S800 – Ph.D. in Education Proseminar Fall 2017

Professor Meira Levinson

Tuesdays/Thursdays 9:30-11:30 am Gutman 303

Version 2/16/18


Professor Meira Levinson  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Office Hours: http://levinsonofficehours.wikispaces.com -- or e-mail me directly if you find no compatible times

Daphne Penn, Teaching Fellow  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Celia Reddick, Teaching Fellow  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Cherise Kenner, Faculty Assistant  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Course Description

This intensive seminar enables first-year Ph.D. in Education students to describe, analyze, and assess key questions, texts, ideas, and intellectual approaches to classic and contemporary educational scholarship. The goal is to provide students an intellectual foundation for their own developing identities and work as researchers within the field of education. We will pay particular attention to the multidisciplinary nature of much educational research, how individual disciplines and theoretical traditions approach educational problems in complementary or contrasting ways, and how educational research functions (or fails to function) at the nexus of policy and practice. The course will also attend to the interaction of the normative and the empirical, bringing to the foreground the role of values in educational research. In addition to mastering a body of collective knowledge and skills, students will have opportunities to connect the intellectual lenses that have been introduced in the seminar to their more specific research questions, and to share their individual expertise with the larger group.


Course Goals  By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Name and discuss a wide variety of key theories and concepts within educational research
  2. Draw upon classic and contemporary texts from a variety of disciplines in order to address key questions in educational research, policy, and practice
  3. Write clear, compelling, short analytic papers that defend an interesting and contestable thesis using evidence synthesized from multiple sources
  4. Place newly-encountered readings, research studies, and research agendas (including their own!) into historical and/or disciplinary context
  5. Analyze, and potentially evaluate, research works in light of their theoretical, disciplinary, methodological, normative, and/or epistemological presuppositions

Taken together, the above learning goals should enable students to prepare for and write cogent answers to questions on Part A of the General Written Exam. These learning goals are also the only ones that will be assessed and graded.

  1. Discuss a variety of possible (mis)connections and relationships among educational research(ers), policy (makers), and practice (or practitioners), in part in order to start identifying where they wish to position themselves and conduct their own work within this nexus
  2. Identify some faculty at HGSE with whom they want to connect, whether by taking a course, participating in a research apprenticeship, or just showing up at office hours
  3. Affirm their strengths and identify areas for growth as educational researchers-in-training
  4. Identify at least two peers with whom they have formed an intellectually rewarding relationship, as demonstrated (ideally) by collective membership in a writing and/or reading discussion group that lasts through the first year and beyond


Course Expectations  

Grading: GSAS requires that you take this course for a grade. I am frankly sorry about this. Being a first-semester doctoral student at Harvard is an inherently daunting enterprise, so I wish I could lower the emotional stakes by offering the course credit/no credit.  On the other hand, my expectations would be the same regardless, and we (the teaching team) are also 100% committed to helping you to succeed in this course. The outcome will be the same, therefore, as if I were offering it credit/no credit: you will work hard in prosem, and you will end up doing well.

I expect you to master the course goals, as demonstrated by consistent in-class preparation and participation, satisfactory completion of each assignment, and success on the final exam. A grade of B+ or higher is generally expected of doctoral students, although the real measure will always be your mastery as measured by an assessment guide (rubric), rather than the letter grade. This is because grades are inevitably arbitrary constructs, made even more arbitrary by the frequently different meanings constructed by those who award grades (me), those who receive grades (you), and those who look at your grades (virtually no one for doctoral students aside from fellowship selection and hiring committees, who are themselves far more interested in your research agenda and publications). My best hope of using grades as clear communicative devices is to tie them to meaningful, detailed assessment rubrics.

Because I construct grades to signal your level of mastery of the learning goals, I do not provide a percentage breakdown of how much each assignment is worth to your overall grade. That would be confusing formative assignments with summative assessment. At the same time, I also do not base your final grade solely on the final exam, as I do not believe that any one task is likely to be a valid or reliable assessment of your mastery of the learning goals. Hence, you can expect me to take into account your performance on all tasks listed below, with a moderate weighting toward later assignments.

In any case, this is all the anatomy of small differences, as you are all extremely likely to get somewhere between a B+ and A, assuming you put the requisite work into the course, including revising papers as necessary. Our purpose as a teaching team is to help you succeed in your first semester of doctoral study at Harvard, and to set you on a strong path moving forward. We will do so by providing you clear feedback, lots of support, and connections to additional resources if/as needed. Please come speak to me or your TF if you have questions or concerns about any of this.

Study groups: We strongly, strongly encourage you to form study groups to discuss the reading in advance of class. There is a lot of reading in this class, and much of it will address questions and/or draw on methodological, disciplinary, normative, and epistemological frameworks than you are used to or even interested in. (And they feature a lot of jargon, such as “methodological, disciplinary, normative, and epistemological frameworks.” :-}) Students in the past who have been in study groups have very strongly recommended it. (Just check out the course evaluations if you doubt us!) We will help to facilitate study groups at the beginning of the semester for those who desire it. We also recommend that you find one or more peers with whom to brainstorm writing ideas, trade draft papers, etc.

