Expert cautions learning pods could worsen Madison’s achievement gap
July 28, 2020 | By By Emily Shetler, The Capital Times
Almost immediately after the Madison School District joined other districts across the country in announcing a return to online instruction instead of bringing students back to the classroom for the fall semester, posts started popping up on Facebook groups, Craigslist, Reddit and the University of Wisconsin-Madison student job board seeking in-home academic help.
Parents taxed by trying to do their own jobs from home while monitoring their children's school work are looking for tutors, nannies, even retired teachers to help them navigate what could be several more months of virtual education.
“I think one of the important things that everyone needs to understand is right now, parents are in just an untenable position, all the way around, every parent,” said Madeline Hafner, executive director of the Minority Student Achievement Network Consortium at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.
Many families are teaming up with neighbors to pool resources and form “learning pods” for the school year. But research indicates when families can afford to do so turn to tutoring and educational services in their homes, it can affect the academic success of all students.
Impacting all families
Even without additional in-home teaching support, children attending advantaged schools have more tools to succeed in online learning.
“If you were in a district that has a very large per pupil expenditure, you've got lower class sizes. You've got higher amounts of money to spend on tech. You've got more resources for supplemental instruction and for educational supports, before school, after school, and that all translates online very seamlessly,” Hafner said. “For some students, especially children living in poverty, I've seen statistics that show if we stay in the cycle we're in right now with unsupported online learning, they can lose up to a year of gains in growth.”
For students without at-home support, it's even more crucial that they learn among fellow students. Hafner emphasized that children learn through their peers, a social-emotional piece that is crucial to understand.
The National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine (NAS) released a report on July 15 predicting long-term academic consequences from virtual-only learning, in particular for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. In a statement, Enriqueta Bond, chair of the committee that authored the report, wrote: “This pandemic has laid bare the deep, enduring inequities that afflict our country and our schools. Many of the communities hardest hit by the virus are also home to schools with the least resources and the greatest challenges.”
Parents looking to refocus on their careers by forming neighborhood learning pods and hiring tutors for their children may be exacerbating pre-existing segregation in the community.
“Where people live is generally dictated by housing markets, and demographically cities are segregated by race,” said Hafner. “Because of access to wealth, white families have more access to finances that will get them houses in 'good' neighborhoods. So we live in segregated neighborhoods, where you have, many times, segregated schools. And even when schools are racially integrated physically, they're racially segregated academically. This pattern has emerged where families are podding with families who live close by. And so that creates very real racial segregation.”
She said there is a long history in America of white families leaving integrated public schools for private schools, sometimes even forming their own.
“So that history needs to be in everyone's mind as they're making these decisions,” she said.
Challenges in Madison
Mike, who asked for his last name to be withheld, was initially considering forming a learning pod with a small group of neighbors and hiring a teacher to help with virtual learning through the 2020-2021 school year.
But now he is planning to take his children out of MMSD and renting a house in Columbia County where he can send his children to in-person classes before returning to Madison next June. Otherwise, his family will adopt “some sort of home school curriculum.”
“I don't think MMSD teachers are qualified to give online instruction, and my experience in the spring would confirm that,” he said.
Hafner said moving out of urban districts like Madison will only make matters worse for their ability to fund improvements.
“I think one thing every single parent needs to know — and I don't think every parent does — is if you choose to pull your child out of public school, your school loses funding,” said Hafner. “That's the worst possible thing you could do for a school district, is to remove that funding at this moment in time when everybody needs funding for education. Understanding that has extreme ramifications financially for a school district.”
Lisa Kvistad, MMSD assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, acknowledged that the district learned from the issues surrounding virtual learning in the spring is using that knowledge to inform decisions going forward.
“We learned a lot from the surveys from parents, teachers and staff about how to make virtual learning more robust when we go back in the fall,” she said.
The spread of the coronavirus itself is also disproportionately affecting students of color. As Dane County sees a rise in the community spread of COVID-19 from the actions of young people, there remains an age and racial disparity in those who are most vulnerable to complications and death from the disease. Students are witnessing first-hand the devastation in their communities.
“We have chosen not to support laws and policies that support children, and in particular, don't support Black and brown children,” said Hafner. “We have chosen as a nation not to do that. And this is what happens when families who have resources use them in ways that on the outside look benign, but have these deleterious effects for years on families and students of color and their communities.”
She advised white families who are concerned about racial disparities to consider their actions carefully.
“I think white families need to be very thoughtful in how we proceed,” she said. “I am a white person, and I am mother. I have two very small children. And we all need to understand our choices will have an impact.”
How college leaders can bridge the growing ‘trust gap’ with their faculty and staff members
July 24, 2020 | By Goldie Blumenstyk, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Harmony on campus is hard to come by even when the stakes are lower. The brutally tough decisions colleges have been or soon will be making — how to teach in the fall, where to cut as budgets tighten — are among the most challenging that institutions have faced, at least since 2008. And for the foreseeable future, it’s not going to get any easier.
But internal conflicts aren’t inevitable. I became more convinced of that after hosting a conversation last week with three presidents, as part of the Remote conference. They shared ideas like avoiding “the bunker mentality” (Mark Rosenberg of Florida International University); ensuring that the institution’s values are reflected in its actions (Lori S. White, DePauw University); and creating formal opportunities for people to voice complaints and concerns (Joseph Castro, California State University at Fresno.) Here are some of the lessons that seemed the most useful — and universal.
In stressful times, people appreciate when you invest in them. Since March, and especially over the summer, all three institutions have put time and resources into professional development for faculty members. Fresno and FIU have relied heavily on their teaching and learning centers to train hundreds of professors on remote instruction, and DePauw has created faculty “communities of practice” to focus on teaching issues that arose this spring. Fresno is even paying professors a stipend for going through the training; FIU is including its adjuncts.
