Tangibility for Teaching, Learning and communicating mathematics; WEI lab and Athletics form partnership; When a student is an unmarried parent; The challenge and promise of education partnerships; Families And Schools program receives UN recognition.
Spring 2011 Vol. 22, No. 3 WISCONSIN CENTER FOR EDUCATION RESEARCH • SCHOOL OF EDUCATION • UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN–MADISON • WWW.WCER.WISC.EDU Tangibility for Teaching, Learning and Communicating Mathematics Talk about getting high school students Nathan himself is a boundary crosser, holding engaged! Let’s give them the tools they need degrees in psychology, mathematics, history, to build a big catapult to hurl the projectiles and electrical engineering. He says the most successful mathematics students are those of their choice across a gym and land on, or who maintain conceptual cohesion across near, a target. different kinds of modal engagements, from catapults or circuits to algebra. The key Hurling accurate projectiles, or to put it more Wei Lab and Athletics question is, what concepts will hold across 3 Form Partnership academically, the science of space and motion, has wide-ranging relevance for what all these varying modes? children need to learn in school. Just think Answers to this question should lead to useful 4 When a Student is an Unmarried Parent of the mathematics involved. perspectives on the nature of mathematical UW–Madison education professor Mitchell knowledge for curriculum designers, for The Challenge and Promise 6 of Education Partnerships Nathan, psychology Martha Wagner Alibali, and colleagues have long sought to advance teachers, and for the technical workplace. Nathan and Alibali, along with colleagues at understanding of learning and teaching Vanderbilt University and San Diego State 7 FAST Program Recieves UN Recognition mathematics and engineering. Their theory University, observe how students in high of embodied mathematical cognition (see school electrical and mechanical engineering sidebar, p. 2) applies to a broad range of classrooms pursue mathematical symbols people, settings, and activities. and science concepts through a variety of (continued on next page...) WCER FROM THE DIRECTOR In this issue of Research Highlights you’ll read about education partnerships. Leaders within partnerships are challenged to form and guide an especially complex organization. Partnerships operate in uncharted and unpredictable environments that do not offer established policies and Adam Gamoran structures. WCER researchers Matthew Hora and Susan Millar have published “A Guide to Building Education Partnerships: Navigating Diverse Cultural Contexts to Turn Challenge into Promise.” The book focuses on four interrelated aspects of organizational life: cultural models, structure and technology, relationships, and routines and procedures. tools, objects, and representations. Projects require You’ll also read about the UW-Madison’s “Beyond the Game students to work with physical models, electrical circuits, Initiative,” which confronts the challenge of Black male Boolean algebra, CAD systems, simulation software and student athletes who face the end of their eligibility to play computer-based geometry applications. without identifying viable careers beside professional sports. Nathan’s team of researchers studies how people in The Initiative uses curricular, co-curricular, and on-the-field school and workplace settings learn the mathematics leadership training to develop and support student athlete’s post- of space and motion. Their design experiments span graduation options. The Initiative results from a collaboration diverse settings. At Vanderbilt the project involves an between WCER’s Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory extended summer program for talented high school and the UW-Madison athletic department. students from racially diverse and/or economically Meanwhile, Mitchell Nathan and colleagues are studying disadvantaged communities. Another component at students in high school electrical engineering classrooms and San Diego State University offers methods courses how they pursue mathematical symbols and science concepts for secondary pre-service mathematics teachers. through a variety of tools, objects, and representations. Projects The multi-campus research team includes pre-service require students to work with physical models, electrical circuits, high school mathematics teachers, high school students, Boolean algebra, and computer-based geometry applications. pre-engineering vocational students, and talented Opportunities for college attendance have expanded middle and high school youth, in addition to professional dramatically in the U.S. over the past several decades, but mathematicians, graduate students in mathematics, and unmarried parents are still among those least likely to attend. professionals working with mapping and spatial analysis. And although completed degrees confer large economic The researchers represent a range of disciplines, benefits, they may be outweighed by the cost to these students’ including educational and developmental psychology, families. Among all undergraduate students, the proportion of educational technology, teaching and teacher education, unmarried parents has nearly doubled over the past 20 years, literacy, mathematics, and mathematics education. from 7 percent to just over 13 percent. Sara Goldrick-Rab says They bring together expertise from a range of research methodologies, including design-based research, more effective support could help unmarried parents to complete interactional analysis, ethnography, experimental design, their college degree and certificate programs. qualitative and quantitative discourse analysis methods, And, finally, Families and Schools Together (FAST) is a long gesture studies, protocol analysis, and curriculum design. time WCER project. It brings together the student, family, home, school and community for 8 weeks to increase children’s well-being. An after-school program for children and their The “Six Views of Embodied Cognition” families, FAST strengthens the relationships within and among families that protect against stress. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has recognized FAST as one 1. Cognition is situated. of 24 evidence-based family skills programs. 