Beyond the Skills Gap: Preparing College Students for Life and Work
August 20, 2018
How can educators ensure that young people who attain a postsecondary credential are adequately prepared for the future? Matthew T. Hora and his co-authors, Ross Benbow and Amanda Oleson, explain that the answer is not simply that students need more specialized technical training to meet narrowly defined employment opportunities. Beyond the Skills Gap: Preparing College Students for Life and Work (Harvard Education Press, 2016) challenges this conception of the “skills gap,” highlighting instead the value of broader twenty-first-century skills in postsecondary education. They advocate for a system in which employers share responsibility along with the education sector to serve the collective needs of the economy, society, and students.
The study, set in Wisconsin, takes place against the backdrop of heated political debates over the role of public higher education. This thoughtful and nuanced account, enriched by keen observations of postsecondary instructional practice, promises to contribute new insights to the rich literature on workforce development and to provide valuable guidance for postsecondary faculty and administrators.
Researchers Look to Enhance Relationships Between Madison Teachers and Kindergartners
August 7, 2018
This summer, about 100 Madison families with kids entering kindergarten will get home visits from teachers in an experimental effort to build relationships.
Beth Vaade, a program evaluation specialist with the Madison School District and co-director of the Madison Education Partnership, said the hope is to forge a bond with families so when kids go from 4-year-old kindergarten to 5-year-old classes “on that first day, they’re feeling like this is a safe place, this is a place that cares about me, and a place that I want to be part of.”
The partnership is a research effort between the district, University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers and community members that aims to improve educational outcomes. Also leading the project is Eric Grodsky, a professor of sociology and educational policy studies at UW-Madison.
UW-Madison: New study finds far fewer middle-skill jobs in US than estimated
July 23, 2018
Significantly fewer “middle-skill” jobs exist in the U.S. than previously estimated, according to new research from the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at UW-Madison.
Study shows fewer middle-skill jobs in U.S.
July 23, 2018
New research by the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison revealed significantly fewer middle-skill jobs exist in the United States than previously estimated.
Advancing Equity and Diversity in Student Affairs Media Mention
July 3, 2018
Wei LAB Director Jerlando F.L. Jackson first met Dr. Melvin C. Terrell while a Ph.D. student studying professional growth factors for African American administrators at predominantly White institutions. Terrell called Jackson to talk to him about the importance of the study and offer to help gather participants.
"No one had taken ... interest in me or my work sight unseen before," Jackson says in the 2018 book he co-edited, "Advancing Equity and Diversity in Student Affairs: A Festschrift in Honor of Melvin C. Terrell." "I assumed it was just rhetoric."
A Festschrift is an academic tradition that recognizes the retirement of an accomplished scholar by other scholars contributing original work to a volume dedicated to the honoree. Terrell was a pioneer in student affairs, serving as vice president for student affairs at Northeastern Illinois University for 20 years. Terrell provided guidance to scholars and practitioners, many of whom contributed to the Festschrift in his honor.
Jackson is Vilas Distinguished Professor of Higher Education, and the director and chief research scientist of Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory at WCER. In addition to co-editing "Advancing Equity and Diversity in Student Affairs," he wrote the introduction and co-authored two chapters. DeVon Wilson, Wei LAB research associate and director of the Center for Academic Excellence/Assistant Dean in the College of Letters & Science at University of Wisconsin, also contributed a chapter, as did several former Wei LAB staff members.
Not Playing Around
June 8, 2018 | By Jason Busch
In the world of Gear Learning at UW–Madison, the biggest trend in game design is in collaboration between subject matter experts and game designers, says Beall. “Thanks to the foresight of Diana Hess, dean of the School of Education and Bob Mathieu, director of WCER, Gear Learning is positioned to have tremendous impact in the field of games for learning. As part of the UW–Madison campus, I am in regular meetings with some of the world’s foremost experts in areas like astronomy, pharmaceuticals, women’s health, astro-botany, and others. Through games, we bring together amazing people, all of whom seek to leverage the power of games to engage and educate.
“Madison is certainly a hub for game development, and in my experience it is by far the most potent hub across the Midwest,” concurs Beall. “With the University of Wisconsin as a major driving factor, the Greater Madison area is filled with innovative and creative folks. With local organizations fostering [game] making, entrepreneurship, and broader economic development, Madison is stronger than ever.”
