“What Do You Mean by ‘Personalized Learning?’

If you work in the field of education, you’re probably familiar with the term “personalized learning.” It’s all the buzz right now. Schools across the United States are talking about personalization and putting various forms of personalized learning into practice to meet their students’ diverse needs. Although educators across the country are using the terms “personalization” and “personalized learning,” there is little consensus about what these words mean or what types of practices they describe. This brief post will consider just a few conceptions of personalized learning that have been put forth in the literature on this approach to education.   Continue reading

Propensity Score Methods: Working with Natural Experiments

In the natural sciences, experimentation is understood to be at the foundation of how the work of a field is conducted. However, in the social sciences, experimentation can be more difficult. Instead of working with lasers or minerals or lab rats, we work with human beings situated in their worlds. The idea of conducting a scientific experiment on people may seem simple, but it gets difficult quickly as we start to plan it. In order to make a strong comparison, we would need individuals who are identical on characteristics that would influence how they would respond to the experiment. This is clearly a difficult task. Continue reading

Collaboration for Research

In my previous role as a high school teacher, collaboration was relatively rare. Although I often collaborated with students, meaningful collaboration with my fellow teachers was uncommon. Now, as a Ph.D. student, I have had the opportunity to engage in numerous collaborative opportunities, most often when planning, conducting, and reporting on research. In this post, I explore models, benefits, and challenges related to collaboration in this context. Continue reading

I’m not a native speaker.

Inspired by Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/ La Frontera

After my first day of first grade I came home with my eyes red, swollen, and stinging from crying. As a six year old, the fear and confusion of trying to understand a language I had never heard before welled up inside my throat. Blubbering as I got off the bus, I told my mother I was not going back. I could not understand my teacher who spoke to me only in Spanish all day. Soy gringa. I am not a native speaker. Continue reading

The Strengths and Limitations of Human Capital Theory in Educational Research and Policymaking


       Human capital theory (HCT) is one of the most commonly used economic frameworks in educational research and policymaking. In this short post, I briefly describe the HCT framework and explore its strengths and limitations in educational research and policymaking. Continue reading

Hargreaves and Fink: Sustainable Leadership

Sustainable Leadership (2006), a comprehensive volume on sustainability leadership, is a neatly organized, accessible read for all audiences. Andy Hargreaves and Dean Fink nicely bring together 15 years of leadership research and theory into a comprehensive, applicable framework that is of great worth for educators, academics, policy makers, parents, and community members. Overall, Hargreaves and Fink organize the book simply but impeccably, and write harmoniously. Continue reading

Radical Constructivism

Central to the field of education is the concept of learning. Learning is something we all experience, and although individuals outside of the education field may not meditate on learning daily, philosophers and authors have long pondered the subject. From Plato’s Allegory of the Cave to Skinner’s Walden Two to Illich’s Deschooling Society, thinkers have proposed mechanisms for learning which imply and reflect larger sociological and ontological understandings. In my recent research around teacher learning and professional development, I have found it theoretically rich to utilize a radical constructivist framework. A few fellow students have mentioned working with constructivism, so I thought I would take this space to present a short statement on my use of the radical interpretation. Continue reading

Bill McKibben: Humble Leader

“Wilderness and Gandhian nonviolence were the two most potentially revolutionary ideas of the twentieth century, precisely because they were the two most humble: they imagine a whole different possibility for people.”

– Bill McKibben, Wandering Home, 2005

I was in high school in the early 90s when I first heard of Bill McKibben and his famously dark environmental text, The End of Nature (1989).  But it wasn’t until my husband and I moved back east nine years ago, to Middlebury, Vermont, where McKibben works these days, that I grew a bit fixated on him.  A global figure in the environmental movement, he became my local hero.  In the years that followed, I devoured his books and articles, following his global organizing and political action with 350.org, cheering his acts of civil disobedience, and eagerly streaming his appearances on Letterman, The Colbert Report, and Democracy Now! Continue reading

Learning to Write at the Doctoral Level

I love learning.   I read a lot for work and school; watch documentaries, news clips, TED Talks, and the like for fun; and listen to audiobooks, radio, and podcasts while driving, working out, and cleaning.  One result of ingesting so much information is that I often have myriad ideas banging up against one another in my head.  Though I take in a lot of information on any given day, I find I rarely achieve a deeper sense of learning unless I also make time to write.  Whether that writing takes the form of a twenty-page term paper or a one-line Facebook post, taking time to decide what matters and how to articulate it increases my level of understanding of and connection to the topic foremost in my mind at the moment. Continue reading

Shifting towards mixed methodologies

Through my lived experiences I have interfaced with the construct of “research” in a number of different ways. Through directed and casual reading, conducting research projects with various levels of formality, and writing to both summarize and report on research, my conceptualization of the construct has changed and evolved. Similarly, my worldview has broadened and shifted. My ontological and epistemological perspectives continue to be shifting and context dependent. Over the past few months I have engaged with mixed methodology in my coursework and in one strand of my research. This methodology is well suited for my current way of thinking as it “encourages the use of multiple worldviews” (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011, p. 13). To unpack how I have emerged at this point, in this post I describe my interactions with worldviews and “research” before my current program of study, briefly consider my development as a student and research fellow at the University of Vermont, and ponder my current questions about mixed methodology. Continue reading