Connecting with colleagues is vital — and not just for newbies. White, who was in Week 3 of her presidency when we spoke, is deliberately organizing a host of virtual meetings with her new colleagues. It’s her only way to meet them right now, and for them to get a better sense of her priorities. Even longer-serving leaders shouldn’t forget to touch base regularly.
Inclusive decision making pays off. (Yeah, more committees!) Rosenberg couldn’t imagine moving forward without input from two committees: one his provost created to guide the eventual “re-population” of the campus and another that decided how to use federal Cares Act funds. Fresno convened a group to help set protocols for the limited amount of face-to-face teaching it expects to conduct this fall. Meanwhile, the presence of unions can be a plus. Both presidents said that existing union-administration relationships facilitated communication and made it easier to resolve disagreements, like one at Fresno over who would be doing Covid-19 testing.
It’s worth making room for dissenting views. Rosenberg, the longest-serving of the presidents, was adamant on this point, noting how he’d seen people at other institutions suffer when leaders became too insulated, too reliant on their hand-picked inner circles. “I’m very worried about groupthink” he said, especially now, with so much happening so fast. “We have to be very open.” Castro uses an online feedback page to publicly air and answer questions that come to him. That openness includes paying attention to rumors. Even if they’re not completely true, White added, it’s important to identify the circumstances that got them going.
A college’s mission and values should guide its actions. Talk is easy. In the end, institutions will be judged by what they do. Especially when it comes to putting the health and safety of the campus community first, said White, “the more we demonstrate that by our actions,” the better. DePauw is trying to do that by respecting faculty members’ choices on how they want to teach in the fall. Castro has heard grumbling from local alumni who own businesses about the Cal State system’s decision in mid-May to stay mostly remote in the fall. “Some people thought we were making a decision prematurely,” he said. “I’m guided as an educator by the mission of our university.”
Are these foolproof ideas? No. But they seem like good starting points. For the whole conversation (along with dozens of other sessions), register and look around here.
Hopes — and doubts — about new attention to skills in hiring.
This month I wrote that I wasn’t sure what to make of President Trump’s executive order urging federal agencies to look beyond degrees in hiring, especially since it came as colleges face their biggest headwinds in memory. I appreciate the insights many of you shared.
Advocates for skills-based hiring tend to see it as a way to level the playing field for qualified job candidates who happen not to be college graduates. And some of you see the federal move as an opportunity for higher ed. Rovy Branon, vice provost for the University of Washington’s Continuum College, said that while degrees can signal mastery of skills, colleges need to do a better job of accurately capturing and verifying that. Now is the time, he said, “to create faster and cheaper pathways for a new market that wants and needs it.” And Shalin Jyotishi, of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, noted that “sometimes a degree isn't the only/right credential a learner needs, and that's OK.” Jyotishi, the assistant director for economic development and community engagement at APLU, also put in a plug for an op-ed he just co-wrote, arguing for embedding industry certifications into degree programs, an approach that was popular with readers of The Edge when I wrote about it in December.
Less positively, I heard from folks wondering whether the new order would create confusion — and perhaps worse. Matthew Hora, of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, worried that implementation could emphasize assessments of so-called “soft skills” like communication that are “cultural constructions” and could “open the door to even more hiring discrimination.”
A related concern for me: In recent weeks, we’ve seen a bevy of announcements from colleges, companies, and nonprofits about new programs to help people skill up, especially in the digital realm. The list includes Google’s new career certifications and scholarships, Microsoft’s “global skills initiative,” the Digital US coalition, and the new nonprofit Skill Up. As well meaning as these initiatives seem, they miss the bigger issue — that many of the 40 million newly unemployed people didn’t lose their jobs because they lacked skills. They lost them because the pandemic shut down their workplaces.
Maybe that’s the jolt that will prompt some to find better jobs, but skills alone won’t guarantee a shiny new career. Better coordination of state work-force policies, as this new effort calls for, could help. Ultimately, though, we need a much stronger, growing economy, and that is at least a few years away, if we’re lucky (and if more people would just wear masks). Without a recovery, this Huffington Post reporter’s assessment is worth remembering: “Re-skilling is sort of like playing musical chairs: People are racing to grab a job and sit down, and not everyone will get a seat.”
WCER’s Good and Cheng Win AERA’s 2020 Palmer Award for Excellence in Education Research
July 22, 2020 | By Tony Pals and Tong Wu, American Association of Education Researchers
Washington, July 22, 2020—The American Educational Research Association (AERA) has announced the winners of its 2020 awards for excellence in education research. AERA will honor the recipients for their outstanding scholarship and service at a Virtual Awards Celebration, September 12, 3:00-4:30 p.m. EDT.
“This year’s award winners exemplify commitment to the study and practice of education,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “We are proud to honor their outstanding scholarship and service to the education research field.” . . .
Palmer O. Johnson Memorial Award
Recipients: Carolyn J. Heinrich (Vanderbilt University), Jennifer Darling-Aduana (Vanderbilt University), Annalee Good (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Huiping (Emily) Cheng (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
“A Look Inside Online Educational Settings in High School: Promise and Pitfalls for Improving Educational Opportunities and Outcomes,” American Educational Research Journal, Volume 56, Issue 6, December 2019 .
This award recognizes the lifelong achievement of Palmer O. Johnson as a dedicated educator and for his pioneering work in educational research and methodology. The award is given for an outstanding article appearing in AERA Open, the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Educational Researcher, or the Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics.
Public Health Madison & Dane County explains why there’s no mandatory mask policy
July 8, 2020 | By Jamie Perez, FOX 47 Madison News
Many people are wondering why there isn’t a mandatory mask-wearing policy in Madison. Last week, Public Health director Janel Heinrich said, “While we know masks work to help reduce the spread of the virus, a mandatory masking policy may place an undue burden on some people. People may fear racial profiling or discrimination based on wearing–or not wearing–a face covering.”
A petition that now has about 5,000 signatures is circulating in Madison asking the city to require face masks and demands that a city-funded mask distribution program be implemented with it. But not everyone believes the answer is that simple.