Gamification: Where Work Meets Play
June 6, 2018
Michael Beall, the director of Gear Learning at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, agrees that the term is often misused. “One important distinction is that game design is different from gamification. Gamification can be part of game design, but it’s more specifically the adding of game-like mechanics to non-gaming environments. I happen to be a big fan of gamification, in that it can be leveraged to promote or encourage learning.
“It all comes down to psychology and understanding that meaningful play, like many things in life, is subjective,” Beall adds. “Once we understand models of player types, like Bartle’s taxonomy of game player types, it’s easy to imagine nearly limitless possibilities for gamification.”
Shaffer Comments on Active Shooter Video Game
June 5, 2018
David Williamson Shaffer, a UW–Madison professor of educational psychology and a game scientist at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, offered insights on violence in video games in a WTMJ radio interview on May 30, a day after public backlash canceled the release of Active Shooter. The controversial online video game would have let players move through a school fatally shooting police officers and civilians.
Shaffer believes Active Shooter is a very bad idea for a video game, but stresses all video games are not bad. “If I had one big take home from all this, it’s that parents should use discretion about what their kids are doing. You wouldn’t just let them pick up any book, you wouldn’t necessarily just let them go to any movie, you shouldn’t let them just play any video game because they think it might be cool.”
Shaffer is the author of the book, “How Computer Games Help Children Learn,” and has developed educational computer games on topics such as land science, biomedical engineering, ethics, geometry and graphic design.
Latest Research on Madison School District 4K Program to be Shared Thursday
April 24, 2018
A free and public presentation of the latest findings on early learning in the Madison School District will be offered Thursday by a new research collaboration studying the district’s 4-year-old kindergarten program.
The Madison Education Partnership, or MEP, is a joint research practice formed about 18 months ago between the district and the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, part of UW-Madison’s School of Education.
Since then, the collaboration has produced several studies about different aspects of the 4K program, with five university researchers Thursday to present results publicly for the first time related to topics including educational equity, family engagement, interpersonal skill development and supporting homeless families.
Event seating is limited; register at www.mep-research-symposium.eventbrite.com. It will be held from 4-7:30 p.m. at UW-Madison’s Gordon Center, 770 W. Dayton St.
Scholars Look for Ways to Restore Respect for Expertise
April 23, 2018
A gathering of United States scholars last week took up the question of how their work can remain relevant in a ‘post-truth’ era, when alternative facts can influence public policy and fake news can be leveraged to try to swing election results.
The scholars also took themselves to task, acknowledging how they may be enabling the assault on their stock-in-trade, evidence and expertise, if only by remaining silent.
"We live in a kind of anti-knowledge era, and I am surprised by how [many] of us sit by passively and watch,” Hyman Bass, a long-time University of Michigan professor, said in one open forum.
At the core of their concern is the presidency of Donald Trump, who has inspired discussion of how the academic community can best respond to what it sees as the devaluation of knowledge and the politicisation of facts, data and research.
Perhaps most unsettling of all is the recent revelation that a company named Cambridge Analytica planted fake news on targeted Facebook accounts in a bid to help Trump win the election. That the ruse may have made a difference aligns with empirical studies showing that most people use research to confirm their prior beliefs.
Several AERA speakers raised that point.
"When people have deeply held values or convictions, no amount of facts" can persuade them otherwise, said University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Emerita Gloria Ladson-Billings, an AERA honoree this year for her contributions to education research.
The Dawn of the Robot Coach
April 11, 2018
In 2017, Slice, a New York tech company that builds software solutions for independent pizzerias, had a management problem.
The company’s tech staff is based in Macedonia, where high unemployment rates mean most of their new hires have never held a formal job prior to Slice. “We have a lot of first-time managers who need coaching,” said Rick Pereira, chief people officer.
Instead of moving to Macedonia himself, Pereira implemented Butterfly.ai, an artificial intelligence coaching app that provides feedback to managers on their leadership skills. The tools uses anonymous employee survey results and past performance data to rate managers’ performance, then offers tips and training content to help them improve.
Pereira, who is able to review all of the feedback, said it has helped many of his team members become better managers, including their general manager who initially had a gruff communication style. “People loved what he was saying but not how he said it,” Pereira said. Based on consistent feedback about the general manager’s rough approach, the Butterfly coach recommended a series of communication courses and articles. “Now he’s one of our strongest leaders,” Pereira said.
There is a level of subtlety there that is hard to achieve, said David William[son] Shaffer, professor of learning science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a game scientist at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. “It’s difficult for a computer to have enough information about the world to know what a person needs to do or should do in a certain scenario,” he said.
