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Emma Mercier, Assistant Professor, Curriculum and Instruction, Faculty Fellow 2014-2015

Title: Interacting with multi-touch surfaces: Does screen size matter?

Abstract: Interactive screens, such as those found on iPhones, have become more common on devices ranging in size from pocket-friendly phones to very large displays and tables. Research evidence suggests that directly interacting with content is valuable for students, particularly when they are working in groups. However, it is not clear whether the benefits are solely based on the ability to directly interact with content, or whether the screen size is part of the equation. In this talk, I will describe a study comparing groups working on a large (27”) screen, and multiple small (11”) screens. The ways in which the interaction patterns differ, and the adaptations students make to the tool in order to support their learning will be described. Opportunities to test out the different devices and tasks will also be available.

Anjale Welton, Assistant Professor, Education Policy, Organization & Leadership, Faculty Fellow 2014-2015

Title: Incentivized Policies and the Politics of Equity: Understanding the Implementation Contexts of Diverse Districts in Illinois

Abstract: The current educational policy landscape is filled with competition/incentives for states to have the relative freedom to design reforms that distinctively address the problem of chronically underperforming schools. States participating in incentivized policies such as Race to the Top and ESEA flexibility must focus on key reform areas: adopt standards and assessments (Common Core), develop data systems that measure student growth for principal and teacher evaluation, recruit and retain effective principals and teachers, and turnaround the lowest-achieving schools. Given these political conditions, this qualitative study examines two racially and socioeconomically diverse, mid-size school districts in Illinois as select cases to understand the extent to which incentivized reforms and their related initiatives consider equity and reflect the on the ground “reality” of leaders engaged in school improvement. Policymakers make claims (i.e. a theory of action) for how these policies will achieve equity, but are far removed from the reality of implementation. However, it is school leaders, who serve as the policies’ intermediaries, who are at the front lines of implementation, and confront the politics involved when achieving equity is at stake.