Media Mentions

What Gets Forgotten in Debates About the Liberal Arts

March 21, 2018

Matthew Hora, director of the Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions, on blending hard and soft skills.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

The future of work is about a blending of hard and soft skills. Students who combine their liberal-arts training with a technical skill make themselves prime candidates for good-paying jobs, according to a recent report from Matthew Sigelman of Burning Glass Technologies and Mark Schneider of the American Institutes for Research.

Of the 3.8 million entry-level job opportunities for holders of bachelor’s degrees in the United States, 1.4 million could go to liberal-arts majors who add a digital or specialized skill, potentially giving those graduates a starting salary comparable to that of a graduate who had pursued a more specialized technical major.

Sigelman and Schneider point out that colleges need to direct students to those opportunities through services like the career center. Unfortunately, career centers often lack the resources and bandwidth to reach most students on their campuses.

Matthew T. Hora, an assistant professor of adult and higher education at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and director of its Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions, worries that advocates tread into dangerous territory when they say the liberal arts are the primary way to spur the coveted noncognitive skills in students.

Read more.

Byars-Winston Leads National Consensus Study on the Science of Effective Mentoring in STEMM Fields

March 13, 2018

From the article:

Following the February 9-10, 2017 National Academy of Sciences Participatory Workshop on Effective Mentoring in STEMM, the National Academy of Sciences is moving forward with a consensus study on STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medical) mentoring programs and practices at the undergraduate and graduate levels. 

The study will be conducted under the auspices of the Board of Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW), which provides U.S. government, academic and industry leaders with analyses and recommendations designed to inform action and set strong public policy on issues in higher education and the workforce, and the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine (CWSEM), a standing  committee of the National Academy of Sciences that coordinates, monitors, and advocates action to increase the participation of women in science, engineering, and medicine.

The ad hoc committee conducting the study is led by Angela Byars-Winston, PhD,  professor of medicine at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Committee members include Christine Pfund, PhD, researcher with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research and Director of the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

"The depth of scholarship of this committee is remarkable -  in the field of STEMM mentorship theory and practice, we truly have an Olympic-level 'dream team' assembled," says Byars-Winston. 

Read more.

What’s Wrong With Required Internships? Plenty

March 6, 2018

Matthew Hora, director of the Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions, offers suggestions on how to improve mandatory internships.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Given that 65 percent of employers want applicants with industry-specific work experience, and millions of students are struggling to pay for basic needs and the rising price of tuition, anything that would increase a college student’s job prospects is a good thing, right?

Well, no. As a researcher who studies college-workplace transitions, I’ve concluded that a senior administrator at a Wisconsin technical college had it right when she told me that "internships are the Wild West in higher education."

In many colleges, the landscape of internships is best characterized as ambiguous, unregulated, potentially exploitative, and — for many students — inaccessible.

Read more.

Janesville Science Students Use Puntambekar’s Work

February 19, 2018

Across the Janesville School District, eighth-grade students are engaged in a new way of learning science—one that involves buckets of mud, thinking like a scientist and, perhaps, making their community a better place. The students are a part of a study designed by professor Sadhana Puntambekar of UW-Madison’s Interactive Learning and Design Lab: "Biosphere: Fostering Deep Learning of Complex Biology for Building Our Next Generation’s Scientists."

Over time, humanities majors close pay gap with STEM peers

February 19, 2018

From the Daily Tar Heel:

Humanities majors may initially earn less money than STEM majors, but a new study shows they close the gap over time.

The report by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences — "The State of the Humanities 2018: Graduates in the Workforce & Beyond" — found humanities majors typically earn around $10,000 to $30,000 less than STEM and professional majors but still more than workers without a bachelor’s degree. 

This gap has closed over time – advanced degree holders in the humanities earned 38 percent higher wages. Despite this, stereotypes about the lack of job opportunities and low wages still exist. 

Matthew Hora, a professor in liberal arts and applied studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said part of this perception about humanities majors is rooted in truth. 

“It’s not much of a stereotype – it’s just a fact,” he said. “I think the part of the stereotype that’s unfortunate is this notion that if you get a degree in arts and humanities, you’re unemployable.”

