Educ 200: Analyzing Schools

Syllabus for Fall 2016

Tuesdays & Thursdays (TR), 9:25-10:40am in MCEC 220 Prof. Jack Dougherty - contact me or book an appointment Educational Studies Program at Trinity College, Hartford CT Teaching Assistants: Doug Curtin ‘17 and Vianna Iorio ‘19 In this online syllabus, major changes appear in red and links to come appear with asterisks(*)

Jump to unit: Sociology of ClassroomTheories of LearningExplaining InequalityTeaching for Change – Philosophy of Ed Jump to month: Sept – Oct – Nov – Dec

Course description:

This course introduces the study of schooling within an interdisciplinary framework. Drawing upon anthropology and sociology, we investigate the resources, structures, and social contexts that influence student opportunities and unequal outcomes in the United States and other countries. From psychology, we contrast different theories of learning, both in the abstract and in practice. Finally, using philosophical thinking, we investigate how competing educational goals should be resolved in a democratic society. The course also includes a community learning component, where students engage in participant-observation for three hours per week in nearby public elementary and secondary classrooms, and integrate first-hand experiences with discussions of course readings and writing assignments.

How to succeed in this course:

  • Bookmark this online syllabus and check it often for updates (marked in red).
  • Keep a calendar—paper or digital—to manage your time and meet deadlines.
  • Attend each class on time, bring relevant readings and notes, and participate regularly in discussions. The goal is to improve education for all, not you alone. At the end of the semester, your peers will evaluate your overall contribution to learning in the class.
  • Take the initiative by asking questions. If you don’t understand something, other students probably are puzzled, too. Go ahead and ask.
  • In this class, students are welcome to bring a computer for in-class writing and online research, but use it wisely. Focus on learning and avoid distractions.
  • Talk about what you are learning outside of class, both with your peers and the professor. Email me any quick questions, or book an appointment for longer discussions.
  • Learn from our teaching assistants, who facilitate small-group discussions in class, make time to meet with students outside of class, and offer additional feedback on student writing.
  • Everyone—including your instructor—learns to improve our writing by sharing drafts, receiving reader feedback, and revising our prose. Make the most of peer editing opportunities and the Writing Center.
  • If you’re concerned about a grade on an assignment, schedule an appointment to talk with me. Afterwards, if you wish to challenge a grade, write out a persuasive argument with supporting evidence.
  • If an illness or emergency interferes with attending class, email me immediately and make arrangements to catch up on missing work.

How your work will be evaluated

with individual scores on Moodle:

  • Four short essays to integrate theory and practice (x 10 = 40 points)
  1. Theories of Learning
  2. Explaining Educational Inequality
  3. Teaching for Change
  4. Curriculum Design Proposal
  • Ten writing exercises to promote reflective thinking (x 2 = 20 points)
  1. Introduce yourself and potential contributions to your placement teacher
  2. Improve observation skills by contrasting learning in classroom videos
  3. Reflect on first day at placement and connect to one or more syllabus readings
  4. Upload a scanned signed copy of placement contract
  5. Write a rich vignette on student learning at your school placement
  6. Peer edit an assigned student’s learning vignette to improve clarity
  7. Share assigned inequality reading notes, due 24 hours before class
  8. Submit draft and peer edit classmate’s draft on educational inequality
  9. Curriculum Project Starter Proposal: topic, grade(s), 3 objectives
  10. Evaluate what you learned at your school placement
  • Classroom Participant-Observation (evaluated by classroom teacher) = 10
  • Curriculum Project - Oral Presentation (evaluated by coordinators) = 10
  • Curriculum Project Final Draft (evaluated by instructor) = 10
  • Overall Contribution to Learning in the Class (evaluated by peers) = 10
  • Cumulative Final Exam = 10

NOTE: Initially, the total number of points equals 110. When calculating the final grade, your lowest 10-point grade will be dropped, resulting in an adjusted total of 100 points. In this course, unsatisfactory work (below 70%) falls in the D or F range, adequate work (70-79%) in the C range, good work (80-89%) in the B range, and outstanding work (90 to 100%) in the A range. Each range is divided into equal thirds for minus (-), regular, and plus (+) letter grades. For example, 80 to 83.33% = B-, 83.34 to 86.67 = B, and 86.68 to 89.99 = B+. Students may access their individual scores on the password-protected Moodle site. PS: If you’re obsessing over these details, you probably have lost sight of the larger purpose of learning. Come talk with me!

Late 10-point assignments will be penalized 10% for every 12-hour period beyond the deadline, with exceptions granted only for medical or family emergencies. Late or incomplete 2-point exercises will receive only 1 point (if re-submitted within 24 hours of the deadline), or 0 points afterwards, with exceptions only for medical or family emergencies. A Google Doc that is not properly shared (so that anyone with the link may comment) will be considered late. Notify your instructor during add/drop week if you require any special accommodations (for religious observances, learning disabilities, etc.).

