AERA Brings Scholars and Thought Leaders to February Knowledge Forum
AERA Brings Scholars and Thought Leaders to February Knowledge Forum

February 2016

Thirty-one accomplished scholars and a complementary group of national thought and policy leaders met at the AERA Knowledge Forum, February 18-19, in Washington, D.C. A first-of-its kind event in education research, the Forum aimed to connect the science and scholarship of education research to policy and practice emphasizing the value of diverse expertise.

The February 18 event was a “retreat-type” opportunity to examine the knowledge base and potential modes of knowledge utilization. The February 19 event enlarged the conversation to include education policy leaders from the executive branch of government in a roundtable hosted by the White House Domestic Policy Council (DPC).

The convening on February 18 featured 13 rapid-fire TED-like talks (“Ed Talks”) on significant research clustered around three themes—how people learn, how we can optimize learning, and how we can foster equitable outcomes. Each cluster was followed by in-depth small group discussions, led by 6 other scholars, partnered with thought leaders, to consider the position and potential of research from the vantage of thought leaders’ roles and need. The Ed Talks served to catalyze these compelling conversations.

The Ed Talk topics and presenters included:
Cluster 1: How do people learn in today’s information and technology-rich world?

  • Learning with an Emotional Brain — Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, University of Southern California
  • Re-Educating the Mind — Patricia Alexander, University of Maryland, College Park
  • Games, Learners, and Innovation — Sasha Barab, Arizona State University
  • Designing Learning for Equity — Na’ilah Suad Nasir, University of California, Berkeley

Cluster 2: How can increasingly diverse schools and classrooms optimize the learning needed to navigate the world?

  • Supporting the Development of Children’s Mathematics — Megan Franke, University of California, Los Angeles
  • The Promise of Advanced High School Mathematics Coursework — Chandra Muller, University of Texas, Austin
  • Identifying and Reducing Racial Threat in Face-to-Face Encounters — Howard Stevenson, University of Pennsylvania
  • Social-Emotional Learning Approaches: Prevent Bullying and Promote Positive School Climate — Dorothy Espelage, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Cluster 3: How can policy and practice foster equitable outcomes for all students?

  • Inequality and Academic Achievement — Sean Reardon, Stanford University
  • High Quality Pre-K: Taking the Road Less Traveled — Steven Barnett, Rutgers University
  • Achieving True Integration in Education — Prudence Carter, Stanford University
  • Understanding the Racial College Completion Gap: Demography, Data, and Stakeholders — Stella Flores, New York University
  • School Accountability: Time for a New Approach — Helen (Sunny) Ladd, Duke University

Building on the talks and breakout groups, a town hall meeting co-facilitated by thought leaders and scholars called on participants to consider new models and institutional strategies to make research more useful and accessible and the strengthen the connection between high-quality research and policy. The town hall discussion, moderated by Jeffrey Henig (Teachers College, Columbia University), included panelists Shirley Malcom (American Association for the Advancement of Science), Laura Perna (University of Pennsylvania), Russell Rumberger (University of California, Santa Barbara), and Thomas Saenz (MALDEF).

The February 19 event featured education research scholars and high-ranking Obama administration officials meeting to engage together in “Bridging Education Policy and Research.” The DPC roundtable, held in the Old Executive Office Building, was hosted by Roberto Rodríguez, deputy assistant to the president for education. Building on the insights and conclusions from the first day of the Forum the roundtable featured scholar presentations and moderated discussions around three topics—New Designs for Learning and Innovation, Promoting Diversity and Conditions for Inclusive Learning, and Addressing Gaps in College Access and Success.

“Spark presentations” were given in each of the topic areas, respectively, by Sasha Baraba (Arizona State University), Prudence Carter (Stanford University), and Stella Flores (New York University). Moderators included Linda Darling-Hammond (Stanford University), AERA President Jeannie Oakes (UCLA), and Laura Perna (University of Pennsylvania).

Roundtable participants from the Obama administration included Ted Mitchell, under secretary of the Department of Education; James Kvaal, deputy director of the White House Domestic Policy Council; Tom Kalil, deputy, director for technology and innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and several other officials representing the civil rights, P-12, and higher education areas of the Education Department and Domestic Policy Council.

The Knowledge Forum concluded with remarks from Kent McGuire, president of the Southern Education Roundtable, AERA Executive Director Felice Levine, and Roberto Rodríguez.

“The Forum provided an innovative model for getting information, ideas, and findings on the policy table; sparking dialogue about research that resonates with policy leaders’ challenges, aims, and ambitions; and strengthening connections,” said AERA President Jeannie Oakes. “It is critically important to scholars and thought leaders alike that we make more accessible rigorous research that is relevant, powerful, and useful for diverse policy groups. The Forum will prove invaluable in forging strong ties between education researchers and those who develop, implement, and influence national policy.”

“The Forum will not only foster public scholarship in our field, it will promote relationship building and continuing conversation with a breadth of publics and policy communities,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “The Knowledge Forum is not only an important part of AERA’s Centennial celebration, but demonstrates the association’s vision of further connecting the science and scholarship of education research to policy and practice.”

Videos of the 13 Ed Talks from the Knowledge Forum will be shown at the 2016 AERA Annual Meeting. Of the 32 Knowledge Forum scholars, 19 will present Ed Talks at five Presidential Symposia. These sessions are planned to be outward facing—also involving thought and policy leaders. They include:

  • Alfredo J. Artiles, Arizona State University
  • Mark Berends, University of Notre Dame
  • Micki Chi, Arizona State University
  • Kara S. Finnigan, University of Rochester
  • Vivian L. Gadsden, University of Pennsylvania
  • Kris D. Gutiérrez, University of California, Berkeley
  • Jeffrey R. Henig, Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Diana Hess, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Richard M. Ingersoll, University of Pennsylvania
  • Young-Suk Grace Kim, Florida State University
  • Ruth N. López Turley, Rice University
  • Elizabeth Bier Moje, University of Michigan
  • Sharon Nelson-Barber, WestEd
  • William R. Penuel, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Laura W. Perna, University of Pennsylvania
  • Barbara Rogoff, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Russell W. Rumberger, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Barbara Schneider, Michigan State University
  • Amy Stuart Wells, Teachers College, Columbia University

All 32 scholars contributed research fact sheets on their topic areas for the Forum briefing book. These fact sheets, along with videos of all of the Ed Talks, will be featured in the AERA Centennial web portal once it is launched this spring.

View photos from the Knowledge Forum here.

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