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News | WCER

Media Mentions

Paula McAvoy on the Political Education of Young People

September 15, 2016

Paula McAvoy, Program Director for the Center for Ethics and Education, is the lead author of a study of whether state education standards prepare future voters to understand the basics of contemporary American politics, in particular, the role that parties and ideology play in our democracy.

From the press release:

“This generation has grown up in a vitriolic and polarized political climate. In order to sort through the noise, young people need to have a deep understanding of the ideological values that divide us and how those values do, and do not, map onto political parties,” reports Paula McAvoy, lead author of the study and program director for the Center for Ethics and Education at UW-Madison, who completed this study with Rebecca Fine and Ann Herrera Ward. “Our team’s findings show that state standards stop short of asking students to make meaningful connections between partisanship, ideology, and the issues of the day. If schools are to fulfill their mission of preparing young people for political participation, teachers need to be encouraged to bring these ideas into the classroom.”

Read more.

WCER Researcher Argues For A Nuanced Approach To Workforce Training

August 30, 2016

"It's the idea that sluggish job and economic growth is solely due to a failed higher education system — that idea itself has huge gaps" — WCER Researcher Matt Hora in WisContext.

From the article:

Matthew Hora, a scientist with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, focuses on the concept of a "skills gap" and how it influences the growing political arguments about the value of liberal-arts education and vocational job training. He co-authored the book Beyond The Skills Gap: Preparing College Students For Life And Work, due out in November 2016 from Harvard Education Press. In the book, Hora and his UW colleagues dissect the prevailing narrative about the skills gap, which goes something like this: Post-secondary education is oriented too much on the humanities and the theoretical side of science, producing graduates without practical and technical skills that employers in manufacturing and the skilled trades desire, resulting in unfilled jobs and sluggish economic growth.

Read more.

Hora Discusses WI Skills Gap Findings on Wisconsin Public Television

August 29, 2016

New research published by WCER researcher Matthew Hora examines how Wisconsin is investing in job training. Hora talked to Wisconsin Public Television about what the skills gap is and how the state could be doing better.

Bradley Carl to Speak at Achievement Gap Panel

August 16, 2016

WCER researcher Bradley Carl will participate in a Capital Times panel discussion on early learning and school achievement gaps.

Wisconsin and Madison have the troubling distinction of having one of the widest school achievement gaps between white students and students of color in the nation. At the same time, new research suggests that intervention in early childhood could have a major effect on educational outcomes for children who might otherwise struggle in school.

Carl will participate in a discusson on whether early learning is the best way to close the achievement gap. The event will be 6-7 p.m., on Wednesday, Aug. 24, at the Urban League of Greater Madison, 2222 S. Park St.

Read more.

Enabling Effective Mentorship

August 8, 2016

Christine Pfund featured in the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Today's Special Section on Education.

From the article

“We’re putting our precious trainees in the hands of folks who are well-intentioned but have had no professional development in the arena (of mentoring). It leaves a lot to chance,” says Pfund. “No matter how well-intended someone is and no matter how good they are, there is always room” to improve.

After earning a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology, Pfund did a postdoctoral stint in the early 2000s in the department of plant pathology. She then switched her focus to improving classroom teaching and research mentoring.

Read more.

The Effect of Testing on Chinese Education and Parenting

July 27, 2016

Based on his recent experiences while conducting research in China, Matt Hora contributed to Education Week’s Global Learning opinion blog.

From the article:

On a recent visit to the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao to study the skills gap between higher education and the labor market, I had a different translator with me each day. They were mostly female English instructors in their early 30s, and they accompanied me on tours of cavernous manufacturing facilities, boardroom conversations with HR directors and recently hired workers, as well as interviews with college professors and administrators.


One of the biggest surprises of my trip, however, had nothing to do with the state of China's workforce—it was how my translators spoke so unambiguously about the negative aspects of the Chinese educational system and parenting culture, and yet, at the same time, seemed to embrace them.

Read more.

