Graduate School of Education

At the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, we are here for change. We’re here because we believe in the power of education to build communities, bridge barriers, improve lives, and heal society. Here, we convene an ambitious and diverse community of leaders and pioneers, connecting them to one another and to a world that will benefit from their work. We equip them with immersive, real-world-based learning and research opportunities that bring them results. And we mobilize them to fulfill the promise of education in the classrooms, boardrooms, governments, and learning settings where true innovation and real transformation become possible. We offer vibrant array of high-quality master’s and doctoral degree programs.

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 1634
  • Publication
    Worth The Fight? Teachers' Collective Bargaining Agreements And Student Outcomes
    (2020-01-01) Edgerton, Adam Kirk
    Education reform rhetoric frequently pits the vested interests of teachers’ unions against those of students and families. To test whether union restrictions are related to student learning, I analyze a unique database of contractual items for the 2016-2017 school year across all 499 Pennsylvania school districts in order to examine a) variation, b) partisan political predictors, and c) relationships to student achievement and graduation rates. I also examine changes in 105 contracts that occurred during the 2015-2016 school year. I depict variation among items using GIS mapping. I use OLS regression, probit regression, and spatial autoregression to examine relationships between contract features and student proficiency and graduation rates. I also use propensity score weighting with generalized boosted models (GBM). After controlling for spatial dependence and district demographics, I find a significant negative relationship between the percentage of registered Republicans in a district and bonuses for teacher graduate credentials. I find a significant and positive relationship between Republican registered voters and math and science proficiency. This relationship diminishes in magnitude for ELA proficiency. I also find a significant positive relationship between average years of teaching experience and ELA proficiency in grades 3-8. Using GBM, I find significant positive estimates (+2%) of teacher qualification indicators on students’ math achievement in grades 3-8, and a significant positive estimate (+2%) between harsh consequences for ELA teachers and student proficiency. I also find a significant positive estimate between higher teacher pay and biology proficiency (+4% for historically disadvantaged students), as well as a significant negative estimate of graduate credential bonuses on graduation rates (-6%). These correlational results suggest that subject-area and grade-level differentiation in contracts – such as higher wages for STEM teachers – might be beneficial. The most effective STEM teachers might be seeking out positions in the best-paying districts with the strongest contracts.
  • Publication
    Recruitment & Career Experiences Of Diverse Faculty Couples At Aau Universities
    (2020-01-01) Blake, Daniel Jerome
    More than one third of faculty are married or partnered to another faculty member, leading academic administrators to leverage dual-career hiring to compete for the best scholars. Although institutions cite recruiting faculty of color as one of the primary reasons to have these policies, qualitative research on academic couples has rarely included scholars of color, whose perspectives can inform hiring practices and enhance efforts to create more inclusive academic climates that support faculty retention and success. Guided by Crenshaw’s (1989, 1991) intersectionality theory, this qualitative study investigates the recruitment and careers of racially/ethnically underrepresented faculty couples where both partners are employed at the same AAU university. AAU universities are impactful sites for reform because their faculties are generally less diverse than those of other universities despite institutional wealth that enables them to compete for scholars via strategies such as dual-career hiring. Through couple and follow-up individual semi-structured interviews, this study reveals critical factors guiding diverse faculty couples’ institutional choice and departure decision processes and sheds light on racialized and gendered forces shaping their experiences as they navigate hypercompetitive institutional contexts. Couples are sensitive to how both partners are treated during recruitment processes and the potential for their joint satisfaction weighs heavily in their decisions. Faculty couples of color reported that they are more visible targets of partner hiring-based scrutiny than White academic couples, and that they contend with racialized assumptions about their merit and deservingness for positions. Faculty couples described a stigma associated with their employment that manifested most strongly for women and was a barrier to their inclusion and engagement. Partners draw upon each other for support and benefit from having one another to interpret events within academic units and the broader university community. Faculty couples of color noted how students, especially students of color, welcome the family dynamic that they contribute to institutional contexts that often feel impersonal, and view them as role models. Based on the study’s findings, administrators are advised to affirm and interact with partners as individual scholars, and to implement transparent dual-career hiring policies that include faculty colleagues in vetting processes, among other suggestions.