Madeline Hafner is an expert on racial disparities at the University of Wisconsin — Madison. Hafner said racial discrimination would be an adverse consequence of a mandatory mask requirement and is a legitimate concern among communities of color, especially for black men.
“We live in a racialized society that doesn’t afford people of color the same protection in their masks,” Hafner said. “They could be wanting to do all the right things to protect other and protect themselves but they will bear the unfair burden of the repercussions of wearing a mask.”
Hafner said there is an implicit bias that our society has when we see a person of color in a mask. She said they’re often perceived as threats, and especially right now, that added stress is making many people of color fearful of how they could be perceived if wearing a mask was mandatory, even if everyone was required to wear one.
“It’s the impact of how we respond as white people to perceiving people of color in those masks that lay that stress on them. So I think for us, we need to keep doing our own work to make sure we are not laying an extra stressor or burden on people of color,” Hafner said.
The public health department also released a memo detailing additional reasons for not implementing a mandatory mask policy.
The memo states:
“Some health conditions may keep individuals from being able to wear a cloth face covering. These might include chronic conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, autism spectrum disorder, or COPD/emphysema; wearing a face covering may be challenging, dangerous, or stressful for individuals with disabilities.In addition to medical considerations, individuals may not feel safe wearing a mask for many reasons including emotional, behavioral, and trauma experiences.”
The memo also states that socioeconomic status also plays a role in the decision.
“Potential consequences of implementing mandatory masking may include loss of wages, if the employer does not consider reasons why masking may not be an option for that individual, limiting access to certain business spaces such as grocery access, which could lead to increased food insecurity, generally requiring individuals to choose between their safety or being able to access spaces that support their ability to access basic needs.”
The memo also states that there are issues that come with trying to enforce this rule.
“The enforcement of masking requirements have resulted in violence in other parts of the country, both between police and private citizens – this is most certainly not something that we want to see in Madison and Dane County. Using local law enforcement resources to enforce face covering requirements would detract from their ability to support other safety and public service roles.Furthermore, enforcement efforts that include fines have resulted in financially penalizing individuals in a climate when many are already financially stretched.”
The petition demanding a mandatory mask policy states, “The alternative is more lock downs, the failure of beloved local businesses, and serious illness and death. Not only does wearing a mask protect oneself, but it also protects others, especially our essential workers and those who do not have the luxury to work from home.”
Dr. Jeff Pothof at UW Health said even though mask wearing is not a requirement, “From the medical perspective, the jury has rendered the verdict. If we are out in public close to other people, we need to be wearing a mask at this point.”
Although Pothof urges the community to wear a mask as often as possible, he acknowledged that the public health department’s reasons for not implementing one were “legitimate concerns.”
“I don’t think we want to persecute people who are unable to get face masks with some sort of mandatory order. But I don’t think that should be confused with the lack of benefit from the medical side to mask wearing,” Pothof said. “That benefit is clear. I think if we have segments of our community that find it difficult to acquire a mask or get a mask, the effort should really be focused on what can we do then, as a larger community, to ensure that those individuals have access to a mask just like all the rest of us do.”
Public health officials said they are working to make masks more accessible.
Report: Wisconsin has student-to-teacher racial, ethnic gap
July 2, 2020 | By Associated Press
From Fox 11 News:
MADISON (AP)—A gap between the percentage of teachers of color and the percentage of students of color in Wisconsin grew over the last 10 years as student diversity increased, according to a report released Tuesday by the Wisconsin Policy Forum.
The state's teacher workforce has remained overwhelmingly white, according to the study, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. During the last decade, the number of students of color in public schools increased by 28%, while the number of teachers of color increased by just 22.5%, the study found.
Anne Chapman, the Wisconsin Policy Forum researcher who authored the report, said that pattern holds true for rural areas, suburban districts and towns, as well as the state's larger cities.
The gap between the demographics of students and their teachers vary by district, as well as by race. Black students make up just over 9% of K-12 students, compared with about 2% of teachers. Both the population of Latino teachers and students over the past decade has doubled, but the gap between them widened each year—with Latinos currently making up 12.3% of students, and 2% of teachers.
Chapman pointed to research that shows that having a more diverse teaching and administrative staff is good not just for Black and brown students, but also for white students.
“It is important for white children to see people of color as being knowledgeable and authoritative,” said Gloria Ladson-Billings, a teacher educator who most recently was on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The stuff we are seeing happening in our streets today is, I think, a direct result of young white people saying, 'I was never really taught to value these people's lives.”'
Chapman said subsequent reports will dig deeper into the reasons for the persistent racial gap between student and teacher populations.
Life at home with kids during quarantine
June 30, 2020 | By Joel Patenaude, Madison Magazine
From Madison Magazine:
Lorena Mancilla is amused by her 6-year-old nephew who walks around his home — where his family is quarantined due to COVID-19 — while holding a tablet and saying, “Shh, I’m on a call.”
The child is mimicking one of his parents, who are both working from home, says Mancilla, director of WIDA Early Years, the world-class Instructional Design and Assessment program promoting English-language education for multilingual children nationwide. WIDA is based in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
“It just cracks me up to see these behaviors from kids,” says Mancilla, who works remotely from her home in the Chicago area.
This spring, many parents suddenly found themselves laid off or working from home and caring for their children full time because schools and day care facilities had closed. As summer arrived, it was unclear if cooped-up families would feel relief from the easing of restrictions on public gatherings and the resumption of youth programming.
“When I had young children I relied on a lot of things that happened in the summer,” says Tricia Blanco, a Madison-based professional learning specialist with WIDA Early Years. “My kids went to camp, they were in swimming lessons, they had soccer. … All that may not be available this summer. We don’t know.”
Blanco says the state’s Safer at Home order challenged families with children of all ages. And the gradual lifting of those restrictions will shake up family routines again, she says.
The Madison School & Community Recreation, or MSCR, canceled all spring and summer programming, such as sports-specific youth camps and adult art classes. Instead MSCR has created virtual content for kids to do at home.
