Latinas/os
Latina/o students are the fastest growing population in postsecondary education, with sixty percent entering college by way of Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs; degree-granting postsecondary institutions that enroll 25% or more Latina/o students). Yet there continues to be a lack of equity in graduation rates and post-baccalaureate outcomes for Latinas/os at HSIs, prompting scholars to question the extent to which HSIs are actually “serving” Latinas/os. Based on current literature and my dissertation research, I contend that an institution with a Latina/o-serving organizational identity produces academic and psychosocial outcomes for Latinas/os while sustaining and enhancing their culture. Institutions, however, must do more than enroll students, and instead take proactive steps to transform their institutional structures, policies, and practices in order to equitably serve Latinas/os.
Using a multiple case study design inclusive of document reviews, interviews, observations, and artifacts, I aim to develop a theory about what it means for a postsecondary institution to have a Latina/o-serving identity. While this study is grounded in theories stemming from sociology of organizations and organizational behavior (i.e., institutional theory and cultural theory), I am specifically expanding on an HSI organizational identity typology I developed, looking to confirm and disconfirm early notions about what it means for an organization to serve Latinas/os. Since becoming an HSI is racialized (i.e., based on the enrollment of racial/ethnic students), this study is also guided by theories that focus specifically on race within organizational elements. The three sites for this study are located in a large metropolitan area in the Midwest and range in size, type, and history as an HSI.
With this qualitative phase of the study funded by a NAEd/Spencer postdoctoral fellowship, I will continue to test and develop an organizational theory for serving Latinas/os, before moving into a second phase of the project, which includes the creation of quantitative measures that can be used to determine the extent to which HSIs are serving Latina/o students. Leading this extensive research design with a qualitative phase is appropriate as instruments, surveys, and robust theories that capture the phenomenon of an organization serving racialized students are currently unavailable. My goal is to eventually develop a survey that can be administered and validated on a small sample of HSIs. These quantitative measures will ultimately be made available for institutional assessment purposes and for further testing theoretical propositions about what it means to become an institution that equitably serves Latina/o students.
This research contributes to the field of higher education by not only theorizing about what it means for an institution to convey and enact a commitment to serving Latinas/os, but by offering proactive approaches for transforming institutional structures in order to better serve historically oppressed groups. The goal is to offer HSIs practical solutions for committing to not only enrolling, but also producing equitable outcomes for Latina/o students. This study also has implications for state and federal policy, as legislators are seeking ways to hold institutions accountable for providing an affordable path to degree attainment. In order to meet national goals laid out for increasing degree completion, job training, and skill development for all U.S. citizens, educational policy makers must recognize the importance of HSIs in meeting these demands, particularly for marginalized students. HSIs are extremely heterogeneous, ranging from two-year to four-year, broad access to more selective, and rural to urban, enabling them to enroll disadvantaged groups that have traditionally lacked access to postsecondary education.
Conra Gist, University of Arkansas
Dr. Conra D. Gist is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Arkansas and holds a Ph.D. in Urban Education at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center. Her research agenda integrates two key areas of study—teacher diversity and teacher development—and takes an interdisciplinary approach to explore how culturally responsive pedagogy, critical social theories (e.g., black feminisms, critical teacher development), and African American History intersect to produce just and transformative teaching and learning possibilities. She started her teaching career in Brooklyn, NY as a fourth grade teacher and has served in various leadership capacities such as a New York City Teaching Fellow Selector and professional development designer for the New York City Office of Teacher Effectiveness. She is the author of the award-winning Preparing Teachers of Color to Teach: Culturally Responsive Teacher Education in Theory and Practice and is editor of the tentatively titled upcoming book manuscript, Portraits of Anti-Racist Alternative Teacher Preparation in the U.S.: Framing Teacher Development for Community, Justice, and Visionaries (Peter Lang), which embarks on a search for goodness to investigate alternative structures, curriculum, and practices of anti-racist teacher development work. She is also Principal Investigator of the “GYO Community Voices Project,” an initiative that challenges the silencing of Teachers of Color through the development and featuring of teacher testimonies to combat deficit perspectives on the value community based Teachers of Color add to the teaching profession.
“Growing” Your Own Black Teachers—Investigating Double Binds across Teacher Development
One hypothesis for the revolving door phenomenon among Teachers of Color is they experience a double bind—the tension between personal ties (i.e., values, motivations, familial background, and pedagogical belies) and systemic ties (i.e., policies, structures, and practices) that foster hostile working conditions (Achinstein & Ogawa, 2011; Gist, 2016). Other disciplines, such as the STEM field, have noted a type of double bind experience (i.e., the ways in which race and gender function simultaneously to produce distinctly different higher education experiences for woman of color in STEM) in the recruitment and preparation of diverse students in institutions of higher education (Malcolm & Malcolm, 2011). This project builds on research in this area by exploring the potential double bind experiences of Black Teachers in and from Grow Your Own (GYO) Programs by designing embedded comparative case studies of programs and teachers in local community schools who are at various stages on the teacher development continuum across different types of GYO-school partnership programs.
Cassandra Hart, University of California, Davis
Cassandra Hart is an assistant professor of education policy in the School of Education at the University of California, Davis and a faculty research affiliate at the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research. She uses quasi-experimental methods to study the effects of school, state and national education policies on overall student achievement, and on the equality of student outcomes. Hart’s recent work has focused on the effects of teacher-student demographic match on student outcomes; and on student use of, and performance in, virtual courses. Other work has focused on school choice programs, school accountability policies, and early childhood education policies. Dr. Hart earned her PhD at the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University.
An Honors Teacher Like Me: Teacher-Student Demographic Match Effects on Advanced Course Enrollment and Performance
Education researchers have long been concerned about the inequality in outcomes for students from different race/ethnic groups. Although the Black-White and Latino-White achievement gaps have narrowed since the 1970s, Black and Latino students continue to post lower scores on standardized tests (Reardon & Robinson, 2008), take fewer advanced courses (Klopfenstein, 2004; Solorzano & Ornelas, 2004), and graduate at lower rates (Murnane, 2013) than their white and Asian peers.
One suggestion to reduce these disparities has been to expand the pool of teachers of color. In 2014, 43% of students nation-wide were non-white, compared to only 18% of teachers from non-white groups (Boser, 2014). This is problematic because numerous studies find that students perform better on tests when taught by teachers of the same race (Dee, 2004; Egalite, Kisida, & Winters, 2015; Clotfelter, Ladd, & Vigdor, 2006a). To the extent that students of color are less likely than whites to be taught by same-race teachers, then, the dearth of teachers of color may exacerbate disparities in outcomes for white students and students of color.