General academic expectations and support structures: This is a doctoral-level course.  All students will be expected to: read unfamiliar and potentially difficult texts actively and carefully; write clearly and coherently, posing a thesis that is then supported by evidence; apply appropriate writing conventions, usage, and grammar; conduct independent research using a variety of resources in addition to the web; submit original work that credits others when needed.  We will support you in mastering these skills via: the on-line analytic writing tutorial, peer supports, accessible office hours, scaffolded assignments, and formative feedback. 

If you need additional assistance in any of these areas, please consult with the librarians in Gutman.  They offer training in library research, individual academic writing consultations, help with academic citation practices, and many other services.  (You can find a list of the academic support they provide in MyGSE under Gutman Library.)  The Academic Writing Center in Gutman is a tremendous resource, as is Harvard’s Bureau of Study Council, which provides tutoring and many other academic support services. There is no shame in reaching out to any of these individuals or institutions for help! I regularly refer even my strongest doctoral students to the Writing Center and Bureau of Study Council for support; after all, that is why these services exist, to support your learning.

With respect to the issue of academic originality and appropriate citation of others, make sure to read the section of the Student Handbook that details HGSE’s policy on plagiarism.  You are reminded that students who submit work that is not their own and does not clearly cite the original source(s) will be dismissed from HGSE. 

Okay, all that being said, now on to the specific course requirements.

You must meet the following expectations/complete the following assignments in order to pass this class:

Daily attendance and responsible class participation: We expect you to attend all classes, on time and in full, and to participate appropriately. Responsible class participation—meaning both listening actively to others and offering your own ideas on a regular basis without hogging airtime and without checking out electronically (e.g. via FB) or physically (e.g. leaving class) —matters because it helps both you and your peers master the material and meet the course goals. Each unit will offer a number of opportunities as well as a wide variety of ways to participate: thinking, writing, talking, presenting, doing, solving, teaching, etc., individually, in small groups, and with the whole class.  If you are having a hard time finding your niche and participating in class appropriately, please talk to a member of the teaching team as soon as possible.

Daily readings:  Please complete all assigned readings/texts before coming to class, and bring them with you to class (whether in hard copy or electronically). Read “actively” – i.e., highlight the text, take notes, write marginal comments and flag important passages with sticky notes, talk with others about the material, ask questions, draw connections, etc. in order to comprehend and process the readings before class begins. One of the central activities within the seminar will be to discuss the assigned texts carefully and critically; you will hence be expected to point to specific evidence within the texts in order to support your claims. See the course website for the link to an on-line Analytic Reading and Writing tutorial that provides further guidance.

You should note that I systematically constructed the syllabus to include a number of texts from the Generals reading list. This is your opportunity to discuss these readings with faculty and peers in a structured and supported way.

Brief weekly feedback: We ask that you let us know what you’re thinking about after class once per week.  Our expectation is that you will write only a couple of lines, although you’re welcome to write more if you wish.  You may mention: a question that’s on your mind; an issue you want to probe more deeply yourself, or that you wished we had probed more deeply in class; an idea you’re excited about; a frustration you had; something you’re confused about; a suggestion; what you wish you had thought of and said in class; something someone said that disturbed or excited you; etc. Your responses will be ungraded, but extremely helpful as we try to keep track of and stay responsive to what you and your classmates are thinking and learning. You will receive a survey prompt via e-mail each week on Thursday afternoon, which we ask that you respond to by Saturday at noon. You have the option to mark your response “private” if you wish; we will share private responses only among the teaching team, while all other responses will be included in an anonymized digest on the course website, as it is often quite helpful to students to see how your peers are thinking about course materials, methods, etc.

Seminar leadership: You and two partners (or in one case, three partners) will be responsible for leading one class session during the semester. The sessions designated for student leadership are identified in green below. You will be able to indicate your top 3 choices in response to a survey after the first class session; we will let you know what day you’ve been assigned by the end of the second week of class. To prepare for the seminar, you will need to draft a full lesson plan (we can provide guidance/models if you do not have experience writing lesson plans, although we will try to ensure that your team includes someone with teaching experience), meet with either Celia or Daphne to discuss your plan, and then revise accordingly before you teach. Your seminar leadership will thus be heavily supported so we make sure that all students learn from your session; at the same time, however, you will have wide latitude in how you plan the class. Note that given the necessary advance lesson planning and the challenges of coordinating with other group members, you should plan to do the readings for the class that you’re teaching at least two weeks ahead of time. This will give your group sufficient lead time to then discuss the readings, develop a lesson plan, meet with Daphne or Celia, and then revise the plan and get final materials together.  Finally, your group will debrief the seminar with Meira and one or both TFs, ideally at 9 am the class day following the one you teach (so if you lead seminar on Thursday, you would meet to debrief at 9 am the following Tuesday), although we recognize that some students take language classes or have domestic or other responsibilities that require us to find another time.