LEAD Center’s Kate McCleary on Feminist Epistemologies

June 21, 2016

A blog post in AEA365 features Kate S. McCleary's five central themes on feminist epistemologies. 

From the post:

Lessons Learned: For me, feminist epistemologies focus on…

  1. Women’s lives and the oppression of women and other marginalized groups: Feminist epistemologies explore difference and seek to know and understand the lived experience of those whose voices/experiences have been marginalized. Chandra T. Mohanty’s book Feminism Without Bordersexplores the plurality of contemporary, global feminism.
  2. Power, authority, and hierarchy: Feminist epistemologies seek to “decenter the center.” This is the title of Uma Narayan and Susan Harding’s book that explores the way feminism is enacted across borders, and in multicultural and postcolonial contexts.
  3. Relationships: The relationship that individuals have within their homes, communities, broader society, and the world hold meaning. Carol Hanisch’s (1969) claim that “the personal is political” holds true today.
  4. Facts and findings are all “value tinged”: Knowledge and knowing is socially situated; thus no one is ever able to get rid of one’s own values.
  5. Understanding the lived, quotidian experiences of women and other individuals: In 1987, Dorothy Smith wrote a book The Everyday World As Problematic that called on researchers to be attentive to the full spectrum of what constitutes women’s, and other groups, lives.

Read more.

How MSAN Superintendents Help Close Gaps

June 21, 2016

From the article:

All of the superintendents valued MSAN for its ability to bring together colleagues and their students from across the country to share ideas and stimulate each other’s thinking about how to address the persistent gaps that dog public education. They attribute many of their good ideas to stimulation that came from MSAN meetings, but no one believed that MSAN provided specific tactics to be implemented. Instead, sharing successes and setbacks and learning from peers, superintendents tended to focus on the principles undergirding shared initiatives rather than trying to replicate particular recipes or procedures. This approach led to innovations adapted and tailored to their specific school districts.

The common experiences of these superintendents highlight central challenges of the job for those who seek to have schools and school systems live up to their equalization potential in US society. The superintendents continually balanced competing demands on resources, shifting politics, and the need to demonstrate progress so that they could remain in their posts long enough to see the effects of their carefully crafted changes and programs. Not all of them stayed more than four or five years, but those who did were able to demonstrate important transformations in their school districts that were making a difference for students long marginalized in their systems. Their examples point to two important factors that are uncommon in public school districts today: 1) longevity in the superintendent role supports long-term improvement, and 2) meaningful reform is multi-faceted, requiring strategy, time, and resources to take hold.

Read more.

Jerlando Jackson Cited as Calling New Brown Plan “Bold”

June 6, 2016

Dr. Jerlando Jackson quoted in Diverse Edcuation artilce "Brown University Making Bold Bid to Assure Diversity and Inclusion."

From Diverse Education:

Dr. Jerlando F. L. Jackson, the Vilas Distinguished Professor of Higher Education and director and chief research scientist of Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory (Wei LAB) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, called the Brown plan “bold.”

“As someone who has assisted institutions with similar efforts, it appears that the key ingredients are in place to make a difference — key leadership commitment, diversity strategic plan, forthcoming assessment of the institution’s climate and dedicated resources to fund the institution’s transformation,” says Jackson.

“The nation should be watching with a careful eye, because if one of the nation’s best institutions by a host of metrics and one of the most well-resourced institutions who have taken a bold stance on inclusivity fails, what does that mean for other institutions that do not have any of those luxuries?”

Read the entire article here.

Wisconsin Stands Out For Preschool Access

May 20, 2016

Beth Graue comments on Wisconsin's #6 national ranking in access to free preschool programs for 4-year-olds.

From Wisconsin Public Radio:

Wisconsin ranks sixth in the country for access to free preschool programs for 4-year-olds, according to the annual State of Preschool report from the National Institute of Early Education Research.

The institute found 64 percent of Wisconsin 4-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded preschool in 2015, down from 66 percent in 2014, but still more than double the national average of 29 percent.

You can find the whole story here.

