Media Mentions

Janesville Science Students Use Puntambekar’s Work

February 19, 2018

Across the Janesville School District, eighth-grade students are engaged in a new way of learning science—one that involves buckets of mud, thinking like a scientist and, perhaps, making their community a better place. The students are a part of a study designed by professor Sadhana Puntambekar of UW-Madison’s Interactive Learning and Design Lab: "Biosphere: Fostering Deep Learning of Complex Biology for Building Our Next Generation’s Scientists."


Over time, humanities majors close pay gap with STEM peers

February 19, 2018

From the Daily Tar Heel:

Humanities majors may initially earn less money than STEM majors, but a new study shows they close the gap over time.

The report by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences — "The State of the Humanities 2018: Graduates in the Workforce & Beyond" — found humanities majors typically earn around $10,000 to $30,000 less than STEM and professional majors but still more than workers without a bachelor’s degree. 

This gap has closed over time – advanced degree holders in the humanities earned 38 percent higher wages. Despite this, stereotypes about the lack of job opportunities and low wages still exist. 

Matthew Hora, a professor in liberal arts and applied studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said part of this perception about humanities majors is rooted in truth. 

“It’s not much of a stereotype – it’s just a fact,” he said. “I think the part of the stereotype that’s unfortunate is this notion that if you get a degree in arts and humanities, you’re unemployable.”

Read more.


Assessment Tool to Measure Mentorship Role in Undergraduate Research

January 30, 2018

From the UW-Madison Office of the Provost:

January is National Mentor Month and UW-Madison has reason to celebrate. For over two decades, the university has been a nationally recognized leader in evidence-based research mentor and mentee training, and has led the way in providing high-quality undergraduate research experiences. Thanks to the dedicated work of a group of units from across campus, yet another exciting, new advancement is underway.

Members of the Collaborative for Advancing Learning and Teaching (The Collaborative) – Student Learning Assessment and WISCIENCE – are working in partnership with the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) and the College of Letters & Science Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) program on the project.

Madison faculty members have long been committed to including undergraduate students on their research teams and to providing high-quality mentoring. Many have participated in research mentor training offered by WISCIENCE in collaboration with the Delta Program, originally developed by UW-Madison Professor Jo Handelsman and Associate Scientist Christine Pfund.

Read more.


Board Approves Establishing Committee to Study Teacher Compensation

January 23, 2018

From the Kenosha News:

The Silver Lake-Salem School Board Monday night approved establishing a 10-member committee charged with studying alternate compensation, particularly for the pay structure for teachers.

Alternate compensation options could include supplemental pay for extracurricular activities, expertise, administrative leadership or other duties beyond the normal classroom instruction day, he said.

The district and staff have been begun a cursory review of what other districts have been doing with teacher compensation based on research from the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

Read more.


‘Excessive Video Gaming’ in Draft as a Mental Health Condition

January 2, 2018

From WISC TV:

The World Health Organization included "excessive video gaming" in its draft of the 2018 International Classification of Diseases.

If it's included next year, video gaming would be considered a diagnosis that health professionals and insurance companies could use.

Michael Beall, director of GEAR Learning, an educational gaming development center at UW-Madison, said he believes this classification is a step backward for gaming, which he sees as a positive influence in people's lives.

"A lot of good video games nowadays have a very rich narrative," Beall said. "It's just like reading a book. People want to finish this. They want to know what happens at the end."

Read more.


Madison Pre-K Benefits Student Behavior And Literacy

January 2, 2018

From Wisconsin Public Radio:

Students enrolled in Madison's pre-K program showed improvements in literacy and behavioral skills compared to similar students not enrolled in the program, according to a recently published study.

This is the second study from the Madison Education Partnership, which is a research partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education and the Madison Metropolitan School District. The analysis focused on student kindergarten readiness, which was defined as literacy and behavioral skill. The behavior skills are measured through teacher reports in the first quarter of kindergarten.

Students from less advantaged homes benefited more from pre-K programs, according to the study. Eric Grodsky, UW-Madison professor and MEP co-director, said pre-K may help increase equity among students.

"Children who are African-American, who are from low income families whose parents didn’t attend or complete college seem to get fairly substantial benefits in their literacy skills from enrolling in 4K," he said. "While children who are more advantaged do just about as well if they’re in 4K or not."

Read more.


Indicators for Monitoring Undergraduate STEM Education

December 14, 2017

Mark Connolly, Principal Investigator of the NSF-funded Longitudinal Study of Future STEM Scholars, is a committee member of the Board on Science and Education at The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The Committee recently released this report:

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals generate a stream of discoveries and innovations that fuel job creation and national economic growth. Undergraduate STEM education prepares these professionals while teaching all students knowledge and skills that are useful across a range of jobs and in civic life. 

