Inquiry Magazine Northwestern School of Education and Social Policy

FALL 2011

Ann Heller Becomes First Kappa Fellow
Ann Heller

Aspiring teacher Ann Hays Heller, a 2008 graduate of Yale University, was named the first recipient of the Kappa Kappa Gamma Fellowship. The fellowship, intended to encourage outstanding teachers, was established by a group of Northwestern alumnae who are members of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

Heller, a new student in the Master of Science in Education program, plans to become an upper elementary school teacher in a high-need community. An Atlanta native, she graduated from Yale magna cum laude with distinction in her major, history. Previously she worked as the manager of budget and planning with Teach For America.

Higher Education Program Gains New Degree
Higher Education Administration and Policy

After 13 years as a concentration in the Master of Science in Education program, now Higher Education Administration and Policy is an independent master’s program with its own degree.

"Both Higher Education and the current teacher education concentrations within the MSEd program are high-quality, very successful programs with increasing enrollments and top-quality graduate students. Separating the programs allows us to focus attention and resources strategically to benefit each program," says Dean Penelope Peterson. Assistant professor Lois Trautvetter is the director of the Higher Education Administration and Policy master’s program.

SESP Ranks Number 7
SESP Ranks Number 7

Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) ranks number seven in the nation, according to the new 2012 ranking of graduate schools of education by U.S. News & World Report. For the past 11 years, SESP has consistently ranked among the top 10 schools nationwide.

Study Finds Flagship After-School Program Cuts Problem Behavior

Study Finds Flagship After-School Program Cuts Problem Behavior Photo courtesy of after school matters

A three-year evaluation of After School Matters — a Chicago afterschool program that serves more than 17,000 students and is a model for high school after-school programs around the country — suggests that well-implemented, apprenticeship-style programs help reduce problem behavior in high school youth.

“Our study of selected After School Matters apprenticeships found that youth in the program engaged in fewer problem behaviors, particularly gang activity and selling drugs,” says professor Barton Hirsch, who led the evaluation.

In addition, the study found youth in After School Matters demonstrated more of what psychologists call “self-regulation,” considered a key component of positive youth development. Self-regulation involves the ability to stay focused on achieving goals despite emotional and other distractions, says Hirsch.

The large-scale study followed 535 Chicago high school students from 10 Chicago public high schools. It is the first randomized controlled study — the gold standard in evaluation research — of a high school after-school program since the 1980s. Hirsch conducted the research with SESP professor Larry Hedges and University of Wisconsin-Extension professor JulieAnn Stawicki.

President Schapiro, Evanston Mayor Visit Science Program Photo by Steve Anzaldi

President Schapiro, Evanston Mayor Visit Science Program

Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro and Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl got a glimpse of a unique collaboration between the University and local schools in May. They watched Northwestern graduate students teach Evanston Township High School (ETHS) students about cutting-edge scientific research as part of Northwestern’s Reach for the Stars program in local schools.

Reach for the Stars is supported by the National Science Foundation through a five-year $2.7 million Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12) grant. Physics and astronomy professor Vicky Kalogera is the principal investigator, and Kemi Jona of SESP and Darren Gergle of School of Communication are coprincipal investigators. The project currently pairs 10 graduate fellows with science teachers at seven schools.

Both of the “resident scientists” at ETHS use computational modeling in their astrophysics research and are introducing this important scientific tool to physics and astronomy teachers and students. The goal of Reach for the Stars is to train graduate students in communicating their complex research and to bring computational thinking into K-12 classrooms.

Cutting-Edge Computer Modeling to Boost Science Learning

Cutting-Edge Computer Modeling to Boost Science Learning

SESP professors Uri Wilensky and David Figlio are launching a major innovative project to develop computer- based curricula that will help young students learn science. A $2.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation is supporting the work.

“Enabling Modeling and Simulation- Based Science in the Classroom” uses cutting-edge computational methods to teach science topics at middle and high school levels. Classroom-ready units will be produced on the topics of evolution, population biology, kinetic molecular theory and electromagnetism.

The four-year project brings to the classroom state-of-the-art computer technologies, including a type of computer simulation called agentbased computer modeling. In addition, network technology allows students to participate in simulations together.

“In the classroom, these technologies enable students to do real science, and are also very engaging to the students,” Wilensky says. Researchers from Northwestern, Vanderbilt and Stanford universities are collaborating on the project with Inquire Learning.

After-School Program for Junior High Promotes Media Literacy

After-School Program for Junior High Promotes Media Literacy

In a 10-week after-school program on community journalism in Chicago’s Chinatown, associate professor Eva Lam taught seventh and eighth graders how to produce their own multimedia stories. “Our goal is to explore how the program may promote media literacy and multimedia storytelling by drawing from students’ community and family experiences and their bilingual skills,” Lam says.

The students produced video profiles of their family members and residents in the Chinatown community. “This project bridges two major concerns in literacy education that do not usually come together,” says Lam. One is the increasing need to foster 21st-century skills with diverse media, and another is the importance of developing culturally relevant education for minority and immigrant populations.

Jack Doppelt, a professor at Medill School of Journalism, collaborated with Lam on the project along with SESP assistant professor Matthew Easterday. Numerous undergraduate students participated as mentors and research assistants.