Jerlando Jackson Shares His Perspective on the Vote of No Confidence

May 20, 2016

UW System After Vote of No Confidence a ‘National Case Study,’ Jerlando Jackson Shares His Perspective

From the Madison Times:

Last week, we published an op-ed titled ‘Concerned, but Committed (At least for now): Why one UW professor says he is not jumping ship just yet,’ written by Professor Jerlando F. L. Jackson prior to the UW system vote-of-no-confidence. This week, we are presenting a follow-up interview with Dr. Jackson in response to the vote-of-no-confidence, to discuss the future of UW, and national public higher education. Jackson is the Vilas Distinguished Professor of Higher Education in the department of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis as well as the Founding Director and Chief Research Scientist of Wisconsin’s Equity & Inclusion Laboratory (Wei LAB) in Wisconsin Center for Education Research, both in the School of Education at the UW-Madison.

Read the whole interview here.

Collaborative Classrooms off to a Strong Start

May 18, 2016

The WSB’s new classrooms transform the learning experience for business students. 

From the Spring 2016 WSB Update:

“I learned a lot from little questions or comments people at my table would ask as we worked on problems,” she says, adding that it was also easy to ask for help from the instructor. “I would love to take more classes this way.”

That’s a reaction that most students have, according to Mark Connolly, a researcher from the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, who is analyzing quantitative and qualitative data from students and faculty to measure the rooms’ impact on student learning.

“The collaborative classrooms are off to a strong start,” he says. “The students and instructors are confident that the space is improving their learning experiences.”

Read the whole article here.

Wei LAB Director Joins the Discussion About Campus Challenges

May 2, 2016

In the wake of the turmoil at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Vilas Distinguished Professor of Higher Education Jerlando F. L. Jackson shares his perspective and interpretation of the institution’s challenges. Faculty are planning a no-confidence vote against the Board of Regents and System President Ray Cross today. 

From Education Dive:

"I am in my 16th year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I have navigated the professorial ranks as the first African American faculty member in my department and am proud to have founded the globally-recognized Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory (Wei LAB) housed within the Wisconsin Center for Education Research in the School of Education. Concurrently, I have come to understand and appreciate the institution’s history and campus culture through participation in key a number of key service opportunities on campus."

The full op-ed is available on Education Dive.

Knuth, Stephens’ Build an early foundation for algebra success in Phi Delta Kapan

March 10, 2016

"Build an early foundation for algebra success," by Eric KnuthAna Stephens, Maria Blanton and Angela Gardiner was published in the March edition of the Phi Delta Kappan.

Abstract from the Phi Delta Kappan: Research tells us that success in algebra is a factor in many other important student outcomes. Emerging research also suggests that students who are started on an algebra curriculum in the earlier grades may have greater success in the subject in secondary school. What’s needed is a consistent, algebra-infused mathematics curriculum all throughout the earlier grades. The authors outline three foundational principles for students to learn in the early grades, which can help them with the algebra they encounter in secondary school.

The full article is available on the Phi Delta Kappan.

Sara Goldrick-Rab: Community Colleges Should Consider Providing Food Pantries for Commuting Students

February 25, 2016

Sara Goldrick-Rab says community colleges should consider providing food pantries for commuting students who are hungry all year long (The Atlantic, Feb. 24, 2016) 

From The Atlantic:

How Low-Income Students Are Fitting In at Elite Colleges

People from the richest quarter of the population outnumber those from the poorest quarter by almost 25 to one at the nation’s most selective institutions.

In recent years, college campuses have been rocked by black students protesting racial bigotry, and women’s groups denouncing sexual harassment. But in the age of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump’s class-based politics, we’re beginning to see something new: the rise of low-income and working-class students protesting longstanding inequalities on campus that in the previous decades were mostly ignored.

The new movement took center stage this past weekend as the Harvard College First-Generation Student Union hosted a conference of 350 students and administrators, mostly from Ivy League institutions, that called for boosting the presence of disadvantaged students on elite campuses and reducing their alienation.

Read more