However, many capable students who intend to major in these fields switch to another field or drop out of higher education altogether—in part because of documented weaknesses in teaching, learning, and supports for students in STEM fields. While various initiatives are now under way to improve the quality of undergraduate STEM education, policy makers and the public do not know whether these initiatives are accomplishing their goals and leading to nationwide progress. 

This report identifies a set of national-level indicators to measure the status and quality of undergraduate STEM education over multiple years. The report—which was developed by a study committee of STEM faculty, administrators, education researchers, and economists—also identifies types of data that will need to be collected in order to put the indicators to use, along with possible strategies to gather this data. 
 
Read more.


Claudia Persico Featured on NPR’s Marketplace

December 12, 2017

Claudia Persico, an assistant professor in ELPA and a WCER researcher, was interviewed and contributed to an NPR Marketplace news story.

From the Marketplace website:

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced 21 new places to be deemed Superfund sites, areas with toxic pollution around the country. Being added to the Superfund list means federal officials oversee the cleanup. Yet the White House budget proposal includes a 30 percent cut for the Superfund program.

Listen to the story.


Cleveland Heights High Students Host National MSAN Conference on Closing racial Gaps in Classrooms

October 23, 2017

Earlier this month, the 2017 MSAN Student Conference, “FOCUS: Fighting Our Cause Unified in the Struggle,” was hosted by Cleveland Heights-University Heights City Schools. The Cleveland Heights community blog of  Cleveland.com featured a story about the event.

From the article:

Cleveland Heights High School sophomore De'Leah Gray is a student with a goal.

"I want a 4.0 GPA," she said. "I had a 3.7 last year, so I'd like to get 3.8 or higher. I want to improve."

When asked how some of her struggling classmates might reach such a lofty grade point average, or at least challenge themselves to so, Gray quickly answered, "Join MSAN."

MSAN is the Minority Student Achievement Network, established nationally in 1999 with Cleveland Heights-University Heights Schools among its 15 founding districts.

MSAN is a national coalition of mutli-racial school districts that work together. Its stated mission is to "understand and change school practices and structures that keep racial opportunity/achievement gaps in place."

Read more.


Madison School District’s 4K Program Boosting Opportunity for Minority, Low-Income Youngsters

October 9, 2017

The Madison Education Partnership (MEP), a joint research project between WCER and the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), recently released a report on the state of 4-year-old-kindergarten programs in the district. The findings were recently featured in the Wisconsin State Journal.

From the article:

New research shows the Madison School District’s 4-year-old-kindergarten program is enrolling a greater share of minority and low-income children, potentially boosting opportunity for historically disadvantaged youths as more 4K participants overall go on to district kindergarten.

But there’s room for improvement as well, as about 20 percent of Madison public schools’ 4K graduates still attend kindergarten in a different district.

“The substantial number of students who participate in 4K but move on thereafter may represent a sizable loss in district enrollment worth addressing,” said the report from the Madison Education Partnership, a joint research practice between the district and UW-Madison School of Education’s Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

Over the program’s start, from 2012-13 to 2016-17, the district’s overall 4K participation rate has risen from 67 percent to 72 percent of the district’s entering kindergartners, and is 5 to 10 percentage points higher among African-American and Latino students, low-income students and students who are English language learners.

“That shows they’re doing a good job of reaching out to kids from diverse backgrounds,” said Eric Grodsky, a UW-Madison associate professor and co-director of the research partnership.

Read more.


Summit on Barriers Faced by Black Male Students Comes to Toronto

October 4, 2017

The 6th Annual International Colloquium on Black Males in Education (ICBME), organized by Wisconsin's Equity and Inclusion Laboratory (Wei LAB) and the Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male at The Ohio State University, begins today in Toronto.

From the Toronto Star:

Black students in Toronto drop out of school more often than their white peers, face significantly more suspensions, and are more than twice as likely to be streamed into applied level courses in early high school.

Amid mounting concern about those documented trends, a global summit is taking place in Toronto this week to address what organizers describe as common barriers around the world, particularly for Black males.

The “stark reality” of lower academic achievement transcends borders and calls for shared strategies between countries, says Jerlando Jackson, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and chair of the International Colloquium on Black Males in Education.

Read more.


