“Learning as Entwined with Ideology:
Theoretical and Methodological Possibilities and Implications”
Thomas M. Philip
Associate Professor and Faculty Director of Teacher Education
University of California, Berkeley
Monday, February 17
617 Library Place
In this talk, Thomas M. Philip explores how ideology and learning are intertwined in and through interaction. Drawing from empirical cases from K-12, undergraduate, and teacher education contexts, Philip shares the theoretical and methodological possibilities and implications of emphasizing the entanglement of ideology and learning. In particular, he discusses the analytical constructs of ideological micro-contestations, ideological convergence/expansion, and principled improvisation. He illustrates how these constructs can be used to trace the locally constructed and contested nature of ideologies and to design learning environments that allow for greater ideological and epistemological heterogeneity.
Thomas M. Philip is an Associate Professor and the Faculty Director of Teacher Education in the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley. He studies how teachers make sense of power and hierarchy in classrooms, schools, and society. He is interested in how teachers act on their sense of agency as they navigate and ultimately transform classrooms and institutions toward more equitable, just, and democratic practices and outcomes. His most recent scholarship explores the possibilities and tensions that emerge with the use of digital learning technologies in the classroom, particularly discourses about the promises of these tools with respect to the significance or dispensability of teacher pedagogy. Philip holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a PhD in Cognition and Development, both from the University of California at Berkeley. His work as an educator began as a science teacher at a public high school in South Los Angeles.
“Increasing Community College Completion Rates among Low-Income Students”
Gilbert F. Schaefer College Professor of Economics
University of Notre Dame
Wednesday, January 22nd
Community colleges are an important part of the higher education landscape in the United States, but completion rates are extremely low, especially among low-income students. Much of the existing policy and research attention to this issue has focused on addressing academic and financial challenges. However, there is ample reason to think that non-academic obstacles might be key drivers of dropout rates for students living with the burden of poverty. This study focuses on the role of “life barriers” and demonstrates that wrap-around case management services can be an effective way to increase completion rates among low-income students. We evaluate the impact of the Stay the Course case management program through a multi-armed randomized controlled trial evaluation (RCT) conducted between 2013 and 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. Data from school administrative records indicate that the comprehensive case management program significantly increased persistence and degree completion, especially for women. Estimates for the full sample are imprecise, but the estimates for women imply that the case management intervention tripled associate degree receipt (31 percentage point increase). We find no difference in outcomes between students in an emergency financial assistance only treatment arm and the control group. This study complements existing evidence on financial and information programs designed to increase enrollment rates and is most closely related to the small set of studies examining coaching and mentoring interventions to help students.
James Sullivan is the Gilbert F. Schaefer College Professor of Economics at the University of Notre Dame. He has been a visiting scholar at the National Poverty Center and a visiting professor at the University of Chicago, and he currently serves as a national Phi Betta Kappa Visiting Scholar. He was recently appointed to the U.S. Commission on Social Impact Partnerships and he serves on the National Poverty Center Advisory Board. His research examines the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs at the national, state, and local level. He also studies the consumption, saving, and borrowing behavior of poor households, as well as poverty and inequality measurement. In 2012, with fellow Notre Dame Professor William Evans, Professor Sullivan founded the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO). LEO is a research center that works with service providers and policymakers to identify effective and scalable solutions to reduce poverty in America. Sullivan received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and his Ph.D. from Northwestern University.
“Excellence for ALL Students via Professional Development and Instructional Change”
Associate Professor, Curriculum and Teaching
Wednesday, January 8th
This presentation will focus on racially minoritized learners’ (RMLs) experiences and achievement in school settings with a particular focus on discussing how the field measures instructional quality as it relates to RMLs’ experiences in the classroom. The presentation will provide suggestions about (1) how to measure culturally responsive anti-bias instruction, (2) changes for instructional approaches to engage RMLs, and (3) larger systemic changes to the way in which RMLs are educated.
