Media Mentions

Jackson Quoted in Education Dive on Why Prospective College Students Don’t Expect to Graduate

August 8, 2017

Jerlando Jackson, the director of Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory in the Center for Education Research, quoted in Education Dive.

From the article

A pair of recently released surveys suggests that half of the nation’s high school students feel academically unprepared for college, while half of the students entering their postsecondary education are anxious that they may not graduate, suggesting a variety of stressors could keep them from attaining a diploma.

The concerns incoming students have about their college career can be a significant challenge for higher education institutions in supporting students when they arrive in school and throughout their college career. Dr. Jerlando Jackson, the director of the University of Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory in the Center for Education Research, said colleges and universities that recognize how important a student’s first year can be can assist students in crises of academic preparation and confidence.

“You see that in places where there are Summer Bridge programs in place, a real orientation where they talk about the key aspects of the transition process, and they have first year student programs and initiatives and support services to recognize the real challenges in place,” he said. “That first year experience is very critical.”

Read more.


Jackson Quoted in the Atlantic on Why Men Are the New College Minority

August 8, 2017

Jerlando Jackson, the director and chief research scientist at Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory, quoted in The Atlantic.

From the article:

Many boys beyond that point perceive little benefit to college, especially considering its cost, said Jerlando Jackson, the director and chief research scientist at Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who has written about this. To them, he said, it means a lot of sacrifice for a vague payoff far in the future.

Low-income boys in places with the most economic inequality, in particular, suffer what one study called the “economic despair” of seeing little hope for financial advancement. “They think, ‘Well, I could just start out working in the mall and in six years make the same as a classmate who goes to college and whose first post-college job pays them less than I’ll be making then,’” Jackson said.

Read more.


Video Game by UW-Madison Group is up for National Award

July 14, 2017

"At Play in the Cosmos" a a game developed by WCER's Gear Learning, in which players are space contractors who research and explore the universe, is a Games for Change Award finalist.

From the Capital Times:

A video game about exploring the cosmos that a University of Wisconsin-Madison institution developed is up for a national award for educational games.

The Games Education and Research group launched in January as the university’s new center for making games for education. It released a beta version of “At Play in the Cosmos” soon after, a game in which players are space contractors who research and explore the universe, using the principles of astronomy to guide them.

On Tuesday, the New York City-based group Games for Change nominated “At Play in the Cosmos” as the “best learning game” of the year. The game is also in the running for the “People’s Choice Award” for title of year.

Read more.


The Value of Mentorship in the Scientific Field

July 13, 2017

Christine Pfund, director of the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER), was featured in Lab Manager.

From the article:

The value of effective mentorship in the sciences is increasingly being recognized. Mentoring is tied to many benefits for a mentee (e.g., increased research productivity and career satisfaction), which also benefits the lab overall. Anyone can learn to be an effective mentor with the right training and practice. However, mentoring is not an isolated endeavor, and a team-based approach (e.g., peer-mentoring groups) can provide a holistic support system to ensure an individualized mentoring experience.

Why mentoring in the lab matters

Research shows that the presence of effective mentoring relationships in the lives of early-career scientists is a strong indicator for career success. According to Christine Pfund, an associate scientist in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has extensively researched mentoring in the sciences, “In short, good mentorship impacts who does science, how productive they are, and how satisfied they are on a science career path.”

While technical skills and scientific theory can be taught in the classroom, Suzanne E. Barbour, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and dean of the graduate school at the University of Georgia, says that much of what it means to be a professional scientist is just too nuanced to learn in that setting. Thus, a mentor is needed to serve as a role model to show trainees what is expected of a “card-carrying member of the profession.”

Read more.


