Education researchers prepare for AERA 2017

Dozens of faculty members and students from USC Rossier will make the trip

By Ross Brenneman


The year’s largest gathering of education researchers will be in San Antonio later this month, and USC Rossier will be well represented among the attendees.

The annual meeting for the American Educational Research Association takes place April 27-May 1. Fifty-two members of the USC Rossier community will present research and engage in dialogues that range from “Access Pathways for Community College and Graduate School” to “Mathematics Teachers: Knowledge, Development and Practice” to “Focusing on Race Within Developmental Education.”

“This is the one conference that brings all of our research areas together,” said Associate Dean for Research Gale Sinatra. “It is so rewarding to see Rossier’s research and scholarship so well represented and particularly exciting to see the level of our graduate students’ involvement with so many presentations well connected to this year’s theme.”

The theme of this year’s meeting is “Knowledge to Action: Achieving the Promise of Equal Educational Opportunity.” Meeting organizers hope that attendees can focus on questions about whether education research is in a good place to improve educational opportunities, improve pathways to equal opportunities and turn research into public action.

Eric Felix PhD ’18, who will be participating in five sessions, said that he’s looking forward to conversations about how his and others’ research contributions, positions as scholars and institutional resources can be used “to address and dismantle long-standing inequities in higher education.”

“My hope is that this year’s annual theme of equal educational opportunity allows us to engage in meaningful ways and that our research is grounded in disrupting the barriers to educational attainment,” he said. “And my hope is also that our discussions of that research are acted on to benefit students and communities we have promised much in terms of educational opportunity, yet only left an illusion.”

Major award

In addition to panels, paper presentations and poster sessions, USC Rossier will also be represented in the key sessions. Estela Bensimon, a professor of higher education and the director of the Center for Urban Education, is receiving AERA’s prestigious Social Justice in Education Award, which includes delivering a keynote lecture.

“Higher education has been complicit in practicing racial exclusivity, in diverting the poorest and most educationally underserved students to the least resourced colleges, and in concocting assessment and placement practices that disproportionately impact students of color,” Bensimon said, explaining that she plans to use her speech to address such issues. “I want to provide a hopeful and pragmatic perspective on the role of academic researchers in making higher education just.”

And William Tierney, the Wilbur-Kieffer Professor of Higher Education at USC Rossier, and a former president of AERA, will be on a panel that includes Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), which will discuss the topic of improving access to higher education.

Here’s the full schedule of AERA events that feature USC Rossier participants: