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Doctoral Students Present Research to Area High School

For 37 doctoral candidates, an entire year's worth of research recently came down to a single moment in Larsen's G-08 classroom.

Before an audience of fellow students, faculty members, and Malden High School educators, the first-year doctoral students presented research results as part of the seminar, Integrating Perspectives on Education. Now, in its third year, the unique doctoral seminar -- led by Professor Catherine Snow, Associate Professor John Diamond, Assistant Professor Hunter Gehlbach, and Assistant Professor James Kim -- teaches students the ins and outs of educational research through an ongoing case study of Malden (Mass.) High School while introducing them to the research of HGSE faculty and advanced doctoral students.

At the beginning of the year, the doctoral students entering the course were assigned "cohorts" in which they conducted their research at Malden High School. Doctoral candidate Tiffanie Ting, Ed.M.'02, was surprised to find herself grouped with fellow students who had entirely different backgrounds and experience from her. Despite the differences, the cohort mates were able to find common research interests, which ranged from examining achievement of minority students to teacher retention at Malden to challenges in the English as a Second Language program.

Throughout the presentations, Malden administrators continually asked questions and provided feedback to the students, emphasizing how helpful their research had been to the Malden staff.

Malden High School Principal Dan Brown said that the doctoral students' research shows the "good, bad, and ugly" about education.

"I think that Malden is consistent about not being afraid to admit the flaws," he said pointing out that it helps to have outside eyes, like those of the HGSE students, examining the school.

Over the three years since the program began, Brown said they've used the research developed in this course to create programs at Malden, very often following the recommendations of the HGSE students.

The seminar not only helps Malden High School, but makes a significant impression on doctoral students as well. "This is a good culmination of the doctoral seminar," said doctoral candidate Marcia Russell. "It was a great hands-on experience that a lot of schools don't offer."

Similarly, Ting said that although it was a challenging process, the experience also provided important steps for "finding interests," as well as learning from peers.

The partnership is one that HGSE and Malden hope to continue into the future. Professor Catherine Snow gifted the Malden administrators with HGSE pens so they could "continue to write down all of their ideas and suggestions" moving forward. Additionally, Snow thanked Malden by recognizing the "bravery" it takes to not only allow doctoral students into the school, but also to trust and take the results and recommendations so seriously.

Impressed by their presentations, Gehlbach applauded his students, also recognizing Malden as vital to the success of the course. "The school community is so open and willing to help," Gehlbach noted. "Over time, it does benefit them, and it is an obvious benefit for us."


The latest research, perspectives, and highlights from the Harvard Graduate School of Education

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