2. Cognition is time-pressured. 3. We off-load cognitive work onto the environment. 4. The environment is part of the cognitive system. 5. Cognition is for action. Adam Gamoran 6. Off-line cognition is body-based. WCER Director Professor, Sociology and Educational Policy Studies Wilson, M., Six Views of Embodied Cognition. 2 RESEARCH highlights Interpreting student gestures Wei Lab and Athletics One of the areas that specifically interests Nathan is how students and teachers uses gestures to Form Partnership enhance their communication. In a recent afternoon College athletes often enjoy successful collegiate careers without presentation, Nathan projected videos of students working in three learning situations. identifying alternative careers outside of professional sports. 1. Students in a high school mechanical But no matter how talented, most student athletes do not go engineering class study the principles of on to play professionally. And even those few who do make ballistics and projectile motion. The multi-day it to the pros ultimately will experience job termination. project requires them to construct devices such as a catapult and to use physics, engineering The time to provide career exposure is early in a student’s design, machine shop techniques, algebra, undergraduate career. and trigonometry to hurl their favorite projectile. In response to this need, the University of Wisconsin- Nathan singles out students’ gestures and Madison has developed an initiative to strengthen the motions as they discuss the task with their post-graduation trajectories for Black male student athletes. instructor and among themselves; and the teacher’s gestures as he tries to remind The University’s “Beyond the Game Initiative” confronts the students how their design must instantiate the challenge of Black male student athletes who face the end mathematical principles and physical laws from a of their eligibility to play without identifying viable careers previous lesson. beside professional sports. The Initiative uses curricular, co-curricular, and on-the-field leadership training to develop 2. Students in a third-year digital electronics and support student athlete’s post-graduation options. class design a security monitoring system for a This program complements life skills programs and post- voting booth, using logic, electronics, computer graduate counseling programs already in place. simulation and Boolean algebra. For one student gestures help reveal how the debugging process The Initiative results from a collaboration between WCER’s works when the circuit fails to light up properly Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory (Wei Lab) under every possible condition. and the UW-Madison athletic department. UW-Madison education professor Jerlando Jackson directs the Wei Lab 3. Students in an honors geometry class use (http://weilab.wceruw.org/). His colleague Mario Morris an interactive computer program to inscribe a coordinates the project from within the Athletic department. quadrilateral inside a large circle. They know They are developing curriculum for roll-out in fall semester. that sum of the quadrilateral’s opposing angles Student athletes will take a four-semester course that must equal 360 degrees. They use Geometer’s teaches leadership and professional development, and Sketchpad to alter parameters and record that is grounded in theory and practice. results. Again, Mitchell notes the importance of The Wei Lab, established in May 2010, aims to help the gestures students and the teacher use as policymakers, practitioners, and citizens promote equitable they discuss their ideas. and inclusive learning and work environments. The Lab also Nathan explains the importance of student gestures designs, conducts, and disseminates research to engage and teacher gestures in students’ learning. This the most difficult and important equity and inclusion topics project aligns with his continuing work to build an confronting the educational system. empirical basis for recommendations about how The Wei Lab assisted with the curricular design of teachers can use gestures effectively. Moreover, the “Beyond the Game” and manages associated research study responds to his long-term interest in teacher and evaluation activities. The program is funded by the education and teacher professional development, as Lumina Foundation for Education and the University of well as his desire to advance basic knowledge of the Pennsylvania. The Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity role of gesture in comprehension and learning. and Climate at UW-Madison provided a planning grant to cover efforts during the past academic year. More: http://weilab.wceruw.org/ Mitchell Nathan Jerlando Jackson 3 WCER When a Student is an Unmarried Parent Unmarried parents who attend college face obstacles of Unmarried parents make up 21 percent of Native money and time. Parenting young children while also attending American undergraduates and 16 percent of all Latino college creates difficulties that are different from those faced undergraduates. This compares with 10 percent of white and 9 percent of Asian undergraduates. Overall, 8 by traditional students. Many public programs offer support percent of male undergraduates and 17 percent of female to these students, but the support is neither well coordinated undergraduates are unmarried parents. nor easily accessed. Families compete for time UW-Madison professor Sara Goldrick-Rab says deficiencies Unmarried parents attending college find very little time in current higher education policy cause unexpected to spend with their children. Because financial aid often adverse consequences for families where an unmarried doesn’t make ends meet, many unmarried parents work parent is also a student. Goldrick-Rab and graduate student long hours while taking classes. In years past, financial Kia Sorensen say that more effective support could help aid enabled students to devote all their time to studying these unmarried students complete their college degree and and parenting. But students now commonly study, parent, certificate programs. and work. Opportunities for college attendance have expanded These students tend to take longer to complete four-year dramatically in the U.S. over