The under-representation of teachers of color is especially stark in advanced courses. For example, a study of North Carolina elementary schools found that Black teachers were disproportionately assigned to teach students with lower levels of prior achievement (Clotfelter, Ladd, & Vigdor, 2006b). At the high school level, a 2004 study found that only one of nine African-American students in Texas attended schools with even one Black instructor in Advanced Placement (AP) courses (Klopfenstein, 2004). This suggests that high-achieving students of color are especially unlikely to have access to any benefits associated with same-race teachers in their advanced courses. This is troubling since advanced course-taking is associated with downstream outcomes like the likelihood of college matriculation (Jackson, 2010).
Despite the importance of understanding factors that may affect the advanced course-taking gap, however, there has been virtually no attention to whether the dearth of same-race instructors affects the advanced course enrollment and course performance of students of color. This study fills this gap in the literature. Specifically, it seeks to determine:
1) Does access to same-race teachers in advanced-track (e.g., AP, International Baccalaureate (IB), or Honors courses) courses affect the enrollment of students of color?
2) Does access to same-race teachers affect performance outcomes for students of color in advanced courses? Outcomes of interest will include course grades and scores on AP tests.
This study uses administrative data from North Carolina that provides information on both enrollment in courses by race and links to teachers who taught those courses. It employs rigorous quasi-experimental methods to take advantage of changes in instructor race for established advanced-track classes within schools, a source of variation that is plausibly exogenous to students’ propensity for taking, and achievement in, those classes. This project will result in a substantial improvement in our knowledge of whether the teacher-student demographic match benefits established in other classes extend to promoting improved outcomes in advanced courses. It will also speak to important, long-standing questions of how best to improve outcomes for students of color, and especially how to best serve high-achieving students of color who are too often overlooked in current policy debates.
Rawia Hayik, Sakhnin College for Teacher Education, Israel
Dr. Rawia Hayik (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a lecturer and pedagogical advisor in the English Department at Sakhnin Academic College for Teacher Education, Israel. She is a recent PhD graduate from the Literacy, Culture, and Language Education Department at Indiana University in the United States. Her PhD research focused on using children’s literature on gender, religious diversity, and minority issues with Israeli-Arab EFL students as a springboard for critical reader responses. Her post-doctoral research explores the use of participatory documentary photography with college students to address social justice issues and problems in the linguistic landscape in the Galilee area.
The Quest for Social Justice Goes to the College Classroom
The proposed study explores the application of a participatory documentary photography tool called PhotoVoice with Israeli-Arab students in the English department at a teacher-education college. PhotoVoice involves inviting students to take photos of deficiencies they encounter in their reality, write a commentary on the problem reflected in each photo, and then present the photos and “voices” (written accounts) to leading figures in students’ society, hoping for change.
Grounded in critical literacy theory, this study challenges the EFL teaching practices that often focus on teaching a set of linguistic skills and standards without connecting the language to students’ lives or using it to discuss social justice issues. Rather, it offers students an empowering methodological technique for relevant English language writing and use. In addition to providing a stage for minority students’ voices, worries, and demands, the purpose is checking whether students’ involvement in the process affected their attitudes of themselves not only as future English teachers but also agents of change. It will have implications for teacher education through fostering a more engaging approach to language education that connects literacy teaching with social action.
Michael Hevel, University of Arkansas
Michael Hevel in an assistant professor of higher education in the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas. Michael earned his Ph.D. in 2011 from the University of Iowa. His main research interest is the history of college students. In particular, he focuses on historical privilege and marginalization among college students and situates developments on campus into larger social contexts. Michael has received travel grants from several archives and a grant from the Spencer Foundation. He has published in History of Education Quarterly, Journal of College Student Development, and Journal of Higher Education. His first book, Drink Up: A History of College Students and Alcohol, is under contract with University of Chicago Press.
A History of Gay Student Organizations’ Struggle-for-Recognition Lawsuits
From the early 1970s to the late 1990s, gay and lesbian college students in the United States sued public university leaders who denied recognition of their student organizations. This project offers the first comprehensive history of these lawsuits, focusing on nine cases between gay student organizations and their universities. Gay college students won every lawsuit they brought. These legal victories helped gay student organizations spread from only 2 campuses in 1968 to over 2,000 by the late 1990s. As a result, gay student organizations at colleges and universities provided the first exposure for millions of Americans—gay and straight—to people who openly, and often proudly, identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. Moreover, these lawsuits helped to create legal precedents that culminated with the Supreme Court striking down anti-sodomy laws, the Defense of Marriage Act, and prohibitions against gay marriage.
Beyond exploring a series of cases that provided a foundation for the legal activism within the gay rights movement, this project connects two important strands of historical scholarship. First, historians have revealed college presidents and deans of students’ efforts to “purge” their campus of gay students throughout the first half of the 20th century. Second, historians have explored the creation and contributions of gay student organizations, beginning with the establishment of the first groups in the late 1960s. Scholars have demonstrated how these organizations, in spite of appalling homophobia, improved the campus climate for gay and lesbian students. Gay student organizations’ struggle-for-recognition lawsuits represent the missing historical link between higher education administrators’ persecution of gay students and the accomplishments of gay student organizations.
This project highlights the bravery and perseverance of an earlier generation of gay students. Many of these lawsuits resulted in part as a response to intimidation and homophobia on campus. Gay student leaders at the University of Arkansas filed their lawsuit in 1986 just days after vandals spray painted “F*** OFF YOU QUEERS” on one of their banners hanging outside the student union. University officials were not necessarily more enlightened than the students. As a lawsuit progressed at Texas A&M, the university attorney often appeared on television to compare the gay student organization with “groups promoting bestiality and child rape.” Moreover, gay student organization leaders demonstrated remarkable resolve, as cases took years to fight but officers turned over annually. A reporter covering the 25th anniversary of the Texas A&M case in 2010 asked what the group’s current president would say to his predecessors. He replied, “I would tell them thank you for not giving up…. Without them and their hard work, who knows how much longer it would have been for GLBT people to have the right to form organizations and meeting on campuses and around the country.”
Megan Hopkins, University of California, San Diego
Megan Hopkins is an assistant professor in the Department of Education Studies at the University of California, San Diego. She employs an ecological approach in her research to examine how institutions, such as school districts, schools, and community organizations, interact to enable or constrain teacher learning and development. A former bilingual teacher, Hopkins is particularly interested in understanding how formal policies and structures, as well as school norms and individual beliefs, shape teachers’ learning opportunities in bi/multilingual contexts, and in exploring how bilingual teachers’ informal leadership contributes to educational change efforts. Her scholarship has appeared in several top-tier journals, including Educational Researcher, Educational Policy, Journal of Teacher Education, and American Educational Research Journal. She also co-edited the volumes Forbidden Language: English Learners and Restrictive Language Policies (with P. Gándara, Teachers College Press, 2010) and School Integration Matters: Research-Based Strategies to Advance Equity (with E. Frankenberg and L. M. Garces, Teachers College Press, 2016). In 2011, Hopkins received the Dissertation of the Year Award from the Bilingual Education Research Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association. She received her Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University.
