Inquiry Magazine Northwestern School of Education and Social Policy



Cynthia Coburn

Cynthia Coburn joins the faculty as a professor in both the Learning Sciences and Human Development and Social Policy programs. She studies the relationship between instructional policy and teachers’ classroom practices in urban schools.


Cynthia Coburn, MacArthur Foundation, “Scaling Up Digital Media: Toward a Conceptual Framework,” $150,000.

David Figlio, Institute of Education Sciences and American Institutes for Research, “Center for the Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research,” $1,446,341; Figlio, Emma Adam, Jonathan Guryan, C. Kuzawa, Thomas McDade, Q. Stewart and Diane Schanzenbach, National Science Foundation, “Leveraging Matched Administrative Datasets to Improve Educational Practice and Long-Run Life Outcomes,” $798,013.

Kemi Jona, Hewlett Packard, “Project Access: Bridging the Digital Divide via Mobile Access to Remote Laboratories,” $100,000; Mozilla Foundation, “Refashioning STEAM,” $20,000; Google, Inc., “Providing Access to High-Quality STEM Learning,” $8,500; Jona and David Uttal, National Science Foundation, “Transforming High School Science via Remote Online Labs,” $549,999; Jona and Reed Stevens, MacArthur Foundation, “Fuse,” $350,000.

Dan Lewis, S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, “The University Voter Registration Initiative,” $30,000.

Steven McGee, Chicago Community Trust, “From Nanoscale to Macroscale: Instructing Science Teacher Leaders in Modern Research,” $100,000; Lloyd A. Fry Foundation and Field Museum of Natural History, “Early Elementary Science Partnership,” $8,920.

Penelope Peterson, Once Upon a Time Foundation, “Northwestern University’s Once Upon a Time ... Philanthropy Course,” $100,000; Spencer Foundation, “Spencer Retreats of the Deans’ Alliance,” $48,000.

Bruce Sherin, National Science Foundation and University of Arizona, “Assessing Instructional Quality in Mathematics,” $22,068.

Reed Stevens, National Science Foundation, “Building a Network to Advance Collaborative Research on Young Children’s Learning through Public Media Assets,” $49,985.


Lindsay Chase-Lansdale was elected to the National Academy of Education. She was also selected for the national advisory committee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Health and Society Scholars program. In addition, she is being recognized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science as part of its 40th anniversary celebration.

Thomas Cook received the Peter H. Rossi Award for Contributions to the Theory or Practice of Program Evaluation.

David Figlio was a featured speaker at an international conference on education policy in Rome and is advising the government of Chile on its design of a rating system for Chilean schools.

Kemi Jona gave a presentation on remote labs at the 10th International Conference on Remote Engineering and Virtual Instrumentation in Sydney, Australia.

Carol Lee serves as the co-chair of the World Education Research Association task force on poverty and opportunity to learn.

Dan McAdams Named Henry Wade Rogers Professor

Dan McAdams Named Henry Wade Rogers Professor
Dan McAdams (right) with SESP dean Penelope Peterson and Northwestern president Morton Schapiro.

Dan McAdams, professor of human development and social policy and of psychology, was named the Henry Wade Rogers Professor in Psychology. His investiture for the endowed professorship featured a medal ceremony and lecture.

McAdams’s main contribution to psychology relates to narrative identity and the “evolving narrative of self inside you that provides your sense of meaning,” as he explains. An expert in personality and life span developmental psychology, McAdams is the author of six books and the director of the Foley Center for the Study of Lives. His work focuses on concepts of self and identity in contemporary American society and on themes of power, intimacy, redemption and generativity across the adult life course.

Appropriately, since he studies life stories, his investiture lecture connected concepts in his research to important themes in his life. His talk discussed themes associated with six high points in his life.

McAdams won two other honors recently. He received the 2012 Jack Block Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology for lifetime contributions to the field of personality psychology. In addition, he received an honorary degree from the University of Basel in Switzerland.

Jim Spillane Addresses International Audiences

Jim Spillane Addresses International Audiences

Professor James Spillane shared insights on school leadership with an international audience as he addressed education leaders, educators and researchers in Hong Kong and Singapore. Spillane takes a global perspective on educational policy and reform.

As a keynote speaker at the launching ceremony for the Hong Kong Principals’ Institute, Spillane spoke to 250 principals from across Hong Kong, along with the secretary of the ministry of education. He discussed “Distributed Leadership: Rethinking School Improvement Practice.” In connection with this newly formed principals’ leadership program, he also addressed students and faculty from the Hong Kong Institute of Education.

In Singapore, Spillane addressed 1,200 people in a keynote speech at the World Association of Lesson Studies conference. The audience was composed mostly of school administrators, teachers and academics from Singapore but also included scholars from 26 countries. Spillane’s most recent book is Diagnosis and Design for School Improvement.


Cynthia Conlon and J. Karaba, “May It Please the Court: Questions about Policy at Oral Argument,” Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy (2012).

Mesmin Destin, S. Richman, F. Varner and Jelani Mandara, “‘Feeling’ Hierarchy: The Pathway from Subjective Social Status to Achievement,” Journal of Adolescence (2012).

David Figlio,“Feeling the Florida Heat: How Low-Performing Schools Respond to Accountability Pressure,” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy (2013).

Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon, “Learning to Interpret Texts” in (Eds.) C. Dudley-Marling and S. Michaels, High-Expectation Curricula (2012).

Kemi Jona and M. Vondracek, “A Remote Radioactivity Experiment,” The Physics Teacher (2013).

Eva Lam, “What Immigrant Students Can Teach Us about New Media Literacy,” Phi Delta Kappan, (2012).

After-School Centers and Youth Development

Dan McAdams, The Redemptive Self, updated and expanded (2013). (2011).

James Spillane, C. M. Kim and K. A. Frank, “Instructional Advice and Information Providing and Receiving Behavior in Elementary Schools,” American Educational Research Journal (2012); Spillane and Kim, “An Exploratory Analysis of Formal School Leaders’ Positioning in Instructional Advice and Information Networks in Elementary Schools,” American Journal of Education (2012); Spillane and A. Kenney, “School Administration in a Changing Education Sector,” Journal of Educational Administration (2012).