Analytic paper: You are responsible for writing and revising in response to instructor feedback one 1500-1800 word analytic paper (about 5-6 pages double-spaced, normal margins and font). Note that word count is strictly monitored; we will not read papers longer than 1800 words. The paper should analyze 2-3 readings from one class between Sep. 5 and Oct. 3 in light of some aspect of the framing questions for that class day or unit. We will post a GoogleDoc the first day of class so you can sign up for your preferred class session (which cannot also be the session you’re teaching). If all slots are full for a particular day/topic, however, you will need to select a different day so we spread student expertise throughout the first two units. Papers are due at 5 p.m. the day after the class you are writing about. (So if, for example, you write a paper drawing on Freire and Noddings for Sep. 12’s “critical perspectives” on the aims of education class, then you would submit it by 5 p.m. on Sep. 13.)

This paper is designed to: (1) help you think more deeply about one of the topics during the semester; (2) seed each class with people who have thought especially carefully about the readings for that day; (3) enable us to assess and give you formative feedback on your analytic writing; (4) model constructive criticism among professional researchers and colleagues; (5) enable you to deepen and sharpen your ideas through revising your work; (6) give you practice responding to revise and resubmit (R&R) feedback from a journal.

To achieve aims 3-6, we will provide you careful and comprehensive feedback on your paper within 10 days of your original submission. Note that this is likely to be more rigorous feedback than you are used to receiving: you may well get more comments, and more critical comments, than you’ve gotten in the past. Please don’t despair!  Treat it as a formative learning opportunity (which is its purpose), rather than a summative judgment about your skills, knowledge, or worth as a scholar or person (which is not at all the point, and would be totally invalid anyway). You will then have an additional 10 days to revise and resubmit your paper, along w/a brief covering memo indicating why/how you chose to change your paper, and in particular why you chose not to follow recommendations for revision (always important for journal editors on an R&R; you can openly disagree with reviewers, but you can’t ignore them). We will read your revised paper and provide you brief summative commentary.

The rubric that we will use to evaluate your writing is posted on the “Writing Assignments” tab of the course website. The on-line Analytic Reading and Writing Tutorial will also prove helpful to many of you. In addition, we will try to post some exemplar analysis papers with marginal comments and accompanying rubrics. We will discuss these resources and assessment procedures the first day of class.

Please note that your initial paper submission should not be a first or “rough” draft. Just as you would if you were submitting a journal article, you should do your best work prior to initial submission, including sharing outlines or drafts with writing group partners, and carefully revising and editing your work. The point is to get feedback on your best possible writing—which inevitably will then lead to a further round of revision.

Second paper: For this assignment, you may choose among three options: (1) write an analytic paper about any 2-3 texts in Unit 3 or 4; (2) write a paper that connects what you are learning in Prosem with your own research interests; (3) write a paper that integrates your learning across Prosem and one or more of your methods courses. The specific prompts/instructions will be posted on Canvas by October 15.  In either case, the paper will be 1500-1800 words, with a clear argument supported by evidence. It is due by 5 pm on Friday, Nov. 10.

Final exam: I assign a final exam for this course because one of its chief goals (as indicated by Course Goals 1-5, above) is to help you prepare for Part A of the General Written Exam. In order to help both you and us assess whether the course has been successful in this regard, it makes most sense to have the summative assessment be in the form of a mini-general exam. Hence, you will receive a take-home exam at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, December 5. It will be due by 5 p.m. on Monday, December 11. Although we are giving you a week to complete it, our intent is that it will take you no more than 15 hours of work in total, and quite possibly less (it depends on how quickly you write!).


Summary of Requirements and Due Dates:

Read, participate in class, and send brief feedback every week

With 2-3 partners, plan and lead seminar once this semester.

Write and revise 1500-1800 word analytic paper once between Sep. 5 – Oct. 3. Paper due 5 p.m. the day after the relevant class; R&R due 10 days after you receive our feedback.

Write a 1500-1800 word analytic paper analyzing course texts or connecting them to your research agenda. Due 5 pm on Nov. 10.

Take final exam, released at 9 a.m. on Dec. 5 and due by 5 p.m. on Dec. 11.

Seminar leadership slot and analytic paper slot will be scheduled via survey from TFs after first day of class.


Required Texts (available at the Coop; Lareau available online but it’s annoying to access because the library limits the number of simultaneous readers; also on reserve in Gutman)

Lareau, Annette (2011). Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life, 2nd Edition. University of California Press. [Make sure to get the 2nd edition!]  Or if you like to read digitally, there’s a free (to Harvard) copy available online through EBSCO. See LINK

Mehta, Jal, Robert Schwartz, and Frederick Hess, eds. (2012). The Futures of School Reform. Harvard Education Press. [Note that if you buy this from the Harvard Ed Press office on Story Street, you can get the book for 20% off. I therefore have not asked the Coop to stock it.]

Valenzuela, Angela (1999). Subtractive Schooling: U.S. Mexican Youth and the Politics of Caring. SUNY Press.