Exploring Teacher Learning in New Immigrant Destinations: Practice and Policy Implications
In the context of demographic change, school systems across the United States, in some of the most unexpected places, must develop policies and practices that support growing numbers of immigrant students, many of whom are in the process of learning English (often referred to as “English learners” or ELs in the policy arena). Teachers in particular are essential for providing a welcoming environment and employing instructional practices that attend to newcomers’ linguistic, academic, cultural, and socioemotional needs, yet research has shown that most are underprepared for this work, especially teachers of ELs at the elementary level. Given the importance of collaboration for facilitating teacher learning and development, as well as for supporting student achievement, this study will explore elementary school teachers’ opportunities to learn from one another about EL instruction in two new immigrant destinations, one urban and one suburban. Further, it will explore how district and school organizational contexts support teachers’ EL-related learning opportunities, and the implications for EL student achievement. Employing a sequential explanatory mixed methods design, the study will draw on school staff surveys and interviews, as well as classroom composition and student achievement data. First, social network analysis will be used to compare and contrast teachers’ informal and formal learning opportunities, and the organizational contexts in which these opportunities are situated, both within and between schools and school districts. Second, Qualitative Comparative Analysis will be employed to explore the relationships between dimensions of the organizational context, teachers’ interactions, and EL achievement. Findings from this study will inform instructional decision making in the two school districts, and it will inform broader policy conversations related to how school systems in new immigrant destinations can organize supports for teacher learning and development.
Huriya Jabbar, University of Texas
Huriya Jabbar is an assistant professor of Educational Policy and Planning at the University of Texas at Austin. She studies the social and political dimensions of market-based reforms and privatization in education. Her research has examined school choice policy, privatization, the politics of research use, and student decision-making in higher education. Her work has been published in the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Harvard Educational Review, and Educational Researcher. She was a 2013–2014 recipient of the National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship, which supported her study of school choice and competition in New Orleans. She received three awards for her dissertation from the American Educational Research Association’s Division L (Policy & Politics), Division A (Administration, Organization, & Leadership), and the Politics of Education Association special interest group. She is also a research associate at the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans at Tulane University, where she continues to study issues related to school choice in New Orleans. She received her PhD in Education Policy, Organization, Measurement, and Evaluation from the University of California, Berkeley.
It’s Who You Know: Teacher Preferences, Social Networks, and the Job Search Processes
Teachers are the most important school-level variable for predicting students’ educational and professional outcomes, yet great inequities in the distribution of teacher quality remain across schools. Understanding teachers’ job preferences provides insight into the general disparities in teacher quality. Existing research has examined teachers’ revealed preferences, the characteristics of the schools that they leave or enter in their actual movements between schools. But little research examines teachers’ expressed preferences, the schools they seek to apply to, or their decision-making processes. Most research on mobility also treats teachers as rational independent agents, but a large body of work in sociology has shown that social networks influence job search behavior, and the job-search process matters as much as a job’s attributes. Without understanding such context, theories of teacher job searches rely on untested assumptions, and policymakers may miss key opportunities to influence teachers’ decisions for the better.
Furthermore, most existing research has been conducted in traditional school districts. Yet cities with large shares of charter schools are seeing structural changes to teacher labor markets. Charter schools operate under less rigid state guidelines, have greater flexibility in hiring and compensation, and exist in markets where school districts are no longer the only hiring agency, so they might significantly change local teacher labor markets or attract different types of teachers to the field. Several cities, often called “portfolio districts,” now have large proportions of teachers working in charter schools.
This study examines the process by which teachers find and choose to apply to jobs in portfolio districts, asking: How do teachers find and choose to apply to jobs? Which schools do they consider? What are the layers of decisions that occur? What role do their social networks play? And how does this process vary for teachers at different stages in their careers or for those from different pathways? Using comparative case-study methods, I examine teacher job-search processes in districts with varying degrees of charter-school density. I compare teacher labor markets in San Antonio, Detroit, and New Orleans, all with moderate to high charter densities (26%, 55%, and 91% respectively), including in-depth interviews with 120 teachers.
By elaborating teachers’ search processes and examining how social networks influence teacher hiring, this study adds to our theoretical understanding of teacher labor markets in portfolio districts. Previous studies have primarily examined where teachers are hired, not how they decided to apply to the position or to accept the offer. Understanding the contextual factors that shape teachers’ job decisions may explain the uneven distribution of highly qualified teachers, and identify potential areas for intervention.
Daniel Klasik, The George Washington University
Daniel Klasik is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education Administration at The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Dr. Klasik’s research uses a wide variety of quantitative methods to study student pathways into and through postsecondary education and how policy can work to improve college enrollment opportunities for students. His ongoing research interests span how students make decisions about whether and where to attend college; how students’ college decision-making process shapes later college and life outcomes; and the effect of affirmative action and other admissions policies on campus diversity. Dr. Klasik earned his Ph.D. in Education Policy and M.A. in Economics from Stanford University. He completed postdoctoral work with the Maryland Equity Project at the College of Education at the University of Maryland. Prior to completing his graduate work, Dr. Klasik worked as an admissions officer at Vassar College and at the Education Policy Center of the Urban Institute.
College Information Networks: A Social Network Analysis of Where Students Apply to College
An increasing number of policy efforts aim to help students make better decisions about whether and where to attend college. As innovative as some of these policies are, they are limited in that they either target a relatively small population of students or are relatively unsophisticated in their ability to guide student choices. Under the best circumstances, college counselors can help students balance regional concerns and preferences. But it is becoming clear that not all students receive the information they need about choosing colleges, making it all the more critical that those who try to remedy this gap can do it in a way that authentically represents the interests of college-seeking students. While we understand some of the basic preferences of students, we ultimately do not understand very well how students pick the colleges to which they apply.
In this study, I conduct a social network analysis using college application data from a nationally representative sample of high school students to understand student college preferences better. In this network, connections are created between every pair of colleges to which a student applies. When these connections are aggregated for all students in the sample, the resulting network reveals clusters of specific colleges that students apply to in common which, in turn, allows for the careful analysis of the characteristics that describe those clusters.
