Senior Honors Students Recognized By Dean, Faculty

Senior Honors Students Recognized By Dean, Faculty

Senior honorsSchool of Education and Social Policy Honors and Civic Engagement Certificate students were recognized by Dean David Figlio and faculty members during a ceremony and poster presentation session.

Sixteen students participated in the honors program and nine worked on Civic Engagement projects during the 2018-19 school year. They included: Miriam Barnicle, Eliza Beth, Samantha Buresch, Ruth Charendoff, Cecilia Clarke, Isaac Doppenberg, Alana Farkas, Bianca McKenna, Emma Meyerhoff, Samantha Oberman, Talia Prusky, Sara Saltzer, Jamilah Silver, Hannah Whitehouse, Laura Zajac and Carlyn Zuckert.

Students who have a 3.5 GPA at the end of winter quarter during their junior year are eligible for the honors thesis program. During the spring, they are invited to take a thesis proposal design course, Advanced Research Methods.

In the fall of senior year, professor David Rapp leads a seminar which provides important scaffolding for research projects and walks students through the process of both research and communicating their findings. The honors students present their finished work during the Undergraduate Research and Arts Expo in the spring.

“It opens doors so you can take your passion and run with it,” said Alana Farkas, who researched the rape culture in fraternities. “I loved having the chance to develop my own project, something I was excited about and wanted to learn about.”

The two-year Civic Engagement Certificate Program, open to all Northwestern freshman, sophomores, and juniors, gives students a deeper understanding of the forces that affect communities and the skills needed to achieve positive change.

Participants earn credit for their interest in community service and gain the skills to understand and improve communities socially and economically. The program incorporates both community engagement and classroom learning — including five credits of coursework, 100 hours of community engagement and a Capstone Project relevant to a community organization.

Following are the School of Education and Social Policy Senior Honors Thesis summaries:

miriam barncleMiriam Barnicle, social policy

Understanding Misbehavior and Restorative Justice: Exploring Educators’ Beliefs about Behavior and Restorative Responses
Barnicle explored what educators know about restorative justice discipline models, which prioritize repairing harm instead of suspensions. In interviews with 65 educators at three Chicago Public Schools, the district and local restorative justice organizations, she found a wide variety of interpretations of both student misbehavior and restorative justice which suggest that “some understandings may be more salient than others.” Her research indicates that when school districts are considering adopting restorative justice models, they should better understand why educators might be hesitant to adopt them.

Advisor: Eleanor Anderson, PhD, Learning Sciences, School of Education and Social Policy
Advisor: Jeannette Colyvas, PhD, Learning Sciences and Human Development and Social Policy,               School of Education and Social Policy


Eliza Beth, Human Development and Psychological Services

Challenging the Objectives of Sexuality Education: Themes of Pleasure and Desire in Sex Education
Beth analyzed six comprehensive high school sex education curricula in the US and Canada, looking for themes of pleasure and desire, to see what values and norms these curricula communicate to students about sex and sexuality. She found that while the classes explored topics of consent and sexual violence in novel ways, they’re “dominated by a sex-as-risk and adolescent sexuality-as-taboo framework that undermines their ability to support students.” Her study contributes to current movements involved in revising sex education curricula and disrupting shame and fear-based sexual norms.

Advisor:  Amy Partridge, PhD, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
Reader: Timothy Dohrer, PhD, Masters in Education, School of Education and Social Policy
Reader: Alexandra Solomon, PhD, The Family Institute and School of Education and Social Policy


Samantha Buresch, Learning and Organizational Change

The First-Generation Student Transition Experience into the Working WorldBuresch_silver

Buresch’s project examined how first-generation college students transitioned to jobs after college. After interviewing recent graduates who are working full time and coding the data, she found a cultural mismatch between the values of first-generation individuals and the values of their university and workplaces. Buresch, pictured at left with Jamilah Silver, also found knowledge gaps between the students and their institutions. But the recent graduates were motivated by their collective purpose and were supported by their communities, many of which were identity-based. “They also would have benefited from a stronger first-generation senior-specific community,” Buresch wrote. Her findings can help higher education institutions and workplaces develop inclusive strategies to best support first-generation students and alumni.