the past several decades, degrees. Among all students who started college in 1995- but unmarried parents are still among those least likely 96, 29 percent attained a bachelor’s degree by 2001, to attend. And although completed degrees confer large compared with just under 5 percent of unmarried parents. economic benefits, they may be outweighed by the cost to these students’ families. National data indicate a serious shortage of campus Addressing this problem is important now. Among all child care centers—with existing resources meeting only undergraduate students, the proportion of unmarried parents one-tenth of demand. The shortage is particularly severe has nearly doubled over the past 20 years, from 7 percent when it comes to infant care—only about one-third of to just over 13 percent. And unmarried parents make up a campus child care centers accept infants. substantial segment of undergraduates from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds: More than one-third (36 percent) of Benefits of degree completion African American female undergraduates nationwide are Women who pursue additional education following their unmarried mothers. Fifteen percent of African American male child’s birth increase their odds of repartnering with a undergraduates are unmarried fathers. college-educated man by 62 percent. Attending college 4 RESEARCH highlights helps unmarried mothers form networks of similarly well- Dual enrollment programs help move students more educated friends. These friends help shape their decisions seamlessly from high school to college by allowing them about parenting practices and their expectations for their to earn college credit while still in high school. That children’s educational success. For example, middle-class potentially reduces the time and associated costs spent mothers with more education are more committed to in college. College students in New York and Florida who their children’s education. Families with more education had participated in dual enrollment in high school remained create more structured activities for their children. enrolled in college longer, had higher grade point averages, They emphasize lessons and activities to fully develop and earned more credits than comparable students who children’s cognitive and social potential. These parents had not participated in dual enrollment programs. also talk to children as if they were adults and reason with them. Such parenting leads children to gain a sense of As intermediate goals, Goldrick-Rab says policymakers confidence that has implications for how they interact with could focus on increasing rates of full-time attendance other adults and institutions. among unmarried parents and reducing the time they spend working while parenting and in school. Limits of current policies For more, see “Unmarried Parents in College” in The Future of Children Financial aid policies intended to make college affordable vol 20, n 2, Fall 2010, pp. 179-203. http://www.futureofchildren. include rules that make it difficult for parenting students org/futureofchildren/publications/journals/journal_details/index. to access the money they need. Current financial aid xml?journalid=73 rules reward students who attend college full time without working, while penalizing those who take fewer classes and integrate work for pay into their schedules. Policies that make students with drug convictions ineligible for financial aid make it much more difficult for unmarried fathers to participate in post-secondary education. Solutions Policy changes could enhance college participation and completion among unmarried parents. For example, simplifying the aid application process substantially increases a prospective student’s likelihood of attending Sara Goldrick-Rab college and receiving need-based grant aid. 5 WCER Structures and technologies establish the parameters of what behaviors are possible, permissible, and rewarded. Relationships are the key aspect of cultural life that tie individuals to other people, groups, and organizations. Routines and procedures give meaning and identity to people’s roles within an organization. An organization’s structure creates opportunities and constraints for certain routines and practices, which in turn contribute to the development of a group’s cultural models. Each of these elements characterize cultural life in particular organizations, and they are brought into the “third space” where partnerships form. It is in the third space where leaders must essentially create an entirely new organization in uncharted and unpredictable environments that do not offer established policies and structures. Thus, participants will face new situations and problems, and leaders need “adaptive expertise,” or the ability to apply skills and knowledge to the novel problems The Challenge and Promise that arise in partnership work. of Education Partnerships Five principles form the basic message of the book that practitioners can use to design and implement Improving education means finding solutions to complex and education partnerships. entrenched challenges. Visualize organizations and partnerships in multifaceted To solve problems in education policy and practice, many terms. The organizations within partnerships, and people with many different skill sets must learn how to partnerships themselves, are not monolithic wholes, but collaborate. They must work across institutions, authority are composed of subgroups that differ in important ways. lines, and organizational boundaries. These collaborations Plan and get acquainted. sometimes take the form of education partnerships. In a careful planning stage, Education partnerships involve agreements among K-12 all potential partners meet school districts, governmental agencies, and universities, and get acquainted with one or even groups of different departmental representatives another and discuss the within a university. proposed work. It’s easy to assume that the way business However, partnerships are not easy to design or manage. is done in other groups is the because partnerships bring people together from different same as in your own, but this backgrounds, organizations, and disciplines. This makes is rarely the case. partnership work largely an exercise in bridging different cultures, and leading an