Research

Yoda causality: Do, or do not. There is no why.

A few weeks ago there was a minor flamewar on Twitter about the alleged abuse of the term causality in various social-science fields, and after the destruction of a small galaxy or two, it ran out of fuel. But this semester I directed an undergraduate honors thesis that used a difference-in-difference approach to a policy question, and […]

How the “industrial era schools” myth is a barrier to helping education today

Betsy DeVos got slammed on Twitter Tuesday after posting a tweet from SXSWEdu that included the following: Everything about our lives has moved beyond the industrial era. But American education largely hasn’t. Last time that I checked, that tweet had 629 likes, 194 retweets, and about 5200 replies, most of which read something like the following: […]

The missing methods section: Origins of the dropout problem

A quarter century ago, the History of Education Quarterly accepted my first article, on when and why people in the United States began to use dropping out as the dominant term for people who left school without a high school diploma. Spoiler: we started using the term not because dropping out was a growing problem in the 1960s […]

Laptops and knitting in class

Twitter is burning up with discussion of Sue Dynarski’s November 22 NYT column on laptop use in class. Dynarski summarizes some of the research on how laptops affect students in classes heavy in formal presentations (such as many economics classes) and explains why she generally bans electronic device use in her classes as a result. Loads […]

Learning from the “failure” of polling

The tie between [Progressive-era] administrative authority and the discourse of special education lay in three connected features: the objects of study in the field, the evangelism of experts embedded in personal and professional networks, and the technical tools that experts and their public partners used in practice. We can call this set a triangle of […]