PennGSE Faculty Research
The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education partners with schools, universities, and communities to expand educational access – especially for those underserved by society. Through rigorous research and innovative programs, we develop new knowledge, and transformational teachers and leaders in pursuit of educational opportunity..
PublicationVoicing on the News: An Analytic Technique for Studying Media Bias(1996-10-01) Wortham, Stanton; Locher, MichaelSpeakers often evaluate others, implicitly, while apparently speaking in a neutral way about them. This article develops an account of the textual devices speakers use to communicate such implicit messages. The account draws on Bakhtin's (1981) concepts of 'voice' and 'ventriloquation.' It systematizes these concepts, by proposing five specific textual devices that speakers use to convey implicit evaluations. This account is then applied to samples of discourse from network news political coverage, specifically coverage of the 1992 US presidential election. The five devices occur robustly in this discourse. Three networks' coverage of one campaign event is analyzed in detail to illustrate how newscasters orchestrate their implicit evaluations through skillful use of the five devices. PublicationClearing Away the Self(2002-10-01) Michel, A. Alexandra; Wortham, StantonOne of constructionism's chief pragmatic goals is to facilitate relationships that have transformative potential. According to Kenneth Gergen, one important theoretical tool towards that end is relational theory, the construing of human behavior in terms of dialogic processes. We trace the meaning of 'dialogic' and 'transformative' through different constructionist traditions and argue that these terms are used in a relatively narrow sense, as compared to an alternative approach we are suggesting. Moreover, we propose that the usual narrow construal of these concepts has the unintended consequence of undermining the central constructionist goal of facilitating transformative relationships. We present an empirical example that illustrates (1) how people's conception of their self as a collection of social scripts draws their attention to and reinforces the accretion of scripts; (2) how this accretion can get in the way of transformation; and (3) how a broader conception of a 'dialogic' self can open up more direct, transformative relational possibilities. PublicationThe Wrong Solution to the Teacher Shortage(2003-05-01) Ingersoll, Richard; Smith, Thomas MIn recent years, researchers and policymakers have told us again and again that severe teacher shortages confront schools. They point to a dramatic increase in the demand for new teachers resulting from two converging demographic trends: increasing student enrollments and increasing numbers of teachers reaching retirement age. Shortfalls of teachers, they say, are forcing many school systems to lower their standards for teacher quality (National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, 1997). PublicationUS Student Debt: Borrowing the Long and Lending the Short of it(2015-01-29) Ruby, AlanFinancing options fail to live up to the promises made by politicians, says Alan Ruby. PublicationReflections on the Field: Scientifically Debased Research on Learning, 1854–2006(2007-03-01) McDermott, Ray; Hall, Kathleen DBy its emphasis on arbitrary standards and misleading systems of accountability, the No Child Left Behind Act has had deleterious effects on classroom practice, teacher education, and even educational research. The new constraints on educational research, driven by a logic of randomized field tests, are part of a larger and more invidious international managerialism that subordinates individual biographies to state-based bureaucratic control. PublicationReview of James Wilce, Eloquence in Trouble(2001-03-01) Wortham, StantonIn Eloquence in Trouble James Wilce describes how a particular speech genre is practiced in rural Bangladesh: "troubles talk," in which people lament some misfortune that has befallen them. Wilce describes how the language of laments has more than referential functions. Speakers do represent their misfortunes in lamenting them, but Wilce argues that these speakers also simultaneously reveal and shape their identities, engage in strategic interactions with interlocutors, and sometimes resist oppressive social orders. Using data from almost six years of work in Bangladesh and a substantial corpus of videorecorded troubles talk, Wilce convincingly demonstrates that laments serve multiple social and interactional functions. PublicationNegotiating Methodological Rich Points in the Ethnography of Language Policy(2013-01-05) Hornberger, Nancy HBuilding on Agar’s (1996: 26) notion of rich points as those times in ethnographic research when something happens that the ethnographer doesn’t understand, methodological rich points are by extension those points where our assumptions about the way research works and the conceptual tools we have for doing research are inadequate to understand the worlds we are researching. When we pay attention to those points and adjust our research practices accordingly, they become key opportunities to advance our research and our under standings. Drawing for illustrative purposes on ethnographic research on bi lingual intercultural education policy and practice in the Andes carried out by Indigenous students for their Master’s theses at the University of San Simón’s Program for Professional Development in Bilingual Intercultural Education for the Andean Region (PROEIB Andes) in Bolivia, I highlight methodological rich points as they emerge across language policy texts, discourses and practices. Framing the methodological rich points in the context of basic questions of re search methodology and ethics, I borrow as organizing rubric the paradigmatic heuristic for sociolinguistic analysis first offered by Fishman (1971: 219) and here adapted to the ethnography of language policy to ask: who researches whom and what, where, how and why? Publication PublicationReview of Ron Scollon and Suzie Wong Scollon, Nexus Analysis: Discourse and the Emerging Internet(2006-02-01) Wortham, StantonThis ambitious and rewarding book combines aspects of several genres. It is a methodological guidebook, offering strategies for doing ethnography, discourse analysis and action research. It is an empirical report, describing the authors' use of email and other resources to improve Native Alaskans' access to higher education from 1978-1983. It is a theoretical account of how "people, places, discourses and objects" come together to facilitate action and social change. It also offers a theoretical sketch and empirical illustration of computer mediated communication. The book does not provide a full methodological, empirical or theoretical account, but focuses instead on the nexus of these components. The theory of social action undergirds the methodological suggestions, and the empirical material illustrates both the theory and the methodology. PublicationStudents and Teachers as Novelists(2001-10-01) Wortham, StantonColleoni High is a large three-story brick building that occupies an entire city block. Although the custodians work diligently - so that the tile floors often shine and the bathrooms are clean - the physical plant is deteriorating. Paint peels off the ceilings in most hallways and classrooms, and the building feels old. When it was built about 50 years ago, Colleoni High enrolled primarily Catholic children from Irish and Italian backgrounds. Now the neighborhood has become predominantly African American, together with smaller but growing populations of Latino and South Asian immigrants.