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 73
  • Publication
    Making Sense of a Looking Glass World
    (2014-05-30) Zemsky, Robert M; Shaman, Susan; Perna, Laura W; Zemsky, Robert M; Shaman, Susan; Perna, Laura W
    As the Walrus in Lewis Carroll's knows, it is the sorting out that matters most. And in colleges and universities, just as in oysters, those of the largest size and most prestige will almost certainly insist on being grouped together, no matter what the consequences. Working with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation we have set for ourselves the task of doing just that—using data drawn from the U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to sort American colleges and universities into recognizable clusters that or segments that facilitate the making of comparisons within groups of similar institutions. No less, we seek a set of indices or measures that document the performance of these institutions in terms of access and completions. And to accomplish this latter task, we seek a reasonable means of describing each institution's undergraduate student body along four gauges of diversity: economic, race and ethnicity, age, and geography.
  • Publication
    Retaining African Americans in Higher Education: Challenging Paradigms for Retaining Students, Faculty, and Administrators (Review)
    (2002-09-01) Perna, Laura W; Perna, Laura W
    Retaining African Americans in Higher Education is a timely and novel approach to a critical topic. Edited by Lee Jones, associate dean for academic affairs and instruction in the College of Education and associate professor in Educational Leadership at Florida State University, the volume contains 14 chapters, a preface, a conclusion, and two personal reflections that describe issues related to the retention of African American students, administrators, and faculty at predominantly white colleges and universities. “Written about African Americans, by African Americans” (p. xii), this book is recommended by a white woman for higher education administrators, faculty, researchers, and policymakers of all racial and ethnic groups.
  • Publication
    Intervening Early and Successfully in the Education Pipeline
    (2005-09-08) Perna, Laura W; Perna, Laura W; Cooper, Michelle Asha
  • Publication
    Much Accomplished, Much at Stake: Performance and Policy in Maryland Higher Education
    (2012-02-01) Perna, Laura W; Finney, Joni E; Perna, Laura W; Finney, Joni E; Callan, Patrick
    The challenge: To maintain an internationally competitive work force, Maryland aims to increase the share of its adult population that holds at least an associate degree from 44% to 55% by 2025. To achieve this goal, the state must improve the performance of its higher education system, ameliorating its weaknesses and building on its strengths. The bottom line: Maryland’s higher education system is leaving poor, urban, black, Hispanic and native-born Marylanders behind. But a strong record of marshaling resources to achieve higher education goals and the state’s relative wealth put Maryland in a good position to do something about this problem, if it so chooses.
  • Publication
    Throwing Down the Gauntlet: Ten Ways to Ensure that Higher Education Research Continues to Matter
    (2016-01-01) Perna, Laura W; Perna, Laura W
    Imagine what a keynote address at the very first meeting of what has become the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) would have forecast about ASHE in the year 2015. Would the conveners of the first ASHE conference have guessed that: ∙ The number of ASHE members would grow sevenfold, rising from 300 in 1977 (Kellams, 1977) to more than 2,200 in 2015? ∙ The conference would no longer be held over two days in March, immediately preceding or following the annual American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) meeting, but instead would be a standalone conference held over four days and with seven pre-conferences? ∙ The general conference would have not six research paper sessions with 19 papers (as in 1978) but 129 research paper sessions with 352 papers (as in 2015)?
  • Publication
    Borrowers Who Drop Out: A Neglected Aspect of the College Student Loan Trend
    (2005-05-01) Perna, Laura W; Perna, Laura W
    Most students benefit from loans and are able to repay them when they leave higher education. However, borrowing, combined with other risk factors for not completing higher education (such as working too many hours, lack of adequate preparation, and part-time attendance), puts many students, especially low-income and first-generation students, at a particular disadvantage. The authors raise important policy questions about whether the system of financing higher education is appropriate. We believe that these questions and the recommendations from the authors deserve serious attention. There are, of course, many legitimate points of view about how to best support students financially. However, requiring students to assume significant financial risks so early in their educational careers poses a barrier to educational opportunity for many low-income and first-generation students.