  • Publication
    Pre-Rate My Professor: Predicting Course Ratings And Response Rates From Lms Activity In College Courses
    (2021-01-01) Scruggs, Richard T.
    College teaching is primarily assessed through the use of course ratings, which are expected to act as both summative and formative feedback. Considering the significance of teaching in academia and the amount of time professors spend on teaching and related activities, it is particularly important that ratings are effective formative feedback. In this study, methods from learning analytics and data mining are used in an effort to predict course ratings and response rates on ratings surveys from students’ activity in the course learning management system, with the goal of making predicted ratings available to faculty early. Regression and classification methods used in this study included linear and logistic regression, random forests, and gradient boosting and features were chosen based on their inclusion in earlier studies predicting individual student success and motivation. However, none of the models created for this study were not able to accurately predict either course ratings or response rates on either the entire data sample or a subset of classes with higher LMS activity. This may have been caused by difficulties with aggregating features or outcome variables to the class level, which was necessary due to the confidentiality of the student ratings. It may also result from the complexity of good college teaching: unlike individual student grades or motivation, which have been successfully predicted, there are many successful and unsuccessful forms of teaching.
  • Publication
    Journalism And Activism Anew: Participatory Movements With Adolescents Writing For Change
    (2020-01-01) Catena, Emily Claire Plummer
    This study followed 15 secondary students as they moved across multiple spaces of an unfolding writing program: a journalism summer writing camp; an educational online community for youth centered on social justice; and school year, drop-in writing workshop sessions. Aiming to understand how adolescent writers shifted participation and writing across these spaces, their perspectives are centered, in line with methodological and epistemological framing in YPAR and theoretical framings focused on movement in relation to power asymmetries: transliteracies and critical literacies. Program spaces were liminal and framed as “Third Spaces.” Data collection was both individual and collaborative with youth and included field notes, surveys, discussions, multimodal artifacts, and interviews. Data analysis involved early collaboration with youth and open, in-vivo coding and narrative analysis. One findings set unpacks liminality as intentional aspects of writing space construction and co-construction characterized by multiplicities in genres, modes, and adult-youth relationships. A second findings set attends to tensions between youth and adult participants (including me) within our spaces, positioning tensions as generative sources of transformation when directly discussed with youth. A third findings set examines interplays between journalism as a shifting genre and our liminal spaces, describing convergences between “citizen journalism” and youth journalistic engagement as personal and social, specifically as creative, narrative, and activist. Collective implications point to the importance of surfacing metacommunicative awareness in writing teaching, learning, and research and suggest participatory ethnography and participatory narrative analysis as future directions for engaging in participatory work with youth that allows choices and practices to emerge.
  • Publication
    Three Essays In Economics, Education Policy, And Inequality
    (2022-01-01) Odle, Taylor Kincaid
    This dissertation presents findings from three studies focused on (a) identifying inequalities in student access and success across the P-20 landscape and (b) evaluating policies as mechanisms to reduce barriers and effectively improve educational and economic opportunity. First, I present findings from "Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due: Causal Impacts of Reverse Transfer Associate Degrees on Education and Labor Market Outcomes" (joint with Lauren Russell), where we leverage a difference-in-differences design applied to administrative data from Tennessee to estimate effects of reverse transfer degrees on students’ GPA, college credits attempted, credits earned, labor market participation, and earnings, as well as eligible cohorts’ baccalaureate attainment. Our results represent the strongest evidence to date on these widely adopted credentials but suggest they have minimal-at-best impacts on students’ short- and intermediate-term outcomes. Second, in "The Power of 'Free' College: Reducing Racial and Socioeconomic Inequalities in College Expectations," I leverage the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 to test whether promise programs raise high school students’ expectations to ultimately complete a college degree. With difference-in-differences and lagged dependent variable strategies, I find large increases in students’ college plans following the adoption of promise programs, with the greatest gains among low-income and racially minoritized students. This is the first study to identify this key mechanism by which promise programs may increase subsequent college-preparation and college-going behaviors. Finally, in "Defining, Observing, and Describing 'Non-Submitters:' Evidence from the Common App Universe on Students Who Start but Do Not Complete a College Application," I provide the first documented evidence on students who begin a college application but never complete it. With novel data from the nation’s largest application provider, I find that non-submission behaviors vary widely by student, parent, school, community, and other dimensions and identify important predictors of non-submission status that policymakers and future researchers can leverage to target tailored college application supports. Each of these studies not only fills an existing gap in knowledge but also lays the foundation for future empirical work and provides actionable insights for policymakers and practitioners alike.