UW Study: Wisconsin Children Unequally Ready for Kindergarten

October 4, 2017

Eric Grodsky, WCER researcher and UW–Madison professor of sociology and educational policy studies, was recently interviewed by Wisconsin Public Radio about 4k readiness.

From the interview:

Wisconsin has the nation’s widest gaps between white and black students when it comes to high school graduation rates, and fourth grade math and reading scores. And according to a new study conducted by the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, these gaps may partly be a result of disparities in school readiness as children are entering Kindergarten.

Hear more.


New WEDC Position to Coordinate Statewide Talent Attraction Efforts

October 4, 2017

Matt Hora, director of the Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (CCWT), was quoted in the Wisconsin State Journal on a new position being created at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

From the article:

Wisconsin has historically struggled to attract people to the state and to keep college graduates who aren’t from here originally. According to a 2016 UW-Madison report, among bachelor’s degree alumni from the previous decade who were originally from Wisconsin, 78 percent still lived in Wisconsin, while only 9 percent originally from other places remained.

Meanwhile, about 60 percent of UW System graduates participate in internships before graduation, Brukardt said. UW System president Ray Cross has set a goal of 100 percent of graduates participating in internships before graduation, recognizing that early interaction with local businesses could increase the chance that UW graduates stay in the state.

However, the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at UW-Madison recently found the overall design of most internship programs around the world to be haphazard and inconsistent, and that it takes considerable resources to make an internship program effective.

“Trying to knit together some closer relationships is not a bad thing in terms of regional workforce development and boosting local entrepreneurs,” said Matt Hora, director of WCER’s Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions. “It’s something that should be pursued, just not at the expense of the other educational missions of the colleges and universities in the System.”

Read more.


Big Data Transforms Education Research

October 3, 2017

Martin Nystrand, Professor of Education Emeritus, and collaborators were recently featured in Education Next.

From the article:

“Machine Learning” to Track Student Learning

Enter the machines. What if we didn’t need to have graduate students crouching in the back of classrooms in order to catalog the play-by-play of classroom instruction? What if, instead, we could capture the action with a video camera or, better yet from a privacy perspective, a microphone? And what if we could gather that information not just for an hour or two, but all day, 180 days a year, in a big national sample of schools? And what if we could then use the magic of machine learning to have a computer figure out what the reams of data all mean?

This possibility is much closer than you might imagine, thanks to a group of professors who are teaching computers to capture and code classroom activities. Sidney D’Mello is an associate professor in the departments of psychology and computer science at the University of Notre Dame. He and collaborators Sean Kelly (University of Pittsburgh), Andrew Olney (University of Memphis), and Martin Nystrand (University of Wisconsin-Madison) are interested in helping teachers learn how to ask better questions, as research has long demonstrated that high-quality questioning can lead to better engagement and higher student achievement. They also want to show teachers examples of good and bad questions. But putting live humans in hundreds of classrooms, watching lessons unfold while coding teachers’ questions and students’ responses, would be prohibitively costly in both time and money.

So D’Mello and his team decided to teach a computer how to do the coding itself. They start by capturing high-quality audio with a noise-canceling wireless headset microphone worn by the teacher. Another mike is propped on the teacher’s desk or blackboard, where it records students’ speech, plus ambient noise of the classroom. They take the audio files and run them through several speech-recognition programs, producing a transcript. Then their algorithm goes to work, looking at both the transcript and the audio files (which have markers for intonation, tempo, and more) to match codes provided by human observers.

Read more.


‘No Surprises’ Policies Between School Districts and Universities: The Surprising Reality

October 2, 2017

The Madison Education Partnership (MEP)—a research-practice partnership between the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) and the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison—was recently featured in Education Week.

From the article:

The Madison Education Partnership has had a busy year. We have put organizational structures in place, taken on new research both internally and through supporting faculty projects, and engaged our two organizations and greater community in a discussion of early childhood options and school readiness. Now, we have reached an exciting time: researchers have findings to release and district staff can't wait to learn more. We have articulated a clear "no surprises" policy and created a process map for dissemination. Should be easy, right?

In my capacity at the school district, I have seen how research dissemination works there. Over the years, I have learned how to get findings from my office, the Research & Program Evaluation Office (RPEO), to district leadership, schools, and the community. I know which decision-makers must see it, how much ownership they need to have (from just wanting an FYI to editing text), and the various checkpoints that must be reached in a particular order to make it to the end. Navigating that process has become second-nature to the RPEO team. As a co-director of the partnership, I figured the process would be that much easier for our MEP team. We have someone on the inside (me), who knows the ins and outs of getting things done in our district. No surprises? No problem — we have this covered.

Read more.