Read more.

Assessment Tool to Measure Mentorship Role in Undergraduate Research

January 30, 2018

From the UW-Madison Office of the Provost:

January is National Mentor Month and UW-Madison has reason to celebrate. For over two decades, the university has been a nationally recognized leader in evidence-based research mentor and mentee training, and has led the way in providing high-quality undergraduate research experiences. Thanks to the dedicated work of a group of units from across campus, yet another exciting, new advancement is underway.

Members of the Collaborative for Advancing Learning and Teaching (The Collaborative) – Student Learning Assessment and WISCIENCE – are working in partnership with the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) and the College of Letters & Science Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) program on the project.

Madison faculty members have long been committed to including undergraduate students on their research teams and to providing high-quality mentoring. Many have participated in research mentor training offered by WISCIENCE in collaboration with the Delta Program, originally developed by UW-Madison Professor Jo Handelsman and Associate Scientist Christine Pfund.

Read more.

Board Approves Establishing Committee to Study Teacher Compensation

January 23, 2018

From the Kenosha News:

The Silver Lake-Salem School Board Monday night approved establishing a 10-member committee charged with studying alternate compensation, particularly for the pay structure for teachers.

Alternate compensation options could include supplemental pay for extracurricular activities, expertise, administrative leadership or other duties beyond the normal classroom instruction day, he said.

The district and staff have been begun a cursory review of what other districts have been doing with teacher compensation based on research from the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

Read more.

‘Excessive Video Gaming’ in Draft as a Mental Health Condition

January 2, 2018


The World Health Organization included "excessive video gaming" in its draft of the 2018 International Classification of Diseases.

If it's included next year, video gaming would be considered a diagnosis that health professionals and insurance companies could use.

Michael Beall, director of GEAR Learning, an educational gaming development center at UW-Madison, said he believes this classification is a step backward for gaming, which he sees as a positive influence in people's lives.

"A lot of good video games nowadays have a very rich narrative," Beall said. "It's just like reading a book. People want to finish this. They want to know what happens at the end."

Read more.

Madison Pre-K Benefits Student Behavior And Literacy

January 2, 2018

From Wisconsin Public Radio:

Students enrolled in Madison's pre-K program showed improvements in literacy and behavioral skills compared to similar students not enrolled in the program, according to a recently published study.

This is the second study from the Madison Education Partnership, which is a research partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education and the Madison Metropolitan School District. The analysis focused on student kindergarten readiness, which was defined as literacy and behavioral skill. The behavior skills are measured through teacher reports in the first quarter of kindergarten.

Students from less advantaged homes benefited more from pre-K programs, according to the study. Eric Grodsky, UW-Madison professor and MEP co-director, said pre-K may help increase equity among students.

"Children who are African-American, who are from low income families whose parents didn’t attend or complete college seem to get fairly substantial benefits in their literacy skills from enrolling in 4K," he said. "While children who are more advantaged do just about as well if they’re in 4K or not."

Read more.

Indicators for Monitoring Undergraduate STEM Education

December 14, 2017

Mark Connolly, Principal Investigator of the NSF-funded Longitudinal Study of Future STEM Scholars, is a committee member of the Board on Science and Education at The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The Committee recently released this report:

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals generate a stream of discoveries and innovations that fuel job creation and national economic growth. Undergraduate STEM education prepares these professionals while teaching all students knowledge and skills that are useful across a range of jobs and in civic life. 

However, many capable students who intend to major in these fields switch to another field or drop out of higher education altogether—in part because of documented weaknesses in teaching, learning, and supports for students in STEM fields. While various initiatives are now under way to improve the quality of undergraduate STEM education, policy makers and the public do not know whether these initiatives are accomplishing their goals and leading to nationwide progress. 

This report identifies a set of national-level indicators to measure the status and quality of undergraduate STEM education over multiple years. The report—which was developed by a study committee of STEM faculty, administrators, education researchers, and economists—also identifies types of data that will need to be collected in order to put the indicators to use, along with possible strategies to gather this data. 
Read more.