  • Publication
    Barriers To Entry For Black Pre-Service Teachers
    (2022-01-01) Fletcher, Tina L.
    For decades, calls for an increase in the number of minority teachers have led local, state, and federal policy conversations. However, specific barriers to entry into the teaching profession for Black pre-service teachers have received less attention. Moreover, the minimally existing research on the topic is mixed. Despite being the most affected by barriers to entry into the teaching profession, little research has investigated how barriers specifically impact Black pre-service teachers during the teacher training or Educator Preparation Provider (EPP) process. This study examines one possible cause: licensure exams, of which Black test-takers have had the lowest pass rates of all racial or ethnic demographic groups since the inception of the exam. First, this study will thoroughly review existing literature on the various theoretical barriers to entry for Black pre-service teachers, including coursework, field experiences, and licensure exams. Next, the impact of a licensure exam policy change on Black test taker pass rates in Arkansas will be assessed using various descriptive data and the difference-in-differences estimator methodology. This study hypothesizes a change in licensure exam type has negatively impacted the Black teacher workforce in Arkansas, specifically elementary school teachers. Finally, recommendations for state and federal policy and practice will be discussed.
  • Publication
    Developing Pedagogical Content Knowledge For Stem Integration Through Data Literacy: A Case Study Of High School Science Teachers
    (2022-01-01) Miller, Katherine M
    In our data-rich world, there are strong calls for greater focus on data literacy as increasingly, 21st century jobs require some level of data literacy. Data literacy is inherently STEM integration, especially when working with real-world scenarios, as it requires bringing math and technology into the science classroom to interpret and engage with authentic data. Since teachers are often trained in one specific subject, they need additional support to accomplish STEM integration. In addition to subject matter knowledge of data literacy, this support must focus on the pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) required to implement and support student learning. This study sought to add an extra treatment to an existing STEM integration PD which focused specifically on teachers’ PCK for data literacy. There is a major dearth of research on PCK for data literacy. Therefore, this study built on the limited research done on PCK for STEM integration and for statistics education to begin to develop an understanding of PCK for data literacy, an under-explored concept. This was an exploratory research multiple case study of four secondary school science teachers in an urban school district, who participated in the existing bioinformatics summer PD, then engaged in approximately 20 hours of workshop sessions focused on PCK development throughout the school year as they taught the bioinformatics unit. The initial findings show that there are unique components of PCK for data literacy that are different from those for science education. The participating teachers were able to surface their knowledge of student understanding of data and strategies for teaching with and about data to define a number of components of PCK that begin to build a framework for what PCK for data literacy might look like in a generalized form that could be used to support additional teachers seeking to growth their ability to teach with complex data. Additionally, strategies used in the extension PD, such as CoRes and video reflections were shown to offer support for teachers in their implementation of authentic data literacy in their classrooms.