Stephanie Curenton is a tenured associate professor in the Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development. She studies the social, cognitive, and language development of low-income and minority children within various ecological contexts, such as parent-child interactions, early childhood education programs, early childhood workforce programs, and related state and federal policies. Curenton served as past associate editor for Early Childhood Research Quarterly and is currently an associate editor for Early Education and Development. She has received multiple national research policy fellowships, the Society for Research on Child Development/American Association for the Advancement of Science and worked in the Office of Child Care and the National Black Child Development Institute Policy Fellowship. She has served on education non-profit boards for the National Association for the Education of Young Children and local Head Start programs.
“How Summer Youth Employment Programs Impact Academic Outcomes”
Associate Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and Economics
Monday, November 18th
617 Library Place
Under the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act, states have focused on reducing chronic absenteeism to close achievement gaps. We provide experimental evidence regarding the impact of Summer Youth Employment Programs (SYEPs) on secondary school outcomes. We find that the Boston SYEP increases attendance after participation, decreasing chronic absenteeism by 27 percent. We also present new evidence that SYEPs reduce dropout by 2.6 percentage points and raise graduation rates by 6.1 percentage points. These outcomes are correlated with increasing aspirations to attend college, gaining basic work habits, and improving social skills. A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests a benefit-to-cost ratio of 4-to-1.
Alicia Sasser Modestino is an Associate Professor with appointments in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the Department of Economics at Northeastern University. Since 2015, Dr. Modestino has also served as the Associate Director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy. She is also a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program and an invited researcher of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at MIT. Previously, Modestino was a Senior Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston where she led numerous research projects on regional economic and policy issues. Dr. Modestino’s current research focuses on labor and health economics including changing skill requirements, youth development, healthcare, housing, and migration. Modestino holds both a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University, where she also served as a doctoral fellow in the Inequality and Social Policy Program at the Kennedy School of Government.
“Increasing Access to Selective High Schools through Place-based Affirmative Action: Unintended Consequences”
Senior Economist and Research Advisor
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Monday, October 28th
Library Place 617
We investigate whether elite Chicago public high schools differentially benefit high-achieving students from more and less affluent neighborhoods. Chicago’s place-based affirmative action policy allocates seats based on achievement and neighborhood socioeconomic status (SES). Using regression discontinuity design, we find that these schools do not raise test scores overall, but students are generally more positive about their high school experiences. For students from low-SES neighborhoods, we estimate negative effects on grades and the probability of attending a selective college. We present suggestive evidence that these findings for students from low-SES neighborhoods are driven by the negative effect of relative achievement ranking.
Lisa Barrow is a Senior Economist and Research Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Affiliated Researcher at the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. Her research focuses on a variety of education issues, including the impact of attending a selective high school on student outcomes, a randomized evaluation of computer-aided algebra instruction in large urban school districts, and evaluations of performance-based scholarship impacts on academic outcomes and student time use at the college level. Her prior research on school choice, education production, and the earned income tax credit has appeared in numerous economic and policy journals. Barrow has also been a visiting assistant professor at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University and a visiting lecturer at the Irving B. Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. Barrow received a B.A. in economics from Carleton College and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in economics from Princeton University.
“Online Courses and High School Student Experiences”
Associate Professor of Education Policy
University of California, Davis
Wednesday, May 29th
617 Library Place
This talk explores several facets of online course-taking for high school students. A first set of analyses examines performance outcomes for high school students taking online courses in Florida. These analyses use fixed effects models to estimate differences in contemporaneous and downstream academic outcomes for students who take courses virtually and face-to-face—both for initial attempts and for credit recovery. We find that while contemporaneous outcomes are positive for virtual students in both settings, downstream outcomes vary by attempt type. For first-time course takers, virtual course taking is associated with decreases in the likelihood of taking and passing follow-on courses and in graduation readiness (based on a proxy measure). For credit recovery students, virtual course taking is associated with an increased likelihood of taking and passing follow-on courses and being in line for graduation. A second set of analyses looks descriptively at the extent to which online course offerings extend, rather than replace, the course offerings of brick-and-mortar high schools, and examines the characteristics associated with these different uses of online courses.
