Inquiry Magazine Northwestern School of Education and Social Policy

Spring 2016

Bart Hirsch’s New Book Helps Minority Youth Find Jobs

Bart Hirsch’s New Book Helps Minority Youth Find Jobs

With youth unemployment a longstanding concern, how can we best help minority young people to develop marketable job skills? Professor Barton Hirsch’s highly praised new book, Job Skills and Minority Youth, provides new understanding of the best approaches for cultivating job skills that lead to hiring success.

One of the major practical contributions of the book, which assesses two initiatives to boost youth employment, is a mock job interview developed with human resources professionals. “Brilliant evaluation” and “major contribution” are two of the comments by reviewers.


Mesmin Destin and Jennifer Richeson, National Science Foundation, “The Downside of Social Mobility: Status-Based Identity Uncertainty, Academic Achievement and Psychological Well-Being,” $149,974; Destin, Character Lab, “Learning to Tell a Better Story,” $95,236.

Elizabeth Gerber and Matthew Easterday, National Science Foundation, “Digital Studios for Social Innovation Networks,” $1,344,278; “Digital Loft: A Learning Platform for Instructors and Trainers,” $50,000.

Dan Lewis, Jumpstart for Young Children, Inc., “Jumpstart Northwestern,” $39,498; Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, “Northwestern University Arts and Music Program for Education in Detention Centers,” $47,000.

Steven McGee, National Science Foundation, “Designing Digital Rails to Foster Scientific Curiosity around Museum Collections,” $218,268.

Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, “Young Scholars and College Scholarship Program Outreach,” $89,690.

Brian Reiser, Gordon E. and Betty I. Moore Foundation, “Curriculum Units That Exemplify Three-Dimensional Learning and Assessment,” $423,458; Michigan Department of Education and Wayne Regional Educational Service Agency, “Teachers Engaging in Science Leadership Activities,” $173,983.

Diane Schanzenbach, Department of Agriculture and University of Wisconsin– Madison, “School Lunch after the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act,” $39,932; Administration for Children and Families, “Improving Caregiver Quality through Observation and Individualized Instructional Feedback,” $25,000.

Miriam Sherin and Bruce Sherin, National Science Foundation and Teaching Channel, “Learning Labs,” $176,323.

James Spillane and Cynthia Coburn, William T. Grant Foundation, “Fostering Research Use in School Districts through External Partnerships,” $543,284.

Saiying Steenbergen-Hu, Jacobs Foundation, “School-Based Executive Functioning Interventions for Improving Executive Functions, Academic, Social-Emotional and Behavioral Outcomes in School-Age Children and Adolescents,” $23,638.

David Uttal, National Science Foundation, “Advancing Early STEM Learning Opportunities through Tinkering and Reflection,” $293,959.


Lindsay Chase-Lansdale presented at the Aspen Institute’s 2015 ThinkXChange national forum on two-generation education solutions.

Mesmin Destin received a Visiting Scholar Award from the Russell Sage Foundation.

Elizabeth Gerber received the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award from the Wells Fargo Foundation, which honors professors who inspired students to make a difference in their communities.

Claudia Haase was appointed to the editorial board of the journal Emotion.

Barton Hirsch presented the keynote address at the Itaú International Seminar on Economic Evaluation of Social Projects in São Paulo, Brazil. His topic was after-school programs for high school students.

Michael Horn received a Best Paper Award for his presentation in Korea at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems about his study of engaging museum groups in interactive exhibits.

Carol Lee was elected to the board of directors of the National Academy of Education.

Dan McAdams was named to a National Academies panel charged with identifying the most important noncognitive competencies for success in college. He was also selected for an international working group, sponsored by the University of Chicago and the Templeton Foundation, on the development of human virtue, happiness and meaning in life.

Miriam Sherin and her co-authors received the Linking Research and Practice Outstanding Publication Award from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics for their article “Connecting Research to Teaching: Lenses for Examining Students’ Mathematical Thinking.”

Ryan Smerek presented on “Implicit Learning and Managerial Expertise” at the Academy of Management Conference in Vancouver.

James Spillane gave keynote presentations in Singapore on distributed leadership in education organizations in September and June. He also presented in Hungary on organizational routines for professional learning communities and in Ireland on distributed leadership in the public service.

Professors Win Two $1M Spencer Awards for Computational Literacy, School System Studies

Professors Win Two $1M Spencer Awards for Computational Literacy, School System Studies

Northwestern is the only school in the country to double up on prestigious Lyle Spencer Research Awards this year. Two awards of approximately $1 million each will support studies to expand computational literacy in schools and to compare different types of school systems. The Spencer Foundation seeks “the most challenging, original and constructive scholarship and research” for Lyle Spencer Awards, which are intended to improve the practice of education.

Assistant professor Michael Horn is leading a three-year project to embed computational literacy into required high school science and mathematics courses “to broaden participation in our computational future,” as he says. Job fields are becoming more computational in nature, and women and minorities remain significantly underrepresented in the STEM area.

“One of the most important aspects is making sure that all students have access to tools and knowledge to go into whatever fields they want,” says Horn. His project team also includes professors Uri Wilensky, Kemi Jona and Kai Orton.

Meanwhile, SESP professor James Spillane received a $1 million Lyle Spencer Research Award for a comparative study of school systems. To develop needed knowledge for education reform, Spillane’s research with Donald Peurach of the University of Michigan will investigate the relationship between various types of school systems and improving instruction.

“If the creation and redesign of school systems remains central to education policy, as seems likely, it would help to know more about how different systems design, organize and conduct instruction and related practices, and to what effect,” says Spillane. “No knowledge about school systems could be more important.”


Cynthia Coburn (2016), “What’s Policy Got to Do with It? How the Structure-Agency Debate Can Illuminate Policy Implementation,” American Journal of Education; Coburn and W.R. Penuel (2016), “Research-Practice Partnerships,” Educational Researcher.

A.S. Browman and Mesmin Destin (2016), “The Effects of a Warm or Chilly Climate towards Socioeconomic Diversity on Academic Motivation and Self-Concept,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

L.M. Knobloch-Fedders, W.M. Pinsof and Claudia Haase (2015), “Treatment Response in Couple Therapy,” Journal of Family Psychology.

Terri Sabol, T.E. Sommer, Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, J. Brooks-Gunn, H. Yoshikawa, C.T. King, U.K. Kathawalla, R. Alamuddin, C. Gomez and E.C. Ross (2016), “Parents’ Persistence and Certification in a Two-Generation Education and Training Program,” Children and Youth Services Review; Sabol, Chase-Lansdale and Brooks-Gunn (2015), “Advancing the Science of Child Development,” Journal of Economic and Social Measurement.

Kimberly Scott, Keeley Sorotki and Jeff Merrell (2015), “Learning ‘beyond the Classroom’ within an Enterprise Social Network System,” The Internet and Higher Education.

James Spillane, A. Harris, M. Jones and K. Mertz (2015), “Opportunities and Challenges for Taking a Distributed Perspective,” British Educational Research Journal; Spillane, M. Hopkins and T. Sweet (2015), “Inter and Intra School Instructional Networks,” American Journal of Education; Spillane and Mertz (2015), “Distributed Leadership,” Oxford Bibliographies; Spillane (2015), “Leadership and Learning,” Societies.

Shirin Vossoughi and K. Gutiérrez (2014), “Studying Movement, Hybridity and Change” in J.A. Vadeboncoeur (Ed.), Learning in and across Contexts; Vossoughi and M. Escudé (2015), “An Inquiry into the Politics and Possibilities of Video Research on Learning,” Anthropology & Education Quarterly.