Fall 2008 Newsletter

Department of Education Welcomes Greg Duncan and George Farkas

Greg Duncan, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor Greg Duncan comes to the University of California, Irvine from Northwestern University, where he served as the Edwina S. Tarry Professor in the School of Education and Social Policy and Faculty Affiliate in the Institute for Policy Research. He has published extensively on issues of income distribution, child poverty and welfare dependence.

Dr. Duncan is a member of the interdisciplinary MacArthur Network on the Family and the Economy. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001 and president of the Population Association of America for 2007-08. He was elected president of the Society for Research in Child Development for 2009-2011.

George Farkas, Ph.D.

Professor George Farkas’ research has made a major contribution to understanding the school achievement gap for low-income and ethnic minority students. He has employed a range of statistical approaches and databases to examine the causes and consequences of this gap across varying age groups and educational settings, and was one of the first to show that the gap emerges in early childhood. Dr. Farkas has studied the life cycle earnings consequences of cognitive skill and behavioral differences between individuals, and has done research on gender differences. He has a particular interest in quasi-experimental statistical methodology.

Professor Farkas was elected to the Sociological Research Association in 1996, and was recently elected to the organization’s executive committee. He will serve as President in 2010.

Chair Vandell Delivers 2008 State of the Department Address

Deborah Vandell, Ph.D.

Department Chair Deborah Lowe Vandell delivered the 2008 State of the Department Address on Friday, September 19, 2008, in Berkeley Place 1111. Dr. Vandell began the address by reading the Department Mission Statement:

The Department of Education seeks to promote educational success and achievement of ethnically and economically diverse learners of all ages through our collective research, teaching, and service activities that foster learning and development in and out of school.

Click here to read highlights from the address

Department of Education Establishes Leadership Council

The Department of Education’s Leadership Council is bringing together community members from business, government, education, and the civic sector to share perspectives and experiences on some of the issues impacting K-20 education in Southern California. Twice a year members are meeting at UC Irvine to consider research, education, and practice in a given topic area. The Fall 2008 topic, After School Programs, featured presentations by Associate Professor Joseph Mahoney, Lecturer Jeff Johnston, THINK Together Founder and CEO Randy Barth, and Tiger Woods Learning Center Executive Director Katherine Bihr. The Spring 2009 topic will address Early Childhood and Pre-school Education.

The Leadership Council was established in Spring 2008 with the following goals:

The mission of the Leadership Council is to promote reflection and exchange between the Department of Education and representatives from the community on the activities, role, and future direction of the department. Leadership Council members advise on opportunities for community engagement and service, participate in scholarly presentations delivered by faculty members, and comment upon the goals and accomplishments of the department. Leadership Council members support the department in its three-fold mission of research, teaching, and service and are encouraged to liaise with the community at large on behalf of the department.

DoE Developing Undergraduate Certificate in After-School Education
Joseph Mahoney, Ph.D.

The Department of Education is developing an undergraduate Certificate in After-School Education, which will be the first such program in the United States. Course work for the certificate will build on a growing body of research about the positive outcomes for children and youth who participate in high quality after-school programs on a regular basis. Rationale for the Certificate grew from recognition that there is a critical need for quality curriculum and well-trained after-school program personnel in order to achieve positive outcomes in after-school settings that provide educational enrichment and academic support outside of the formal school day setting.

Click here to find out more

DoE Reaches $10M in Funded Research
New Grants

Learning for the 21st Century, Sponsored by St. Margaret's Episcopal School.
P.I: Professor Mark Warschauer

Mark Warschauer, Ph.D.

The goal of this project is to provide formative and summative feedback to St. Margaret’s Episcopal School as it carries out its goal of helping students to develop the understanding and learning skills that will allow the students to become important scientific, business, and civic leaders in the 21st century.

One Laptop Per Mexican Child, sponsored by University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States.
P.I.: Professor Mark Warschauer

This study is examining the Mexican initiative that is making extensive use of XO laptops and other new technologies in an after school educational program. The study will provide a better understanding of the pertinence of one computer per student programs in promoting literacy and educational equity in Mexico.

K-16 Partnerships for Higher Education Diversity and High School Reform, sponsored by UCI Council on Research, Computing and Library Resources
PI: Assistant Professor Thad Domina
Thad Domina
Thad Domina, Ph.D.

After the elimination of affirmative action in 1997, the University of California pursued an aggressive college outreach strategy. UC's outreach programs -- which include intersegmental partnerships linking university leaders with leaders in high-poverty school districts, professional development programs for teachers in targeted high schools, and several programs that provide academic services and college information to at-risk students -- attempt to maintain campus diversity by enlarging the admissible black and Hispanic applicants from the state's public schools. By pairing program participation data with school- and district-level data, this research will evaluate the effectiveness of these diverse outreach programs. A time-series regression approach will be employed to measure the effects that UC's various college outreach programs have had on California's public high schools.

