Inquiry Magazine Northwestern School of Education and Social Policy

Fall 2016

Mesmin Destin, Kirabo Jackson Receive Prestigious Fellowships

Mesmin Destin, Kirabo Jackson Receive Prestigious Fellowships

Assistant professor Mesmin Destin was selected as a 2016 William T. Grant Scholar. Through its Scholars Program, the William T. Grant Foundation supports promising researchers in the social, behavioral and health sciences.

Destin will receive $350,000 over five years to research whether a school-based intervention to increase school motivation and academic outcomes for disadvantaged adolescents benefits students’ health. Associate professor Kirabo Jackson was named a 2016 Andrew Carnegie Fellow, based on his outstanding scholarship and proposed research on “Identifying Excellent Teachers.” The Carnegie Fellows Program provides prestigious fellowships to advance research in the social sciences and humanities.

Jackson’s research will examine how to better identify high-quality teachers who improve both the cognitive and “soft” skills students need to succeed into adulthood. His earlier research showed that teachers who excelled at developing students’ noncognitive skills had more impact on future education and wages than teachers who improved students’ test scores.

Eleanor O’Rourke

Eleanor O’Rourke

Eleanor O’Rourke is a new assistant professor in Learning Sciences. She received her PhD from the University of Washington, and her research seeks to develop novel computing systems that optimize student learning.

Marcelo Worsley,

Marcelo Worsley

Marcelo Worsley, who also joined the Learning Sciences faculty, holds a PhD from Stanford University. He researches how to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning for underserved populations.


Lindsay Chase-Lansdale was named to the Harvard University Board of Overseers.

David Figlio delivered the presidential address at the Association for Education Finance and Policy conference in Denver. He also presented to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris; Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands; and Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn, Germany.

Elizabeth Gerber received a Northwestern University Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence award.

Larry Hedges was reappointed by President Barack Obama to the National Board for Education Sciences as a key member of the educational advisory team.

Eva Lam was named a Carl A. Grant Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She gave a keynote address at the Equity in Digital Literacies conference at the University of British Columbia.

Martha Mulligan received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach in Singapore.

David Rapp became editor of the journal Discourse Processes.

James Spillane. was appointed to the advisory board for the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Education and Human Resources.

David Uttal and his coauthors received the Journal of Geography award from the National Council for Geographic Education.

‘Ready for School, Ready for Life’ Offers Research on Early Education

‘Ready for School, Ready for Life’ Offers Research on Early Education
Photo By Leslie Nordby

SESP faculty members (from left) Diane Schanzenbach, David Figlio, Lindsay Chase-Lansdale and Terri Sabol shed light on how to improve preschool access and quality at a policy research briefing in Washington, D.C.

Carol Lee Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Carol Lee Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Professor Carol Lee was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest and most revered honorary societies and independent policy research centers. Lee is the Tarry Professor of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern and a former president of the American Education Research Association.

A member of the National Academy of Education and its board of directors, Lee is the author of Culture, Literacy and Learning and Signifying as a Scaffold for Literary Interpretation. She is widely known for her research showing the importance of drawing on students’ cultural knowledge to support rigorous learning.

Story behind the Story:Dan McAdams’s Atlantic Cover Story

Story behind the Story:Dan McAdams’s Atlantic Cover Story

A psychological analysis of Donald Trump by professor Dan McAdams was a cover story for The Atlantic, leading to interviews with Katie Couric, PBS and CNBC. Atlantic editors familiar with McAdams’s book on George W. Bush asked the prominent psychologist to pen a psychological portrait of Trump.

Over several months, McAdams wrote and reworked the piece with editors, lawyers and fact checkers. On leave from Northwestern, once he sent revisions from the Amazon jungle, and throughout he kept the project secret because the magazine didn’t want to be scooped. His goal was “to develop a dispassionate and analytical perspective on Trump, drawing upon some of the most important ideas and research findings in psychological science today.”


Cynthia Coburn (2016), “What’s Policy Got to Do with It?” American Journal of Education; Coburn, H. A. Hill and James Spillane (2016), “Alignment and Accountability in Policy Design and Implementation,” Educational Researcher; Coburn and W. R. Penuel (2016), “Research-Practice Partnerships,” Educational Researcher.

Danny M. Cohen (2016), “Dead Ends” in E. Jilovsky, J. Silverstein and D. Slucki (Eds.), In the Shadows of Memory: The Holocaust and the Third Generation.

Mesmin Destin (2016), “An Open Path to the Future: Perceived Financial Resources and School Motivation,” Journal of Early Adolescence.

David Figlio, D. Autor, K. Karbownik, J. Roth and M. Wasserman, “School Quality and the Gender Gap in Educational Achievement,” American Economic Review.

Claudia Haase, S. Holley, L. Bloch, A. Verstaen and R. W. Levenson (2016), “Interpersonal Emotional Behaviors and Physical Health,” Emotion; V. Sturm, Haase and R. W. Levenson (2016), “Emotional Dysfunction in Psychopathology and Neuropathology” in T. Lehner, B. L. Miller and M. W. State (Eds.), Genomics, Circuits and Pathways in Clinical Neuropsychiatry.

David Rapp and M. M. Salomon (2016), “Overcoming Misinformation,” School Administrator.

M. Bang and Shirin Vossoughi (2016), “Participatory Design Research and Educational Justice,” Cognition and Instruction.


Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, Administration for Children and Families, “Expanding the Cycle of Opportunity: Simultaneously Educating Parents and Children in Head Start,” $499,511.

Mesmin Destin, William T. Grant Foundation, “Healthy Pathways towards Academic Achievement and Social Mobility for Low-SES Youth,” $349,701; Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, “Lay Theories of Social Status and Academic Outcomes among Low Socioeconomic Status College Students,” $1,000; Tobin Project, “Beliefs about Social Status Malleability and Financial Decision Making,” $2,500.

Larry Hedges and L. Quillian, Russell Sage Foundation, “Race and Ethnic Discrimination in Labor Markets,” $95,271.

Kirabo Jackson, Carnegie Corporation, Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, $200,000.

Dan Lewis, Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation, “Higher Education Civic Engagement Collaborative of Chicago,” $42,000.

Terri Sabol and Larry Hedges, Institute of Education Sciences, “Contexts Inside and Outside of School Walls as Predictors of Differential Effectiveness in Preschool Professional Development,” $255,742.

Miriam Sherin and Bruce Sherin, Spencer Foundation, “Digital Resources for Collaborative Teacher Learning,” $135,096.

David Uttal, Department of Education and Ohio State University, “Enhancing Middle School Mathematics Achievement through Spatial Skills Instruction,” $91,308; National Science Foundation, “Cognitive and Neural Indicators of School-Based Improvements in Spatial Problem Solving,” $427,606.

Shirin Vossoughi, National Association of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship, $70,000.