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Education scholars presenting at prestigious AERA can discuss 'Public Scholarship to Educate Diverse Democracies'

Thursday, April 07, 2016

LAWRENCE — Faculty members and researchers from the University of Kansas School of Education are available to speak with media about the research they will present at the American Educational Research Association’s annual conference April 8-12 in Washington, D.C. One of the most prestigious gatherings in the field of education and research, this year’s AERA theme is Public Scholarship to Educate Diverse Democracies. KU’s experts are in a unique position to support that theme as the school is home to the nation’s top-ranked Department of Special Education and researchers annually secure millions of dollars in grant funding.

A selection of faculty members and their presentations are below. AERA presentations are embargoed until the date and time of the presentation, which are noted below. To schedule an interview with any of the presenters, contact Mike Krings, KU public affairs officer, at 785-864-8860 or mkrings@ku.edu.

Professional learning communities/for-profit higher ed: Argun Saatcioglu will present “Social Capital of Professional Learning Communities and its Implications for Student Achievement.” This study (noon Friday, April 8) examines professional learning communities (PLCs), formal task groups of teachers who ideally share experience regarding their practice and challenges to learn from one another. The authors studied 72 PLCs across 26 schools to examine their effect on student achievement. The findings suggest PLCs with greater shares of struggling students may have diverse ties to other actors in their environment, which can help their students learn better. Saatcioglu will also present “Emergence and Diffusion of for-profit Colleges and Universities, 1975-2012: A Population Ecology Approach." For-profit institutions have grown considerably in popularity over the past 40 years. This study (10 a.m. Monday, April 11) examines the spread of for-profits, tests effects on their diffusion and finds that resource niches such as labor market conditions play a key role in the formation of for-profit colleges and universities.

Learning assessment and avoiding problems of testing: Neal Kingston, director of KU’s Achievement & Assessment Institute, will present “Systems Thinking in the Development of the Dynamic Learning Maps Alternate Assessment.” Large-scale assessments exist in a complex environment containing an observer effect. In other words, the process of measurement affects the phenomenon of being measured, resulting in negative consequences such as ineffective, inappropriate teaching approaches, narrowed curriculum and outright cheating by educators. The presentation will discuss the development of the Dynamic Learning Maps Assessment System, which was developed to mitigate these problems by thinking about how various subsystems within educational assessment fit in with the subsystems within curriculum and instruction. 8:15 a.m. Saturday, April 9

Institutional selectivity and race: Eugene Parker will present “The Influence of Institutional Selectivity on Cognitive Gains in College: Differences by Race.” Utilizing data from a longitudinal, multi-institutional study, the study explores the influence of liberal arts experiences on three cognitive outcomes: students’ academic motivation, students’ desire to engage in cognitive activities and holding positive attitudes toward reading and literacy activities. The study considers the influence of institutional selectivity on those student-learning outcomes. Additionally, the study considers whether race/ethnicity moderates the relationship between institutional selectivity and these outcomes. Findings suggest that, compared with white students, black/African-American students had significantly diminished gains in academic motivation and attitudes toward literacy activities as institutional selectivity increased. 10:35 a.m. Saturday, April 9

Better education for students with disabilities: Jennifer Kurth, Mary Morningstar and Paul Johnson will present “Special Education Research SIG: Working to Improve Outcomes of Students with Intellectual Disabilities.” The session will cover several studies, and the researchers can discuss placement of students with disabilities and these students’ access to rigorous curriculum. The researchers examined placement practices between 2000 and 2011 for students considered to have significant disabilities in the categories of autism, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities and deaf-blindness. Results confirmed access to general education settings is lacking for this group of students, and policy implications and future research will also be discussed. Kurth will also present research findings from a school serving students with significant cognitive disability. Results showed students in the classrooms were often passively engaged, had little access to rigorous curriculum, and instructors engaged in few known effective practices in supporting the students’ learning. The implications for teaching and research will be covered as well, as will development of a national inclusive education research agenda. 2:45 p.m. Sunday, April 10

Urban education and changing racial demographics: John Rury will present “The ‘Decline’ of an Urban School System: Kansas City, Missouri: 1950-1980." Rury will present his research into the Kansas City, Missouri School system and its transition over a 30-year period. Considered a regional and national leader in the post-war period, the district became an example of school district decline in the 1960s and ‘70s. Rury will share findings of how the district integrated with little incident following Brown v. Board of Education and demographics shifted as many white students migrated to suburbs and urban schools became majority black institutions. He will also explore how later segregation led to the Jenkins v. Missouri lawsuit and how nearby districts that were resistant to integration are now among the area’s most racially diverse. 8:15 a.m. Monday, April 11


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Brian Friedman
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