Shockwaves: Tracing the Effects of Affirmative Action Bans Through the High School to College Transition, sponsored by AERA Grants Program
P.I. Assistant Professor Thad Domina, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor Thurston Domina has been awarded an AERA research grant from the AERA Grants Program. The Program is sponsored jointly by the National Science Foundation and the National Center for Education Statistics. Dr. Domina, whose teaching and research focus on the role that educational policies play in producing and mitigating social inequalities, will be studying the effects of affirmative action bans through high school to college transition.

Other research by Dr. Domina has investigated the intergenerational consequences of college access programs and the ways in which higher education admissions and financial aid policies can operate as high school reform programs.

In the late 1990s, a wave of voter initiatives, judicial decisions, and legislative policies prohibiting the consideration of race in higher education recruiting, admissions, and financial aid swept across several of the nation’s largest and most diverse states. By 2000, California, Texas, Washington, and Florida had banned affirmative action. The proposed project uses data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS) and the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS) to generate difference-in-difference estimates of the effects that affirmative action bans had on the pipeline between high school and college. Earlier research focuses primarily on the direct compensatory effects that affirmative action policies have on student college admissions odds. I hypothesize that affirmative action bans have broader informational and motivational effects, and therefore expect affirmative action bans to have effects on the odds that black and Hispanic students apply to selective university and develop early college expectations.

Faculty Presentations

George Farkas Presents at the University of Texas Population Research Center

George Farkas, Ph.D.

Professor George Farkas presented findings from his research during an October 8 colloquium entitled “Early Inequality.” Referencing his analysis of data from ECLS-K (Early Childhood Longitudinal Program, Kindergarten Cohort): ECLS-B (Birth Program); NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) and NLSY79 (National Longitudinal Survey Year 1979) , Professor Farkas provided statistical support for the following findings:

  • Children from different race/ethnic groups are being raised in families of enormously different social class backgrounds and experience different numbers of positive parenting activities, such as music lessons, organized sports, educational trips, parental involvement with school, number of children’s books in the home, computer access, and absence of harsh discipline
  • Very different family backgrounds lead to large gaps in cognitive performance and learning related behaviors; these gaps begin at very young ages and are important for later outcomes.
  • Among the risk factors that children may experience are poverty, welfare, teenage mother, depressed mother, absence of two married biological parents, English Language Learning, low birth weight, more than two siblings, and parental health problems.
  • When SES is classified against race/ethnicity, and the percent of children with a high level of risk factors in each cell is computed, the great inequality in family environments is revealed.
  • The effects of SES and race/ethnicity at 24 months seem to be stronger for children from multiple births.
  • There are effects for problems with learning-related behaviors at 24 months for males and low SES, but not so much for race/ethnicity.
  • Analysis revealed that children experiencing early inequality also attended very highly segregated schools, which were very strongly segregated by SES.
  • Research conduced with Kurt Beron (2004) studied children in the NLSY79 to show PPVT (vocabulary) test scores from 36 months to 13 years of age, by race, regression adjusted for SES, and other variables; a Black-White gap was identified at 36 months that persisted through to age 13.
  • Although recent research found progress in the area of strong math gains narrowing the achievement gap among Black and Hispanic students whose parents had a college education, Dr. Farkas opined that there is a long way to go to narrow achievement gaps.


Student News

DoE Welcomes 14 Ph.D. Students to Cohort 2

Fourteen new doctoral students have joined the department as members of Cohort 2. They arrive from across the continental United States, Hawaii, Canada, and the People’s Republic of China.

Members of the new cohort are entering doctoral work from the fields of educational psychology, law, state government, early intervention, recreation, policy, advocacy, research, and K-20 education. Their lived experiences include Norway, India, Korea, Fiji, Kenya, England, and the People’s Republic.

Degree granting institutions for master’s level work include Stanford; Boston University; Harvard; University of Washington; University of Houston; Sichuan University; Arizona State University; University of Massachusetts; and California State Universities Northridge, Long Beach, Fullerton, and Pomona. Degree granting institutions for bachelor’s level work include University of Bombay; Newbold College (England); California Lutheran; Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing; and Universities of California San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles.

Six of the entering cohort have chosen to specialize in Language, Literacy, and Technology (LLT). Four have selected Learning, Cognition, and Development (LCD), and four will be pursuing a specialization in Educational Policy and Social Context (EPSC).

Congratulations to our new Doctors of Education

Kristi Smith, Ed.D., UCI/UCLA Ed.D. in Educational Administration
Dissertation: Reading Writers and Writing Readers: The Impact of the Step Up to Writing Literacy Program on Diverse 6th Grade Students

Dena Valin, Ed.D., UCI/UCLA Ed.D. in Educational Administration
Dissertation: In-School and After-School Mentoring: Context, Relationship Quality, and Child Outcomes

Cindy Vyskocil, Ed.D., CSU/UCI Joint Ed.D. in Educational Administration and Leadership
Dissertation: What's White got to do with it?  Teaching Whiteness as a Mechanism to Promote

Nancy Watkins, Ed.D., CSU/UCI Joint Ed.D. in Educational Administration and Leadership
Dissertation: Teachers as Policy Makers: New Directions for Education Reform