ELLs Count on Language Support in Math
April 6, 2018
At her district's newcomer center, English as a Second Language teacher Barbara Gottschalk would engage parents in a visual exercise: compare a math textbook from 20 years ago to the one in use today. The former, a familiar reproduction of the kind of math newcomers most likely experienced in their home countries, was defined by rows of computation. In the current textbook, however, words abound.
"You could tell just by looking at the two that even a student with a strong background in math will need some language support in a mainstream math class," says Gottschalk, who teaches at Susick Elementary in Troy, Michigan. A student with interrupted or limited schooling, she adds, will need even more language support.
With the Common Core State Standards and, especially, the skills identified in the Standards for Mathematical Practice, mathematics has increasingly emphasized conceptual understanding and reasoning, in addition to procedural know-how. "Language is the entirety of the mathematics classroom," says Megan Rowe, a math teacher at Borah High School in a linguistically diverse district outside Boise, Idaho. "From the language I use when I'm teaching to the language students use when they're reasoning among their peers—I don't know how you could ever teach mathematics now without focusing on language."
For newcomers, Eatmon recommends gradually increasing language demands. "Phrase questions that require them to produce a minimal amount of English at the beginning," she recommends. Choice questions (that require a yes/no, true/false, and ways for them to communicate nonverbally via a word card or hand signals) are a good place to start. As newcomers develop confidence with language skills, stretch expectations for discourse.
"Newcomers need special handling for a while," says Rita MacDonald, researcher at WIDA and the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER). "However, students are newcomers for the short term; they are language learners for a long time."
Madison Workshop Gives Teens of Color a Taste of Video Game Development
April 6, 2018
Ahmed Saeed, an 8th grader who goes to Cherokee Heights Middle School, spent Tuesday filming a one-on-one fight scene between a Lego man in a bomber jacket wielding a double-bladed sword and Lego Batman.
Saeed filmed his 30-second stop-motion animation at a table strewn with Legos and iPads on the third floor of the Madison Central Library branch. Saeed was there for Coding & Gaming Day, an event that aimed to expose teens to the process of creating video games.
The stop-motion animation station was only one stop along a chain of activities at the event, organized as part of My Brother’s Keeper, a city-backed initiative to provide opportunities for boys of color. Each station was manned by developers and designers from tech nonprofits and video game studios in Madison, including DANENet, Acme Nerd Games, Filament Games and Gear Learning.
The fact that a majority of children and teenagers are playing video games like Playerunknown's Battlegrounds, Call of Duty and Fortnite (a new title that Saeed said is one of the most popular among his peers) is one of the hooks of the event, said Mike Beall.
“Now, they’re getting to see that the games that they’re playing, there was a lot of work that went into that,” said Beall, the director of Gear Learning, an educational game studio based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “It’s not snap your fingers and there’s a video game.”
Snowflakes, Safe Spaces Mean Nothing when College Students Can’t Eat
April 4, 2018
In 2014, Shabazz Napier, then a University of Connecticut senior and star guard on the school's basketball team told reporters, "There are hungry nights — that I go to bed and I am starving."
Napier is not alone.
A new survey conducted by researchers at Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab found that 36 percent of university students do not get enough to eat. That number rose to 42 percent when it came to community college students. Factoring in food insecurity, that number increased to 56 percent. Researchers found similarly high numbers for students struggling with housing insecurity.
UW-Madison School of Education Shines in Latest U.S. News ‘Best Graduate Schools’ Rankings
March 28, 2018
Several programs within UW-Madison’s School of Education are once again ranked among the very best in the nation in the 2019 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Education Graduate Schools” report.
The latest ratings compiled by U.S. News reveal that the School is home to three No. 1-ranked programs in the “education specialties” of Curriculum/Instruction, Educational Psychology and Administration/Supervision. In addition, the School of Education is home to eight different graduate programs that are ranked among the Top 10 in the nation: Counseling/Personnel Services (No. 3); Education Policy (No. 3); Elementary Education (No. 4); Secondary Education (No. 6); and Special Education (No. 10).
Moreover, in U.S. News’ 2019 Best Education Graduate Schools ratings released late Monday night, the UW-Madison School of Education is ranked No. 2 overall. According to this index, the University of California-Los Angeles is No. 1, with UW-Madison and Harvard University tied for second. Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania are tied for fourth.
This marks the 19th time in the past 20 years that UW-Madison, which was tied for No. 3 last year, has maintained a top-10 ranking among all schools of education. UW-Madison is the only Big Ten Conference institution to crack the top 10 in the U.S. News rankings each year since 2010.