Cassandra Hart is an associate professor of education policy at the University of California, Davis. Hart’s research has focused on school choice programs, effects of online education on student outcomes, and effects on students of exposure to demographically similar teachers. Her research has been published in education and economics journals including Education Finance and Policy, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, and American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. Hart received her PhD in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University in 2011.
“Moving From What Works To What Replicates:
A New Framework for Evidence-Based Decision-Making”
Assistant Professor of Research, Statistics, and Evaluation
University of Virginia
Monday, May 20th
Library Place 617
Given the central role of replication in the accumulation of scientific knowledge, researchers try to replicate seemingly well-established findings. Mounting evidence, however, suggests that results from many studies are fragile and hard to replicate. The so-called “replication crisis” has important implications for evidence-based decision-making in the health and social sciences. At the same time, there is intense debate about what constitutes a successful replication and why certain types of replication rates are so low. A crucial set of questions for evidence-based decision-making involve questions about external validity and replicability. We need to understand the contexts and conditions under which interventions produce similar outcomes. To address these challenges, I introduce a novel framework that provides a clear definition of replication, and highlights the conditions under which results are likely to replicate (Wong & Steiner, 2018). I present replication as a prospective research design. This makes it possible to define key assumptions for the direct replication of results, and to show how different replication designs can be derived and used to evaluate treatment effect heterogeneity. I argue that replication designs are feasible, desirable, and relevant in real world settings that are important for evidence-based decision-making.
Vivian C. Wong is a research methodologist in the field of Education. Currently, Dr. Wong is an Assistant Professor in Research, Statistics, and Evaluation in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on evaluating interventions in early childhood and K-12 systems. As a methodologist, her expertise is in improving the design, implementation and analysis of randomized experiments, regression-discontinuity, interrupted time series, and matching designs in field settings. She is currently examining the design, implementation, and analysis of replication studies in field settings, as well as developing innovative methods for evaluating No Child Left Behind. Dr. Wong participated in the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) Predoctoral Training Program at Northwestern University, and received the Outstanding IES Predoctoral Fellow Award in 2010 for her dissertation work on “Addressing Theoretical and Practical Challenges in the Regression-Discontinuity Design.” She is a Principal Member of IES’s Statistics and Methodology review panel.
“Developing an Education Policy Research Agenda outside Academia”
Fellow in Economic Studies
Monday, March 4th
The shift toward accountability policies for schools over the past two decades—first introduced in some states, and made national under the No Child Left Behind Act—has been central to efforts to assess and achieve progress in public education. The new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, requires state-led accountability systems to annually measure five indicators that assess progress toward the state’s long-term goals. The fifth indicator, of “school quality and student success” marked the first time that schools would be systematically held accountable for a metric other than student achievement or graduation rates. Dr. Bauer will discuss developing and implementing a research agenda that is relevant to this new policy parameter as well as to policymakers, regulatory processes, the media, and the public.
“Spatial Reasoning in Minecraft”
Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences and Computer Science
Wednesday, February 27th
Minecraft is often touted as a game that affords important Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics learning opportunities. Proponents are quick to note the ways that Minecraft might promote spatial reasoning, a skillset that strongly correlates with STEM proficiency. Despite this claim, few papers have chronicled in-game practices that might evidence spatial reasoning, or how we might study its development. In this paper, we describe both quantitative and qualitative evidence for correlations between Minecraft game play and spatial reasoning. At a high level, we see that students with more prior experience with Minecraft score higher on a spatial reasoning pre-test. While we do not attribute differences in spatial reasoning to Minecraft, our qualitative analyses surface a number of in-game practices that align with spatial reasoning. We chronicle some of these behaviors to highlight a set of practices that may be beneficial for studying the development of spatial reasoning in game-based environments.