All other readings will be available under the iPa© tab on the course website (for book chapters), via Hollis (for articles), or in some cases online via link embedded in syllabus.

Outline of Syllabus



Unit I. What should education aim to achieve? What should people learn?

Vocational Perspectives

Civic Perspectives

Critical Perspectives

Faculty Panel: How do you measure what matters—or make what matters measurable?

Consolidation Day

Unit II. How, when, where, and why does learning happen—and how does it relate to formal education?

Cognitive Perspectives

Ecological, Cultural, and Social Perspectives

Teachers’ Roles

Schools’ Roles

Faculty Panel: How, where, and why do you look for learning—and how do you know when you’ve found it, or what to do as a result?

Consolidation Day

Unit III. What accounts for differences in students’ learning and in their educational outcomes? How are these differences constructed, reinforced, and/or overcome?

Families 1: Economic and Intellectual Capital

Families 2: Social and Cultural Capital

Institutions 1: Policy (Hartford case study)

Institutions 2: Practice (Seguín case study)

Measuring and Assessing Inequality

Faculty Panel: How do you understand and research inequality, and why?

Consolidation Day

Unit IV. How can educational outcomes be improved? What opportunities and challenges face those who attempt—via research, policy, or practice—to effect educational change?

Control vs. Autonomy 1: Teachers and Curriculum

Control vs. Autonomy 2: Professionals and Parents

Inside vs. Outside Schools

Reforming Policies and Practices vs. Reforming Learning

Learning vs. Schooling

Faculty panel: How do you bridge the gaps among research, policy, and action?



Detailed Topics and Readings



Welcome and Introduction

How have different educational aims, policies, and practices been connected in theory, but perhaps disconnected in practice, over time? Why is there simultaneously so much variation and so much stasis, according to Cohen? Methodologically, how does Cohen make his argument: what sources and kinds of evidence does he draw on, and how does he deploy and analyze them to further his claims? How does this article reinforce and/or challenge your own ideas about educational research, policy, or practice?

Cohen, David. 1988. “Teaching: Plus Ça Change,” link.

Levinson, Meira, Sherry Deckman, and Laurel Stolte. “Analytic Reading and Writing Tutorial,” Slides 1-23, link.


Unit I: What should education aim to achieve? What should people learn?

Vocational perspectives

How have vocational aims both implicitly and explicitly shaped educational curricula, pedagogies, and policy in the past and present? Who is potentially served by schools’ focus on educating individuals for economic success, and who is potentially harmed? How can we make sense of the various and even competing answers to these questions provided by different theoretical and empirical approaches?

Vocationalism: Grubb, Norton W. and Lazerson, M. (2004). The Education Gospel. Harvard University Press. Introduction, pp. 1-28. [iPa©]

Non-cognitive skills as vocationally powerful: Tough, Paul (2012). How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt. Ch. 2, pp. 49-105. [iPa©]

Social Reproduction: Bowles, Samuel and Herbert Gintis (1976). Schooling in Capitalist America. Basic Books, pp. 3-17, 125-148. [iPa©]


Civic perspectives

How can education strengthen communal life and democratic participation? To what extent are civic goals of education supportive of, unrelated to, or in conflict with goals for individual flourishing? What policies and practices would we see in a system that was serious about the civic aims of education, and how does this compare to educational policies and practices today?

Community Membership and Social Progress: Dewey, John (1907). The School and Society. University of Chicago Press. Ch.1, pp. 3-28. [iPa©]

Opportunity, Creative Understanding, and Contribution: Gutmann. Amy (2015). “What Makes a University Education Worthwhile?” In Harry Brighouse and Michael McPherson, The Aims of Higher Education. University of Chicago Press, Ch. 2, pp. 7-25. [iPa©]

Civic Equality: Levinson, Meira (2012). No Citizen Left Behind. Harvard University Press. Ch. 1, pp. 23-59. [iPa©]

Peace (and Conflict): King, Elizabeth (2013). King, E. (2014). From Classrooms to Conflict in Rwanda. Cambridge University Press. Ch. 1, pp. 16-35. [iPa©]


Critical perspectives

How do liberationist, critical, and care theory each attempt to reframe educational aims, content, and practices? In what ways do these theories recast vocational and civic aims in their own terms, and in what ways do they minimize or reject such goals in favor of other aims?

Freedom: Freire, Paolo (2010). Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 30th Anniversary Edition. Continuum Publishing. Excerpt of Ch. 1 (pp. 43-48), all of Ch. 2, pp. 57-74. [link]

Critical Hope: Duncan-Andrade, J. (2009). “Note to Educators: Hope Required When Growing Roses in Concrete.” Harvard Educational Review. 79 (2), 181-194. link

Care/Morals: Noddings, Nel (2013). Caring: A Relational Approach to Ethics and Moral Education (2nd Edition). University of California Press. Ch. 8, “Moral Education,” pp. 171-201. [iPa©]

Putting it together: hooks, bell (1993). “keeping close to home: class and education.” In Michelle Tokarczyk and Elizabeth Fay, eds., Working-Class Women in the Academy: Laborers in the Knowledge Factory. University of Massachusetts Press, 99-111. [iPa©]


Faculty panel: How do you measure what matters—or make what matters measurable?