Sociology of the Classroom

How do cultural beliefs, social organization, and political tensions shape teacher-student interactions in the classroom?

Tue Sept 6

Thur Sept 8 Urban Education Critiques of Hollywood and “The Crisis”

  • Always read items prior to the class listed below and be prepared to discuss
  • Updates on Hartford school orientations and placements via Moodle. Students who do not show up for a scheduled orientation will lose 2 points.
  • Sophie Bell, “Dangerous Morals: Hollywood Puts a Happy Face on Urban Education,” Radical Teacher 54 (1998): 23-27.
  • Pedro Noguera, City Schools and the American Dream. (New York: Teachers College Press, 2003), pp. 1-16.
  • Unit 1 PDFs available for download via link on Moodle
  • Presentation in class: Teachers’ Work: Hollywood Drama vs Documentary
  • Compare video excerpts in class: Stand and Deliver (1988 fictionalized film portrayal of a real teacher, Jaime Escalante), on Trinflix; and High School II (1994 documentary of Central Park East HS, NYC by Frederick Wiseman) excerpt on Moodle, full version on Trinflix.
  • In class discussion/writing exercise: Does Bell’s analysis apply to more recent films - or not? 
  • Assign Exercise 1: Write a letter of introduction to your placement teacher, describe your potential contributions to the classroom, and what you hope to learn. Upload a copy to my Dropbox by Sun Sept 11th at 9pm. Also, email the text to the teacher (after you receive their email address) and bring a print copy to hand deliver at your first classroom visit.
  • Recommended: Colette N. Cann, “What School Movies and TFA Teach Us About Who Should Teach Urban Youth Dominant Narratives as Public Pedagogy,” Urban Education 50, no. 3 (April 2015): 288–315,

Tue Sept 13 Closely Observing Classrooms: International Comparisons

  • Orientation update (Moodle) and short blog post with photos
  • Kathleen deMarrais and Margaret LeCompte, “The Social Organization of Schooling” and “What is Taught in Schools” in The Way Schools Work: A Sociological Analysis of Education, third edition. (NY: Longman, 1999), 43-52, 222-228, 236-247.
  • Sharan Merriam, “Being a Careful Observer,” Qualitative Research and Case Study Applications in Education (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998), 94-111.
  • Presentation: Sociology of the Classroom
  • Assign Exercise 2: Sharpen your observation skills by comparing teacher-student interactions in two assigned videos from the Third International Math and Science Study (TIMSS 1999): Mathematics US87 and JP2.  Answer questions in this Google Form by Sunday Sept 18th at 9pm. You may watch and discuss videos with classmates, but write your own responses.

Thu Sept 15 Contradictions of Reform and the Context of Hartford Schools

Theories of Learning

How do different classical and contemporary theorists explain how people learn? Tue Sept 20 Classical Theory and Behaviorism

Thur Sept 22 Constructivist Theories: Piaget, Dewey, and Vygotsky

Sun Sept 25 Join TAs Doug and Vianna to discuss what you’re experiencing in your school placements, Seabury N128, 5-6pm with refreshments Tue Sept 27 Constructivist Theories: Bruner

TA drop-in hours for feedback on your writing: Vianna: Wednesday, Sep 28th 3-4pm, and Friday Sep 30th, 1-2pm, and Sunday Oct 2 from 12-1pm, all in Peter B’s Library Cafe Doug: Thursday September 29th, 7-8 PM, Saturday October 1st, 12-1 PM, Sunday October 2nd 4-5PM, all in Peter B’s Library Cafe

Thu Sept 29 English Language Learners and Special Needs Learners

Explaining Educational Inequality

How do different theorists explain racial, social class, and gender gaps in student learning? Tue Oct 4 Analyzing Achievement Gaps

Wed Oct 5 Pathways to Teaching discussion with Trinity students and alumni, 6:30-7:30pm in Rittenberg Lounge, Mather Hall PathwaysToTeaching2016Poster_jpg Thu Oct 6 Does Money Matter? School Finance, Wealth, and Race

Tue Oct 11 Trinity Days (no class)

  • View: Puerto Rican Passages (1995) video via TrinFlix. Learn about the history of the island, its people, and their relationship with the United States.