Effective Mentoring in STEMM: Practice, Research, and Future Directions: Proceedings of a Workshop

June 26, 2017

Christine Pfund, the director of the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) was a member of the planning committee for a workshop hosted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 

From the National Academies Press website:

Mentoring has long been understood as a beneficial component of academic and professional development. But investigations of the attributes of effective mentoring interactions in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medical (STEMM) education are only now starting to shed light on how exactly these complex and dynamic relationships form, evolve, and impact the lives and careers of the current and next generation of STEMM professionals.

To explore the conversation surrounding this highly interdisciplinary field, the Board on Higher Education and Workforce and the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine, in collaboration with the Board on Science Education and the Teacher Advisory Council, convened a workshop in Washington D.C. on February 9-10, 2017. Educators, scientists, engineers, industry leaders, and scholars from a wide range of career stages focused on identifying successful practices and metrics for mentoring students in STEMM career pathways. Workshop sessions spanned topics across the mentoring field: definitions, theories, practices, perspectives, evidence, research, identity, and reflection, with a particular emphasis on identifying the evidence supporting successful mentoring practices for women and students of color across high school and postsecondary education. This publication briefly summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop.

The proceedings from the workshop are available to download.


The Benefits of Research-Practice Partnership Work

June 22, 2017

From Education Week:

This week we are hearing from the Madison Education Partnership (MEP). Today's post is the practitioner perspective on the partnership work introduced in Monday's post: Can Kindergarten for 4-Year-Olds Help Close Equity Gaps?

This post is by Jaymes Pyne, Graduate Researcher, and Beth Vaade, Co-Director for the Madison Education Partnership, who talked with Andrew Statz, Executive Director of Research, Accountability & Data Use for the Madison Metropolitan School District.

A perennial challenge for most research-practice partnerships is maintaining the mutually beneficial part of the equation. For the Madison Education Partnership (MEP) - a research-practice partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) and the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) - this challenge inspires the core functions of the organization.

Read more.


Bailey Smolarek: Skills Gap Doesn’t Account for Poor Jobs Numbers Here

June 20, 2017

Bailey Smolarek from the Center for Research on College to Workforce Transitions published an op-ed in The Capital Times.

From The Capital Times:

Dear Editor: Gov. Walker has pointed to a lack of skilled workers as the reason Wisconsin lost 3,800 manufacturing jobs last year.

While his response may have surprised some, the last year studying education and workforce skills Wisconsin Center for Education Research has shown me that job loss can rarely be explained so easily. Nevertheless, leaders throughout the country continue to use the idea of a “skills gap” — the gap between the skills employers need and the skills workers possess — to explain labor market concerns. Leaders like the governor use this narrative and blame workers for employment issues to keep workforce development conversations at the individual level.

However, the “skills gap” has already been debunked by numerous economists, who instead point to stagnated wages and a lack of quality job openings. Noble Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman even calls the skills gap a “zombie idea” because it is “an idea that should have been killed by evidence, but refuses to die.” Still, this idea continues to be resurrected to deflect attention from the real issues like employers having trouble hiring positions in less-desirable locations or with low wages. Moreover, manufacturing industries have also encountered a great deal of automation and outsourcing, making them quite cyclical and unpredictable.

The reality is that Wisconsinites are seeing limited numbers of well-paying jobs. UW-Milwaukee professor Marc Levine has shown that Wisconsin’s only labor market growth has been in low-wage positions. Furthermore, most economists argue that there is actually a growing number of overskilled workers.

Read more.


Implicit Bias In the Classroom: Can Video Games Help Combat It?

June 20, 2017

From Education Week:

Researchers at University of Wisconsin-Madison are developing a video game that will guide K-12 teachers through the hazards of unconscious attitudes and assumptions that affect the way they see their students, a phenomenon called "implicit bias."

This summer, the researchers will work with staff from two school districts to design the game, which will allow teachers to experience bias in the schoolyard, cafeteria and classroom from a student's perspective.

Christine M. Pribbenow, a senior scientist at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the university, says one scenario that could turn up in the game is common enough in real life—a teacher in a majority white school calls a black student by the wrong first name, confusing him for another student of color.