With a recognition that students care strongly about geography in their college choices, and that their choices may vary depending on whether they have sought the advice of a college counselor, I will answer three questions: (1) What does the national pattern of application submission look like? (2) How does this pattern differ regionally? And (3) do students who visit their college counselor have systematically different patterns of application than those who do not? The results of this novel approach provide a much clarified picture of American colleges from a student perspective, providing the basis for further development of college choice theories and targeted college advising for students without access to quality college counseling.
Sarah Levine, Stanford University
Sarah Levine is an assistant professor of education at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education. Her research focuses on the teaching and learning of literary interpretation and writing in under-resourced urban high schools, with an emphasis on the links between in- and out-of-school interpretive practices. Her primary goal as an academic is to help shape the teaching and learning of secondary English Language Arts teachers and contribute to research that will help students — especially those in urban and under-resourced schools — become independent readers and writers. Before pursuing an academic career, Sarah taught secondary English at a Chicago public school. She also founded and ran a youth radio program that used digital audio production as a tool to help make writing and analysis relevant and real-world for students, and to help students build bridges between in- and out-of-school worlds.
Can the Teaching of Literary Interpretation be Scaled Up?
This quasi-experimental study builds on two previous instructional interventions designed to help high school students in high-poverty schools leverage everyday, affect-driven interpretive strategies to develop interpretations of literary texts. Students who used those strategies made significant gains in interpretive reading.
The previous research involved one experimental and one “comparison” classroom studied over a four-week period, with one-on-one training for teachers. In contrast, the proposed study will involve fifty high school English teachers from mid- to high-poverty schools across the U.S., studied over 12 – 24 months. During a two-week summer workshop, teachers will practice developing authentic, judgment-based questions about literary texts; affect-based approaches to literary interpretation; and short affect-based interpretive units of instruction. They will then teach those approaches or at the beginning of the following school year. The study will use a time-series design and pre/post within-subjects design to examine sets of written interpretive tasks administered before and after the summer workshop, as well as video of classroom discussions, classroom artifacts, and teacher interviews.
The study asks: To what extent can instruction in interpretive heuristics—at once broadly applicable and highly personal—be reliably scaled up? Also, do teachers and students continue to use such heuristics months after initial instruction? To what degree do these heuristics lead to richer discussions and interpretive readings? Such questions can contribute to our field’s understanding of long-term effects of strategy instruction and issues of research replicability.
Tzu-Jung Lin, The Ohio State University
Tzu-Jung Lin is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Studies of the College of Education and Human Ecology at the Ohio State University. Prior to joining the faculty at OSU, Dr. Lin earned her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with a concentration in the Cognitive Science of Teaching and Learning. Dr. Lin’s primary research interests focus on uncovering the mechanisms of social and cognitive development in the complex classroom social system, and developing effective instructional approaches to cultivate an epistemically and socially supportive classroom learning environment. Dr. Lin has used microgenetic and mixed-method approaches to examine the moment-by-moment dynamics of children’s relational thinking, and the proximal influences of peer relationships and teacher scaffolding on children’s reasoning development in the context of collaborative small-group discussions. Dr. Lin’s work has appeared in research journals including Journal of Educational Psychology, Child Development, Contemporary Educational Psychology, Learning and Instruction, Educational Psychologist, Journal of Experimental Education, Psychological Science, Discourse Processes, and American Educational Research Journal.
Promoting Interpersonal Competencies and Academic Achievement through Collaborative Social Reasoning
Interpersonal competencies—the social-cognitive abilities to reason rationally about issues arising from social interactions, to work in harmony with peers, and to sustain healthy relationships—serve as adaptive protective factors for early adolescents to effectively cope with school transition issues that can otherwise hamper students’ academic achievement and social development. (Eccles, Wigfield, & Schiefele, 1998; Kingery, Erdley, & Marshall, 2011). The need for strong peer support and relatedness has become increasingly exacerbated during early adolescence with the advent of rapid internet-based social communication networks. Failure to successfully navigate complex social networks can lead to relentless bullying, the consequences of which can result in precipitous drops in academic achievement, increased incidence of school withdrawal and development of actual clinical depression (Ladd et al., 2015). There is a critical need for a thorough understanding of early adolescents’ interpersonal competencies and for validation of instructional approaches that facilitate the development of these competencies.
The focuses of this study are to examine the impact of a dialogic intervention on early adolescents’ social reasoning, interpersonal competencies, and academic achievement, and to uncover the underlying social-cognitive mechanisms of change. The central hypotheses are that the intervention, using an approach called Collaborative Social Reasoning (CSR), will lead to significant growth in social reasoning, interpersonal competencies and academic achievement; the growth in social reasoning will mediate the changes in interpersonal competencies and academic achievement for students who receive CSR. The proposed study will be conducted in 6 fifth-grade classrooms from 2 public schools. Classrooms will be assigned to one of three conditions: CSR, Active-control, Business-as-usual. CSR students will engage in several weeks of discussion based on stories about social exclusion issues. Active-control students will read the same stories using read-aloud. Results are expected to reveal positive impacts of CSR on early adolescents’ interpersonal competencies and academic achievement, and elucidate the social-cognitive mechanisms underlying CSR discussions. The outcomes are expected to have a significant and positive impact on future designs of a longitudinal social-emotional learning program or school curriculum to simultaneously foster students’ social, emotional, and cognitive development.
Ann Owens, University of Southern California
Ann Owens is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Southern California. She is a faculty affiliate of the Spatial Sciences Institute, the Sol Price Center for Social Innovation, the Population Research Center and the Children’s Data Network at USC. Prior to arriving at USC, Ann was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center on Poverty and Inequality at Stanford University. Ann received her PhD in Sociology and Social Policy from Harvard University. Her research focuses on social stratification, sociology of education, and urban sociology, specifically addressing the causes and consequences of racial and economic inequality in neighborhood and schools. Recent publications examine the consequences of changes in assisted housing policy for urban poverty concentration; and the role of school options in contributing to the income and racial residential segregation experienced by children. Her work has appeared in the American Sociological Review, Sociology of Education, Social Forces, and other journals.