Advisor: Mesmin Destin, PhD, Human Development and Social Policy and Psychology, School of Education and Social Policy
Reader: Simone Ispa-Landa, PhD, Human Development and Social Policy, School of Education and Social Policy


Cecilia Clarke, Human Development and Psychological Services  

The Stress of Perfection: A Study of the Association Between Perfectionism, Emotion Regulation, and Stress in High School Freshmen 

Clarke examined the relationship between perfectionism and health and well-being in teenagers by looking at two types perfectionism and two strategies for regulating emotions. Her results suggested that one form of perfectionism increased stress while the other decreased the emotion. “Because these findings contradict earlier research, more research is needed to determine how perfectionism affects adolescent health and well-being,” she wrote.
Advisor: Emma Adam, PhD,  Human Development and Social Policy, School of Education and Social Policy  Reader, Jessica Rohlfing Pryor, MS, PhD, The Family Institute and School of Education and Social Policy 


Ruthie Charendoff, Learning Sciences

Navigating the Laws of Shomer Negiah in a Secular World
Charendoff explored the sexual health of Modern Orthodox Jewish women, a topic that combines her interest in health education, equity, Judaism, and sexuality. Her data suggests that study participants strongly identify with being Jewish; at the same time, they feel pressure to be shomer negiah (refrain from sexual activity). The study volunteers also felt sexuality wasn’t discussed enough. The data could help therapists and school administrators who work with religious women as well as the women themselves.

Advisor: Lilah Shapiro, PhD, Human Development and Social Policy, School of Education and Social Policy
Reader: Peter Locke, PhD, Global Health Studies, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences


Isaac Doppenberg, Social Policy

Effect of Early Childhood Access to Food Stamps on Adulthood Crime
Doppenberg explored how access to the government’s supplemental nutrition program, formerly called the food stamp program, during childhood affected adult crime by looking at what happened to the adults who lived in counties with access to food assistance. His findings indicated that those participating in the food stamp have an increased chance of being sentenced to jail or prison but does affect the likelihood of being arrested or convicted.

Advisor: Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, PhD, Human Development and Social Policy, School of Education and Social Policy
Reader: Jonathan Guryan, PhD, Human Development and Social Policy, School of Education and Social Policy


Alana Farkas, Human Development and Psychological Services

Rape Culture and Institutional Response: Perspectives from Men in Greek Life
Farkas’s project looked at rape culture in Greek fraternities and sexual violence prevention efforts on college campuses. She interviewed fraternity members about their perspectives on masculinity and hookup culture to understand the social factors that contribute to rape culture. She also interviewed Northwestern staff to understand how sexual assault prevention programs are designed and administered, finding that the measures may not be sufficient.

Advisor: Lilah Shapiro, PhD, Human Development and Social Policy, School of Education and Social Policy
Reader: Simone Ispa-Landa, PhD, Human Development and Social Policy, School of Education and Social Policy


Emma Meyerhoff, Human Development and Psychological Services

An Exploration of the Body Positivity Movement on Instagram
Meyerhoff’s research explored social media exposure to the “body positivity” and “fat acceptance”Emma Meyerhoff movements, which promote accepting and appreciating all body types, particularly those of larger-bodied people. Through interviews, Meyerhoff, pictured at right between Dean David Figlio and her father, SESP doctoral student Peter Meyerhoff, studied how those who have viewed online messaging feel about their body and found potential benefits of the body positive movement.

Advisor: Lilah Shapiro, PhD, Human Development and Social Policy, School of Education and Social Policy
Reader: Renee Engeln, PhD, Psychology, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences


Bianca McKenna, Learning and Organizational Change

Recruitment Practices in Workforce Development Programs

To find out whether specialized vocational training can help people find jobs, McKenna reviewed recruitment media, observed orientation sessions, and interviewed 15 current participants in a job skills program. She found that referrals and in-person conversations ith program staff are more influential than the organization’s recruitment media. The study participants cited concerns about forgone earnings as a reason for delaying their decision to pursue training.

Advisor: James Rosenbaum, PhD, Human Development and Social Policy and Sociology, School of Education and Social Policy
Reader:  Mindy Douthit, PhD, Learning and Organizational Change, School of Education and Social Policy


Samantha Franzblau Oberman, Human Development and Psychological Services

Evaluating Interactive Social Justice Education: The Relationship between Responsive Fiction and Social Empathy
Oberman analyzed Tomorrow, a high school mental health social justice program, to evaluate the impact of social justice education on student empathy. She found students had a new understanding of mental health and social justice after participating in Tomorrow, but there was no difference between the online and facilitated conditions. In addition to analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of Tomorrow, her study proposed a novel and robust method for creating and evaluating social justice education programs in the future.

