Faculty News

Faculty News

New Faces

Michael Horn Michael Horn, who has a PhD from Tufts University and has worked for the Harvard University Initiative for Innovative Computing, has joined the Learning Sciences program. He explores innovative ways to integrate useful technology into K–12 classrooms.
Reed Stevens Reed Stevens comes to the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) from the University of Washington, where he was an associate professor in educational psychology. His research focuses on cognition and new ways to organize learning environments.



Kemi Jona Kemi Jona, Lenovo, “iLabs Mobile Computing Lab,” $20,000; National Institutes of Health, “Learning Modules in Oncofertility,” $113,715.
Dan Lewis Dan Lewis, Joyce Foundation, “Criminality and Welfare Reform,” $20,000.
Steven McGee Steven McGee, Chicago Public Schools, “Meaningful Science Consortium,” $497,250; “Capstone Course in Earth and Space Science,” $200,000; Field Museum, “Teacher Leader Certification in Science,” $115,000.
Steven McGee Deborah Puntenney and Dick Morehead, Community Engaged Research Center at Northwestern University, “Building the Community of North Chicago,” $10,000.
Steven McGee James Rosenbaum, Spencer Foundation, “High School Procedures for Creating College-For-All,” $160,100.
Bruce Sherin
Bruce Sherin and Jessica Umphress, Spencer Foundation, “The Nature and Variability of Epistemic Practices in Families,” $40,000.


Honors and Awards

Dan McAdams Lindsay Chase-Lansdale is the new chair of the Visiting Committee at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Dan McAdams Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon was named a life trustee of Francis W. Parker School in Chicago, where she has served on the Board of Trustees since 1995.
Dan McAdams Barton Hirsch is general editor for the Adolescent Lives in Context book series, published by NYU Press.
Dan McAdams Dan McAdams was named chair of Northwestern University’s Psychology Department for the next three years and at the same time will remain on the SESP faculty.
Dan McAdams Paula Olszewski-Kubilius was elected vice-president of the National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC) and will become president in 2011. She will also receive a distinguished scholar award at this year’s NAGC conference in November.
Dan McAdams David Rapp received the 2009 Undergraduate Psychology Association Award for Excellence in Teaching at Northwestern University.


Fay Cook Fay Lomax Cook, Lawrence R. Jacobs and Michael X. Delli Carpini, Talking Together: Public Deliberation and Political Participation in America (2009).

Fay Cook

David Figlio, “Public Sector Performance Measurement and Stakeholder Support,” Journal of Public Economics (2009).
Fay Cook Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon, Learning to Teach Through Discussion: The Art of Turning the Soul (2009); “Listening to a Challenging Perspective,” Teachers College Record (2009); “Plato” in Richard A. Shweder (Ed.), The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion (2009); Haroutunian-Gordon and Elizabeth Meadows, “The Role of Interruption in Building Trust,” in Schools: Studies in Education (2009).
Fay Cook Harris Cooper, Larry V. Hedges and Jeffrey Valentine, Eds., The Handbook of Research Synthesis and Meta-Analysis, Second Edition (2009).
Fay Cook Dan McAdams and Michelle Albaugh, “The Redemptive Self, Generativity, and American Christians at Midlife,” in J. A. Belzen and A. Keels (Eds.), Autobiography and the Psychological Study of Religious Lives (2008); McAdams, “The Moral Personality” in D. Narvaez and D. K. Lapsley (Eds.), Personality, Identity, and Character (2009).
Fay Cook P. Blikstein and Uri Wilensky, “An Atom Is Known by the Company It Keeps,” International Journal of Computers for Mathematical Learning (2009); S. T. Levy and Wilensky, “Students’ Learning with the Connected Chemistry Curriculum,” Journal of Science Education and Technology (2009); M. Novak, S. T. Levy and Wilensky, “Playing in a Particle Sandbox and Gaining a Glass Box Perspective,” The Science Teacher (2009); P. Sengupta and Wilensky, “Learning Electricity with NIELS,” International Journal of Computers for Mathematical Learning (2009).


Fay Cook, Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon Release New Books
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Fay CookWhat is the value of citizens talking to each other about topics ranging from the war in Afghanistan to alternative energy? Professor Fay Lomax Cook answers this question in a new book, Talking Together: Public Deliberation and Political Participation in America, co-authored with Lawrence R. Jacobs and Michael X. Delli Carpini.

The book offers a comprehensive picture of the role of public dialogue in the United States, as well as an examination of its importance for America’s future. From e-mails to arguments, Talking Together examines the pervasiveness of civic discourse, revealing who does the talking, why people discuss civic issues and what influence their talk has. The book also offers insights into fostering public deliberation for political action.

The researchers conducted the first-ever nationally representative survey of the extent to which and the ways in which Americans come together to discuss policy issues — what the authors call discursive participation. “Our findings are important because they show that contrary to conventional wisdom, discursive participation is more common than assumed and encompasses the most taxing forms of citizen engagement — face-to-face deliberation in groups,” says Cook.

Sophie Haroutunian-GordonInterpretive discussion is an approach to teaching and learning that professor Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon, director of the Master of Science in Education program, first tried as a sixth-grade teacher. “Ten minutes and I was hooked!” she exclaims. Now she has written a book, Learning to Teach Through Discussion: The Art of Turning the Soul, to show what happens when two of her master’s students use the method to explore the meaning of texts with fourth-graders in two very different schools, one urban and one suburban.

The book shows the novice teachers becoming better discussion leaders and listeners as they learn to prepare and clarify interpretive questions about the meaning of texts. The climax of the book comes when the teachers mix the two different groups of students. The reader sees how the groups come to listen to each other and how barriers of race and class between them seem to break down.

Haroutunian-Gordon says of interpretive discussion, “This is the kind of discussion that people need to do with their students. It’s a lot of work, but the discovery that people make when they do the work is that they can do it and there’s a great payoff.”


Doug Medin’s Study Reveals Why Feeling Saintly Promotes Sinning
Doug Medin A new study co-authored by professor Douglas Medin shows that people with high moral self-worth may slip into immoral behavior to balance out all that goodness. Conversely, the study indicates, people who engage in immoral behavior cleanse themselves through good works.

This new Northwestern study breaks new ground by showing that moral cleansing has to do with restoring an ideal level of moral self-worth. In other words, when people operate above or below a certain level, they instinctively push back in the opposite direction to reach an internally regulated set point of goodness.

Northwestern’s Sonya Sachdeva, Rumen Iliev and Medin are co-authors of “Sinning Saints and Saintly Sinners,” published by the journal Psychological Science.


Does Changing Neighborhoods Change Lives?
Government programs that move low-income families to different housing can greatly improve education and employment — but only if the moves are to neighborhoods with significant advantages and the families have support services. That’s the conclusion of newly published research by professor James Rosenbaum and Stefanie DeLuca (PhD03) of Johns Hopkins University.

The two compared key housing mobility programs over the past 30 years. With the court-mandated Gautreaux relocation program that started in 1976, Rosenbaum found striking gains in employment and children’s education for families who moved from high-poverty housing projects to more advantaged, mainly white suburbs. In contrast, a scientific study of a 1990s multi-city federal housing program, Moving to Opportunity, found more mixed results. One key weakness of that program was the low quality of the schools where the children enrolled, Rosenbaum says.

By Marilyn Sherman