The Educational Attainment Gap between High- and Low-Income Youth: The Role of Economic Segregation between Neighborhoods, Schools, and School Districts
Past research identifies effects of both neighborhood and school contexts on educational attainment. However, the two contexts are rarely considered simultaneously, potentially biasing estimates of the effects of each context and ignoring the joint effects of both contexts. Moreover, neighborhood and school effects studies rarely examine mechanisms accounting for each context’s relationship with educational outcomes. This project will use multiple data sources to address these gaps in past research by considering whether and how both school and neighborhood inequalities contribute to the educational attainment gap between high- and low-income youth. First, I will examine whether the educational attainment gap between adolescents from high- and low-income families is associated with economic segregation between neighborhoods, between school districts, and between schools. Second, I will explore the mechanisms that are hypothesized to underlie neighborhood and school contexts’ association with educational attainment. I will consider financial resources and contextual resources, capturing the social advantages or disadvantages present in youths’ neighborhoods and schools. I will examine these issues by drawing on multiple national datasets that provide data on segregation and educational attainment in the 1990s and 2000s, including the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the Census and American Community Survey, the School District Demographics System, the Common Core of Data, and the American Housing Survey. The gap between high- and low-income young adults’ educational attainment has grown over the past few decades while racial gaps have stabilized. Identifying possible explanations for the economic attainment gap, including neighborhood, district, and school economic segregation, is thus critical for reducing inequality for future generations. This study will make contributions to research on neighborhood and school effects, educational attainment gaps, and economic inequality.
John Papay, Brown University
John Papay is an Assistant Professor of Education and Economics at Brown University. His research focuses on teacher policy, the economics of education, and teacher labor markets. He has published on teacher evaluation, teacher working conditions, teacher compensation, school improvement, high-stakes testing, and program evaluation methodology. His current work examines the conditions that support or constrain teacher professional growth. He is a former Spencer Dissertation Fellow and has won the 2014 AERA Palmer O. Johnson award (with Matthew Kraft), the AEFP 2016 Early Career Award, and Brown University’s 2016 Wriston Fellowship for junior faculty excellence in teaching and scholarship. He is a Research Affiliate with the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers at Harvard University. A former high school history teacher, he earned his doctorate in Quantitative Policy Analysis from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Evaluation for Teacher Development: Exploring the Relationship between Features of Teacher Evaluation Systems and Teacher Improvement
This project seeks to enhance our understanding of teacher evaluation by exploring how specific features of the evaluation system, as experienced by teachers in a given school, relate to improvements in teacher effectiveness. Over the past decade, policymakers have transformed the process of evaluating teachers in our nation’s public schools, seeing educator evaluation as a central means of school improvement. There is strong evidence that rigorous evaluation systems can improve teachers’ skills and boost student achievement. However, we know little about the specific features of teacher evaluation that lead to improved teacher effectiveness. This is particularly problematic given the substantial investment in teacher evaluation reform and the vast promise for such reforms to improve teacher practice.
I propose to use detailed data, including observation-level ratings and existing large-scale teacher surveys, from three statewide teacher evaluation systems to develop proxies for the quality and amount of feedback teachers receive in evaluation. I will capitalize on variation in these measures both across individual teachers and across schools to explore how these evaluation features relate to improvements in a teacher’s effectiveness over time, what the literature calls the “returns to teaching experience.” Intuitively, I seek to estimate whether teachers improve at greater rates when they experience specific features of evaluation or specific evaluation contexts, such as being in a school where evaluators provide teachers with more differentiated feedback about performance. Understanding better the relationship between teacher evaluation and improvement is of central interest not only to the research community, where attention to such questions is growing, but also to policymakers, including those in the states I propose to study.
Jie Park, Clark University
Jie Park is an assistant professor of education at Clark University. She holds a B.A. and M.A. from Stanford, and a Ph.D. (2010) in Education (Reading, Writing, and Literacy) from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on youth literacy and language practices in school and out-of-school settings. She has conducted longitudinal studies in Philadelphia and Bronx, NY where she investigated how first-generation immigrant students acquire academic discourses, and what cultural and linguistic resources they bring to their schooling. Currently, she is involved in a variety of research projects around teacher and youth-research, multicultural and multilingual curricula in high school classrooms, and the intersection of youth literacy, language, and identities. Her most recent work has been published in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, English Education, Journal of Language and Literacy Education, and the International Journal of Multicultural Education.
Recent Arrivals: Adolescent English Language Learners Navigating Academic Literacy in the First Year of High School
Recent-arrival adolescents typically enter the U.S. at the middle or secondary level of schooling with a range of abilities in their home languages, but often find the academic literacies expected in U.S. schools to be a difficult part of their transition. They are expected to master disciplinary knowledge and concepts, while learning English as an additional language. Building on the academic literacies model, the proposed project will employ a qualitative multicase methodology to investigate how and under what circumstances a cohort of recent-arrival English language learners (ELLs) acquire academic literacies in their first year of high school. Multiple data sources, including classroom observations, audio-recordings of classroom interactions, student and teacher interviews, and artifacts and documents will be analyzed using concepts and techniques from sociocultural literacy research. The project will produce case studies that highlight recent-arrival adolescents’ literacy participation and development by (1) text or task ; (2) disciplinary domain ; (3) time (i.e., shifting participation and development over time); and (4) type and availability of classroom supports. The cases will also reveal differences and similarities in the academic trajectories of recent-arrival ELLs, and the possible pathways they take in developing school-based literacies.
While existing scholarship on adolescent academic literacies acknowledges the social and cultural contexts of literacy in school settings, it has not been theorized in a manner that fully considers the backgrounds, resources, and particular needs of adolescent language learners. Findings from this research can help generate evidence-based model(s) of academic literacy development that take into consideration not only the assets of recent-arrival adolescent ELLs, but also the social and discursive contexts of classrooms. In addition, the project is intended to generate a body of useable knowledge for practitioners, specifically effective pedagogy and appropriate assessment practices for recent-arrival ELLs. Lastly, this project has implications for researchers who wish to design longitudinal inquiries into the academic literacy development of secondary ELLs.
Frank Reichert, University of Hong Kong
Frank Reichert studied educational science, political science and psychology in Germany, where he received his doctorate (Dr. Phil.) in 2012. Among his positions as a student assistant was a three-year commitment as a tutor in statistics, facilitating his specialization in quantitative research and large-scale surveys. He also contributed to a teacher survey on civic education in the German federal state of Saxony, which filled a gap in the evaluation of formal civic education and was discussed with public audiences. Later, Frank worked in the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) and was an operational manager in its successor’s central coordination unit, the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi). He was a visiting fellow and a postdoctoral research associate at the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney, where he conducted research on civics and citizenship education in Australia. Since June 2016, he is a postdoctoral fellow at the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong.
