School News

Dean Penelope Peterson
Dean Penelope Peterson (center) and alumnae mary Larson (left) and Mary nelson (right) enjoyed a concert at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois, this summer. Both alums are Class of 1967.

New Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program to Focus on Education Research

The School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) has established an innovative interdisciplinary doctoral training program - the "Multidisciplinary Program in Education Sciences" - to develop a cadre of scholars trained to conduct relevant and reliable research on pressing policy and practice issues in education.

Co-directed by SESP Professors James P. Spillane and Greg J. Duncan, the program includes a group of 10 core faculty drawn from Northwestern's departments of economics, psychology, sociology and statistics in collaboration with SESP's departments of learning sciences and human development and social policy.

"Educators today often fly by the seat of their pants and adopt new curricula or teaching practices that seem good but are largely unproven," says Spillane. The scholars trained in Northwestern's new program will be able to help K-12 teachers discern which education practices work and which do not.

Program hallmarks are interdisciplinary teaching and mentoring of fellows by core and affiliated Northwestern faculty engaged in education-focused research. Training activities include required and elective courses in statistics, evaluation, learning and cognition, and policy and implementation. Students will attend biweekly research seminars and fellows' meetings with affiliated faculty.

"Our training program addresses one of the most critical problems in education today - the absence of an empirically sound knowledge based on core education issues," adds Spillane. "Our new training center is intended for students who want to pursue a research agenda that will focus on practical questions in U.S. education from an interdisciplinary perspective."

The new doctoral program is supported by a $3.7 million grant from the Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences and $1.3 million from Northwestern University . The grant will f

By Marilyn Sherman