Inquiry Magazine Northwestern School of Education and Social Policy


Fay Cook’s Survey Portrays Richest 1%
Faye Cook

The richest one percent of Americans do more volunteer work, stress private philanthropy and are more likely to contact a politician than the general public. These are some of the findings of a new survey of opinions, attitudes and behaviors of the nation’s wealthiest citizens by professor Fay Lomax Cook and Benjamin Page.

Cook, Page and a team of researchers surveyed a random sample of Chicagoarea households with a median wealth of $7.5 million. They found members of the wealthiest one percent emphasize relying on the free market or private philanthropy for positive outcomes and see the federal budget deficit as the nation’s most pressing problem. They are more active politically than the rest of the population.

“Our goal is to replace the rhetoric with facts,” says Cook, director of the Institute for Policy Research.

Grad Student Wins Startup Contest with Learning Sciences Project
Higher Education Administration and Policy

Learning Sciences master’s student Adam Lupu won a local business pitch contest with a project generated in assistant professor Michael Horn’s Introduction to Design for Learning Sciences class. The winning idea is a design for a web application intended to support medical students’ learning.

Lupu and three fellow Learning Sciences 425 students were interested in the “tough learning environment” of medical school. For their main project, they devised a social learning network for medical students offering powerful learning tools and customizable test preparation in a “group study room” that offers ease, flexibility and support. For Startup Evanston Pitch Day, Lupu added a business model and market research. He is preparing to launch the network this summer.

Brian Reiser Releases New Curriculum, Recommends Science Framework

middle school science student looks through prism Photo by: Jim Ziv

A new three-year middle school science curriculum, developed by a team led by SESP professor Brian Reiser, Joe Krajcik and LeeAnn Sutherland at the University of Michigan and David Fortus at Weizmann Institute in Israel, was commercially released this school year. Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology (IQWST) was designed over 10 years with National Science Foundation funding for development and classroom research.

Sangari Active Science introduced the curriculum materials in physical science, life science, earth science and chemistry. The rigorous project-based curriculum is designed to make science more relevant and approachable for adolescents, according to Reiser. It also builds ideas carefully in increasing sophistication over time as students learn by investigating real-world problems and mysteries.

The curriculum puts into practice the recommendations of the National Research Council to guide new national standards for science teaching. Reiser is a member of the committee that prepared the Council’s report advocating a new framework for major improvements in K-12 science education in the United States.

SESP Undergrads

SESP Undergrads Steer Public Interest Fellowship Program

Northwestern Public Interest Program (NUPIP) fellowships place Northwestern graduates in public interest jobs and give them a mentorship network. SESP students Becca Portman, Jake Rosner, Alexa Herzog and Josh Parish (left to right in photo) head up this unique student-run program.

NUPIP introduces young alumni to organizations with missions to create systemic social change. One-year fellowships help to train leaders for social change through paid public interest work, professional development seminars and mentorship opportunities in Chicago, San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C.

NUPIP is the only student-run program of its kind in the nation. SESP alumni Jon Marino (BS06) and Lauren Parnell Marino (BS07) along with faculty advisers Paul Arntson and John Kretzmann started the program in 2005, modeling it after Princeton’s Project 55. Today four undergraduate student coordinators manage the program in cooperation with Northwestern’s Center for Civic Engagement.

“Running NUPIP has been a great way to push the Northwestern community to think about how it can use its great resources to benefit the Chicago community — not only financially, but with one’s own work,” says Rosner, a senior who has been a NUPIP coordinator for four years.

Four 2011 SESP graduates are current NUPIP fellows. Stephanie Arias joined the college counseling department at Urban Prep Charter Academy, Rosey Martinez is working for the nonprofit MetroSQUASH, Nathalie Rayter is a program assistant at Free Spirit Media and Rachel Zinn works with Community Builders, a nonprofit development corporation.

MSLOC Students present Photo by Jim Ziv

MSLOC Innovates with Learning Technology for Building Community

The Master of Science in Learning and Organizational Change Program (MSLOC) brings students from as far away as Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., into its classes in Evanston. Through video conferencing, students around the globe can participate in classes in the School’s high-tech Baldwin Learning Studio.

MSLOC is becoming known for its use of technology in building a learning community. For example, staff members are sharing insights both at outside professional organization events and within Northwestern on how technology can change teaching.

MSLOC emphasizes innovative use of tools including web conferencing, desktop video conferencing, Google applications, blogs, wikis and social media. “We’re using those tools as a way for students and faculty to collaborate and explore ideas in more interesting ways,” says Jeff Merrell, associate director of MSLOC.

In “alternative delivery sessions,” faculty members use the video conferencing features of the Baldwin Learning Studio. While some students participate in person, others participate remotely. This virtual capability allows collaboration and real-time student participation.

As MSLOC celebrates its 10-year anniversary, Merrell notes, “Technology is a piece of our success, but the real win is consistently creating a learning community where students learn from each other.”

teen students Photo by Andrew Campbell

Studies Link Teen Happiness, Low-Poverty Neighborhood to Adult Health

Two recent studies by associate professor Emma Adam bring new understanding of how to improve adult health.

One study finds that teenagers who remain happy and positive during the tumultuous teenage years have better general health when they are adults. “Our results show that positive wellbeing during adolescence is significantly associated with reporting excellent health in young adulthood,” says Adam.

The study of 10,147 young people, one of the first to focus on the effect positive psychological characteristics in adolescence can have on long-term health, was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. First author Lindsay Till Hoyt, a SESP doctoral student, says, “Our study shows that promoting and nurturing positive well-being during the teenage years may be a promising way to improve long-term health.”

For low-income women with children, a move from high-poverty to lower-poverty neighborhoods leads to notable long-term improvements in aspects of their health, another of Adam’s studies found. This research with Thomas McDade and other colleagues revealed that diabetes and extreme obesity are reduced.

The study of 4,498 poor women and children, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, was the first to employ a randomized experimental design to learn about the connections between neighborhood poverty and health.