Cindy Kuhrasch, coordinator of the physical education teacher training in UW–Madison’s School of Kinesiology, made a series of videos demonstrating simple physical activities to do alone or with family members. She encouraged her college students to also make videos and post them to the UW–Madison PE Facebook page. Kuhrasch said some of the videos have been repurposed for the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, where she serves on the board of directors.
“As a parent, I think all we can do is make opportunities available and invite our kids to play with us,” Kuhrasch says.
Physical activity is important to maintain, she says, and not just for the fitness benefits. Staying active develops social and emotional skills, too. Of course, that’s difficult to achieve when self-isolation rules out going to a gym or participating in team sports.
“Kids aren’t unique. We all miss our friends. We all long for social interaction. I think we’re all struggling with anxiety over how long this will last,” Kuhrasch says.
Parents of children with autism or developmental disabilities have had additional challenges during the pandemic that include loss of access to school counselors and health care providers.
For these children “worries, fear, and frustration can be expressed as challenging behaviors,” says Sigan Hartley, associate professor of human development and family studies in the UW–Madison School of Human Ecology. “It can help to anticipate these challenges and to make sure the child has access to coping or calming activities and items.”
Parents, too, have had to learn coping strategies. “Although it is often hard to do, it is important for parents to invest in their own health and well-being,” Hartley says. “When parents have their own needs met, they are better able to focus on the needs of their children.”
She suggests taking a few moments for mindful breathing, keeping a gratitude journal “or writing a compassionate letter to yourself as if you were a friend who you were supporting through a bad day.”
Blanco and Mancilla of WIDA also urge parents to find ways to lessen the stress they’re under. “Whatever you can do to take care of yourself is definitely going to flow to how your children are reacting,” Blanco says.
Blanco has taken note of several positive community responses to the pandemic in her neighborhood near Tenney Park. “People are putting things in their windows, whether it’s rainbows or hearts or teddy bears. That’s for people out walking about to see,” she says.
“Another thing I’ve noticed,” she adds, “are people nodding or saying ‘hi’ knowing that we’re a little bit more isolated than we’ve been. So that’s been really nice to see as well.”
In her neighborhood, Mancilla says, little girls are drawing pictures with brightly colored chalk in their driveways for their friends to see when they’re out for walks with their families. “It’s the cutest thing,” Mancilla says. “They’ll draw the picture and their mom will sign it, ‘Love, Lexi and Nora.’”
Blanco expects such expressions of neighborly support to outlive the virus. That’s the hope, anyway.
“I think we’re in this for the long haul,” she says. Social distancing measures “may not have to be as stringent as they’ve been, but until there’s a vaccine this virus isn’t going away.”
A new brief from the Association of Public & Land-grant Universities and the University of Wisconsin
June 17, 2020 | By Bianca Quilantan, Politico
A new brief from the Association of Public & Land-grant Universities and the University of Wisconsin-Madison-led Aspire Alliance, “Leveraging Promising Practices: Improving the Recruitment, Hiring, and Retention of Diverse and Inclusive Faculty,” lays out a guide for institutions to create an institutional culture that promotes diversity and inclusion in STEM faculty.
U of I Joins Elite Network to Train Tomorrow’s STEM Educators
June 16, 2020 | By University of Idaho Communications
The University of Idaho joins some of the country’s biggest names in impactful research as it is welcomed into The Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) Network, a dynamic academic network of top research universities dedicated to developing and expanding proven STEM teaching practices to educate diverse populations of students.
U of I joins the ranks of Michigan State University, Columbia, Cornell, Yale, Texas A&M and Johns Hopkins, among others.
Each member university develops its own local learning community around CIRTL’s pillars of teaching-as-research, learning communities and learning-through-diversity. The network shares resources, including professional development, program evaluation guides, research briefs and―highly relevant to this new COVID-19 era―online, cross-network courses, workshops and drop-in events.
“We have so many opportunities for student research, this will help further enhance that experience, helping us graduate the next generation of STEM teachers who are well-prepared with exceptional teaching tactics,” said U of I President Scott Green.
The five other new CIRTL members include: University of Arizona; University of Florida; University of Houston; University of Illinois-Chicago; and Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada.
“We are excited to showcase our institution among the nation’s best in these CIRTL learning communities,” said Jerry McMurtry, dean of the College of Graduate Studies (COGS) at U of I. “The opportunities we can provide through this network build on our successes and will allow us to explore new areas.”
The effort at U of I is jointly sponsored by COGS and the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL).
“Through CIRTL, we will collaboratively generate a culture of engaged teaching, learning and research in STEM disciplines and prepare future faculty to positively effect, indeed transform, undergraduate education here and around the world,” said Brian Smentkowski, CETL director.
The newest member universities bring an even greater diversity in the expertise that the network gives faculty. The new partner institutions bring expertise in teaching indigenous students, and in serving students in urban multicultural environments.
“Now, during this pandemic, having a strong virtual learning community of peers and an established program of online offerings across the CIRTL Network provides members with a way to collaborate and leverage shared resources to better serve our graduate students and postdocs,” said Kitch Barnicle, associate director of the CIRTL Network.
CIRTL, launched in 2003, has always been ahead of the curve in remote learning, said CIRTL Founder and Director Robert Mathieu.
UArizona Joins Network Dedicated to Improving STEM Graduate Education
June 9, 2020 | By University Communications
The University of Arizona this fall will join a network of institutions in the United States and Canada dedicated to improving how graduate student and postdoctoral scholars are prepared for future faculty positions in STEM fields.
The university's membership in the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning was announced last week. The center is based at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin – Madison's School of Education.
CIRTL's member institutions are charged with developing learning communities where graduate students in science, technology, engineering and math – future faculty members of these disciplines – can learn STEM teaching practices that serve diverse undergraduate students.
The University of Arizona's membership will provide it access to network resources such as professional development opportunities, program evaluation guides, and online courses, workshops and events.
