Inquiry Magazine Northwestern School of Education and Social Policy

FALL 2011

New Faculty

Simone Ispa-Landa

Simone Ispa-Landa joins the faculty as an assistant professor of human development and social policy. She has a PhD in sociology from Harvard University, and her research focuses on race relations, social identity and gender.


Larry V. Hedges, Institute of Education Sciences, "Continuing Support for the Development of the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness," $571,487; "State-Specific Design Parameters for Designing Better Evaluation Studies," $167,959.

Kirabo Jackson, Spencer Foundation, "How Important Is the Match between Teachers and Schools in Determining Student Achievement, and Why Do Certain Teachers Perform Better at Certain Schools?" $20,592.

Kemi Jona, Reed Stevens and Mike Horn, Chicago Learning Network, "YouSTEM: Creating a Space for Interest-Driven STEM Exploration by High School Youth," $125,232; Jona, Motorola Solutions Foundation, "Creating Leaders for STEM Student Research," $50,000.

Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, "Jack Kent Cooke Summer Scholarships," $150,000.


Eva Lam received the Mid-Career Award from the Special Interest Group for Second Language Research of the American Education Research Association.

Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon made presentations at Fudan University, East China Normal University and Shanghai Normal University, all in Shanghai.

Gregory Light gave the keynote address on "In Pursuit of Learning" at the 2011 Annual Midwest Regional Conference on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in April.

Brian Reiser was appointed Weston Visiting Professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, from January through April 2011. He presented invited colloquia on "Supporting Students and Teachers in Scientific Practices" at Hebrew University and Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel in February and March.

Jim Spillane gave two keynote talks on “Leadership Practice for Improvement” to 700 principals at the annual meeting of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation conference in Wellington, New Zealand, in April.

Lois Trautvetter co-authored a paper that won the American Society for Engineering Education’s 2011 Denice D. Denton Best Paper Award for the Women Engineering Division.

Jonathan Guryan Finds Early Health Access Boosts School Achievement

John Guryan Photo by Thomas Ward

Research by associate professor Jonathan Guryan shows that investment in early access to health care can have long-term educational benefits. He presented his findings on "Can Early Health Access Narrow the Black-White Achievement Gap?" at an Institute for Policy Research briefing in May.

Guryan examined the reasons for the narrowing of racial differences in test scores beginning with children born in the 1960s. Starting with the cohort born in 1963, a dramatic increase in test scores for black children in the South occurred and continued for more than a decade of birth cohorts. When he traced patterns of births at different times and in different states, he found that health access — because of desegregation of hospitals in the South — was a major factor.

"A dramatic improvement in health correlates with better test scores," Guryan says. "Efforts to reduce achievements gaps can look to early health as a place to narrow inequities."

Penelope Peterson

Penelope Peterson Named to National Academy of Education

Penelope Peterson, dean of the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) since 1997, was elected to the National Academy of Education because of her outstanding scholarship and contributions to education. The National Academy, a prestigious organization limited to 200 U.S. members, is dedicated to advancing high-quality education research and its use in policy development.

Peterson, who is the Eleanor R. Baldwin Professor of Education, is past president of the American Education Research Association and co-author of Restructuring in the Classroom and Learning from Our Lives. Recently she co-edited the eight-volume International Encyclopedia of Education, Third Edition.

Along with Peterson, other SESP faculty members who are members of the National Academy of Education are professors Carol Lee and Larry Hedges.

David Figlio

David Figlio Sees Demographics Sway School Funding

The age of a suburb and its residents has a major impact on school funding in a community, according to new research by professor David Figlio. He and Deborah Fletcher of Miami University investigated the link between older populations and lower support for school funding. They looked at the history of 20 suburban school districts in the Northeast and Midwest and how support for education funding changed as Baby Boomers raised families between the 1970s and 1990s.

The researchers found that once the Baby Boomers' children were out of school, suburban school districts that developed earlier and consequently had older populations tended to cut back on school spending faster than did later-developing suburbs with younger families. The biggest differences appeared in districts with the widest racial and ethnic gaps between older and younger residents.

"The aging of the Baby Boom generation could have substantial implications for school finance in the coming years," says Figlio.


After-School Centers and Youth Development

Barton Hirsch, Nancy Deutsch and David DuBois, After-School Centers and Youth Development (2011).

Kemi Jona, R. Roque, J. Skonik, David Uttal and David Rapp, "Are Remote Labs Worth the Cost?" International Journal of Online Engineering (2011).

Dan McAdams, "Life Narratives" in K. L. Fingerman, C. A. Berg, J. Smith and T. C. Antonucci (Eds.), Handbook of Lifespan Development (2011); "I Want to Be a Social Psychologist" in R. Arkin (Ed.), Most Underappreciated (2011); McAdams and E. Manczak, "What Is a 'Level' of Personality?" Psychological Inquiry (2011).

David Rapp, H. Komeda and S. R. Hinze, "Vivifications of Literary Investigation," The Scientific Study of Literature (2011); A. Peshkam, M. C. Mensink, A. L. Putnam and Rapp, "Warning Readers to Avoid Irrelevant Information," Contemporary Educational Psychology (2011); J. R. Sparks and Rapp, "Readers’ Reliance on Source Credibility in the Service of Inference Generation," Journal of Experimental Psychology (2011).

Rosemary Russ, Bruce Sherin and Miriam Sherin, "Images of Expertise in Mathematics Teaching" in Y. Li and G. Kaiser (Eds.), Expertise in Mathematics Instruction (2011); A. Brantlinger, Miriam Sherin and K. Linsenmeier, "Discussing Discussion," Teachers and Teaching (2011).

Diagnosis and Design for School Improvement

James Spillane and Amy Coldren, Diagnosis and Design for School Improvement (2011); Spillane, L. M. Parise and J. Z. Sherer, "Organizational Routines as Coupling Mechanisms," American Educational Research Journal (2011).