Advisor: Danny M. Cohen, PhD, Learning Sciences, School of Education and Social Policy
Reader: Terri Sabol, PhD, Human Development and Social Policy, School of Education and Social Policy
Reader:  Regina Lopata Logan, PhD, Human Development and Social Policy, School of Education and Social Policy


Talia Prusky, Human Development and Psychological Services

Life Exchange: A Qualitative Study Examining the Influence of the Life Orientation Curriculum on Female Identity Development and Self-Efficacy

A class in South Africa, originally introduced to combat the social, economic and educational inequalities that arose under apartheid, was a government-mandated, compulsory course for all students. In response to criticism that the curriculum perpetuated societal norms and biases that disadvantage female students, the government announced the class will be removed from the curriculum by 2023. Prusky interviewed seven women between the ages of 18 and 25 to see how the curricula impact young women’s identity and belief in themselves. In fact, she found that the class provided a space for female students to discuss sex and sexual health openly, and explore previously stifled pieces of their identities; without it, future students may struggle to develop a sense of identity and self-efficacy.
Advisor: Beatriz Reyes, DrPH, Global Health Studies, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
Reader: Regina Logan, PhD, Human Development and Social Policy, School of Education and Social Policy


Sara Saltzer, Social Policy  

Quinn_saltzerThe Year of the (Democratic) Woman? Partisan Voter Responses to Female Political Candidates 
Of the 102 women currently in Congress, 89 are Democrats; 13 are Republican. Saltzer analyzed this disparity and explored whether it’s due to stereotypes about the issue positions and abilities of women, or some voters desire to elect individuals with certain identities. Saltzer, pictured at right with assistant professor Quinn Mulroy, surveyed 440 registered voters and found they tended to vote for the person that matched their ideal candidate but the type of office sought didn’t significantly affect voter choice. Her study has implications for how female candidates of both parties can better leverage gender to run more effective campaigns and increase gender parity in government. 
Advisor: Mary McGrath, PhD, Political Science, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences 
Reader: Quinn Mulroy, PhD, Human Development and Social Policy, School of Education and Social Policy


Jamilah Iman Silver, Human Development and Psychological Services

Examining Early Childhood Profiles that Reliably Differentiate Young Children at Highest Risk for Depression
Silver wanted to find out which behaviors are associated with a greater likelihood of depressive symptoms/diagnosis for preschool-aged children. Using data from the Multidimensional Assessment of Preschoolers, a longitudinal study of 326 preschoolers between the ages of 3 and 7, she found that children with behavioral problems at age three, even in the context of low depression or anxiety, had a higher likelihood of receiving a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder at age seven. “The absence of a statistically significant subset of individuals with only depression symptoms suggests that depression and behavioral problems may be manifestations of early markers for depression rather than distinctly depressive symptoms,” she wrote. “Integrated treatments targeting both internalizing and externalizing symptoms may, therefore, prove more efficient and effective.”

Primary Advisor:  Terri Sabol, PhD, Human Development and Social Policy, School of Education and Social Policy
Second Reader: Lauren Wakschlag, PhD, Medical Social Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine


Hannah Whitehouse, Social Policy

Global Perspectives on the El Sistema Movement: Social Change through Music Education
Supported by a Circumnavigators Travel Grant, Whitehouse visited nine organizations in six countries that use the El Sistema model of music education, which originated in Venezuela in the 1970s to enact social change through music education. Over three months, she conducted two-hundred and twenty hours of ethnographic observations, twenty-three interviews, and studied programs’ material culture. She found three themes in all nine site programs: growth and development, cultural relevance, and philosophy of social change. Her work begins to fill existing gaps in the literature by providing a cross-continental and cross-cultural overview of the El Sistema movement. Her research also points toward future areas of regional exploration on the method.

Advisor: Sarah Bartolome, PhD, Music Education, Bienen School of Music
Reader: Diane Schanzenbach, PhD, Human Development and Social Policy, School of Education and Social Policy


Carlyn Zuckert, Learning and Organizational Change 

Organized for Harassment: Sexual Harassment Risk Factors and Organizational Configuration 

Zuckert looked at how aspects of an organization – its cultural values, office layout, human resources practices, and organizational structure -- contribute to sexual harassment or sexual misconduct. She surveyed 164 participants and found significant correlations between eight organizational variables and incidence rates of sexual harassment. She found some variables helped prevent harassment while others increased the risk. An organization’s sexual harassment policies, positive organizational responses to reports of harassment, gender equality, and access to privacy at work, helped with prevention. Risk factors included gender inequality, excessive social stimulation, and reporting relationships with high power differentials between managers and their subordinates. 

Advisor: Mindy Douthit, PhD, Learning and Organizational Change,School of Education and Social Policy  
Reader: Jennifer Nash, PhD, African American Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences   


Laura Zajac, Social Policy

How Performance Feedback Affects the Diffusion of New Practices: The Case of No Child Left Behind
Zajac looked at the socio-economic, cultural, and political factors that affect how education policy spreads by analyzing the varying way states implemented the No Child Left Behind Act. Her project links education policy research and organizational theory and she hopes to add to a growing body of organizational research that explains the variation in the implementation of practices across different organizations.

Advisor: Jeannette Colyvas, PhD, Human Development and Social Policy, School of Education and Social Policy

Reader:  James Spillane, PhD, Human Development and Social Policy, and Learning Sciences, School of Education and Social Policy

Photos by Steve Drey

By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 6/23/19