While working on this year’s UEP newsletters, our UEP student ambassadors had an opportunity to pose questions to our two newest faculty members about their research and teaching. Meet Assistant Professor of Education Andrea Flores and Assistant Professor of Education David Rangel!
SAs: “How does your work inform the efforts to reshape public education?”
AF: “Broadly, ethnographic educational research is a window into how the reshaping of public education affects the lives of students, teachers, and families. My research–focused on Latino youth who participate in a nonprofit college access program and their transitions out of high school in Nashville, Tennessee–demonstrates how youth experience this process, their motivation to persist in school, and the challenges they face in both their low-performing schools and in this successful intervention. Thus, my research informs policy and school reform by documenting the everyday experience of the public educational system, its failings, and its opportunities to aid students. Theoretically, I examine how third sector outsourcing of school-based services creates a tiered and privatized system of college access. Additionally, my work explores the roadblocks facing undocumented students’ college access, e.g the inability to apply for federal and state-based financial aid and these students’ exclusion from certain public higher educational institutions.”
SAs: “What is the biggest takeaway you want students to have from your courses?”
AF: “Of course, each class I teach has different thematic and content-based takeaways. Universally, I hope students leave my classes with an appreciation for qualitative and ethnographic research’s contribution to our understanding of the individual lives affected by policy and its intended and unintended consequences.”
Brown University Department of Education professors John Papay and John Tyler teamed up with Brown UEP alumna Mary Laski, along with Harvard Graduate School of Education Assistant Professor of Economics and Education Eric Taylor, on their publication, “Learning Job Skills from Colleagues at Work: Evidence from a Field Experiment Using Teacher Performance Data.”
The publication has topped the National Council on Teacher Quality‘s 2016 list of outstanding papers by teacher education researchers. Congratulations to Mary, John and John!
The Brown Education Department Speaker Series kicked off this week, and was proud to feature Dr. Luther Spoehr, a Senior Lecturer in Education and History at Brown University, and the Director of Brown Undergraduate Studies. Spoehr’s main activities at Brown involve teaching about the history of American higher education and the history of American school reform. His First-Year Seminar, “Campus on Fire,” looks at American colleges and universities in the 1960s. Other courses include a survey of the history of American higher education, the history of intercollegiate athletics, and the history of academic freedom. Dr. Spoehr also does work on best practices in the teaching of history and frequently consults with schools and school systems that want to improve their history teaching.
This Wednesday, Dr. Spoehr delivered a presentation to the Department of Education entitled “Francis and Ira’s (Sometimes) Excellent Adventures: Wayland, Magaziner, and Curriculum Reform at Brown,” a talk outlining the research Spoehr has conducted into Brown’s curriculum journey since the University’s founding in 1764.
Dr. Spoehr began by discussing the University’s roots as a small school of approximately 80 male students, being taught Latin and the classics by a single professor, and then touched upon the (at the time) outlandish reforms implemented by President Francis Wayland in the 1800’s, allowing for modern languages and practical skills such as agriculture, and science and chemistry applied to the arts. These reforms were considered a failure initially, supposedly attracting a lower caliber of students, but today are frequently sited as being “ahead of their time”.
Brown University’s “New Curriculum” of no required core curriculum or distribution requirements was not born until the 1960’s, when student activists led by undergraduate Ira Magaziner (whom Dr. Spoehr has had the privilege of interviewing for his research) pushed for more engaging and utilitarian courses. Elements of Magaziner’s New Curriculum exist to this day at Brown University, and current faculty in the audience remarked that it is because of the lack of requirements at Brown that they can be sure that when they walk into a classroom, their students want to be there.
Yet again, Urban Education Policy Professor Matthew Kraft’s research is making headlines! In this past week, his work on “The Underutilized Potential of Teacher-to-Parent Communication: Evidence from a Field Experiment” has been featured in The Boston Globe, and Education Week. The study, which is co-authored by Todd Rogers, director of Harvard’s Student Social Support R&D Lab, is set for publication in the August 2015 issue of the academic journal Economics of Education Review.
Read the entire paper today, or check out the abstract below:
We study an intervention designed to increase the effectiveness of parental involvement in their children’s education. Each week we sent brief individualized messages from teachers to the parents of high school students in a credit recovery program. This light-touch communication increased the probability students earned credits by 6.5 percentage points – a 41% reduction in the proportion failing to earn credit. This improvement resulted primarily from preventing drop-outs, rather than from reducing failure or dismissal rates. The intervention shaped the content of parent-child conversations with messages emphasizing what students could improve, versus what students were doing well, producing the largest effects. Our results illustrate the underutilized potential of communication policies with clear but reasonable expectations for teachers and program designs that make communication efficient and effective.
Professor John Papay discusses the UEP course he teaches, how UEP students use his course, the way he responds to student’s varying interests and how UEP students are prepared for future jobs.
Professor Jaime Del Razo links his work on undocumented students with a broader discussion about English language learner (ELL) students. Please click here to read more and watch his video interview.
College readiness calls for tapping the resources of the whole community – higher education, community organizations, businesses, funders, and civic organizations – to support and align learning inside and outside of schools. The authors explore this educational ecosystem by focusing and using time as the lever towards social and school equity.
Read the full article here
Providence Talks is a new initiative in Providence to decrease the socio-economic word gap between high-income and low-income children. Professor Wong is leading the evaluation team at Brown for this program. Please click here to learn more about what Providence Talks is doing!
Professors John Papay and John Tyler have recently been awarded a research grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant funds a three-year project to study how teacher evaluation can be used to improve instructional practice. The research team (which includes Mary Laski, a current UEP student) is currently using detailed evaluation data to pair teachers who struggle in specific areas of practice with colleagues who have demonstrated success in those areas. The team will evaluate the effectiveness of this program on teacher practice and student achievement.