Civics Teaching in ‘Young’ and ‘Old’ Democracies and Student Learning Outcomes
It is undisputed that civics education is required to cultivate citizens who are capable of promoting and sustaining democracy. Educating the young for their lives in a democratic society is a persistent challenge, and teachers that are well-prepared and feel confident in teaching civics are pivotal to the persistence of democratic societies. Therefore, studying teachers’ beliefs and their teaching styles is essential, because this affects the cultivation of democrats and the anchoring of democracy. Yet despite the centrality of teachers’ roles, little profound research has been undertaken to look deeply at the profiles of civics teachers. The present research takes the view that what civics teachers know and believe concerning their subject matter and how they teach in their classrooms matter significantly to the quality of students’ learning. This study furthermore argues that cultural context matters, thus internationally comparative research is required. As a consequence, this project will examine the approaches of civics teachers in cross-cultural analyses across regions that reflect different cultural and democratic traditions (Asia, Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia). Specifically, the study addresses three inter-related research questions: (1) What kinds of civics teachers exist? (2) What are the personal characteristics of these teachers, and what is the relationship between the kinds of teachers and student outcomes in civics? (3) How do the kinds of teachers and their related teaching outcomes vary across societies with different cultural and democratic traditions? To answer these questions, this study will utilize internationally comparative data and combine a teacher-centered statistical approach with variable-centered analysis, accounting for the different regions and levels of analysis. As a result of this study, we will understand better the distinct influences of different teaching styles on civics learning outcomes apart from the role that students’ perceived classroom climate may or may not have. These results are suitable to inform curriculum development and teacher training through the new knowledge about teacher profiles in societies with different democratic traditions.
Kathryn Schumaker, University of Oklahoma
Kathryn Schumaker is a historian of the twentieth century United States with specializations in legal and African American history. She is currently an assistant professor of Classics and Letters at the University of Oklahoma and a core faculty member in the Constitutional Studies program. Schumaker teaches courses on civil rights, gender, and constitutional change in modern America. She has previously published two articles on the implementation of civil rights reforms in Midwestern public schools during the era of school desegregation. Her current book project focuses on the development of students’ constitutional and civil rights between 1965 and 1975. Before attending graduate school, Schumaker taught language arts and social studies in a Baltimore public middle school. She received her PhD in History from the University of Chicago in 2013.
Civil Rights at the Schoolhouse Gate: Student Protest and the Struggle for Racial Reform
“Civil Rights at the Schoolhouse Gate: Student Protest and the Struggle for Racial Reform” examines how African American students across the nation challenged racial discrimination at school and how the consequences of the litigation they initiated shaped students’ rights between 1965 and 1975. The participation of black students in the Black Freedom Struggle thrust them into a precarious situation. What rights did these young people have at school? This project is the first to consider how civil rights activism at school was related to the emergence of a new regime of students’ rights in American law. The importance of discipline is implicit in this approach to understanding civil rights at school, as protesting students were frequently suspended or expelled as a result of their actions. Ultimately, the project reveals that while the litigation resulting from students’ lawsuits expanded the judicial recognition of all public school students’ rights, the courts protected the rights of students who were perceived as being orderly over those seen as disorderly. The distinction between “orderly” students and “disorderly” ones had a devastating effect on the ability of African American students—especially young men—to challenge their exclusion from school. Paradoxically, as students’ constitutional rights became established in law, African American students experienced an erosion of their civil rights in an era marked by desegregation and law and order politics.
The project begins with three case studies, which examine student protest and legal change before and after the landmark 1969 Tinker v. Des Moines case, in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that First Amendment free speech protections extended to young people in public schools. The first case study covers two key precedents to the Tinker case that emerged from voter registration efforts in Mississippi in which the Fifth Circuit established order as the principle governing students’ rights at school. The second study explores the tensions between African American and Chicano Movement challenges to discrimination at school in Denver that undergirded the 1973 Keyes v. Denver case. The third case study examines the 1975 Goss v. Lopez case, in which student protest in Columbus, Ohio, led to the establishment of students’ due process rights. The final two chapters examine the political, cultural, and legal effects and meanings of these rulings in the late 1960s and 1970s, and they identify how and why order and disorder became central concepts to the protection of students’ rights during this era. These chapters also explore how educators, academics, and child advocacy organizations sought to challenge the disproportionate suspensions and expulsions of children of color as they worked to make American education more equitable.
Blaine Smith, University of Miami
Blaine E. Smith is an Assistant Professor of Language and Literacy Learning in Multilingual Settings in the Department of Teaching and Learning at the University of Miami. Her research primarily centers on the digital literacy practices of culturally and linguistically diverse adolescents, with special attention to their multimodal composing processes, products, and perspectives. A main goal of Dr. Smith’s work is to develop scaffolded instructional strategies to support the integration of digital literacies in the classroom. Her research also focuses on developing innovative multimodal methods for capturing, analyzing, and representing youth’s complex digital literacies. She is a recipient of the Literacy Research Association’s Outstanding Student Research Award and the Emerging Scholars Fellowship by the Reading Hall of Fame. Her 2014 dissertation was a finalist for the International Literacy Association’s Outstanding Dissertation of the Year Award. Her work has appeared in Computers & Education, Bilingual Research Journal, Elementary School Journal, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, and Learning, Media, and Technology, among others. Dr. Smith received her Ph.D. in Language, Literacy, and Culture from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University.
Multimodal Composing-to-Learn: Understanding how Adolescents Analyze Literature through Multiple Modes in Digital Environments
A growing majority of today’s adolescents lead technologically saturated and networked lives where digital multimodal communication is vital for self-expression and connecting with others. Despite youth’s multimodally rich lives, there exists a dramatic disconnect in schools where emphasis is placed on traditional print-based writing. Very little research has studied multimodal composition for academic purposes. The proposed study begins to address this need by examining how culturally and linguistically diverse adolescents analyze literature through multiple modes (e.g., visuals, sound, text, movement), as well as how the ideas developed in their multimodal literary analyses transfer to their academic writing. Integrating social semiotics and multiliteracies theoretical frameworks, this qualitative study will closely follow eight focal students as they collaboratively create multimodal projects connected to literature in an urban English Language Arts high school class. Data sources will include screen capture and video observations, student retrospective design interviews and written reflections, and students’ final products. As one of the first studies to examine multimodal composing-to-learn, findings will advance the field in understanding how students’ literacy learning is revealed, travels, and transforms across different modalities in digital environments. The implications from this study will also aid English Language Arts teachers in effectively integrating digital multimodal projects to support literary analysis.
Matthew Steinberg, University of Pennsylvania
Matthew P. Steinberg is an assistant professor of education in the Education Policy Division at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) Graduate School of Education. He is the faculty methodologist for the Penn IES Pre-Doctoral Training Program, a faculty fellow with the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a faculty affiliate with the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative, a senior researcher at the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, and an affiliated researcher with the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. His research explores questions of educational significance related to teacher evaluation and human capital, urban school reform, school climate and safety, and education finance. Dr. Steinberg received his Ph.D. in public policy from the University of Chicago in 2012, where he was an Institute of Education Sciences Pre-Doctoral Fellow with the University of Chicago Committee on Education. Prior to graduate school, he was an investment banker and a New York City Teaching Fellow.
