Biographical research may take a range of forms and may vary in its application and approach but has the unified and coherent aim to give voice to individuals. The central concern of this collection is to assemble articles (from sociology, social psychology, education, health, criminology, social gerontology, epidemiology, management, and organizational research) that illustrate the full range of debates, methods and techniques that can be combined under heading biographical research. explores the different biographical methods currently used while locating these within the history of social science methods. focuses on the more established, interview-based, biographical research methods and considers the analytical strategies used for interview-based biographical research considers the value of data contained within letters, diaries and auto/biography and illustrates how this data has been analyzed to reveal biographies and their social context. focuses on the other human documents and objects, like photographs, cyber-documents (emails, blogs, social networking sites, webpages) and other ephemera (such as official documents) that are used extensively in biographical research.
Building on the premise that closing achievement gaps is an economic imperative both to regain international educational supremacy and to maintain global economic competitiveness, I ask whether it is possible to rewrite the social contract so that education is a fundamental right—a statutory guarantee—that is both uniform across states and federally enforceable. I argue that the federal government was complicit in aggravating educational inequality by not guaranteeing free, public education as a basic right during propitious political moments; by enabling the creation of a segregated public higher education system; by relegating the Department of Education and its predecessors to a secondary status in the federal administration, thereby compromising its enforcement capability; and by proliferating incremental reforms while ignoring the unequal institutional arrangements that undermine equal opportunity to learn. History shows that a strong federal role can potentially strengthen the educational social contract.
Although previous research has established the association between early-grade mathematics knowledge and later mathematics achievement, few studies have measured mathematical skills prior to school entry, nor have they investigated the predictive power of early gains in mathematics ability. The current paper relates mathematical skills measured at 54 months to adolescent mathematics achievement using multi-site longitudinal data. We find that preschool mathematics ability predicts mathematics achievement through age 15, even after accounting for early reading, cognitive skills, and family and child characteristics. Moreover, we find that growth in mathematical ability between age 54 months and first grade is an even stronger predictor of adolescent mathematics achievement. These results demonstrate the importance of pre-kindergarten mathematics knowledge and early math learning for later achievement.
There has been perennial interest in personal qualities other than cognitive ability that determine success, including self-control, grit, growth mindset, and many others. Attempts to measure such qualities for the purposes of educational policy and practice, however, are more recent. In this article, we identify serious challenges to doing so. We first address confusion over terminology, including the descriptor “non-cognitive.” We conclude that debate over the optimal name for this broad category of personal qualities obscures substantial agreement about the specific attributes worth measuring. Next, we discuss advantages and limitations of different measures. In particular, we compareself-report questionnaires,teacher-report questionnaires, andperformance tasks, using self-control as an illustrative case study to make the general point that each approach is imperfect in its own way. Finally, we discuss how each measure’s imperfections can affect its suitability forprogram evaluation,accountability,individual diagnosis, andpractice improvement. For example, we do not believe any available measure is suitable for between-school accountability judgments. In addition to urging caution among policymakers and practitioners, we highlight medium-term innovations that may make measures of these personal qualities more suitable for educational purposes.
We investigated whether and to what extent minority children attending elementary and middle schools in the U.S. are over- or under-identified as disabled and so disproportionately represented in special education. To address existing limitations in the field's knowledge base, we (a) analyzed multi-year longitudinal data, (b) used hazard modeling to estimate over-time dynamics of disability identification across five specific conditions, and (c) extensively corrected for child-, family-, and school-level potential confounding variables (e.g., child-level academic achievement and behavior, family-level socioeconomic status, school-level state location). Despite long-standing and on-going federal legislative and policy efforts to reduce minority over-representation in special education, our analyses indicated that this has not been occurring in the U.S. Instead, minority children are less likely than otherwise similar White, English-speaking children to be identified as disabled and so receive special education services. From kindergarten entry to at least the end of middle school, racial and ethnic minority children are less likely than otherwise similar White children to be identified as having (a) learning disabilities, (b) speech or language impairments, (c) intellectual disabilities, (d) health impairments, or (d) emotional disturbances. Language minority children are less likely to be identified as having (a) specific learning disabilities or (b) speech or language impairments.
Bruer (1997)advocated connecting neuroscience and education indirectly through the intermediate discipline of psychology. We argue for a parallel route: the neurobiology of learning, and in particular the core concept ofplasticity, have the potential to directly transform teacher preparation and professional development, and ultimately to affect how students think about their own learning. We present a case study of how the core concepts of neuroscience can be brought to in-service teachers – the BrainU workshops. We then discuss how neuroscience can be meaningfully integrated into pre-service teacher preparation, focusing on institutional and cultural barriers.
Grades are the fundamental currency of our educational system; they signal academic achievement and non-cognitive skills to parents, employers, postsecondary gatekeepers, and students themselves. Grade inflation compromises the signaling value of grades, undermining their capacity to achieve the functions for which they are intended. We challenge the ‘increases in grade point average’ definition of grade inflation and argue that grade inflation must be understood in terms of thesignaling powerof grades. Analyzing data from four nationally representative samples, we find that in the decades following 1972: (a) grades have risen at high schools and dropped at four-year colleges, in general, and selective four-year institutions, in particular; and (b) the signaling power of grades has attenuated little, if at all.
Mathematics and science course graduation requirement (CGR) increases in the 1980s and 1990s might have had both intended and unintended consequences. Using logistic regression with Census and American Community Survey (ACS) data (n= 2,892,444), we modeled CGR exposure on (a) high school dropout, (b) beginning college, and (c) obtaining any college degree. Possible between-groups differences were also assessed. We found that higher CGRs were associated with higher odds to drop out of high school, but results for the college-level outcomes varied by group. Some were less likely to enroll, whereas others who began college were more likely to obtain a degree. Increased high school dropout was consistent across the population, but some potential benefit was also observed, primarily for those reporting Hispanic ethnicity.