Claudia Persico Featured on NPR’s Marketplace

December 12, 2017

Claudia Persico, an assistant professor in ELPA and a WCER researcher, was interviewed and contributed to an NPR Marketplace news story.

From the Marketplace website:

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced 21 new places to be deemed Superfund sites, areas with toxic pollution around the country. Being added to the Superfund list means federal officials oversee the cleanup. Yet the White House budget proposal includes a 30 percent cut for the Superfund program.

Listen to the story.

Cleveland Heights High Students Host National MSAN Conference on Closing racial Gaps in Classrooms

October 23, 2017

Earlier this month, the 2017 MSAN Student Conference, “FOCUS: Fighting Our Cause Unified in the Struggle,” was hosted by Cleveland Heights-University Heights City Schools. The Cleveland Heights community blog of featured a story about the event.

From the article:

Cleveland Heights High School sophomore De'Leah Gray is a student with a goal.

"I want a 4.0 GPA," she said. "I had a 3.7 last year, so I'd like to get 3.8 or higher. I want to improve."

When asked how some of her struggling classmates might reach such a lofty grade point average, or at least challenge themselves to so, Gray quickly answered, "Join MSAN."

MSAN is the Minority Student Achievement Network, established nationally in 1999 with Cleveland Heights-University Heights Schools among its 15 founding districts.

MSAN is a national coalition of mutli-racial school districts that work together. Its stated mission is to "understand and change school practices and structures that keep racial opportunity/achievement gaps in place."

Read more.

Madison School District’s 4K Program Boosting Opportunity for Minority, Low-Income Youngsters

October 9, 2017

The Madison Education Partnership (MEP), a joint research project between WCER and the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), recently released a report on the state of 4-year-old-kindergarten programs in the district. The findings were recently featured in the Wisconsin State Journal.

From the article:

New research shows the Madison School District’s 4-year-old-kindergarten program is enrolling a greater share of minority and low-income children, potentially boosting opportunity for historically disadvantaged youths as more 4K participants overall go on to district kindergarten.

But there’s room for improvement as well, as about 20 percent of Madison public schools’ 4K graduates still attend kindergarten in a different district.

“The substantial number of students who participate in 4K but move on thereafter may represent a sizable loss in district enrollment worth addressing,” said the report from the Madison Education Partnership, a joint research practice between the district and UW-Madison School of Education’s Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

Over the program’s start, from 2012-13 to 2016-17, the district’s overall 4K participation rate has risen from 67 percent to 72 percent of the district’s entering kindergartners, and is 5 to 10 percentage points higher among African-American and Latino students, low-income students and students who are English language learners.

“That shows they’re doing a good job of reaching out to kids from diverse backgrounds,” said Eric Grodsky, a UW-Madison associate professor and co-director of the research partnership.

Read more.

Summit on Barriers Faced by Black Male Students Comes to Toronto

October 4, 2017

The 6th Annual International Colloquium on Black Males in Education (ICBME), organized by Wisconsin's Equity and Inclusion Laboratory (Wei LAB) and the Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male at The Ohio State University, begins today in Toronto.

From the Toronto Star:

Black students in Toronto drop out of school more often than their white peers, face significantly more suspensions, and are more than twice as likely to be streamed into applied level courses in early high school.

Amid mounting concern about those documented trends, a global summit is taking place in Toronto this week to address what organizers describe as common barriers around the world, particularly for Black males.

The “stark reality” of lower academic achievement transcends borders and calls for shared strategies between countries, says Jerlando Jackson, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and chair of the International Colloquium on Black Males in Education.

Read more.

UW Study: Wisconsin Children Unequally Ready for Kindergarten

October 4, 2017

Eric Grodsky, WCER researcher and UW–Madison professor of sociology and educational policy studies, was recently interviewed by Wisconsin Public Radio about 4k readiness.

From the interview:

Wisconsin has the nation’s widest gaps between white and black students when it comes to high school graduation rates, and fourth grade math and reading scores. And according to a new study conducted by the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, these gaps may partly be a result of disparities in school readiness as children are entering Kindergarten.

Hear more.