“It is fabulous to again be recognized as one of the leading schools of education in the United States,” says UW-Madison School of Education Dean Diana Hess, the Karen A. Falk Distinguished Chair of Education. “Our excellence is rooted in our very talented, committed and accomplished faculty and staff, outstanding students, engaged alumni and backing from leadership across UW-Madison that provides us the support to do our best work.”
In U.S. News’ education specialty ratings, UW-Madison’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction has been home to the No. 1-ranked Curriculum/Instruction program every year since 2001.
Professor John Rudolph, who chairs the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, says the program’s consistently high ranking is due, in large part, to dedicated faculty members with a long tradition of intellectual creativity that’s made possible due to ongoing institutional support.
“This recognition says a lot about the sustained, high-quality work that goes on in the department,” says Rudolph. “More importantly, it suggests that there’s something unique about UW-Madison, the School of Education, the city of Madison and the state as places that cultivate and support excellence and engaged scholarship. Even as the faculty changes over the years, the department continues to thrive as a result.”
In U.S. News’ Educational Psychology rankings, UW-Madison has now housed the top-ranked program seven times in the past eight years.
Professor Bradford Brown, who chairs the Department of Educational Psychology, explains that this reputation is built on the faculty's skill in conducting sophisticated and meaningful research –- inquiry that has strong theoretical foundations, advanced research designs and practical implications for educational practice.
“We are grateful for and humbled by this recognition,” Brown says of the U.S. News ranking. “The rich intellectual environment and the presence of outstanding colleagues throughout the university inspire Department of Educational Psychology faculty members to tackle the most important educational issues of our day.”
Brown notes that faculty members are involved in a diverse range of research on critical issues in education, including: studies of bullying; the fundamentals of math learning; use of technology to assist in learning and instruction; programs to inspire early reading; elements of successful family-school partnerships in rural areas; instruction for youths with autism; and the adjustment of ethnic minority students to predominantly white college environments. In addition, faculty members are assisted by colleagues who are world renowned for their innovations in test design and quantitative measurement, enhancing the sophistication of the research the department conducts.
U.S. News also ranked UW-Madison’s program in Administration/Supervision, which is housed within the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, No. 1.
“We are thrilled with this recognition of the important work our students, faculty and alumni do,” says Professor Julie Mead, the School’s associate dean for education and chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA).
Mead explains that leadership, and the specialty area of Administration/Supervision, is an important aspect of school success. Students and ELPA faculty members, Mead notes, are known for producing high-quality work that examines leadership from a variety of perspectives.
“We have faculty well known for their research on school leadership, organizational theory, education law, school finance, policy, teacher workforce, race, homelessness, and equity -– all with a common goal of working with leaders in the field to construct more equitable schools for all students,” says Mead.
To calculate its overall 2019 Best Graduate School rankings, U.S. News explains that it sent surveys to 385 institutions granting doctoral degrees, with 267 providing data the publication used to calculate rankings based on a series of measures. Some of these measures include: quality assessments based on surveys filled out by education school deans and deans of graduate studies; student selectivity measures, such as GRE scores and acceptance rates; faculty resource measures; and research activity. Ratings of programs were also provided by K-12 superintendents, people who hire graduates and other education experts. (View details about U.S. News' methodology.)
“I am often asked what the U.S. News rankings actually mean,” says Hess. “It’s important to understand that our peers in other schools of education across the United States rank us, as we do them, on a range of factors. But it’s also relevant to note how education leaders outside of universities are asked to weigh in on which schools of education in the nation are of exceptional quality. Although we recognize these rankings are just one measure among many, we are honored to be recognized as one of the leading schools of education in the country for graduate education.”
U.S. News explains that the program specialty rankings are “based solely on nominations by education school deans and education school deans of graduate studies from the list of schools surveyed.” Those participating could select up to 10 top programs in each area.
Not all graduate programs are ranked by U.S. News & World Report each year.
For example, the School of Education’s Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education remains No. 1 in Rehabilitation Counseling, while the School’s Art Department is still home to the top-ranked printmaking program (as voted on by deans and department chairs in the fine arts). But those marks are from past years, as U.S. News did not re-rank those specialty programs this year.
Similarly, in other specialty programs that were not re-ranked by U.S. News this year, the School of Education remains home to the No. 14 Occupational Therapy program (as voted on by program directors and faculty in health disciplines) and the No. 15 Fine Arts program (as voted on by deans and department chairs in the fine arts).