Graduate Students Jamie Hoversen, Christine Yang Win Fulbrights

Graduate Students Jamie Hoversen, Christine Yang Win Fulbrights

Master’s student Jamie Hoversen and doctoral student Christine Yang won Fulbright awards for the 2012-13 academic year. Hoversen will spend her Fulbright fellowship year working and teaching in Hungary, and Yang will do research on mathematical learning in South Korea.

Jamie Hoversen

Jamie Hoversen, who is a graduate student in the Master of Science in Higher Education Administration and Policy Program, will work part-time at the EducationUSA Advising Center in Budapest, advising and providing workshops for Hungarian students interested in studying at the undergraduate or graduate level in the United States. Her second placement is at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, where she will be designing and teaching two classes each semester related to American history, culture or politics.

“The Fulbright in Hungary is an important step towards better preparing me for my professional goals of working directly with international college students and conducting research within the frame of higher education. Coming into the Higher Education Administration and Policy program in SESP, I had a specific interest in the globalization and internationalization of higher education as well as a desire to work with undergraduate students in an advising capacity,” she explains.

Hoversen saw the Fulbright opportunity in Budapest as “a perfect fit” in combining her curiosity to learn more about higher education systems outside of the United States, getting to share the knowledge of U.S. higher education she developed through her master's program, and working with college students.  In addition to teaching and advising in Budapest, she plans to extend some of her thesis work to research the academic and social expectations of Hungarian students looking to study in the United States.  “The cultural exchange that comes with a Fulbright grant will be an enriching experience both personally and professionally,” says Hoversen.

Because she has always been interested in doing international education-related research, applying to Fulbright came naturally for her. “My personal research agenda is also very much in line with what the Fulbright stands for: fostering intercultural communication, and bringing a deeper mutual understanding between the U.S. and other countries. Fulbright has supported so many impressive scholars and students to do some really interesting projects, so to have been selected as a Fulbright fellow is truly an honor,” she says.

Christine Yang
Christine Yang’s Fulbright fellowship will support her 10-month doctoral research study in South Korea. She will observe and interview students in 9th and/or 10th grade to understand factors that influence and shape how they learn or understand mathematics. For example, she will look into cognitive processes in problem solving and mathematical understanding, beliefs and values about mathematics, and other cultural factors. In addition, she plans to interview students as they interact with computational models using NetLogo (computer software created by her adviser, Uri Wilensky), and study how students' interaction with this software facilitates their understanding of mathematics.

“I'm hoping that over the course of 10 months I will gain a wealth of experience (and not to mention data!) on what learning mathematics looks like in Korea, through direct interactions with students, teachers, school administrators and professors,” says Yang.

Yang finds Korea is an interesting country to study. Economically it has a fast-growing economy; educationally its students have been consistently performed highly in mathematics while it also has one of the most equitable educational systems among developed countries. She is interested in seeing the significant differences between Korea and the US in areas such as students' use of various cognitive strategies that have a differential impact on mathematical achievement.

“We know a lot about mathematical learning and problem solving in students from China and Japan, but not much light has been shed on Korea, particularly with regards to upper middle school and high school level students. Given all these factors, I felt motivated to gain a deeper understanding of what goes on at the ground level through rich, thick descriptions, and also to investigate to what extent a technological tool like NetLogo, which is widely successful in the US, could be ported across cultural contexts and help students learn.”

“So I believe this project is important in a number of ways. Research-wise, this study is a highly needed work that will advance our understanding of Korean students’ mathematical thinking and contribute to the literature on international mathematics education research. At a more practical level, the commonalities or general principles across successful practices found from this study, I believe, will have implications for our policy/practices on mathematical learning. Finally, this study is important at a more personal level as well. As a Korean American, being given the opportunity to go back to the country of my ethnic roots and conduct research in the field is personally relevant and meaningful. I'm really looking forward to being immersed in the culture and to learn as much as possible.”

“I hope that during my stay in South Korea, I will be able to create more opportunities to continue to engage in international research in many years to come,” says Yang.

A student in the Learning Sciences program, Yang is also a fellow in the Multidisciplinary Program in Education Sciences (MPES), which trains select Northwestern doctoral students in rigorous education research.

The Fulbright program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, is the nation's largest international program providing opportunities for students to pursue international graduate study, advanced research, or teaching in schools worldwide. The intent of the Fulbright scholarship program, an international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, is to foster leadership and build understanding between scholars in the United States and other cultures.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 9/12/12