As a new member of CIRTL, the university will provide opportunities for graduate students to work on teaching projects with faculty in their disciplines, said Gail Burd, UArizona senior vice provost for academic affairs, teaching and learning and the institutional leader for the university's CIRTL partnership. Graduate students will also be trained to teach and assess student writing in STEM courses and will have opportunities to attend workshops on inclusive excellence in teaching and learning.
They also will be encouraged to join one of the university's Faculty Learning Communities, which meet several times each semester to talk about issues around teaching and learning.
“The University of Arizona provides excellent research training for future faculty in a variety of STEM disciplines,” said Burd, a Distinguished Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology. “Our goal for the CIRTL learning community is to apply our experience with faculty professional development in evidence-based teaching to scaffold graduate student and postdoctoral scholar development for excellence in teaching and learning.”
Frans Tax, a Distinguished Outreach Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, said UArizona, with its diverse student body and statuses as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and an American Indian and Alaska Native-Serving Institution, is “an ideal setting for training in inclusive excellence in teaching and learning.”
“The CIRTL community will introduce our future faculty, while they are still graduate students and postdocs, to the idea that there is a science to effective teaching,” said Tax, who is co-leader of the university's CIRTL partnership.
The five other new members are the University of Florida, the University of Houston, the University of Idaho, the University of Illinois at Chicago and Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. With the new additions, the network will include 43 institutions.
“Our newest member universities will bring an even greater diversity in the expertise that the network is giving our future faculty,” said CIRTL Director Robert Mathieu, a University of Wisconsin – Madison astronomy professor. “Several of our new partner institutions emphasize teaching indigenous students, while others contribute valuable experience serving students in urban multicultural environments.”
Another Casualty of the Coronavirus: Summer Internships
May 22, 2020 | By David Yaffe-Bellany, The New York Times
From the New York Times:
When she found out in mid-March that she had landed an internship with an education nonprofit in Washington, Lydia Burns, a senior at the University of Louisville, called her mother to celebrate. The whole world was falling apart, but here, finally, was good news.
“Mom, guess what?” she said. “Things are amazing!”
The euphoria lasted all of a week. As she worked on a paper the next Tuesday, Ms. Burns got an email from the nonprofit: The internship was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. She burst into tears.
“I feel like I had such a strong plan,” she said. “I knew what I was going to do — I had been working for it all of college. Now I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
For millions of college students, internships can be a steppingstone to full-time work, a vital source of income and even a graduation requirement.
But like so much else, summer internships have been upended by the pandemic, with a wide range of major companies, including tech firms like Yelp and entertainment behemoths like the Walt Disney Company, canceling programs and rescinding offers.
Students who had locked down internships as early as September are now jobless. Others who had hoped to experience an office setting for the first time are instead looking for work at fast-food restaurants. Many low-income undergraduates, already saddled with student loans, are concerned that a jobless summer could put them at a disadvantage in future application cycles, making it harder to find full-time work after graduation.
Some companies are continuing to pay interns to work from home, sending corporate laptops in the mail and holding get-to-know-you sessions over Zoom. But students fear that remote internships will not afford the networking opportunities that can make spending a summer in an office so valuable, especially for interns who have few professional contacts.
“You pick up a lot of subtle clues about how to behave in that profession, how to communicate like an engineer, how to work in teams like a nurse,” said Matthew Hora, an education professor at the University of Wisconsin who has studied internships. “Students are going to be missing that.”
Cassandra Dopp, a junior at the University of South Carolina, felt the effects of the pandemic earlier than most American college students: She was studying abroad in Rome when the coronavirus swept Italy.
Ms. Dopp, a business major, returned home in March and was set to work for Geico this summer at the company’s headquarters in Fredericksburg, Va. But as she sat in her childhood bedroom last month, Ms. Dopp got a call from a human-relations official at the company, who informed her the internship was canceled.
Many of her friends had already gotten similar calls. But Ms. Dopp has always prided herself on keeping organized and planning for the future. Now, she has no idea how she’ll stay occupied after final exams, let alone what she’ll do in July or August.
“I’d never put myself in this position to not have a plan for my summer and my future,” she said. “It was a big letdown. It’s disappointing.”
In a statement, Geico said its summer program rotates interns through multiple departments to expose them to different facets of the company. “Unfortunately,” the company said, “this experience was not possible in our current remote working environment.”
Many of the cancellations stem from those kinds of logistical challenges, or from cost-cutting at companies that are reeling from the economic damage of the pandemic. In other cases, students were hired to work at sports venues and political conventions, or help organize events that have been canceled.
Keri Johnson, a journalism student at Ohio University, landed what she described as a “dream” internship writing marketing material for the Nelsonville Music Festival in Ohio. Then the festival was canceled, along with many other cultural events, like South by Southwest.
Ms. Johnson has to intern for at least 200 hours to earn her journalism degree in the fall. With the festival canceled, she’s concerned she will have to push back her graduation, making it harder to find a job and putting financial strain on her family.
“Summer is the time I get to work as much as possible because I’m not in class,” Ms. Johnson said. “It’s kind of scary thinking about the fact that I won’t be able to work in the summer as much as I normally would.”
The cancellations have cut across virtually all industries, from media to technology to finance. But predictably, the industries that have suffered the most during the pandemic — travel, retailing, hospitality — have had especially large numbers of cancellations.
Connor Machon, a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin, accepted an internship at American Airlines in late September, turning down several other offers. He got his first inkling that the program might be in jeopardy when a friend who was set to work at Southwest Airlines had an offer rescinded in March.
A few days later, he learned that his internship was also being cut. Over the next weeks, Mr. Machon kept busy applying for dozens of other positions and sending more than 100 networking emails. Ultimately, he secured an internship at a start-up in Austin, earning $15 an hour.
“At this point, I was really open to anything, as long as I was being paid,” he said.
Not all internships are canceled. A number of banks and technology firms have simply shortened their programs by a few weeks. Media organizations like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal gave some summer interns the option of deferring until the fall or next year.
