Inquiry Magazine Northwestern School of Education and Social Policy

FALL 2012


Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, “CareerAdvance: A Dual-Generation Program’s Effects on Families and Children,” Administration for Children and Families, $499,845; W. K. Kellogg Foundation, $148,211.

David Figlio, “Secondary and Postsecondary Pathways to Labor Market Success,” Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and American Institutes for Research, $116,249..

Kirabo Jackson, Smith Richardson Foundation, “The Effect of Individual High School Teachers on Student Achievement, Dropout, Aspirations, Absences and Delinquent Behavior,” $49,999.

Kemi Jona, Boeing Company, “The Institute for STEM Teaching and Research at Northwestern University,” $50,000; Siemens, “Climate Change and Sustainability Professional Development Workshop for Teachers,” $8,655; Baxter International Inc., “Biotechnology Professional Development Series,” $25,000.

Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, “CivicWeek Program for JKC Young Scholars in Summer 2012,” $95,535.

Deborah Puntenney, Knight Foundation and KaBOOM!, “Community Engagement and the Imagination Playground Project,” $91,668; Alumnae of Northwestern, “Tools for Communities,” $2,000.

Diane Schanzenbach, Russell Sage Foundation, “Understanding Food Insecurity during the Great Recession,” $146,614; Schanzenbach, P. Anderson, K. Butcher and H. Hoynes, University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research, “New Evidence on Why Children’s Food Security Varies across Households with Similar Incomes,” $244,254.

Uri Wilensky and Michael Horn, National Science Foundation, “Learning Evolution through Model-Based Inquiry,” $995,510; National Science Foundation and Concord Consortium, “InquirySpace: Technologies in Support of Student Experimentation,” $580,000.


Douglas Medin

Douglas Medin was elected to the National Academy of Education because of his pioneering efforts in education research and policy development. This prestigious organization, limited to 200 U.S. members, is dedicated to advancing high-quality education research.


Fay Cook gave the keynote address at the International Conference on Aging and Social Security in Hangzhou, China, on “Social Security in the USA.” She also gave an invited lecture at Zhejiang University.

David Figlio gave the keynote address at major conferences on school accountability in Brazil in October and in Norway in June.

Kemi Jona gave the keynote speech, “The Case for University Partnerships to Support K-12 STEM Education and Outreach,” at the University of California-Davis STEM Education and Outreach Summit in June.

Carol Lee gave the commencement address at the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dan McAdams gave a keynote address on “From Actor to Agent to Author” at a conference on evolutionary theory at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

Diane Schanzenbach gave the keynote address in June at the Illinois Education Research Council on “Lifetime Impacts of a Kindergarten Classroom.”

James Spillane gave the keynote address in April at the Issue of Leadership Conference in Lyon, France. He also gave a presentation at the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation in Paris on “Policy, School Administration and Teaching.”

Reed Stevens spoke at a New America Foundation/Slate magazine event in Washington, D.C., called “Getting Schooled by a Third Grader: What Kids’ Gaming, Tweeting, Streaming and Sharing Tells Us about the Future of Elementary Education.”

David Figlio Becomes Director of Institute for Policy Research

David Figlio

SESP professor David Figlio, an education economist, became the sixth director of the Institute for Policy Research (IPR) at Northwestern University this fall. IPR is an interdisciplinary public policy research institute that fosters excellent social science research on significant public policy issues.

Figlio, the Orrington Lunt Professor of Education and Social Policy, is also the first chair of IPR’s research program in education policy. A leading national scholar on education policies and interventions, Figlio researches issues including school accountability and standards, welfare policy and policy design.

Prior to Figlio’s appointment, SESP professor Fay Lomax Cook served as director of IPR for 16 years. Cook will continue as an IPR fellow along with 12 other SESP professors and faculty members from numerous departments at Northwestern.

Diane Schanzenbach

Diane Schanzenbach Examines Link between Child Obesity and Schools

As associate professor Diane Schanzenbach seeks reasons for the surge in child obesity, she is investigating the impact of school, a link few researchers have examined.

In one study Schanzenbach and her colleagues found that students who did not eat the school lunch were less likely to be overweight. In general, though, schoolchildren of the same age showed little difference in weight, even if they started school earlier. “School exposure seems unlikely to cause weight gain, and may even be beneficial,” Schanzenbach says. The benefit may come from kids in school having less opportunity to snack.

In another study, Schanzenbach’s research team determined that the No Child Left Behind law affects child obesity. They found that when schools are on the verge of failing progress requirements, students have a higher rate of obesity the following year.

“No Child Left Behind accountability rules may have unintended adverse consequences for student health,” the researchers conclude. Schools under pressure may cut recess and physical education to allow more time for tested subjects.


Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, “Early Childhood Education Centers and Mothers’ Postsecondary Attainment,” Teachers College Record (2012).

Jeannette Colyvas, “Performance Metrics as Formal Structures and through the Lens of Social Mechanisms,” American Journal of Education (2012).

Jelani Mandara, C. B. Murray, J. M. Telesford, F. A. Varner and S. B. Richman, “Observed Gender Differences in African American Mother-Child Relationships and Child Behavior,” Family Relations (2012).

Dan McAdams, “Exploring Psychological Themes through Life Narrative Accounts” in J. A. Holstein and J. F. Gubrium (Eds.), Varieties of Narrative Analysis (2012); “Personality and Meaning” in P. Wong (Ed.), The Human Quest for Meaning (2012).

Bruce Sherin, M. Krakowski and V. R. Lee, “Some Assembly Required: How Scientific Explanations Are Constructed during Clinical Interviews,” Journal of Research in Science Teaching (2012).

Reed Stevens, “The Missing Bodies of Mathematical Thinking and Learning Have Been Found,” Journal of the Learning Sciences (2012).