Do School Closings Impact the Educational and Behavioral Outcomes of Displaced Students and Their Receiving-School Peers? Evidence from Philadelphia
Districts nationwide have increasingly relied on closing traditional public schools to address declining enrollment, fiscal constraints, poorly maintained school infrastructure, and academic underperformance. Yet, there is a limited body of empirical evidence on the consequences of school closures on students’ educational and behavioral outcomes. Recently, the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) closed 30 traditional public schools, displacing nearly 10,000 students. Despite this major change in Philadelphia’s education landscape, little is known about the effect that school closures had on students’ educational and behavioral outcomes. The goal of this study is to produce evidence on the following questions: (1) Did the closing of underperforming schools in Philadelphia impact the educational and behavioral trajectories of students displaced due to school closure? (2) Did the closing of underperforming schools in Philadelphia impact the educational and behavioral trajectories of students in schools that received displaced students? This study employs longitudinal, student-level administrative data to address these questions. While the SDP did not randomly select schools for closure, students were required to change schools due to district-level policy. I therefore leverage quasi-experimental methods to identify the effects of closure-induced mobility on displaced students and their peers, examining changes in student achievement, attendance, and misconduct. The results of this study will inform both the SDP on the impact that closing schools had on students’ academic and behavioral outcomes, and the broader policymaking and research community on the direct effects (on displaced students) and indirect effects (on the peers of displaced students in the receiving schools) of systematically closing traditional public schools in a large urban district.
Amy Stich, Northern Illinois University
Amy E. Stich is an assistant professor at Northern Illinois University. Dr. Stich earned her Ph.D. in sociology of education at the University at Buffalo where she was also a postdoctoral researcher on a longitudinal ethnographic study of urban high school students’ transitions to college in STEM, funded by the National Science Foundation. Her research focuses on the reproduction of class and race-based inequalities in education. Dr. Stich has published widely in academic journals including the British Journal of Sociology of Education, American Educational Research Journal, and Review of Educational Research, and is the author of Access to Inequality: Reconsidering Class, Knowledge and Capital in Higher Education (2012, 2014). Her most recent contribution includes her co-edited volume The Working Classes and Higher Education: Inequality of Access, Opportunity and Outcome (2016). In addition to her empirical work, Dr. Stich maintains a line of scholarship in qualitative inquiry and is particularly interested in researcher reflexivity and relational thinking.
The Structure and Social Consequence of Postsecondary Tracking
Decades of research on tracking suggest that this sorting process obstructs and limits educational opportunities for some while preserving the privilege of others. However, very little attention is paid to similar levels of stratification within colleges and universities wherein academic tracking and its consequences are manifest. Given the significant lack of attention to deepening levels of stratification within many of our nation’s most “accessible” postsecondary institutions, which arguably parallel the same internal race- and class-based stratification evident within secondary schools, the purpose of my proposed research is to examine the structure and social consequence of three distinct academic tracks (honors, developmental/remedial and traditional) within two non-selective, four-year universities. This qualitative, multi-case study will employ in-depth interviews, observations and document analysis in order to examine the experiences of undergraduate students within these three distinct academic tracks. By focusing on stratification within universities rather than between them, this research contributes to our understanding of deepening levels of inequality in the postsecondary system. In addition, this research aims to contribute to conversations surrounding educational policies and practices that seek to improve access, opportunities and outcomes for underrepresented students in higher education.
Elizabeth Todd-Breland, University of Illinois at Chicago
Elizabeth Todd-Breland is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She earned her PhD in History from the University of Chicago. Her research and teaching focuses on 20th-century U.S. urban and social history, African American history, and the history of education. Her book manuscript, tentatively titled, A Political Education: Black Politics and Education Reform in Post-Civil Rights Chicago, is under contract with the University of North Carolina Press. The book analyzes transformations in black politics, shifts in modes of education organizing, and the racial politics of education reform from the 1960s to the present. Todd-Breland’s research has also been published in edited volumes and the Journal of African American History. Her research agenda is a product of her commitment to educational equity, racial justice, and a sustained engagement with the racial politics of education in research and practice. Todd-Breland has created professional development workshops, curricula, and courses for K-12 teachers on critical pedagogy, African American history, urban education, and college readiness. She has also worked with diverse groups of Chicago Public School students as a high school social studies instructor and college counselor.
A Political Education: Black Politics and Education Reform in Post-Civil Rights Chicago
I will spend the first half of the fellowship period completing my book A Political Education: Black Politics and Education Reform in Post-Civil Rights. The book is a historical analysis of black politics and education reform in Chicago from the mid-1960s through the present. Beginning in the 1960s, the book investigates struggles for desegregation, community control, independent black educational institutions, and black teacher power as diverse strands of a broader politics of black achievement developed in response to the welfare state’s failure to deliver educational equity and discourses of black inferiority. Bridging studies of Civil Rights and Black Power era education organizing and studies of contemporary education reform policies, the book analyzes how the community-based approaches to school reform developed by black parents, educators, students, and organizers in Chicago during the 1960s and 1970s collided with and contributed to the privatization policies of increasingly powerful local and national corporate-style education reformers since that time. With the national ascendency of Chicago’s politicians and education policies, this local story has national implications. Based on archival research and oral histories, this social and intellectual history uses political organizing as a window into the dynamic interplay between schools and communities. The book demonstrates how historical transformations produced the racialized political struggles for power, resources, and representation that continue to animate urban education and racial politics today.
I will use the remainder of the fellowship period to extend the research from the book to consider transformations in schools and communities in the multiracial city. I will continue compiling a data set that I began for the book on the racial demographics of Chicago Public Schools staff and students over a fifty-year period. This data set will serve as the foundation for a future digital humanities mapping project that uses schools as sites to examine racial tensions, demographic changes, and politics since the 1960s.
Shirin Vossoughi, Northwestern University
Shirin Vossoughi is an assistant professor at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy, where she draws on ethnographic methods to study the social, cultural, historical, and political dimensions of learning and educational equity. Bringing together the interpretive study of talk and interaction with cultural-historical approaches to learning, Vossoughi seeks to integrate macro-political concerns (racial inequity, deficit ideologies, neoliberal educational reforms) with detailed studies of educational settings that imagine and inhabit alternative social relations. Vossoughi’s research centers on hybrid learning environments that blend formal and informal elements and support young people to engage in sophisticated forms of disciplinary thinking while questioning and expanding disciplinary boundaries. As the daughter of Iranian immigrants and political exiles, Vossoughi is personally invested in the creative development of educational settings for youth from migrant, immigrant, and diasporic backgrounds. She takes a collaborative approach to research and design, partnering with teachers and students to study the conditions that foster educational dignity and possibility. Building on her work as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University and at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, Vossoughi currently leads a team of educators and researchers interested in studying afterschool tinkering/making programs that design for equity. This project has a particular focus on questions of embodiment, including the role of talk, gesture, gaze and timing in expanding or restricting the social relations and forms of learning that emerge over time.