Panelists: Dan Koretz, Ebony Bridwell-Mitchell, and Jimmy Kim

We will post one (or occasionally two) articles, reports, or book chapters for you to read by each of the three faculty panelists at least one week in advance of class. You should also look at the panelists’ web pages to learn more generally about their research and teaching interests.

Koretz, Daniel (2008). Measuring Up. Harvard University Press. Ch. 2 (What Is a Test) and Ch. 3 (What We Measure: Just How Good is the Sample).

Bridwell-Mitchell, Ebony N. and North Cooc (2016). “The Ties That Bind: How Social Capital Is Forged and Forfeited in Teacher Communities.” Educational Researcher 45(1), 7–17. DOI: 10.3102/0013189X16632191 link

Bridwell-Mitchell, Ebony N. (2016). “Collaborative Institutional Agency: How Peer Learning in Communities of Practice Enables and Inhibits Micro-Institutional Change.” Organization Studies 37(2), 161–192. link

From Jimmy: Please read whichever one of the readings interests you more:

Kim, J. S., Burkhauser, M. B., Quinn, D. M., Guryan, J., Kingston, H. C., & Aleman, K. (2017). “Effectiveness of Structured Teacher Adaptations to an Evidence-Based Summer Literacy Program.”  Reading Research Quarterly. doi:10.1002/rrq.178 [This article considers the question: Is fidelity enough? Measuring fidelity of implementation and structured adaptations] [article available here in Discussions on Canvas site]

Kim, J. S., Hemphill, L., Troyer, M. T., Thomson, J. M., Jones, S. J., LaRusso, M. & Donovan, S. (2017). “Engaging Struggling Adolescent Readers to Improve Reading Skills.”  Reading Research Quarterly, 52(3): 357-380. DOI: 10.1002/rrq.171 [This article considers How do you measure student engagement?] [article available here in Discussions on Canvas site]


Consolidation Day

What are the implications of adopting particular (sets of) aims of education for research, policy, and/or practice? How do we make sense of these aims in light of contemporary challenges?

Watch Ron Ferguson’s and two additional faculty videos; Copy and paste this link into your browser: http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k98098&pageid=icb.page614323

Write a reflective response to the following that you are prepared to share with colleagues during class: What aim(s) of education do you (now) embrace? Why? How do these aims account both for the world as it is and the world as you would like it to be?  


Unit II: How, when, where, and why does learning happen—and how does it relate to formal education?

Cognitive perspectives

What does it mean for individuals to learn, and how is learning related to cognition? What enables changes in cognitive processes across the lifespan? How can formal education facilitate cognitive change and growth?


Bransford, John, and National Research Council Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning (2000). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School, Expanded Edition. National Academies Press, Chapters 1-2, pp. 3-50. [accessible on-line]

Kegan, Robert (2003). “Hidden Curriculum of Adult Life: An Adult Development Perspective.” In T. Hagström, ed. Adult Development in Post-Industrial Society and Working Life: Stockholm Lecture Series in Educology. Stockholm University, pp. 21-48. [iPa©]

Vygotsky, Lev (1978). Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Ch. 6, “Interaction Between Learning and Development,” pp. 79 – 91. [iPa©]


Ecological, social, and cultural perspectives

What does it mean for individuals or groups to learn, and how is learning related to ecological, social, and cultural context? How can and should researchers take these contextual features into account when they study learning? How can and should educators and policymakers take ecological, social, and cultural features of learning into account in their work with and for students?

Ecological: Bronfenbrenner, Urie (1977). “Toward an experimental ecology of human development.” American Psychologist, 32(7), 513-531.

Social: Lave, Jean. 1991. “Situated Learning in Communities of Practice.” In Lauren Resnick, John Levine and Stephanie Teasley, eds. Perspectives on Socially Shared Cognition. American Psychological Association. Ch. 4, pp. 63-82. Link

Cultural: Li, Jin (2003). “U.S. and Chinese Cultural Beliefs About Learning.” Journal of Educational Psychology, 95(2), 258-267. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.95.2.258.

Note: The following article on the generals list also addresses cultural dimensions of learning. You might find it useful to read it now so as to put it in conversation/comparison with the Li and reflect on similarities and differences: Nisbett, Richard E., Kaiping Peng, Incheol Choi, and Ara Norenzayan (2001). “Culture and systems of thought:  Holistic versus analytic cognition.” Psychological Review 108(2), 291-310.


Teachers’ roles

How can teachers promote student learning and educational outcomes in their classrooms? What are different ways of researching this question, and what empirical and theoretical considerations might justify adopting any one of these approaches rather than another? How can we put different frameworks for researching teachers’ impact on learning in relationship to one another?


Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Grossman, Pamela and Alan Schoenfeld, with Carol Lee (2005). “Teaching Subject Matter.” In Darling-Hammond, Linda & Bransford, John, eds. Preparing Teachers for a Changing World: What Teachers Should Learn and Be Able to Do. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Ch. 6, pp. 201-227. [iPa©]

UDL: Meyer, Anne, David Rose, and David Gordon (2014). Universal Design for Learning: Theory and Practice. Wakefield: CAST, pp 1-8, 83-108. [iPa©]

High-leverage Teacher Moves: Goldstein, Michael (2012, Winter). “Studying Teacher Moves.” Education Next 12(1). http://educationnext.org/studying-teacher-moves.

This is the study that Goldstein references, completed by Kraft and Dougherty while they were doc students at HGSE and published soon after. Reading it is recommended, but optional: Kraft, Matthew A. and Shaun M. Dougherty (2013). “The Effect of Teacher–Family Communication on Student Engagement: Evidence From a Randomized Field Experiment,” Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness 6(3), pp. 199-222.


Schools’ roles

How can schools promote student learning and educational outcomes? What are different ways of researching this question, and what empirical and theoretical considerations might justify adopting any one of these approaches rather than another? How can we put different frameworks for researching schools’ impact on learning in relationship to one another?


Engage: National Research Council (2004). Engaging Schools: Fostering High School Students’ Motivation to Learn. National Academies Press, pp. 31-60. [avail online]

Integrate: Grant, Gerald (2009). Hope and Despair in the American City: Why There Are No Bad Schools in Raleigh. Harvard University Press. Chapter 4, pp. 91-133. [iPa©]

Transform: Rincón-Gallardo, Santiago, and Richard F. Elmore (2012). “Transforming Teaching and Learning Through Social Movement in Mexican Public Middle Schools.” Harvard Educational Review 82(4), 471-490.


Faculty panel: How, where, and why do you look for learning—and how do you know when you’ve found it, or what to do as a result?

Panelists: Karen Brennan, Tina Grotzer, and Marty West

Grotzer, Tina A., Megan M. Powell, Katarzyna M. Derbiszewska, Caroline J. Courter, Amy M. Kamarainen, Shari J. Metcalf, and Christopher J. Dede (2015). “Turning transfer inside out: The affordances of virtual worlds and mobile devices in real world contexts for teaching about causality across time and distance in ecosystems.” Technology, Knowledge and Learning 20(1), 43-69. [Canvas pinned discussion]

Schwerdt, Guido, Martin R. West, and Marcus A. Winters (2017). “The effects of test-based retention on student outcomes over time: Regression discontinuity evidence from Florida.” Journal of Public Economics 152, 154-169. link

Brennan, Karen (2015). “Beyond Technocentrism: Supporting Constructionism in the Classroom.” Constructivist Foundations 10(3), 289-296. [link or on Canvas pinned discussion]


Consolidation Day

What are the implications of adopting particular conceptions of teaching and learning for research, policy, and/or practice?

Warren, Mark R. (2005). “Communities and Schools: A New View of Urban Education Reform.” Harvard Educational Review 75(2), pp. 133-168.

Write a reflective response to one of the following questions, that you are prepared to share with colleagues during class:

1.     How do the various approaches to learning that we have read in Unit II relate to one another? (You might want to consider/compare different disciplinary or methodological approaches, contexts, developmental stages, or theoretical frameworks)

2.     How has your understanding of learning changed and/or expanded over the course of this unit? What implications does this have for your own work as a scholar, as an educator, or as a student?


Unit III: What accounts for differences in students’ learning and in their educational outcomes? How are these differences constructed, reinforced, and/or overcome?

Families 1: Economic and intellectual capital

How are inequalities in families’ economic and intellectual capital related to inequalities in children’s learning outcomes? When, how, and why do these differences arise and what, if anything, can schools do to mitigate them?

Coleman, James (1966). Equality of Educational Opportunity. U.S. Government Printing Office.  Summary Report, pp. 3-23 (of the report; pp. 12-32 of the pdf). [link]

Hart, Betty, and Todd R. Risley (1992). “American parenting of language-learning children: Persisting differences in family-child interactions observed in natural home environments.” Developmental Psychology 28(6), 1096-1105.

Reardon, Sean F. (2011). “The widening academic achievement gap between the rich and the poor: New evidence and possible explanations.” In Greg J. Duncan and Richard J. Murnane, eds. Whither opportunity? Rising inequality, schools, and children’s life chances. Russell Sage Foundation, Ch. 5, pp. 91-115. [iPa©]


Families 2: Social and cultural capital

What are social and cultural capital, and how are they related to economic and other forms of capital? Who generates, distributes, and controls such capital, how, and why? How are inequalities in families’ social and cultural capital related to inequalities in children’s outcomes?


