current research areas
Patterns of Social Inequality in Education
Impact of Education Policy on Inequality
Education Policy Formation and Change
At the most general level, my work is focused on understanding how social inequalities are created within the education system, and the policies and practices that can ameliorate these inequalities to facilitate upward social mobility. My research explores this focus through the following basic questions: (1.) How do patterns of social inequality emerge and change over time through students’ K-20 education attainment trajectories? (2.) To what extent do education and social policies diminish or exacerbate these patterns? and (3.) What are the conditions through which education and social policies aimed at addressing inequality emerge and change over time? My pursuit of these questions rests on the theoretical assumption that the patterns of educational attainment and policy-making take shape at the intersections of social networks, cultural meaning systems, bureaucratic governance structures, and markets. These assumptions lead me to a wide variety of methodological approaches, such as social network analysis, field methods, and statistical modeling.
The following are a few examples of the variety of projects I am currently working on to address the broad questions above. First, I am in the process of analyzing longitudinal data collected through a mixed-methods study of the high school-to-college transition among first generation college-going students. The purpose of the study is to inform the ways institutions of higher education can better support students who are the first in their family to attend college. Second, I am engaged in a collaborative project examining the impacts of school choice policy on socioeconomic and racial gaps in learning and degree completion outcomes. The intent of this work is to investigate whether specific features of school choice policies increase or decrease inequality. Finally, I am in the process of collecting data for a study that is investigating how policy networks impact state-level legislative successes of educational advocacy organizations. It is my hope that this project provides a foundation for understanding whether or not such networks offer a viable alternative to traditional policymaking processes in education.