Hands-Eyes-Voices Towards an Interactional View of Embodied Learning and Educational Equity
While research on learning and equity provides detailed analyses of pedagogical talk, less attention has been given to the embodied dimensions of educational interaction. Likewise, research on embodied learning foregrounds the ways bodies engage with tools and with one another to deepen intellectual activity, but has not adequately contended with the political and relational dimensions of embodiment—including the interpersonal history of the relationships under study, or the ways assumptions about intelligence or capability are communicated. To address these gaps, this project provides a longitudinal, micro-ethnographic analysis of embodied learning through careful observation of 1) the coordination of teachers’ and students’ hands, eyes and voices within project-based, scientific and artistic activities, and 2) the forms of assistance that deepen students’ learning, social relationships, and sense of capability and dignity over time. While all learning is, in a sense, “embodied,” my use of this term highlights both the physical, gestural and artifact-mediated dimensions of educational activity, and the kinds of ethical and pedagogical values embodied in moment-to-moment interaction. This study is grounded in a participatory design research project focused on providing rich forms of afterschool STEM and arts education for non-dominant students, and traces a focal group of children, youth and adults over a three-year period.
Identifying the specific configurations of hands, eyes and voices that restricted or supported learning in this setting will contribute to building adequately dynamic and perceptive tools for the design of equitable educational environments. I also seek to develop a theory and method for studying embodied learning that substantively attends to power and equity. This includes the conceptual yield of paying close attention to the subjective experience of learning as tied to questions of dignity, taking a historical view of bodies in educational settings, and defining embodiment as tied to the ways people work to collectively rehearse and inhabit more humanizing social relations. I am especially interested in the ways a shifting quality of social relationships may signal collective forms of embodiment, such that particular choreographies of pedagogical interaction shape and sustain expansive contexts for learning.
Chenyi Zhang, Georgia State University
Dr. Chenyi Zhang is an Assistant Professor at Georgia State University in the Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Dr. Zhang’s research examines the interplay between teachers’ classroom instruction and young children’s early literacy development with consideration of environmental factors in classroom. His research aims to understand how high quality teacher-child interactions (i.e., emotionally and instructionally sensitive interactions) at school influence young children’s literacy, language, and socio-emotional development. Dr. Zhang completed his PhD in Human Development and Family Studies (emphasis: Early Childhood Education) at Purdue University in 2013.
Promoting Writing Instruction in Early Childhood Classrooms (PWI): A Professional Development Model of Daily Routinized Writing Instruction
Despite the importance of preschool children’s early writing skill (e.g., name writing, letter writing and spelling) to their concurrent and later literacy development (Dickinson et al., 2003; NELP, 2008), teachers’ writing instruction occurs at a low frequency in preschool classrooms (Gerde et al., 2012). Utilizing an experimental design, the Promoting Writing Instruction (PWI) project is a professional development intervention for embedding scientifically based writing instructional practices into preschool teachers’ daily practices in early childhood centers serving high percentages of children at risk for early learning challenges (i.e., serving low-income children). Given the bi-directional relation between early writing and letter/sound (decoding) skills (Diamond et al., 2008), PWI will provide PD workshop and onsite coaching to guide teachers to infuse writing and decoding instruction into existing daily routine activities in explicit and meaningful ways. For example, writing will be incorporated into morning meeting time, when reading a morning message and discussing daily calendar activities. Including writing opportunities in routine activities is an effective approach because it adds little additional teaching and lesson planning burden (Chien et al., 2010) and, because it occurs daily, provides an effective context for explicit and repeated teaching (Zhang et al., 2015). PWI’s theory of change posits that teachers who incorporate interactive and explicit writing and decoding instruction into their daily routine activities will lead to significant improvements in children’s writing and decoding skills. The specific aims of this research project are: 1. Investigate the impact of a routine activity-based PD intervention on teachers’ writing and decoding based, and, subsequently children’s writing skills and other related literacy skills (e.g., letter, sound and vocabulary). 2. Explore the relations between different types of teachers’ writing instruction, and children’s writing development. 3. Explore other malleable factors (i.e., children’s self-regulation skills, teachers’ beliefs about teaching early literacy and writing skills) that may contribute to teachers’ classroom instruction and children’s writing development.
Dake Zhang, Rutgers University
Dake Zhang is an assistant professor of Special Education in the Department of Educational Psychology at Rutgers University. She taught mathematics in China and is a certified special educator in the U.S.A. Dr. Zhang’s primary area of research focuses on understanding the cognitive deficits and developmental trajectories of students with mathematics learning disabilities, especially those struggling with mathematics problems that require visual and spatial skills, such as geometry, number lines, and the coordinate plane. She aims to provide effective accommodations and interventions to help these students. Dr. Zhang has published over 30 book chapters and research papers in top tier special education journals, including the Journal of Special Education, the Journal of Learning Disabilities, Learning Disability Quarterly, Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, Journal of Educational Research, and the Journal of Teacher Education. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Disability Policy Studies. Dr. Zhang completed her undergraduate studies at Beijing Normal University, received her Ph.D. in Special Education from Purdue University in 2011, and taught at Clemson University in 2011-2012.
Strategic Development for Middle Schoolers Struggling with Using Number Lines to Solve Fraction Problems: Assessment and Intervention
Although it is intuitively appealing to expect students with mathematics disabilities to better understand fractions through the use of visual representations, not all visual representations contain the same features. Many students with learning disabilities in mathematics struggle with understanding visual representations that contain abstract features, such as number lines. In the two successive studies focusing on number line strategies for fraction problem solving, I propose an assessment-intervention link that could produce an individualized strategy training intervention program based on an understanding of students’ existing number line strategies and misconceptions. In study 1, I will assess the number line strategies for solving fraction problems between students with and without Mathematics Learning Disabilities (MLD) at different grade levels, to describe the differential strategic developmental trajectory between the two groups and identify the common faulty strategies in students with MLD. Based on the results of Study 1, I will then develop an individualized intervention for transitioning students with MLD from the existing faulty strategies to more advanced number line strategies for learning fractions. Findings will illuminate how specific difficulties that students with MLD encounter with using abstract visual representations (e.g., number lines), and will inform educators, researchers, and policymakers of the significance of this issue, and shed light on how to provide individualized interventions to address students’ existing misconceptions in using number lines and transition the students with MLD to advanced strategies.