"What do you do about that?" said Pribbenow. "If you are calling students by the wrong name, a very simple strategy is to get to know them as individuals. If you're doing something like that, you're probably grouping kids together, like all the Asian kids together and all the black kids together."

The idea for a video game that teaches educators to recognize implicit bias is not new. Pribbenow had a hand in developing the video game Fair Play, which was the brainchild of University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of medicine Molly Carnes. In the game, university professors and administrators directly experience the discrimination against a black graduate student. Players guide the avatar, named Jamal Davis, as he navigates a university campus, networks with colleagues, picks an advisor and attends conferences. Along the way, the students and professors he runs into make assumptions about him because he's black.

Read more.


Pribbenow, Carnes Receive Baldwin Grant

June 9, 2017

Projects both large and small will help the university contribute knowledge and resources across the state, thanks to grants from the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment.

The competitive grant program is open to UW–Madison faculty, staff and students. 

One of the grants awarded went to Christine Pribbenow, Director of WCER's LEAD Center and Molly Carnes, from the School of Medicine and Public Health, for the project Do You Play Fair? Addressing Bias in K-12 Educational Settings, as described below:

Significant disparities continue to exist between black and white students in education. Recently, differential treatment of students due to unconscious cognitive processes, “implicit bias” has been identified as a contributor to negative experiences and outcomes for underrepresented minorities. Perspective-taking — or “imagining yourself in someone else’s shoes” — helps to decrease implicit bias and in turn, promotes positive feelings, attitudes and behaviors toward others. The proposed project builds upon the success of the Fair Play game, which was developed to provide players with the opportunity to take the perspective of a Black student who encounters bias incidents on a university campus as well as workshops that are currently being offered at UW–Madison and other postsecondary institutions The project will create a professional development tool that is based in a K-12 school context that will allow teachers and administrators to take the perspective of students with whom they work. Ultimately, this game will be available for use by districts across the state of Wisconsin.

Read more about all the awardees.


Rural Teachers Share Perspectives with UW–Madison Education Researchers

June 7, 2017

From the article:

WEAC members were front-and-center on a panel of public school teachers representing Wisconsin rural districts at the first-ever Teacher Speakout! at UW-Madison.

The teachers provided researchers with a first-hand look at what it’s like to live and work in rural schools.

“WEAC’s rural school educators are dedicated to bringing opportunities to their students and communities,” said WEAC President Ron Martin, an eighth grade teacher who attended the panel and talked with panelists. “Educators in rural communities know what works and what doesn’t for their students, so it’s refreshing to see attention being brought to the unique needs of these professionals.”

Seventy-seven percent of Wisconsin school districts are considered rural, yet Martin – who graduated from a rural Northern Wisconsin school – said oftentimes it’s difficult for rural educators to get their voices heard in state decisions about education. Their local and state associations help amplify their voices so they can better advocate for their students and profession.

Read more.


Hess, McAvoy Discussion Project Aims to Get People Talking Across Racial Lines

May 31, 2017

From Madison 365:

One of many benefits of a diverse academic space is students can learn from one another and create a better learning experience overall, but this only happens when class discussions are structured to facilitate constructive conversations, according to Paula McAvoy, program director for the Center of Ethics and Education at UW-Madison.

“Colleges want diversity on campus because diversity is good for learning, but if students are just sitting next to each other taking lecture notes, you haven’t really gotten the positive outcomes of diversity, which is learning from people who think differently than you do,” said McAvoy.  “If we want diverse campuses and want them to be positive learning experiences we need to learn how to get students talking to each other.”

McAvoy and School of Education Dean Diana Hess plan to do just that with a new professional development seminar that teaches UW-Madison teaching staff how to construct and facilitate classroom discussion.

Read the entire article.