Bourdieu, Pierre (1986). “The Forms of Capital.” In J. Richardson (Ed.) Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. Greenwood, pp. 241-258. [iPa©]

Lareau, Annette (2011). Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life, 2nd Edition. University of California Press. Chapters 1, 4, 6, Appendices A, B, and C. Also recommended but not required: Chs. 3 and 10. [required text]


Institutions 1: Policy (Hartford case study)

How have federal, state, and local policies related to race, housing, economics, and education helped to construct educational inequalities in Hartford, CT? How are they now being used to advance educational equity instead? What roles have different agents in and around Hartford (parents, students, educators, administrators, activists, organizers, elected officials, etc.) played in constructing these policies either on paper or in practice—and how have individual choices intersected with policy mandates to create, maintain, or reshape patterns of educational opportunity and access?

Eaton, Susan (2007). The Children in Room E4: American Education on Trial. Algonquin Press, pp. 39-68 required; 249-285 recommended. [iPa©]

This American Life (2015, Aug. 7). “The Problem We All Live With—Part 2.” link

Jack Dougherty and contributors (2016). On the Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and Its Suburbs. Amherst College Press. link  Read the chapters already posted on this link (much of the book is not yet written).

Du Bois, W. E. Burghardt (1935). “Does the Negro Need Separate Schools?” Journal of Negro Education 4(3): 328-335. link


Institutions 2: Practice (Seguín High School case study)

How did Seguín High School teachers’ perceptions of immigrant and native-born Latin@ students’ level of care for and ability in school lead them to enact “subtractive” educational practices with particular groups of students? Why and how does Valenzuela argue that subtractive schooling creates educational inequalities, not just responds to them?  How do both teachers’ and students’ perceptions of each other’s care, or lack thereof, further exacerbate or mitigate educational inequalities?


Valenzuela, Angela (1999). Subtractive Schooling: U.S. Mexican Youth and the Politics of Caring. SUNY Press. Chs. 1 and 3, and Appendix, pp. 3-32, 61-113, 273-289. [required text]

Strongly recommended, but not required:

Rubin, Beth (2008). “Detracking in Context: How Local Constructions of Ability Complicate Equity-Geared Reform.” Teachers College Record 110(3): 646–699.


Measuring and assessing inequality

How should we understand and assess inequality among individuals, groups, or schools? What are the affordances and challenges of various forms of measurement, and various means of comparison? How can (or should) comparative assessments be used in making educational policy for individuals, groups, or institutions (like schools)?


Ladd, Helen and Susannah Loeb (2013). “The Challenges of Measuring School Quality: Implications for Educational Equity.” In Danielle Allen and Rob Reich, eds. Education, Justice, and Democracy. Chicago University Press, Ch. 1, pp. 19-42. [iPa©]

Klees, Steven J. (2008). “A quarter century of neoliberal thinking in education: misleading analyses and failed policies.” Globalisation, Societies and Education, 6(4), 311-348.

Nisbett, Richard E. et al. (2012). “Intelligence: New Findings and Theoretical Developments.” American Psychologist, 67(2), 130-159.

Carson, John (2003). “The Culture of Intelligence.” In Theodore M. Porter and Dorothy Ross, eds. The Cambridge History of Science Volume 7: The Modern Social Sciences. Cambridge University Press, Ch. 37, pp. 635-648. doi


Faculty panel: How do you understand and research inequality, and why?

Panelists: Heather Hill and Cynthia Pollard, Emmerich Davies, and Jim Antony

Antony James S. (2002). “Reexamining Doctoral Student Socialization and Professional Development: Moving Beyond the Congruence and Assimilation Orientation.” In J.C. Smart and W.G. Tierney, eds. Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research. Vol 17. Springer, Dordrecht.

Warikoo, Natasha, Sinclair, S., Fei, J. & Jacoby-Senghor, D. (2016). “Examining Racial Bias in Education: A New Approach.” Educational Researcher, 45(9), 508-514.

Hill, H. & Pollard, C. (2017). Area perimeter vignette.

Pritchett, L. (2002). “‘When will they ever learn?’” Why All Governments Produce Schooling.” Center for Global Development.


Unit III Consolidation Day

What implications do the causes and consequences of inequality have for our identities, choices, and actions as educational researchers?

What are the implications for action in educational policy and practice?


Unit IV: How can educational outcomes be improved? What opportunities and challenges face those who attempt—via research, policy, or practice—to effect educational change?

Control vs. autonomy 1: Teachers and curriculum

What theoretical and evidentiary support is there for standardizing curricula or pedagogies in order to achieve educational improvement? What theoretical and evidentiary support is there for de-standardizing curricula or pedagogies and enabling teacher autonomy in order to achieve educational improvement? How can we make sense of these divergent arguments and perspectives?

Enable teacher discretion: Sahlberg, Pasi (2015). Finnish Lessons 2.0. Teachers College Press. Ch. 3, “The Finnish Advantage: The Teachers,” pp. 98-138. [iPa©]

Un-standardize content: Sleeter, Christine E. (2005). Un-Standardizing Curriculum: Multicultural Teaching in the Standards-Based Classroom. Teachers College Press.  Ch. 1, “Standards, Multicultural Education, and Central Curriculum Questions,” pp. 5-27. [iPa©]

Teach the culture of power: Delpit, Lisa D. (1988). “The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People's Children.” Harvard Educational Review 58(3): 280-298.

