Grad Students to Represent UCLA Education at AERA’s Annual Meeting

Student researchers share innovative research alongside faculty and professional researchers, including teacher quality assessment, race and gender theory, international perspectives on teacher preparation, Apr. 13-17 in New York City.

At this month’s Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), graduate students will represent the wide range of innovative research from throughout UCLA’s Department of Education. Here is a diverse sampling of the topics that have been explored by doctoral and master’s students, under the guidance of their professors and other mentors in the academic divisions of the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, and GSE&IS research institutes.

These abstracts are from the AERA conference website. For full descriptions of these presentations, visit the AERA program website.


Friday, April 13

Kari George: Reframing the Representation of Black Students in Undergraduate Computing
12-1:30 pm, New York Marriott Marquis, Fifth Floor, Westside Ballroom Salon 1

Existing reports on Blacks in computing often provide mixed messages about how well this population is represented in computing fields. These mixed messages are the result of differing populations and variations in computing definitions. We use data from the National Center for Education Statistics to examine how Black representation in undergraduate computing degree attainment is sensitive to the nuances of field definition, institutional type, and gender. Preliminary findings from this study raise questions about whether deficit-based narratives accurately portray the representation of Blacks in computing.

Kari George is a doctoral student in the Division of Higher Education & Organizational Change. She is also a research analyst for the BRAID Initiative.

Annie Wofford: Making a Match: Doctoral Students’ Experiences With Laboratory Rotations and Permanent Adviser Selection Processes
2:15 – 3:45 pm, New York Marriott Marquis, Fifth Floor, Westside Ballroom Salon 1

Laboratory rotations are a signature pedagogy in laboratory science doctoral programs. However, exploration of student experiences during rotations is remarkably sparse. Using a nationwide student sample, this study explores student descriptions of rotation experiences, the advisor selection process, and if perceptions developed during rotations are substantiated after lab selection. Findings suggest students and PIs are in a ‘trial run’ relationship in which each may obtain only limited information about the other, some students struggle to find a permanent lab, and some gain only a partial or distorted portrait of their potential PI, lab mates, and lab culture. Findings suggest this signature pedagogy needs careful scrutiny and reconsideration to best serve the interests of students, PIs, universities, and the sciences.


Daniel Harris: Link. Love. Resist: How First-Year Black College Students Enrolled in Single-Sex Courses Resist at a Historically White Institution
2:15 – 3:45 pm, New York Marriott Marquis, Fifth Floor, Westside Ballroom Salon 1

Numerous reports and empirical studies have documented the structural and systematic hostilities Black students endure while attending Historically White Institutions, but a closer examination of this literature reveals that discussions about institutional efforts to reduce these hostilities are often considered from an environmental perspective. What is underexplored, are ways in which institutions can create curricular opportunities for Black students to identify and resist marginalization at HWIs. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences and perceptions of first-year Black students enrolled in a single-sex course at a HWI. Findings from our study indicate that concepts such as LINK, LOVE, and RESIST are central to how participants learned to challenge the marginalization they experienced on campus as first-year students.


Saturday, April 14

Channel McLewis: Looking at the Residuals: A Qualitative Analysis of Black Women’s Collegiate Expectations Versus Their Realities
12:25 – 1:55 pm, New York Marriott Marquis, 4th Floor, Odets

This research examines the role of gendered racism as a contributing factor in first-year, Black undergraduate women’s college-going experiences. Using Black Feminist Thought (BFT) and Critical Race Theory (CRT), the present research explores (1) to what extent do social factors and systemic oppression contribute to how Black women decide to attend a selective, traditionally white institution, (2) their perceptions of their choice post-matriculation, and (3) whether the institutional context contributes to the (in)congruence between Black women’s pre-college expectations and collegiate realities. Through utilizing interview data, the counter-narratives of nine Black women illustrate how institutions use racial diversity to allure prospective applicants and the challenges Black undergraduate women face with faculty, peers, and campus-based affinity groups upon entering the university.