Echoes of Rural Teachers Heard by Researchers at UW-Madison

May 25, 2017

From the Dodgeville Chronicle:

Out of the 424 school districts in Wisconsin, 233 are considered “rural,” 95 are “town,” 79 are “suburban” and 17 are considered “urban.” Yet little information is known about those “rural” school districts by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) and School of Education.

“What if?” Robert Mathieu, director of WCER told a large group of stakeholders at the first Teacher Speakout!, held on the UW campus last Monday. “What if we had rural teachers come and speak to us about
what they do?”

“This is a big change for us,” he added. “WCER doesn’t have a strong portfolio in rural research. But that’s going to change.”

Read more.


UW-Madison’s Jackson speaks in video promoting NSF’s INCLUDES initiative

April 20, 2017

UW-Madison's Jerlando Jackson is showcased in a new video speaking about the National Science Foundation's (NSF) INCLUDES initiative. 

The INCLUDES Initiative aims to develop STEM talents from all sectors and underrepresented groups in society. 

Jackson is UW-Madison's Vilas Distinguished Professor of Higher Education and is the director and chief research scientist of Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory (Wei LAB), which is housed in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER). He is a faculty member with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis and is a Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE) faculty affiliate.

Jackson is a collaborating investigator on an INCLUDES initiative called, "The Consortium of Minority Doctoral Students."

This project examined three doctoral scholars programs to identify proven, high-impact and scalable recruitment, retention and mentoring strategies for increasing the number of Hispanic and Black/African American doctoral students in engineering, computing and information sciences programs.


Data from UW-Madison’s Hillman, Bruecker, Crespín-Trujillo cited in ‘The Atlantic’

April 20, 2017

Data from UW-Madison's Nicholas Hillman, Ellie Bruecker, and Valerie Crespín-Trujillo was cited in an article in The Atlantic discussing the impact of ​recent changes to the FAFSA, known as "Early FAFSA," on student completion.

This year, FAFSA applications were available three months earlier than in previous years, and applicants were able to easily input their information with an IRS data-retrieval tool. According to the article, “The aim of these changes was to make FAFSA completion easier and to give students a clear picture of their aid eligibility much earlier in the college-application process than in the past. The Obama administration, schools, and college-access organizations expected that the updates would get more people to complete the FAFSA, to do so earlier in the year and, ultimately, to attend college.”

The article reports that Hillman, Bruecker, and Crespín-Trujillo “have been tracking FAFSA completions for several years using federal data. For the latest FAFSA cycle, their graph shows a steep climb in the opening months. After hitting 1 million completed applications by December, the number of new FAFSAs slowed down until another, small surge in late February, as financial-aid deadlines approached.”

However, “in an unpublished paper, Hillman, Bruecker, and Crespín-Trujillo show that over the last three years, high schools in western states, schools with higher shares of African American students, and schools with high numbers of low-income students have lower FAFSA-completion rates than the typical high school nationally, which is a bit shy of 50 percent."

Hillman is an associate professor with the School of Education's Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA) who researches higher education finance and policy, and is a Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE) faculty affiliate. Bruecker and Crespín-Trujillo are ​Ph.D. students ​in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.


Alibali Recognized with Kellett Mid-Career Award

March 30, 2017

From the article:

Eleven members of the UW–Madison faculty have won Kellett Mid-Career Awards.

The Kellett awards recognize outstanding faculty seven to 20 years past their first promotion to a tenured position. A divisional committee appointed by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education chooses winners from professors nominated by departments, Ph.D. major programs and interdepartmental groups.

Supported by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the Kellett award provides research funding to faculty members at a critical stage of their careers and is named for William R. Kellett, a former president of the WARF board of trustees and retired president of Kimberly-Clark Corp.

Martha Alibali, professor of psychology, investigates basic processes of cognitive development and mathematics learning, and their implications for instruction. Her work focuses specifically on the roles of perception, action and gesture in thinking and in instructional communication. Alibali is an award-winning teacher and a dedicated research mentor for undergraduate and graduate students.

Read more.