Research

Single studies are good; literature is amazing

We can learn quite a bit from the surge of amateur epidemiology: It’s hard to be a good reader of a single study, and you don’t have to do that to learn from research. For almost half a year, I’ve repeatedly seen many well-educated, well-read people try to learn The Secret of Covid from individual […]

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 […]