education partnership requires Engage in a careful design good communication skills and the ability to cross process. Because newly multiple boundaries. initiated partnerships lack structure and procedures, A new book focuses on the role of leaders in designing starting one is like creating and managing education partnerships. WCER researchers an entirely new organization. Matthew Hora and Susan Millar have published “A Guide to Building Education Partnerships: Navigating Diverse Find boundary crossers. Partnership personnel will contend Cultural Contexts to Turn Challenge into Promise.” with unpredictable challenges, differences of opinion, and the Instead of viewing partnerships, and the organizations likely need to adapt to changing circumstances. that participate in them, as monolithic cultural entities, the Foster new cultural dynamics. Partners will need to create authors suggest that four elements of organizational life task environments and foster new structures, relationships, more accurately capture what happens in organizations that and practices to generate new ways of thinking. is lost when we refer to “the culture of school X or university Y.” These elements are cultural models, structure and A Guide to Building Education Partnerships: Navigating Diverse technology, relationships, and routines and procedures. Cultural Contexts to Turn Challenge into Promise. Matthew T. Hora and Susan B. Millar. Stylus Publishing, Inc., 2011. http://stylus.styluspub. A cultural model is a deeply held belief or interpretation com/Books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=241232 of the world that is shared among members of a particular group. 6 RESEARCH highlights FAST Program Receives UN Recognition Families and Schools The UNODC informs policymakers, program managers, Together (FAST) is non-governmental organizations and others about family skills training programs that are evidence-based. To help a long time WCER users select the program best suited to their needs, UNODC’s project. It brings program guide details each programs’ content, the groups together the family, home, school and community for 8 targeted, the materials used, and the training implemented. weeks to increase children’s well-being. An after-school FAST originator Lynn McDonald has been helping the program for children and their families, FAST strengthens UNODC develop a new training strategy for use in the relationships within and among families that protect developing countries. UNODC recently sent McDonald to against stress. Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, where she found enthusiasm about pilot programs. In each of six schools Now FAST has become a global phenomenon The more than 20 families attended the first session, in two United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has separate hubs per school. The child focus age for this recognized FAST as one of 24 evidence-based family global project is age 7. skills programs. The UNODC list ranks its evidence-based WCER continues to pursue research on FAST in the U.S. programs in order of scientific rigor, including the number The Children, Families, and School project examines the of randomized controlled trials conducted on each role of FAST in building social capital within and between program. Of 150 programs reviewed, FAST is listed as families, and between families and schools, in San Antonio number 12 in the world. and Phoenix. Social capital for Latino families is a special In the FAST program, families come to the school building focus of the study, which aims to test the relation between after hours to take part in activities including games, social capital and child development for young children. songs, and a family meal. Family groups are led by trained More: http://www.unodc.org/centralasia/en/news/families-and-schools- teams of local parents, school staff, and professionals together.html specializing in mental health or treatment for drug abuse. These meetings introduce families whose children are new More http://www.unodc.org/docs/youthnet/ Compilation/10-50018_Ebook.pdf to the school to the families of their children’s classmates. The program aims to: (a) strengthen the family and the More: http://cfsproject.wceruw.org/ parent-child bond; (b) increase the child’s success at fastProgram.html school; (c) reduce drug and alcohol abuse in the family; and (d) reduce family stress and social isolation. Lynn McDonald 7 7 WCER WCER RESEARCH highlights DIRECToR Adam Gamoran EDIToR Paul Baker EDITORIAL CONSULTANTS Rebecca Holmes & Cathy Loeb PRoDUCTIoN Media Education Resources & Information Technology This Newsletter is archived in PDF WCER Research Highlights is published by the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, School of Education, University form on WCER's website: of Wisconsin–Madison. WCER is funded through a variety of federal, state, and private sources, including the U.S. Depart- www.wcer.wisc.edu/publications ment of Education, the National Science Foundation, and UW– Madison. The opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the position, policy, or endorsement of the funding agencies. WCER Today is a monthly email newsletter Fourth-class, bulk-rate postage is paid at UW–Madison, Madison, WI. Send changes of address to WCER, 1025 West Johnson Street, reaching more than 1900 readers at more Madison, WI 53706 or call (608) 263-4200. Include the address label from this issue. than 700 organizations. A sample issue and No copyright is claimed on the contents of WCER Research Highlights. subscription information are available here, In reproducing articles, please use following credit: "Reprinted with permission from WCER Research Highlights, published by the www.wcer.wisc.edu/publications/index.php. Wisconsin Center for Education Research, UW–Madison School of Education." If you reprint, please send a copy to Research Highlights. WCER Research Highlights is available on the Web at http://www.wcer.wisc.edu. ISSN 1073-1822 Vol. 22, No. 3, Spring 2011 Permit No. 658 Madison, Wisconsin PAID U.S. POSTAGE 1025 West Johnson Street • Madison, WI 53706 organization School of Education • University of Wisconsin–Madison Nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Education Research
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