Warner Doctoral Students Present Work, Win Big at AESA Conference

Students Now Pursue Ambitions of Publishing a Book

Twelve Warner students added a prestigious honor to their resumes this year. Doctoral students, who took EDU 527 Advanced Seminar in Teaching and Learning in the spring semester, collaborated on a symposium, “Youth Cultural Practices as Resources for Learning and Development,” that they presented at the Annual American Educational Studies Association (AESA) Conference in the fall. The students’ and their professor’s efforts have opened up new opportunities for them to collaborate on a book, which they hope to release in spring 2009.

The symposium is the result of the students’ great work over the course of a semester as they researched and led class discussions on topics that made connections to mathematics, literacy, science learning, and cultural practices with a focus on informing pedagogy and future research. The grounding concept is that youth are active agents in creating knowledge, cultural practices, and social spaces. Students then prepared a series of presentations that they presented at the AESA Conference.

“I have observed such astounding results of the students’ work,” said Nancy Ares, associate professor in the teaching and curriculum program at Warner. “They not only played a significant role in determining the structure and outcomes of the course, which is not a conventional approach to teaching, they also had the unique opportunity of presenting their work to a scholarly organization and we are now pursuing a book contract to write about our research.”

Doctoral students used the symposium as a way to present research and practice that bring social and cultural perspectives to understanding learning and the development of youth. Joe Pow, a part-time Ed.D. student in teaching and curriculum who focused his research efforts on science learning and cultural practices, credits Professor Ares’ course for helping him to see why attracting minorities into scientific and technical career fields is so problematic in this country.

“Having this cultural perspective has given me greater insight as to why there is such a dramatic achievement gap between white students and students from marginalized populations when it comes to science,” explained Pow. “As a result, I’ve become more sensitive to the fact that science is itself a culture with a characteristic set of practices, and consequently, any time a student walks into a science classroom, they are crossing a cultural border. This crossing can, and usually does, cause tensions that can significantly impact the learning process.”

Doctoral students Burke Scarbrough, Jennifer King, Maryam Razvi Padela, Alice Harnischfeger, Jeremiah Frink, Rebecca DiTomasso, Matilda Tang, Joe Pow, Eleanna Tsoumani, Kankana Mukhopadhyay, Emily Daniels, and Rabia Hos explored and presented the following papers as part of the symposium: Youth as Active Agents; Mathematics and Numeracy as Social Practice; Literacy and Literacies as Social Practice; Science Learning and Cultural Practices; Cultural Practices and the Production of Social Space.

As an extension to the class, Ares and her students have turned their focus to writing a book about their work. They currently have senior scholars from the United States and the United Kingdom who have agreed to partner with them in contributing chapters.

Tags: cultural practices, doctoral student experience