Offering perhaps the sweetest arrangement is the New York law firm Cahill Gordon & Reindel, which announced in April that the incoming summer associates would not have to work but would still be paid and still receive full-time offers after their graduation in 2021.
Other companies have moved their internships entirely online. In early April, a recruiter at eBay, Cindy Loggins, presented a series of options to top executives, like shortening the program or holding it remotely.
Given all the uncertainty, a total cancellation was also a serious possibility. “You’d be silly not to consider that as an option,” Ms. Loggins said.
In the end, the company moved the internship online. But a remote program presents certain logistical difficulties, like combating “screen fatigue” and devising work schedules for interns who live in different time zones.
To address any problems, Ms. Loggins said, her team plans to conduct weekly check-ins with each of the interns, rather than the midpoint and end-of-program meetings eBay has held in the past. But some rites of passage will be impossible to replace.
“Perhaps I’m getting up to go somewhere and the intern says: ‘Hey, where are you going? Can we grab lunch?’” Ms. Loggins said. “That’s what we’re going to miss in this summer.”
Many students will also miss the chance to spend a couple of months in the real world, away from the cloistered environment of a college campus.
Irene Vázquez, a junior at Yale, is interning for a small publisher based in New York. Months ago, Ms. Vázquez had envisioned the summer as a test to “see if the whole East Coast tiny apartment thing was going to be viable down the road.” Instead, she’s going to spend the summer working remotely from her childhood home in Texas.
“I could be much worse off,” she said. “But it’s certainly not the experience I had planned.”
UW–Madison’s Jackson co-authors paper published in Journal of Diversity in Higher Education
May 22, 2020
UW-Madison’s Jerlando Jackson co-authored a recent article published in the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education that’s titled, “Mixed-reality simulations to build capacity for advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the geosciences.”
Jackson is the School of Education’s Vilas Distinguished Professor of Higher Education and chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. He also is director and chief research scientist with Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory.
Co-authors on this paper include Jason Chen of the William & Mary School of Education and M. Shane Tutwiler of the University of Rhode Island.
The paper’s abstract explains how the researchers “report on data collected at three time points during a one-year intervention designed to teach a purposive sample of geoscience faculty members (n = 29) from 27 universities throughout the United States how to identify and address issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in their departments. For the intervention we used mixed-reality simulations to help participants practice specific skills to address common situations in geoscience departments. The intervention also included an intensive three-day workshop and three journal clubs.”
The authors add: “Using a Bayesian analytical approach we explored: (a) general trends in participants’ self- and collective efficacy for identifying and addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion over a one-year period; (b) relationships between self-efficacy and collective efficacy; and (c) demographic factors that explain variation in self- and collective efficacy.”
The researchers explain that the results indicate that “self- and collective efficacy rose sharply from preintervention to five months after beginning. Although both self- and collective efficacy retreated toward baseline at the one-year mark, only one-year self-efficacy was still credibly higher than preintervention. Also, preintervention self-efficacy predicted five-month collective efficacy. Efficacy beliefs varied as a function of race/ethnicity. Only collective efficacy varied as a function of academic rank. We discuss these findings in relation to social–cognitive theory and the literature regarding the use of digital learning environments to address diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
The Journal of Diversity in Higher Education is a publication of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.
Researchers Release Free, At-Home Early Math Resources for Families
May 18, 2020
A team of early math education experts from across the country has pooled its expertise to develop a set of free, research-based learn-at-home materials geared toward children from birth to age 8.
The “At-Home Early Math Learning Kit for Families,” created by the DREME Network’s Family Math team, is especially valuable as many people are staying home due to ongoing public health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal is to give families ideas that are fun, easy to implement, require no special materials, and can be folded into daily life — rather than feel like an extra task.
The DREME, or Development and Research in Early Math Education, Network was created in 2014 to advance the field of early mathematics research and improve young children’s opportunities to develop math skills. It includes a dozen scholars from across the country, including UW–Madison’s Amy Claessens, an associate professor with the Department of Educational Policy Studies and the Gulbrandsen Distinguished Chair in Early Childhood Education.
DREME Network members and affiliates collaborate to conduct basic and applied research, and develop innovative tools that address high-priority early math topics and inform and motivate other researchers, educators, policymakers and the public.
The quick-start kit of free early math resources is available for download in both English and Spanish.
“As a member of the Family Math team, I worked with other Network members and our affiliates (students and post-docs) to help create these materials for families,” says Claessens, an expert in early childhood education, child development, and public policy. “We all play a part in reviewing the materials and making sure that they are appropriate for young children and their families.”
The DREME Network website explains that the “At-Home Early Math Learning Kit for Families” includes:
• Tips for Reading: If you’re reading books with your children, it offers tips for bringing math into storybook time.
• Recipes: If you’re in the kitchen preparing food, the kit offers two easy recipes for cookies and personal pizzas, allowing families to start math conversations while cooking.
• Math Snacks: If you have just a few extra minutes as you go about your day, the kit offers brief ideas for uncovering and talking about math in everyday moments, like cleaning up toys or getting ready for bed.
• Card Games: If you have a deck of playing cards and 10-15 minutes, the kit offers directions for four card games that are fun and allow children to practice skills like adding and comparing numbers.
“We focused on creating simple activities that do not require a lot of materials so that math could be incorporated into daily life easily,” says Claessens, and who is the associate director of UW-Madison’s Center for Research on Early Childhood Education (CRECE). “Parents are under a lot of pressure with young children home from school and childcare, and we wanted to make math an easy and fun part of their days.”
Claessens notes that the DREME Network’s Family Math team plans to release additional math kits in the coming weeks. For updates, visit the DREME Network website.
Summer internship canceled? Not at these companies embracing virtual versions
May 3, 2020 | By Michael Braga
From USA Today by Michael Braga
There won’t be any college kids on Humana’s five main corporate campuses around the country this summer. COVID-19 has seen to that.