Rachel Lewin: AGILE Methodology for Developing a Game-Based Assessment of Teamwork Skills
8:15-9:45 am, New York Hilton Midtown, 3rd Floor, Americas Hall 1-2 – Exhibit Hall

Team training using synthetic, software-based environments is highly desirable to educators. Indeed, a cornerstone to developing effective team management and behavioral skills is having the ability to practice those skills in fidelity-relevant settings. Synthetic environments in the form of computer-based games or simulations can provide robust, authentic settings in which to teach, practice, and assess team skills. This paper describes the AGILE methodology employed in the design and development of a screen-based simulation used to train and assess medical personnel to more effectively function in ad-hoc teams in critical-care situations that also addressed competing stakeholder perspectives and requirements.

Rachel Lewin is an AERA Junior Graduate Student Representative to Division I, Education in the Professions.


Taylor Hazelbaker: Classroom practices and conversations about race, ethnicity, and heritage in elementary bilingual and monolingual classrooms
2:15 – 3:45 pm, New York Hilton Midtown, 3rd Floor, Americas Hall, 1-2 Exhibit Hall (Poster Session)

This study examined how elementary school teachers talk about race and ethnicity in dual-language immersion and monolingual classrooms. Participants were 64 racially and ethnically diverse 3rd grade students and their teachers. Interviews and classroom observations were conducted to better understand how conversations and lessons about racial and ethnic heritage occur in school. Teachers reported using strategies such as children’s literature and incorporating multiple perspectives to engage students in discussions about race and ethnicity. The results suggest more in-depth conversations and lessons were evident in the dual language immersion classroom than the monolingual classrooms. Thus, documenting teacher practices and classroom conversations about race, ethnicity, and nationality is important for developing future interventions to promote healthy intergroup attitudes and identity formation.


Susan Wiksten: A Case Study of Science Teacher Preparation in Finland: The Role of Critical Thinking
4:05-5:35 pm, Sheraton New York Times Square, 2nd Floor, Empire Ballroom East

My Ph.D. dissertation research is a qualitative case study that investigates characteristics of a local discourse about teacher preparation in Finland. I have used structuration theory (Giddens, 1986) as a framework for analysis. Thirteen semi-structured, open-ended, audio-recorded interviews form the core of the research materials. Participants were faculty, students, administrators and instructors in a graduate-level program preparing Mathematics teachers for upper secondary schools.

I have conducted a thematic analysis of interviews for identifying articulations on a handful of themes. One of the themes focuses on the role and purpose of critical thinking in subject-matter specialized teacher preparation. At AERA 2018, I will be presenting on the latter theme, while additional themes that I analyze in my dissertation research address the goals of teacher preparation, the role of research, articulations of what it means to be a good teacher and collaborative practices in teacher preparation. Findings from this study contribute to research on teacher preparation. Notably, by articulating how context-specific culture and social norms contribute to a local model of teacher preparation.

Susan Wiksten is a Ph.D. candidate in the UCLA Division of Social Sciences and Comparative Education.



Monday, April 16

Christine Vega: (Re)writing the Maternal Script in Education: Chicana/Latina Mothers and Daughters Talk Back
10:35 am –  12:05 pm, New York Hilton Midtown, Fourth Floor, East Suite

As a way to (re)imagine the possibilities of education, this session centers the epistemologies of Chicana/Latina mothers and daughters. Using Chicana Feminist Theory and Critical Race Theory the authors ask, how do Chicana/Latina mother’s and daughter’s subjectivities help us “talk back” and rewrite what education, parent involvement, and research means?  We present work that: 1) Examines the unique forms of parent involvement for Latina immigrant mothers, 2) Explores Chicana mother-daughter pedagogies, and 3) Proposes a research methodology grounded in the lives of Chicana mother scholars.  Our goal for this panel is to showcase how the knowledge and perspectives of Chicana/Latina mothers and daughters are integral to the quest for justice in education.

Christine Vega is a M.Ed alumna and Ph.D. candidate of UCLA Education.


Jessica Schnittka: Effects of Transition Counselor Looping on 9th Grade Success for At-Risk Students: A Multi-Level Modeling Approach
AERA Division-D In Progress Research Gala, 8:15 am – 10:15 pm (Poster Session)
Westin New York, Times Square, 8th Floor, Minetta Room

This study examines the impact of special school counselors who “loop” or transition with at-risk middle school students from 8th to 9th grade, providing academic, engagement, and social-emotional support.  The intent of this model is to mediate high school adjustment difficulties that have been shown to affect academic success and motivation to stay in school.  Using a multi-level regression model and propensity-score matching, this quasi-experimental study will help determine the extent to which transition counselors impacted student academic and school engagement outcomes.  This “in-progress” poster session will present methods and preliminary findings based on six high schools in Jefferson County Colorado.