  • Publication
    No Such Thing As A Free Lunch? A Three Part Analysis Of Free School Meal Programs Under The Community Eligibility Provision
    (2022-01-01) Davis, Rebecca A
    Traditional federal school meals help mitigate food insecurity among students (Hinrichs, 2010) but do not fully eliminate it. The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a federal attempt to expand access to school meals in areas of targeted need. Schools that opt into CEP offer meals at no cost to all students regardless of individual need, thus replacing free and reduced-price meal applications. However, by virtue of the funding design, schools with lower levels of documented poverty are financially disincentivized from participating in CEP and despite promising benefits, many of these schools do not take up the program. Importantly, even though these schools demonstrate “lower” need, their needs may still be persistent and severe as qualification standards may under-diagnose poverty, especially in specific communities. I conduct a three-part analysis of CEP. Part one is a systematic review of existing CEP literature. CEP has shown promise in initial research to benefit students with positive outcomes on student participation in meal programs, improved nutrition quality, improved test scores, and improved attendance and taken cumulatively, indicate a reduction in anti-poverty stigma. In part two, I conduct a novel analysis of schools that opt into CEP before subsequently opting out. I find that students miss more school when CEP is taken away, an effect driven largely by students who are economically disadvantaged. In part three, I analyze the economic implications of policy proposals that expand or contract CEP. Results indicate that CEP could be expanded to provide access to nearly 20 million more students with a net federal school meal expenditure change of between 11-15.3%. Taken together, CEP is a program that benefits economically disadvantaged students in spite of a sliding scale finance schedule that disadvantages schools. Policy changes that would improve this sliding scale feature are reasonably feasible and would impact millions of economically disadvantaged students. These analyses are timely, given recent interest in the expansion of CEP and have the potential to contribute to important conversations on the future of federal school meal policy.
  • Publication
    The Upstream Sources Of Bias: Investigating Theory, Design, And Methods Shaping Adaptive Learning Systems
    (2021-01-01) Karumbaiah, Shamya Chodumada
    Adaptive systems in education need to ensure population validity to meet the needs of all students for an equitable outcome. Recent research highlights how these systems encode societal biases leading to discriminatory behaviors towards specific student subpopulations. However, the focus has mostly been on investigating bias in predictive modeling, particularly its downstream stages like model development and evaluation. My dissertation work hypothesizes that the upstream sources (i.e., theory, design, training data collection method) in the development of adaptive systems also contribute to the bias in these systems, highlighting the need for a nuanced approach to conducting fairness research. By empirically analyzing student data previously collected from various virtual learning environments, I investigate demographic disparities in three cases representative of the aspects that shape technological advancements in education: 1) non-conformance of data to a widely-accepted theoretical model of emotion, 2) differing implications of technology design on student outcomes, and 3) varying effectiveness of methodological improvements in annotated data collection. In doing so, I challenge implicit assumptions of generalizability in theory, design, and methods and provide an evidence-based commentary on future research and design practices in adaptive and artificially intelligent educational systems surrounding how we consider diversity in our investigations.
  • Publication
    Be(com)ing Language (student) Teachers In A Tesol Practicum
    (2022-01-01) Lewis, Kristina Beth
    During teacher education, student teachers work towards becoming teachers; they are socialized into the ways of talking, acting, and thinking that “teachers” do. The practicum experience represents a unique period when student teachers are both becoming teachers and, in the classrooms where they work, being teachers. This study explored this hybrid process of be(com)ing by examining the interplay between language student teachers’ socialization and identity formation within and across the contexts of a TESOL Practicum semester. I theorized images of language teachers and language teaching as a way of looking at the sets of ideas about what it means to be and act as teachers, and I traced how these emerged in relation to specific activities and in student teachers’ talk across multiple practicum contexts. Drawing on ethnographic, discourse analytic, and collaborative inquiry methods, this study closely examined the experiences of eight focal student teacher participants.I show how student teachers storied their experiences of becoming language teachers by drawing on various past experiences and aligning these with the images of teachers they themselves were trying to be(come). Next, I provide an analysis of three images of language teachers/language teaching that emerged as salient to the student teachers during their practicum, describing how they sought to be creative, to utilize TESOL pedagogical methods, and to be student-centered teachers. I discuss the tensions that student teachers had to negotiate as they made sense of themselves in relation to each of these images. Finally, I demonstrate how talking about the activity of a teaching demonstration surfaced not simply methodological choices, but also questions and transformations of student teachers’ identities. Ultimately, I argue for a practicum—and (language) teacher education program— centered on issues of identity and committed to raising student teachers’ critical awareness of the underlying images of teachers and teaching that drive both their practice and the practice of (language) teacher education.