  • Publication
    Exploring the College Enrollment of Parents: A Descriptive Analysis
    (2010-01-01) Perna, Laura W; Walsh, Erin J.; Fester, Rachel; Walsh, Erin J.
    Despite the substantial size of the population, relativelty little research has focused on the status and experiences of undergraduate parents. Using descriptive analyses of data from the NPSAS:04, this study provides a starting point for campus administrators, public policymakers, and educational researchers who seek to identify ways to better understand the characteristics of this population.
  • Publication
    Éire Higher Education: What American Can Learn from Ireland
    (2012-12-01) Finney, Joni E; Perna, Laura W; Finney, Joni E; Perna, Laura W
    In July 2012, the executive doctoral class of 2013 from the University of Pennsylvania’s Higher Education Management Program in the Graduate School of Education conducted an in-depth comparative study of higher education in Ireland. The international study, an important component of the executive doctoral program, was structured to model research that we completed on the relationship between public policy and performance in five U.S. states: Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Texas and Washington ( This research provided the foundation for the students’ research. Students examined four performance areas related to Irish higher education: 1) preparation and participation for post-secondary education; 2) completion of certificates and degrees; 3) affordability for students and families; and 4) research. Students were divided into teams to collect and analyze data on these performance areas within the broader historical, political, economic, and social context of Ireland. After an intense period of preparation, students spent a week interviewing higher education administrators and faculty at seven Irish universities and Institutes of Technology. These interviews were supplemented with interviews with the Higher Education Authority and a review of relevant documents and data related to Irish higher education. To better understand the context of Irish higher education, students also attended lectures entitled: The Rise and Fall of the Celtic Tiger, the Irish Potato Famine, and Teaching and Learning in Ireland. Teams of doctoral students were organized according to the performance areas. Each team conducted research and presented a final report based on its data collection and analysis to Irish leaders and delegations from the five U.S. states at an Irish/U.S. Higher Education Roundtable. Students also presented their findings to the Minister of Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn. This report reflects the lessons learned from the student research and the Roundtable discussion.
  • Publication
    The Role of College Counseling in Shaping College Opportunity: Variations Across High Schools
    (2008-01-01) Perna, Laura W; Perna, Laura W
    This study draws on data from descriptive case studies of 15 high schools, three in each of five states. The findings highlight constraints in the availability of college counseling, differences in the availability of college counseling across schools, and the influence of schools, districts, higher education institutions, and states on the availability and nature of college counseling. The study suggests that, in the context of limited fiscal and other resources, changes in federal and state financial aid policies, district policies pertaining to counseling, and relationships with higher education institutions will help ensure that all students receive sufficient college counseling.
  • Publication
    Understanding Differences in the Choice of College Attended: The Role of State Public Policies
    (2004-01-01) Perna, Laura W; Perna, Laura W; Titus, Marvin A
    Two recent reports by the Institute for Higher Education Policy describe the increasing “economic stratification” of the nation’s higher education system. In The Tuition Puzzle: Putting the Pieces Together, the Institute (1999) concluded, based on its review of prior research, that decreasing shares of students from middle- and upper-income families are enrolling in public two-year institutions, while increasing shares of students from upper-income families are enrolling in public and private universities. In The Policy of Choice: Expanding Student Options in Higher Education, the Institute (2002) concluded that choice is “declining” for some groups of students, particularly dependent undergraduates with the lowest family incomes. The findings in Unequal Opportunity, a report released by the Lumina Foundation for Education (Kipp, Price, & Wohlford, 2002), suggest that state public policies are one source of economic stratification and that the extent to which college choice is restricted for low-income students varies across the 50 states in part because of variations in state public policies. For example, the report shows that all public four-year colleges are “affordable” for low-income, dependent students, even with borrowing, in only five of the 50 states (Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Kentucky, and Wyoming). This study addresses the observation by the Institute for Higher Education Policy (1999) that data is needed on the causes of higher education’s economic stratification. Using multilevel modeling, we empirically test the suggestion that state public policies influence the type of college or university that high school graduates attend, after taking into account student level predictors of enrollment.