Education

The Other Danger...Scholasticism in Academic Research

The Other Danger...Scholasticism in Academic Research
Academic Question, Vol. 23 no. 4., pp. 404-419. 10.1007/s12129-010-9192-9

Mead, L.
12/01/2010

Most members of the National Association of Scholars worry about the politicization of the university. Academia gives undue preference to racial minorities in student admissions and faculty appointments. Teaching and research is often slanted toward minority grievances and Third World claims against the United States. At most leading universities and colleges, the faculty is so liberal that conservative viewpoints are scarcely admitted, even though in society politics and culture have trended rightward in the last thirty years. Leftism has become a defining feature of academe.1 All this violates the academy’s own values, which claim to stress open and honest dialogue regardless of politics.

However, critics have largely overlooked another danger to the university— scholasticism. That term originally referred to medieval philosophy, but it has come to connote academic work that pursues refinement at the expense of substance. Some medieval scholastics debated how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. Likewise, today’s academics often address very narrow questions, and they are often preoccupied with method and the past literature of their fields. The university claims an ability to treat the large questions facing society, but today’s faculties typically work on much smaller issues confined to academic specialties. Scholasticism has no politics; it will not likely exacerbate political correctness. Yet it threatens the essence of the university as a philosophic enterprise.

Here I speak mostly about scholasticism in political science, my own discipline, but similar changes have occurred in other social sciences and academia as a whole.

A School-Randomized Clinical Trial of an Integrated Social-Emotional Learning and Literacy Intervention: Impacts on Third-Grade Outcomes

A School-Randomized Clinical Trial of an Integrated Social-Emotional Learning and Literacy Intervention: Impacts on Third-Grade Outcomes
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(6): 829-842

Jones, S.M., Brown, J.L, Hoglund, W.L.G., & J.L. Aber.
12/01/2010

Objective: To report experimental impacts of a universal, integrated school-based intervention in social–emotional learning and literacy development on change over 1 school year in 3rd-grade children's social–emotional, behavioral, and academic outcomes. Method: This study employed a school-randomized, experimental design and included 942 3rd-grade children (49% boys; 45.6% Hispanic/Latino, 41.1% Black/African American, 4.7% non-Hispanic White, and 8.6% other racial/ethnic groups, including Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American) in 18 New York City public elementary schools. Data on children's social–cognitive processes (e.g., hostile attribution biases), behavioral symptomatology (e.g., conduct problems), and literacy skills and academic achievement (e.g., reading achievement) were collected in the fall and spring of 1 school year. Results: There were main effects of the 4Rs Program after 1 year on only 2 of the 13 outcomes examined. These include children's self-reports of hostile attributional biases (Cohen's d = 0.20) and depression ( d = 0.24). As expected based on program and developmental theory, there were impacts of the intervention for those children identified by teachers at baseline with the highest levels of aggression ( d = 0.32–0.59) on 4 other outcomes: children's self-reports of aggressive fantasies, teacher reports of academic skills, reading achievement scaled scores, and children's attendance. Conclusions: This report of effects of the 4Rs intervention on individual children across domains of functioning after 1 school year represents an important first step in establishing a better understanding of what is achievable by a schoolwide intervention such as the 4Rs in its earliest stages of unfolding. The first-year impacts, combined with our knowledge of sustained and expanded effects after a second year, provide evidence that this intervention may be initiating positive developmental cascades both in the general population of students and among those at highest behavioral risk.

Using cross-curricular, problem-based learning to promote understanding of poverty in urban communities

Using cross-curricular, problem-based learning to promote understanding of poverty in urban communities
Journal of Social Work Education, 46(1), 147 – 156.

Gardner, D., Tuchman, E., & Hawkins, R.
11/01/2010

This article describes the use of problem-based learning to teach students about the scope and consequences of urban poverty through an innovative cross-curricular project. We illustrate the process, goals, and tasks of the Community Assessment Project, which incorporates community-level assessment, collection and analysis of public data, and social policy analysis and planning. Students in three master's classes (Social Work Research I, Ending Poverty: Models for Social Change and Social Action, and Advanced Social Policy in Aging) worked in self-directed groups to explore the impact of economic insecurity on our most vulnerable clients. The project engaged students, linked research and policy practice, and helped to educate the next generation of social workers about urban poverty and strategies for community-based research and practice.

Understanding the Political Context of "New " Policy Issues: The Use of the Advocacy Coalition Framework in the Case of Expanded After-School Programs

Understanding the Political Context of "New " Policy Issues: The Use of the Advocacy Coalition Framework in the Case of Expanded After-School Programs
Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 20(2): 335-355

Brecher C, Brazill C, Weitzman BC, and D Silver.
04/01/2010

This article uses the Advocacy Coalition Framework to identify the stakeholders and their coalitions in the arena of after-school policy, which drew much new attention beginning in the early 1990s in many American cities. Using evidence from case studies in five cities, we show how the framework can be extended beyond stakeholder analysis to include identification of core and secondary value conflicts and of opportunities for policy analysis to help strengthen coalitions and pressures for change. Coalitions in each of the cities differ over core values relating to the purposes of after-school programs (academics versus “fun”), but policy analysts can promote common goals by developing options to deal with the secondary conflicts over the relative importance of facilities versus program content, the modes of collaboration between public schools and community based organizations, and the incentives for public school teachers to engage in staffing after-school programs.

