Inquiry Magazine Northwestern School of Education and Social Policy

FALL 2013

Philanthropy Class Gives $100,000 to Worthy Nonprofits
Philanthropy Class Gives $100,000 to Worthy Nonprofits
Photo by Ray Whitehouse

An innovative SESP class in Learning Philanthropy allowed students to give $100,000 to nonprofits that benefit children and adults. Student work groups investigated organizations in the areas of education, health/ wellness, poverty alleviation and child/youth development. Once Upon a Time Foundation supported the lab component of the class, which explored the history and practice of philanthropic giving.

The Learning Philanthropy education group selected Kidz Express, which runs after-school programs for lowincome youth, for a $15,000 donation.

Museum Education Partnership Wins National Award

Museum Education Partnership Wins National Award

A School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) program with Chicago museums for high-needs schools won the 2013 American Alliance of Museums education award for excellence in programming. The Early Elementary Science Partnership offers a new way for teachers, schools, museums and universities to work together to improve science teaching and leadership development.

SESP collaborated with four museums to link their resources to district science curricula and provide teacher workshops, field trips, in-class instructional support and school leadership development. Partners in this reform effort were the Field Museum, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago Children’s Museum, Lincoln Park Zoo and the Chicago Public Schools.

Through SESP, teachers from Chicago elementary schools completed professional development and a two-year sequence of course work as preparation for a teacher leader endorsement. Associate professor Steven McGee, who directed the project for SESP, says, “This award affirms the power of collaboration.”

Remote Online Labs Win Innovation Award for 'Paradigm Shift'

Remote Online Labs Win Innovation Award for ‘Paradigm Shift’

The remote online lab program of the Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP) received the 2013 Innovations in Networking Award for Educational Applications. The award, given by the Corporation for Educational Network Initiatives in California (CENIC), highlights innovations with the potential to revolutionize instruction and research with networking.

CENIC called the online labs “a paradigm shift” in the way high school students and teachers experience science labs. By remotely placing expensive lab equipment in the hands of students, the labs expose students to “real world” science environments. To date, almost 6,000 high school students and teachers have had the opportunity to design scientific experiments that make use of worldclass remote laboratory equipment that would otherwise never be available to them.

“The iLab Network demonstrates how Internet2 broadband can level the playing field and make worldclass STEM education possible for all students, regardless of where they live,” says OSEP director Kemi Jona. Because the remote labs are available outside school hours, students are able to carry out their assignments from any location with Internet access.

MS in Education Program Celebrates 30th Year

MS in Education Program Celebrates 30th Year
Photo Courtesy of Michael Alperin

A 30th anniversary event for the Master of Science in Education (MSEd) program featured a panel of alumni with remarkable accomplishments in education. In addition, Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon, director of the program for 22 years, traced the history of the program.

Since the MSEd program started in 1982-83, it has grown rapidly, and its concentrations have evolved strategically. While in 1983 there were only two graduates, now MSEd has 1,641 alumni. Elementary and secondary teaching concentrations have remained, but other concentrations have spun off to become separate degree programs, such as the Master of Science and Learning and Organizational Change Program and the Higher Education Administration and Policy Program. The program’s newest concentration is the teacher leadership concentration, launched in 2012.

Haroutunian-Gordon sees as the program’s core strength its conceptual framework with guiding principles of learning. She says, “It’s a consistent, coherent program because it is grounded in these concepts,” which include reflection and research as a means of learning, authentic experience, and learning as a social practice.

Simone Ispa-Landa

Simone Ispa-Landa’s Study Shows Urban Teens Affirming Their Parents’ Rules

It may be a surprise when teenagers agree with their parents’ rules, but that’s exactly what assistant professor Simone Ispa-Landa found when she interviewed urban African American teenagers in a racial integration program. In contrast to earlier studies of white middle-class adolescents, the teenagers in her study affirmed their parents’ rules as reasonable.

The subjects of Ispa-Landa’s study were black teens in grades 8 to 10 in a program that buses adolescents to mostly white suburban schools. Primarily, the families were poor to working-class or middle class. These adolescents saw their parents’ monitoring as appropriate to the risks they faced in their neighborhoods. Sixtyfour percent of the teens said their parents’ rules aim to keep them safe.

The teens also view their parents as helping them to navigate toward a better future. Ispa-Landa found 75 percent of the adolescents share a vision of the future with their parents. “Sharing parents’ goals for future upward mobility allows urban adolescents to legitimize their parents’ rules,” she says.

“Parents’ rules are a great window into their own and their parents’ conceptions of who adolescents are and should become,” says Ispa-Landa, who studies inequality and how people understand their social position.

Emma Adam

Emma Adam Zeroes In on Teen Stress with Better Measures

Parents and teachers know that stress affects kids, but how does it become toxic? To zero in on exactly how daily and long-term stress affect children and teens, professor Emma Adam is developing comprehensive measures of adolescent stress.

“Most stress measures don’t quite capture all the different sources of stress in adolescents’ lives including poverty, discrimination and neighborhood stress, as well as family, peer and academic stressors,” says Adam. The Cities Stress and Learning Project, supported by the National Institutes of Health, involves more than 300 Chicago middle and high school students. Adam is working with Kathryn Grant of DePaul University and health psychologist Edith Chen, using questionnaires, interviews, dairies and objective measures of sleep and stress biology.

Adam is especially interested in understanding links between teen stress and academic performance. She employs tools that are popular with her teen research participants — iPads and iPods — to compare cognitive functioning in the lab and at home. By tracing the pathways between stress and cognition, Adam also hopes to better understand racial and socioeconomic disparities in academic achievement.