But that doesn’t mean executives and staff at the Louisville, Kentucky-based insurance giant won’t be interacting with interns as they have every year since 1998. They’ll just be doing it in a virtual environment instead of a physical one.
So far, 200 graduate and undergraduate students have signed up for a summer of online courses, long-distance social networking and remote teamwork. But the company is still looking for more. It has space for candidates who might be interested in learning about corporate strategy, marketing, health care delivery, analytics and operations.
“We are very well experienced at working from home. We’ve done it before. We did it before COVID-19,” said Ty Richardson, who heads enterprise Talent Management for Humana. “We’re very confident we can provide a meaningful experience. We have a plan that can be clearly articulated to interns so they are well equipped to understand the tasks and outcomes they are responsible for at the end of the summer.”
[Ty Richardson heads enterprise Talent Management for Humana.]
While more than 200 companies, according to a search through Github and ismyinternshipcancelled.com, have given up on internships this summer in the face of a rapidly spreading pandemic, others in a range of industries are forging ahead with a virtual version of programs deemed crucial to their recruiting efforts and future growth.
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“Ten weeks is an ideal time for college students and companies to assess mutual compatibility,” said Jeffrey Moss, CEO and founder of Parker Dewey, a Chicago company focused on finding internships for college students. “The company is able to assess the student beyond what is captured on the resume, and the student has an opportunity to audition the company.”
[Jeffrey Moss is the CEO and founder of Parker Dewey.]
Tech titans Google, Twitter, IBM, Microsoft and SAP are all planning virtual internships this summer as are financial powerhouses Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.
Insurance companies are also on board. AIG, Liberty Mutual and Northwestern Mutual all have shifted to virtual internships for 2020.
“Some companies had a little experience with remote work before this summer, but for the most part, there isn’t an established set of best practices,” Joshua Kahn, assistant director of research and public policy at the National Association of Colleges and Employers, a nonprofit professional membership organization for college career services based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. “Most companies are just now experiencing how to do it.”
Things have to be done a little bit differently in the virtual world, Kahn said. There has to be more of an emphasis on short-term projects and shorter, more frequent check-ins. Mentors might also need to play more significant roles.
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“It’s going to be tough for some companies,” said Matthew Hora, director of the Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions at the University of Wisconsin. “Converting to working remotely requires quite a bit of forethought as to how to design meaningful tasks and how to supervise them in a productive way.”
[Interns aren't expected to walk into Humana's offices this summer, but they will work – virtually.]
But plenty of companies are confident that they have the experience and skills to pull it off.
“Over the past few years, Liberty Mutual’s program already offered virtual internships to a handful of interns who worked from some of our smaller offices,” said Maura Quinn, Liberty Mutual’s manager of campus recruiting in an email. “We took that model and scaled it up this year for all of our interns.”
This summer, 600 Liberty Mutual interns – undergraduates, graduates, MBA, law students and Ph.D.s – will work remotely in the company’s finance, information technology (IT), claims, legal and sales departments.
“The curriculum will complement interns’ majors as well as their Liberty Mutual assignments and include a mix of professional development, insurance-related instruction, and career-pathing certificate courses,” Quinn said.
Developing emotional intelligence
[Humana's interns will be trained in virtual classrooms where students learn the basics of health care.]
Humana's internship program, which begins in May and runs until early August, will include training in virtual classrooms where students learn the basics of health care. Classes will also help students develop both their intellectual and emotional intelligence and their ability to work with others. There even will be a virtual volunteering component, where interns will partner with the Humana Foundation.
“It’s an opportunity for us to build a talent pipeline,” said Richardson, the company's enterprise talent manager. “We do expect some of our interns to become employees and we want to give them a running start at that.”
Microsoft’s summer internship will be no less ambitious.
“This year, more than 4,000 students had plans to join us – the largest and most diverse class in our history – taking on roles spanning all our functions,” wrote Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s chief people officer in a recent blog post. “And while we’re incredibly disappointed that we won’t be with them on our campuses, we’re committed to creating a meaningful and fun virtual internship experience for each one of them, and remain eager to absorb their energy and learn from them as we always do.”
Hogan added that her team will host “remote events that focus on building connections, fostering learning, and empowering interns to achieve their goals and uncover their passions. Participants in the program will connect with one another, build community within their teams, and engage with senior leaders across the company through a variety of virtual events.”
Focusing on micro internships
Moss, whose company pioneered the concept of micro internships – project-based internships in which college students can earn money and valuable skills over short periods of time, said there is a cost to pay when companies abandon internship programs, even just for a summer.
Some companies like airlines and destination resorts like Disney can’t help it. COVID-19 either decimated their businesses or there was no way for them to operate remotely, Moss said. The same is true for labs and manufacturing facilities.
In contrast, managers at financial services companies that have previously balked at remote work have recognized the opportunity to create positive experiences for their interns. They, along with so many other companies also see the risk associated with not responding.
“Those companies are recognizing the long-term implications of their decision to cancel internships and they’re not pretty,” Moss said. “Certain campuses may not look at them as fondly in the future.”
But it’s still not too late to walk back their decisions and provide a soft landing for students, Moss said. He said he’s working with a medical device company that’s changed its mind as is now offering interns a series of micro-projects, which is better than nothing.
That’s the way virtual internships should be organized anyway, he said. Instead of one large project, interns can get involved in a variety of well-defined and discreet tasks, often in different divisions of a company. Even though they might be assigned to marketing, they might see an opportunity in sales, which is a lot like what happens when students are onsite for the summer.
Zachary Kahtava, who is graduating from the University of Kansas on May 15, is already an old pro when it comes to micro internships. He's done 12 of them with Parker Dewey since the summer of his sophomore year.
[Zachary Kahtava has done 12 micro internships with Parker Dewey.]
A business finance major with a concentration in data analytics, Kahtava has been able to partially fund his college education through short term internships where he's done everything from generating leads to analyzing date data.