Teaching About Health Disparities Using a Social Determinants Framework

Teaching About Health Disparities Using a Social Determinants Framework
Journal of General Internal Medicine, Vol. 25, Issue 2 Supp. (May 2010), pp. 182-185. DOI: 10.1007/s11606-009-1230-3

Chokshi, D.
03/10/2010

The intersection of two trends in health intervention has the potential to fundamentally change the practice of medicine. First, research into the social determinants of health is revealing the mechanisms by which living conditions cause disease. Second, the restructuring of primary care around preventive interventions represents the convergence point of medicine and public health. These trends have profound implications for medical education. Whereas traditional educational paradigms favor a “bottom-up” approach to disease—focusing on molecular origins or organ systems—new paradigms must emphasize the entire causal chain of ill health to facilitate the understanding of novel interventions available to tomorrow’s clinician.

Improving Classroom Quality: Teacher Influences and Experimental Impacts of the 4Rs Program

Improving Classroom Quality: Teacher Influences and Experimental Impacts of the 4Rs Program
Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(1), 153-167

Brown, J.L., Jones, S.M., LaRusso, M.D., & J.L. Aber.
02/01/2010

This study capitalizes on recent advances in the reliable and valid measurement of classroom-level social processes known to influence children's social–emotional and academic development and addresses a number of limitations in our current understanding of teacher- and intervention-related impacts on elementary school classroom processes. A cluster randomized controlled trial design was employed to (a) examine whether teacher social–emotional functioning forecasts differences in the quality of 3rd-grade classrooms, (b) test the experimental impact of a school-based social–emotional learning and literacy intervention on the quality of classroom processes controlling for teacher social–emotional functioning, and (c) examine whether intervention impacts on classroom quality are moderated by these teacher-related factors. Results indicated (a) positive effects of teachers' perceived emotional ability on classroom quality; (b) positive effects of the 4Rs Program on overall classroom quality, net of teacher social–emotional functioning indicators; and (c) intervention effects that are robust to differences in these teacher factors. These findings support and extend recent research examining intervention-induced changes in classroom-level social processes fundamental to positive youth development.

Mission Matters: The Cost of Small High Schools Revisited

Mission Matters: The Cost of Small High Schools Revisited
Economics of Education Review,

Stiefel, L., Schwartz, A.E., Iatarola, P. & Chellman, C.
10/01/2009

With the financial support of several large foundations and the federal government, creating small schools has become a prominent high school reform strategy in many large American cities. While some research supports this strategy, little research assesses the relative costs of these smaller schools. We use data on over 200 New York City high schools, from 1996 through 2003, to estimate school cost functions relating per pupil expenditures to school size, controlling for school output and quality, student characteristics, and school organization. We find that the structure of costs differs across schools depending upon mission-comprehensive or themed. At their current levels of outputs, themed schools minimize per pupil costs at smaller enrollments than comprehensive schools, but these optimally sized themed schools also cost more per pupil than optimally sized comprehensive schools. We also find that both themed and comprehensive high schools at actual sizes are smaller than their optimal sizes.

Race, Gender and the Recession: Job Creation and Employment

Race, Gender and the Recession: Job Creation and Employment

C. Nicole Mason, Ph.D
05/01/2009

This report focuses on the effect of the recession and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) on economically marginalized communities. The Network highlights four key areas of impact for women of color and their families: job creation and employment, housing and social services, education, and tax cuts to individuals.

"Understanding the Political Context of 'New' Policy Issues: The Use of the Advocacy Coalition Framework in the Case of Expanded After-School Programs"

"Understanding the Political Context of 'New' Policy Issues: The Use of the Advocacy Coalition Framework in the Case of Expanded After-School Programs"
Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory

Brecher, C., Brazill, C., Silver, D. & Weitzman, B.C.
01/01/2009

This article uses the Advocacy Coalition Framework to identify the stakeholders and their coalitions in the arena of after-school policy, which drew much new attention beginning in the early 1990s in many American cities. Using evidence from case studies in five cities, we show how the framework can be extended beyond stakeholder analysis to include identification of core and secondary value conflicts and of opportunities for policy analysis to help strengthen coalitions and pressures for change. Coalitions in each of the cities differ over core values relating to the purposes of after-school programs (academics versus "fun"), but policy analysts can promote common goals by developing options to deal with the secondary conflicts over the relative importance of facilities versus program content, the modes of collaboration between public schools and community based organizations, and the incentives for public school teachers to engage in staffing after-school programs.

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