Jessica Schnittka is a second-year Ph.D. student in the division of Social Research Methodology.

Laura Rhinehart:
Subtyping Learning Disabilities
AERA Division-D In Progress Research Gala, 8:15 am – 10:15 pm (Poster Session)
Westin New York, Times Square, 8th Floor, Minetta Room

Approximately 5% of students are identified with learning disabilities (LD) in the United States. Despite the frequency of LD, there is an ongoing debate on the best ways to identify students with LD, and several different methods are used in schools. Consequently, students with a variety of emotional, behavioral, and academic challenges end up being identified with LD. Additionally, because students are not identified with LD until they have been in school several years, more research is needed on early indicators of who is at-risk of developing LD. Using a nationally representative longitudinal sample of elementary school students, the present study seeks to create profiles of kindergarteners who go on to develop LD by how they perform on measures of cognition and behavior. Based on these findings, this study will propose subtypes of students with LD based on performance on the most salient measures of cognition and behavior. Results from this study will have implications for devising and implementing early interventions for students at-risk of LD. Results from this study can also inform further research on classification methods for students with LD.

Laura Rhinehart is a doctoral student in the division of Human Development & Psychology, working on her Ph.D. in special education.

Taylor Hazelbaker, Katherine M. Griffin, & Lindsey Nenadal: Conversations about class: Results from a curriculum intervention with elementary school students
8:15-10:15 am, New York Hilton Midtown, 4th Floor, New York Suite

Children’s reasoning about social class develops early, yet little attention has been paid to teaching children about wealth and poverty. Researchers and teachers designed, implemented, and evaluated an inquiry wealth and poverty unit targeting early elementary grades. Participants were 89 kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders (M = 6.81 years old, SD = .93); split between intervention and control classrooms. Kindergarten intervention students were more likely than control students to provide fatalistic attributions for poverty and mention possessions when asked what it means to be rich and poor. Primary intervention students were more likely than control students to provide structural causes for wealth and compare relative experiences of the lives of rich and poor individuals. Implications for practice are discussed.


Mike Hoa Nguyen & Jason Chan: Panethnicity and Ethnic Heterogeneity: The Conceptual and Educational Policy Consequences of Disaggregating Versus Uniting AAPI Ethnicities
4:05-5:35 pm, Crown Plaza Times Square, 4th Floor, Times Square A Room

This paper assesses what is gained and what is lost through panethnic versus ethnic specific data collection and analysis. We argue that panethnicity and ethnic heterogeneity are not static binary choices, but instead reflect different modalities by which the lives, experiences, and identities of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) can be discerned for policy and practice. Both can work in concert to provide a fuller portrait of the diversity and complexity that exists among AAPIs in ways that highlight their unique positioning within broader patterns of racial stratification in the US. We advance a theoretical framework that allows us to intervene in current policy debates and evaluate the utility and policy consequences of using panethnic and ethnic specific data.

Mike Hoa Nguyen and Jason Chan are fifth-year Ph.D. candidates in the division of Higher Education & Organizational Change.



Tuesday, April 17

Jarod Kawasaki: The role of teacher framing in producing coherent NGSS-aligned teaching
2:15-3:45 pm,
Sheraton New York Times Square, Second Floor Metropolitan East Room

We report on one teachers’ efforts to re-design an entire instructional unit as a coherent storyline about forces and motion as a part of a multiyear professional development (PD) project around the NGSS. Designing coherent storylines demands that teachers create opportunities for students to engage in science practices in order to develop their knowledge over time. We found that appropriately framing the unit, lesson, and/or activity supported students take on roles as epistemic agents, whereas unclear framing led to traditional roles for students that resembled didactic teaching. This suggests that a primary issue for PD is to help teachers look at and plan how they intend to frame lessons/activities as a way for them to promote coherence and epistemic agency.

For more presentations by Jarod Kawasaki, visit this link.