“The really cool thing is that I don't get treated like a student,” Kahtava said. “The companies are open to my opinions and thoughts. They want to know what I think they should do with the projects.”
The downside to virtual internships
Kahtava said his most recent internship with a trucking company – building a database to capture capital and operating expenses and other data assignments – got extended in February.
While the pandemic forced him to take his computer home, the most significant change was his ability to communicate with his bosses. Whereas he previously got to meet with them once a week, they were now so busy dealing with COVID-19 issues that they could only meet with him once a month
“We've been lucky not to have been hit too hard,” Kahtava said. “But with everything being variable every day, it's harder for us to get together. Because we can't meet, it's harder to get insight from them. ”
Summer interns are likely to have different issues.
Because interns are not onsite, it will be hard for them to develop soft skills, the 21st-century skills that you get from teamwork and oral communication, said Hora, director of Wisconsin's Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions.
“To really learn those, it requires immersion in the social environment,” he said. “Nurses and mechanical engineers need to immersed in the hospital and on the oil rig to really understand the job, to really learn to problem solve on the fly.”
[Joshua Kahn is an assistant director of research and public policy at the National Association of Colleges and Employers.]
It's the same when it comes to truly understanding the culture of a workplace, said Kahn, the assistant director of research and public policy at the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
“One of the most important things for interns is the culture of the place and if they feel they can fit in with that culture,” Kahn said. “You can’t get that feeling online.”
Filling the Void for Students with Academic Projects
April 21, 2020 | By NACE staff
Matthew Hora is hearing about employers canceling their internship programs with increased frequency and is offering some guidance and suggestions for navigating in the current landscape.
“Many organizations are in entrenchment and layoff mode, and are not bringing in students for internships this year,” says Hora, director of the Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (CCWT) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“Cancellations are happening, but there is also a massive movement to online internships, so in those cases, it is less about cancellations and more about a migration to a different modality.”
What can be done to provide experiences for students for whom online internships aren’t available or viable?
Hora, who has written What To Do About Internships in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic?, recommends that faculty and academic departments work together to create projects or learning experiences that are as similarly robust and authentic as traditional internships.
“These different kinds of academic projects could hopefully mimic or adopt some principles of experiential learning,” Hora suggests.
Some ideas that he shares for these projects include:
- Problem- or case-based learning projects that require students to conduct background research on a real-world problem, interview experts in the field, and prepare a report or paper that summarizes a solution or approach to the problem. Faculty and departments should try to work with employers to identify real-world, problem-based projects;
- Service- or community-engaged learning during which students work directly with members of the community to conduct a project focused on meeting authentic real-world needs;
- Short reflection papers that require students to reflect on their own progress throughout the experience, including the successful (or not) achievement of their learning goals, issues or challenges faced, and things to work on in the future;
- A virtual meeting with students to periodically review their progress in the project.
- Preparation of career-related materials, such as cover letters or resumes; and
- Projects that focus on important competencies, such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. These can be embedded in projects mentioned above, e.g., problem-based learning, or can be emphasized in shorter activities, such as developing virtual presentations or creating datasets for an assignment.
What’s lost, gained with online internships
April 9, 2020 | By Delece Smith-Barrow
Higher education and summer internships usually go hand in hand, with the former a precursor to the latter. But not this summer.
Take Liz Brodie’s story as an example.
After a months-long application process, Brodie found out in March that she had been accepted as a Fulbright summer researcher. Brodie, a junior at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was supposed to live and work at the University of Calgary, analyzing the connection between adequate housing and food resources. The pay was to be $8,000. But then coronavirus swept the world, and her position was cancelled. She had to scramble to find something else to do this summer. Now, she plans to intern for free at the Washington Improv Theater in D.C.
“The virus definitely changed the outcome of my summer,” said Brodie, who is majoring in international relations and environmental studies.
Internships are being cancelled, shortened or moved online, causing another challenge for college students who have had to suddenly leave campus and learn remotely. With online internships, much is lost but there may also be some silver linings.
“A lot depends on who is structuring or designing the experience,” said Matthew Hora, director of the Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions at the University of Wisconsin. “You can have an in-person internship that’s poorly structured and not very useful or effective or positive for the student. So it’s not as if one modality by default is better than the other.”
About 29 percent of employers are moving their internships online and 15 percent are reducing the number of interns they had initially planned to have, according to a survey published April 3 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. (NACE is regularly surveying employers about this issue and will release new results on April 10.) Nearly two dozen organizations that support students who study science, technology, engineering or math wrote an open letter to employers to urge them not to cancel their internships and instead find ways to virtually employ interns.
With remote internships, students will likely have fewer opportunities to network and learn the intricacies of different industries, Hora said. Unplanned, off-the-cuff networking experiences that come from chatting in the hallway with coworkers or going out to lunch with a supervisor can’t happen.
“How do engineers communicate? How do nurses work in teams? That’s the kind of thing you’re going to really get in an in-person experience,” he said.
For any internship to be a success, managers and interns must have strong communication, Hora said, and that’s even more important if they are working remotely from each other. Students should advocate for mentorship and meaningful work from their employer to make sure they have a good experience. Colleges and universities should work with employers before a student starts to make sure there is someone from the organization who can properly manage the internship.
These experiences may be challenging for all involved, but online internships may also offer opportunities for students to thrive.
Students who need to work to make ends meet often don’t have the time to be an intern, or they can’t afford the pay cut that comes with many internships.
“If they were going to do an internship, it would have to be in the middle of the night,” Hora said. “For better, for worse, they could do that with an online internship. They could fit it into their schedule.”
Some employers require online interns to complete projects, which can be done on a less strict schedule for when and where the work happens.
“Many of them are structured that way, where the student is given a project or a task and they can perform it on their own schedule,” Hora said.
Also, online internships may remove some of the grunt work that can come with college jobs.
“With online internships, I would hope we’re not going to see the equivalent of students pouring coffee and making photocopies,” he said.