Presidential Sessions Engage Attendees in Compelling Issues in Education Research
Presidential Sessions Engage Attendees in Compelling Issues in Education Research

May 2023

The 2023 Annual Meeting Presidential Sessions provided attendees with thought-provoking content surrounding the theme “Interrogating Consequential Education Research in Pursuit of Truth.” These 46 sessions, developed by AERA President Rich Milner and the 2023 Presidential Program co-chairs, focused on topics such as opportunities for change following the COVID-19 pandemic and diverse pathways for learning and development.

The session “The COVID Effect: Rethinking Learning, Data Systems, and Truth for Justice,” chaired by Tyrone Howard (University of California–Los Angeles), featured presenters Thomas S. Dee (Stanford University), Andrew Ho (Harvard University), Lucrecia Santibañez (University of California–Los Angeles), Joseph P. Bishop (University of California–Los Angeles), and Susanna Loeb (Brown University).

The presenters explored the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on students and schools and the opportunities it provides for authentic change. The research they discussed included a mix of quantitative and qualitative findings that probed the effects of the virus, economic uncertainty, health impacts, school closures, and online learning on classroom teachers, school counselors, school psychologists, principals, and district administrators.

Featured presenters for “Consequential Research on Learning and Development: Diverse Pathways for Learning and Integration Across Domains of Development”

In the session “Consequential Research on Learning and Development: Diverse Pathways for Learning and Integration Across Domains of Development,” presenters Carol Lee (Northwestern University), Mary Helen Immordino-Yang (University of Southern California), and Na’ilah Suad Nasir (Spencer Foundation) discussed how the science of human learning and development should embrace and theorize diversity.

Nasir discussed how to design learning with diversity in mind, stressing that research should be centered around equity, in respect to both the processes and the changes in system-level outcomes.

 “Research, as a tool for liberation, should be centered around equity. It should be done with and for people,” said Nasir. “We should move away from researchers working alone and secluded and move towards teams working together toward mutual goals.”

From left to right: Shaun Harper, Deborah Loewenberg Ball, Gloria J. Ladson-Billings, Alan H. Schoenfeld, and James A. Banks

The session “Interrogating Consequential Education Research in Pursuit of Truth: Perspectives of AERA Past Presidents” featured a panel made up of AERA past presidents Alan H. Schoenfeld (University of California–Berkeley), Gloria J. Ladson-Billings (University of Wisconsin–Madison), Deborah Loewenberg Ball (University of Michigan), James A. Banks, and Shaun Harper (University of Southern California) as they discussed Milner’s theme.

“If we are attempting to do consequential research, we need to heed Dr. Milner’s warning that we need to acknowledge the consequences of what we fail to do,” said Ball.

From left to right: Marcia Linn, Alan H. Schoenfeld, Korah Wiley, and Carl Cohn
In the session “Educating for Civic Reasoning and Discourse: Preparing Young People to Wrestle with Complex Truths in the
Public Domain”

Participants in the session “Educating for Civic Reasoning and Discourse: Preparing Young People to Wrestle with Complex Truths in the Public Domain,” discussed the recent report by the National Academy of Education, Educating for Civic Reasoning and Discourse, which recommends that preparation for civic reasoning and discourse should be taught across all the content areas and across the full K–12 grade spectrum.

“At its heart, our report is deeply grounded in research,” said Gregory A. White (National Academy of Education), who chaired the session. “It helped to expand that research base. It attempts to build bridges beyond social studies education, although that still has a central role in this work.”

Other notable place-based sessions included “The Truth About the Overwhelming Presence of Whiteness 20 Years Later: Today’s Interrogations of Race, Racism, and White Supremacy in Teacher Education,” which highlighted how whiteness continues to manifest in teacher education; and “What Is (In)Effective About the Concept of ‘Effect’ Teaching and (How) Should It Be Replaced? A Discussion,” which considered conceptions of “good teaching” and how to re-imagine ways to appraise the quality of education.

The virtual component of the conference included a selection of presidential sessions as well. The session “Consequential Issues for Educators and Education,” which provided evidence-based and actionable recommendations for navigating the unprecedented set of challenges educators face today, featured a panel of experts including Adam Alvarez (Rowan University), Travis Bristol (University of California–Berkeley), Gloria Ladson-Billings (University of Wisconsin), Camika Royal (Loyola University Maryland), and Russell Skiba (Indiana University).

Top row from left to right: ASL Interpreter,
Felice J. Levine, Gloria Ladson-Billings

Middle row from left to right: Rich Milner,
Adam Alvarez, Russell Skiba

Bottom row from left to right: 
​Travis Bristol, Camika Royal
In the session "Consequential Issues for Educators and Education"

“Trauma is one of the most under-explored racial equity issues in education,” said Alvarez. “Trying to understand and improve the mental health of young people and teachers who serve them has to become one of the essential levers in our work to address the consequences.”

A session chaired by Linda Darling-Hammond (Learning Policy Institute), “Just Research/ers: Resisting Censorship and Mis-Education/Advancing Human Freedom Collectively,” explored key themes in presented papers regarding threats to public education, academic freedom, and democracy.

In addressing the impact of censorship in education, presenter Joyce King (Georgia State University) said, “These are very chilling effects, that in a very short time, are already having tangible consequences both on American education and democracy, distorting the lens though which the next generation will study American history and society, and undermining the hallmarks of liberal education that has set the U.S. system apart from those of authoritarian countries.”

Other notable virtual sessions included “Building Upon a Culturally Responsive Science of Learning and Development to Promote Robust Equity” and “Hip-Hop at 50 Years!”

Recordings for these sessions are available on the online platform and mobile app. A complete listing of all Presidential Sessions is available on the AERA website.