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TC's Presence at AERA: Eclectic, Wide-Ranging and Award-Winning

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  • AERA Presentations

    A list and description of the presentations at AERA.

  • Education, Very Broadly Defined

    When Herve Varenne earned his Ph.D. in the 1970s, his grandmother, whose formal schooling had stopped in the sixth grade, told him, "Remember, you may have more instruction than I have, but you are not more educated."

Teachers College was out in force once again at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting, held this year in Chicago in early April. The meeting - the largest in AERA history, with more than 15,000 attendees - featured 154 presentations by TC faculty, students and staff. TC faculty, students and alumni also received honors at the meeting.

The paper and presentation titles of TC contributors were eclectic and far-ranging. They included "Learning in One's Own Imaginary World" (a survey of the research on the use of games in education); "Taking Bullying Seriously"; "Teacher Accuracy Perceiving Classroom Friendship Networks"; "The Impact of High School After-school Supplementary Education Programs on the Bachelor's Degree Completion of Urban Students of Color"; "Quality Conversations: Rethinking Child-Adult Conversations as Aesthetic Experiences"; and "Shattering Plexiglass: Continuing Challenges for Women Professors in Research Universities."

"Millions of children are regularly subjected to acts of bullying in our schools, resulting in painful humiliation, psychological harm, physical injury, and in some cases even suicide and murder," writes TC doctoral student Emily Ackman and two co-authors from other institutions in their paper on bullying. "Nonetheless, bullying is dismissed by many as a -'normal' part of life in schools. The paper goes on to review a range of existing statutes and policies for preventing bullying, and to suggest strategies for more effective enforcement.

"Teachers are important classroom actors who make a wide variety of consequential decisions that are likely influenced by their perceptions of who is friends with whom among students in the classroom," writes TC doctoral candidate Matthew Pittinsky, with other authors, in his paper on teachers' perceptions of classroom friendship networks. "While a number of investigations into teacher sociometric accuracy were conducted during the 1940s and 1950s, little has been published since on this topic."

Herv Varenne, Professor of Education in TC's Department of International and Transcultural Studies, together with Ray McDermott and Shelley Goldman, both of Stanford University, received the Palmer O. Johnson Memorial Award, given for the highest quality of academic scholarship for a paper published in an AERA journal during the 2006 volume year.

The paper jointly authored by the trio, "The Cultural Work of Learning Disabilities," was published in the August--September 2006 issue of Educational Researcher. It is an examination, in classrooms around the country, of "shifting currents of concern and tension that invite the attribution of labels for mental and/or minority-group status." It seeks to introduce a "language for cultural analysis" that can be used for "interpreting the interpretations of others."

Varenne is a cultural anthropologist whose major interests center on the processes that produce particular conditions for human beings in history, and their consequences. His most recent book, Successful Failure (written with McDermott and published by Westview), deals with the consequences of American schooling. McDermott was a member of the Teachers College faculty from 1979 through 1989. Goldman earned her master's and doctoral degrees at TC.

In addition, Thomas Bailey, George and Abby O'Neill Professor Economics and Education and the Director of TC's Community College Research Center (CCRC), and Vanessa Smith Morest, a TC alumna and Senior Research Affiliate at CCRC who is now Dean of Institutional Effectiveness at Norwalk Community College, received the AERA Division J (Postsecondary Education) Exemplary Publication Award for their book, Defending the Community College Agenda (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007).

Finally, Frank Grossman, who recently earned his Ph.D. in TC's Leadership, Policy and Politics program and is now on the faculty of Swarthmore College, was awarded the Division L Best Dissertation Award. Grossman's dissertation explored how Teachers and Administrators of New York, a group of educators from 28 small schools, were able to maintain a waiver that allowed students in its schools to demonstrate mastery of state standards through a series of performance-based assessment tasks rather than by passing state-level graduation exams.

Next year's AERA meeting will be held in New York City from March 24th through March 28th.

For a more in-depth look at TC presentations at AERA, visit

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