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Thursday, October 6 • 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Connecting Youth: Lessons from Five Years of Mixed Method DML Research

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This session provides lessons learned from five years of mixed method fieldwork documenting a set of technologically-enhanced, educational interventions funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The initiative was advanced based on the assumption that technologically enhanced informal educational opportunities could potentially address challenges associated with the structural relationship between social background, including neighborhood context, and educational and occupational opportunities.  Progressive pedagogical approaches enhanced by new forms of digital technology were argued to be capable of improving outcomes of disadvantaged youth. The initiatives centered on schools, after-school enrichment programs and drop-in centers in Chicago and New York City. Over time, the programs in particular adopted a pedagogical model, Connected Learning, which stresses the importance of engaging under-resourced, non-dominant youth in ways that help them connect segments of their learning ecologies that are traditionally disconnected: interests, peer relationships, and opportunity. We present findings on positive outcomes associated with connected learning practices as well as opportunities and challenges around connected youth programming. The questions that we examine around technology, youth and education are arguably central to addressing the challenges and needs of 21st Century youth. In this session we’ll address the following themes: 1. Participation in the MacArthur Foundation's multifaceted educational initiatives exposed educators and administrators to new ideas, concepts, and tools that were designed to enhance their instructional practices. We’ll address how on-the-ground educators - operating as street-level bureaucrats - understood and implemented the core elements of the initiative. In particular, we’ll focus on their discourses and observed practices with respect to progressive pedagogy, technology and the intersection between technology and pedagogy. We’ll also unpack barriers to implementation and supports educators reported as important. 2. Youth participants in these programs as well as schools they attended are situated in particular neighborhood contexts that differ in structural characteristics, including exposure to crime and violence.  These neighborhood contexts structure youth access to formal and informal educational opportunities. We’ll explore the relationship between program participation, neighborhood context, social background, and educational opportunity. 3. We will address the extent to which youth who engage in these types of programs and schools have varying educational outcomes, including how these relationships vary by social network relationships and social background.  For example, we explore whether students from families with fewer resources, and neighborhoods with concentrated poverty and exposure to crime and violence, are particularly sensitive to the relationship between educational outcomes and the connected learning practices we observed. We will also identify how different measures of educational outcomes (e.g., self-reported attitudes and behaviors, traditional standardized tests and alternative assessments) are suggestive of the possibilities and limitations of the capacity for technologically-enhanced, progressive education to shape educational outcomes.


Richard Arum

Dean of the School of Education; Professor of Educ, University of California, Irvine

Max Meyer

School Research Coordinator, New York University

Emma Mishel

Doctoral Researcher, New York University

Thursday October 6, 2016 2:00pm - 3:00pm PDT
Doheny Ballroom