Standardize pedagogy: Whitman, David (2008).  Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism. Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Excerpt of Ch. 4, “Who We Are, Proud to Be, Amistad Academy,” pp. 96-113. [You are required to read to p. 113 of the chapter; skim the rest if you wish.] [iPa©]


Control vs. autonomy 2: Professionals and parents

What theoretical and evidentiary support is there for broadly increasing educators’ knowledge and authority as a means of achieving educational improvement in the United States via professionalization? What theoretical and evidentiary support is there for broadly increasing consumers’ knowledge and authority as a means of achieving educational improvement in the U.S. via marketization? How can we make sense of these divergent arguments and perspectives?


Professionalize: Mehta, Jal (2013). “From Bureaucracy to Profession: Remaking the Educational Sector for the Twenty First Century.” Harvard Educational Review 83(3), 463-488.

Learn from global exemplars: Darling-Hammond, Linda (2010). The Flat World and Education. Teachers College, pp. 163-193. [iPa©]

Unbundle: Hess, Frederick M. and Olivia Meeks (2012). ‘Unbundling Schools and Schooling: Let’s Think More Flexibly About How to Structure Institutions and Jobs.” In Jal Mehta, Robert Schwartz, and Frederick Hess, eds. The Futures of School Reform. Harvard Education Press, Ch. 4, pp. 95-118. [required text]

Marketize: Chubb, John E. and Terry M. Moe (1990). Politics, Markets, and America’s Schools. Brookings, Ch. 6, pp. 185-229. [iPa©]


Inside vs. outside schools

Should those who care about educational improvement focus within schools, or without? To what extent does the evidence base support one approach versus the other? What are the benefits and risks for researchers, policy makers, and educators of focusing on school-based reforms to the exclusion of broader social, economic, health, and welfare reforms—or vice versa?

McGuinn, Patrick (2013). “The Federal Role in Educational Equity.” In Danielle Allen and Rob Reich, Education, Justice, and Democracy. Chicago University Press. Ch.10, pp. 221-242. [iPa©]

Kremer, M., Brannen, C., & Glennerster, R. (2013). “The challenge of education and learning in the developing world.” Science, 340(6130), 297-300.

Duncan, Greg J. and Richard J. Murnane (2012). “Introduction: The American Dream Then and Now.” In Greg J. and Richard J. Murnane, eds. Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children's Life Chances. Russell Sage Foundation, Ch. 1, pp. 3-23. [iPa©]


Reforming policies and practices vs. reforming learning

How do educational policies get translated from the page to the school or classroom? Why do even enthusiastically adopted changes in policy or practice often fail to bring about significant changes in student learning? What implications should we draw for research and practice in educational improvement?


Cohen, David K. (1990). A revolution in one classroom: The case of Mrs. Oublier. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 12(3), pp. 311-329.

Lortie, Dan C. (1975). Schoolteacher. University of Chicago Press, Ch. 3. [iPa©]

Bryk, Anthony S., Louis Gomez, Alicia Grunow, and Paul LeMahieu (2015). Learning to Improve: How America’s Schools Can Get Better at Getting Better. Harvard Education Press. Ch. 1. [iPa©]

Silva, Elena and Taylor White (2013). “Pathways to Improvement: Using Psychological Strategies to Help College Students Master Developmental Math.” Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. [link]


Learning vs. schooling

What does learning mean—or what should it mean—in an interconnected rather than individualized world, and what would happen if we stopped confusing learning with schooling? Where, when, how, and from whom are students learning outside of schools and formal schooling practices? What theoretical and empirical evidence is there, if any, that educational improvement should be pursued through deschooling society rather than reforming schools?

Illich, Ivan (1971). Deschooling Society. Ch. 6, “Learning Webs.” [link]

City, Elizabeth A., Richard Elmore, and Doug Lynch (2012). “Redefining Education: The Future of Learning is Not the Future of Schooling.” In Mehta, Schwartz, and Hess, eds. The Futures of School Reform. Harvard Education Press, Ch. 6, pp. 151-176. [required text]

Ito, Mizuko et al. (2013). Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design. Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. link SKIM rather than read carefully.

Groom, Jim and Brian Lamb (2014), “Reclaiming Innovation.” link


Faculty panel: How do you bridge the gaps among research, policy, and action?

Panelists: Mandy Savitz-Romer, Sarah Dryden-Peterson, and Jal Mehta

All readings are in the pinned discussion.

Dryden-Peterson, Sarah (2016). "Refugee Education: The Crossroads of Globalization." Educational Researcher 45(9): 473-482.

Mehta, Jal and Sarah Fine (forthcoming 2019). In Search of Deeper Learning: Inside the Effort to Remake the American High School. Chapter 3, “No Excuses” and Deeper Learning: Building Block or Oxymoron?"

Mehta, Jal (2010, Nov.-Dec.). "Inverting the Pyramid of School Reform." Harvard Education Letter, pp. 6-8.