With Brown’s spring semester officially under way, the Urban Education Policy Program was eager to resume its UEP Speaker Series! Over the past two weeks, we proudly hosted two bright and engaging speakers at our campus – Dr. Andrew Ho and Dr. Maia Cucchiara:
Dr. Andrew Ho is a Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is a psychometrician who studies test-based educational accountability metrics, and is also the chair of the HarvardX Research Committee that oversees research in Harvard University’s open online courses. His recent projects described bias in proficiency-based trends, developed robust achievement gap measures, and clarified the outcomes of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
Drawing on his research on MOOCs, Dr. Ho delivered a presentation “HarvardX and MITx Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): Outcomes from 2 years, 64 courses, and 1.5 million participants” to the UEP cohort. MOOCs, online courses aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web, were the subject of media hype only a few years ago and promised to be “disruptive” to traditional education. Now with several years’ worth of data to look at, researchers such as Dr. Ho are beginning to understand the challenges and complexities that come with trying to measure MOOCs’ actual effects on education and learning.
Dr. Ho’s (only somewhat) tongue-in-cheek rules for analyzing MOOCs “Rule #1: Know your numerator. Rule #2: Know your denominator”, alluded to the fact that when dealing with literally millions of participants, changing your definitions can radically change your outcomes.
Dr. Maia Cucchiara is an Associate Professor of Urban Education at Temple University. She holds a joint Ph.D. in Education and Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania and applies a sociological lens to questions of urban education policy and practice. Maia studies school reform and its implications for equity and civic capacity. In particular, she is interested in the intersection between social policies, race, class, and the lived experiences of people targeted by policy initiatives.
Drawing on her ethnographic research of a public school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dr. Cucchiara wrote her Ph.D. dissertation and published a book entitled “Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities: Who Wins and Who Loses When Schools Become Urban Amenities“.
Dr. Cucchiara’s book and presentation to UEP students focused on the Center City Schools Initiative: a marketing and rebranding campaign that took place in the early 2000’s in public, city center schools of Philadelphia. The goal of the initiative was to improve public schools by getting more middle class students to attend Center City Schools, therefore increasing these schools’ tax base. Dr. Cucchiara’s study involved interviewing hundreds of community stakeholders, and attending PTO and community meetings over a number of years. Those interested in exploring the full conclusions of her important work should consider reading her book.
The UEP program is so grateful that Dr. Ho and Dr. Cucchiara were able to visit Brown for our spring installment of the Speaker Series. Thank you both for your insightful and fascinating presentations!