Thu Oct 13 Tracking, Social Capital, and Cultural Capital

  • Read assigned shared notes, due on GDoc Organizer at 9pm before class
  • Start constructing your Mental Map on Inequality Readings
  • See my Suggestions for Closely Reading Authors on Inequality
  • Jeannie Oakes, “The Distribution of Knowledge,” Keeping Track: How Schools Structure Inequality (New Haven: Yale Press, 1985), excerpts from chapter 4; PDF on Moodle
  • Pedro Noguera, City Schools and the American Dream. (New York: Teachers College Press, 2003), chapter 2; PDF on Moodle
  • Annette Lareau, “Social Class Differences in Family-School Relationships: The Importance of Cultural Capital.” Sociology of Education 60 (1987), pp. 73-85; PDF on Moodle
  • Discuss: What should you be looking for in your school placements? What additional data can you access about your school? (see prior week)

Hoyer - study - install 1web700Opening today: Jade Hoyer’s ‘study’ Exhibit Addresses Socioeconomic Inequality in Secondary Education, Austin Arts Center Tue Oct 18 Cultural Discontinuities and Oppositional Identities

[caption id=”attachment_2694” align=”alignright” width=”150”]Click to enlarge Click to enlarge image[/caption] Wed Oct 19 (Un)Privileged: The Cost of Being Poor at an Elite Institution, film by Bettina Cecilia Gonzalez ‘16, with dinner & discussion, 6-8pm in Admissions Grand Room   Thu Oct 20 Implicit Bias and Stereotype Threat

  • Read assigned shared notes, due on GDoc Organizer at 9pm before class
  • Continue to construct your Mental Map on Inequality Readings
  • Walter S. Gilliam et al., “Do Early Educators’ Implicit Biases Regarding Sex and Race Relate to Behavior Expectations and Recommendations of Preschool Expulsions and Suspensions?,” Yale University Child Study Center Policy Brief, September 2016,
  • Listen to this news story about Gilliam’s study: Corey Turner, “Bias Isn’t Just A Police Problem, It’s A Preschool Problem,”, September 28, 2016,
  • Claude M. Steele, “A Threat in the Air: How Stereotypes Shape Intellectual Identity and Performance,” reprinted in Eugene Lowe, ed., Promise and Dilemma: Perspectives on Racial Diversity and Higher Education (Princeton, 1999), excerpt from pp. 107-108; PDF on Moodle
  • Claude M. Steele, Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do (W. W. Norton & Company, 2011), chapters 1 and 3; PDF on Moodle
  • In class: Video excerpt with Claude Steele, Secrets of the SAT (PBS Frontline, 1999), via Trinflix.
  • In class: Compare school observation evidence in mixed groups
  • Assign Essay #2: Explaining Educational Inequality memo
    • Draft on 2 theories due on GDoc Org by Sun Oct 23 at 9pm
    • Assign Exercise 8: On Sunday night, see assigned peer reviews on GDoc Org, due before class on Tues Oct 25th
    • TA drop-in sessions: Vianna Fri Oct 21st from 1-2:30pm, Mon Oct 24th from 7:30-8:30pm, Wed Oct 26th from 2:30-4pm; Doug on Wed Oct 26th and Thurs Oct 27th from 7-8:30pm, all in Peter B’s Library Cafe
    • Upload final draft on 4 theories for blind-review by birthday (example: July16Essay2.docx) via JotForm by Fri Oct 28 at 6pm
    • Fill out Blind Review Birthday List. Note about the Birthday Paradox: If 23 random people are in the same room, there is a greater than 50 percent chance that any 2 will share the same birthday.

Tue Oct 25 Gender Bias in the Classroom

  • Presenters sit near front, everyone else sit near your peer editors
  • Read assigned shared notes, due on GDoc Organizer at 9pm before class
  • David Sadker and Karen R. Zittleman, Still Failing at Fairness: How Gender Bias Cheats Girls and Boys in School and What We Can Do About It (New York: Scribner, 2009), 1-28; PDF on Moodle
  • Video in class: Failing in Fairness (NBC Dateline, February 8, 1994), via Trinflix.
  • Discuss assigned peer reviews of Essay 2 drafts, due before class in GDoc Organizer
  • Review deadlines for Essay 2 (see above)
  • Helpful writing resource: They Say / I Say sentence templates

Teaching for Change with Curriculum Design

How can educators challenge inequalities at the school and classroom levels? How can educators connect meaningful learning objectives, activities, and assessments to promote social change? Thu Oct 27 Introduction to Curriculum Projects; Cooperative Learning

  • Robert Slavin, Cooperative Learning: Theory, Research, Practice, 2nd edition. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1995), chapters 1 and 2, PDF on Moodle
  • In class: Understanding Slavin through a cooperative learning exercise (slides posted after class)
  • Advising: Majors Fair today during Common Hour in Washington Room

Tue Nov 1 Multiculturalism in the Classroom

  • James Banks, “Approaches to Multicultural Curriculum Reform,” in Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives, 5th edition. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2004, PDF on Moodle
  • Sonia Nieto, “Multicultural Education in Practice” in Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education, 3rd edition (NY: Longman, 2000), PDF on Moodle
  • Rita Tenorio, “’Brown Kids Can’t Be in Our Club’: Raising Issues of Race with Young Children,” Rethinking Schools 18 (Spring 2004): 29-32, PDF on Moodle.
  • Presentation: Contrasting approaches to multicultural education
  • Concluding your placement: When you have completed your hours, confirm this in person with your teacher, and cc: me on your thank-you email. Then I will send my online evaluation form to teacher. PS: If you and your teacher agree, you are welcome to continue visiting the school beyond your official placement hours.
  • Advising announcements:

Thu Nov 3 Recognizing Race in our Classrooms

Tue Nov 8 Rethinking Family-School Connections

Thu Nov 10

  • Writing session: meet in small groups to brainstorm your Essay 3 strategies
  • Instructor and TAs will be available in our classroom
  • Essay 3 due Mon Nov 14th at 6pm, upload via JotForm for blind review, using mother’s (or primary caregiver’s) birthdate for the file name

Tue Nov 15 Curriculum Projects and Student Learning Objectives

Thu Nov 17 Curriculum Projects: Transformational Teaching Activities

Tue Nov 22 Curriculum Project appointments with instructor (in class or during the prior week) Thu Nov 26 Thanksgiving Break (no class)

Tue Nov 29 Preparing Curriculum Project Presentations and Final Drafts

Philosophy of Education and the Purpose of Schooling

What is the purpose of education? What is worth learning? How should debates over these issues be resolved in a democratic society?

Thu Dec 1 Individual Freedom and Civic Virtue

  • Read: Amy Gutmann, “Democratic Education in Difficult Times.” Teachers College Record 92 (Fall 1990): 7-20, PDF on Moodle.
  • Presentation: Philosophy of education
  • In class: It’s Elementary: Talking about Gay Issues in School (Women’s Educational Media, 1996), video excerpt, via Trinflix.
  • Debra Chasnoff and Helen Cohen, “Why Address Gay Issues With Children” It’s Elementary Viewing Guide, 1997, PDF on Moodle.
  • Assign Exercise 10a: Write a first-person reflection: What did you really learn while at your placement this semester?, and post on GDoc Organizer before our last class on Dec 8th
  • Assign Exercise 10b: Write a thoughtful thank-you email to your placement teacher and cc: your instructor, before our last class on Dec 8th. Feel free to include relevant reflections from your exercise 10a.
  • Finalize our curriculum project presentation schedule: Insert your full name, project title, and grade level before class; insert your Google Slides link (and test it from another computer) before you present.
  • Final advice from TAs on how to succeed on the curric project eval criteria
  • Last chance to book appointments with instructor before presentations
  • Interesting story about the future of Trinity College: Rick Seltzer, “Reining in Growth,” Inside Higher Ed, December 1, 2016,

Mon Dec 5th or Tues Dec 6th, 4-6pm

[caption id=”attachment_2756” align=”alignright” width=”640”]Presentation setup for McCook 307 Presentation setup for McCook 307[/caption]

Tue Dec 6 Competing Views on Liberatory/Progressive Education

  • Recap from last class: How would Gutmann interpret the classroom?
  • Read to prepare for a three-way, get-up-and-move debate in class, PDFs on Moodle:
    • Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. (NY: Seabury Press, 1970), pp. 57-74.
    • bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom (NY: Routledge, 1994), pp. 1-22.
    • Lisa Delpit, “Skills and Other Dilemmas of a Progressive Black Educator,” reprinted in Delpit, Other People’s Children (New York: New Press, 1995), pp. 11-20.
  • Finalize Tuesday presentation schedule
  • Advice from Monday presenters for Tuesday presenters
  • Deliver written comments from Monday guest evaluators

Thu Dec 8 Course wrap-up

  • Handout in class: Note sheet for individual student contributions to learning
  • Share with your peers:
    • Exercise 10 reflections: What did you really learn at your placements?
    • What activities/discussions/assignments helped you learn this semester?
    • What did your peers do – inside or outside of class – to help you learn? Did they spark your thinking, write thoughtful comments, or contribute to learning in other ways?
  • Assign (see your email): Peer evaluation of each student’s overall contribution to learning, due by end of Thurs Dec 8th via email to instructor. Late responses will not be accepted.
  • Guidelines for Final Essay due on Curriculum Project Organizer by Mon Dec 12th at 9pm
  • Handout in class: Prepare for the final exam: How would you answer sample questions from past years?

Mon Dec 12th by 9pm, post your final draft as a Google Doc on the Curriculum Project Organizer. Fri Dec 16 Final exam  (automatically replaces your lowest grade) – meet in my McCook 302 office at 9am and we will find an empty classroom.