Research Focus Areas: Urban Education


In order to better plan and structure further curriculum development, faculty and student recruitment, and initiatives for external funding, the Program has identified the following initial research priority areas. Each concentration and option within the Program will address each of these focus areas to some degree; their more specific priorities and approaches are described in Section 8 below. We believe that in each of these areas it is important to combine the perspectives of policy analysis and curriculum studies, including school and classroom research and research on teacher education.

In identifying these areas we have tried to take into account both pressing issues and future prospects for the field of Urban Education as well as existing research strengths of the Graduate School and the wider CUNY faculty in Education and other relevant disciplines. The research focus of the Program will properly evolve with new and changing interests of faculty and research students and with emerging issues in the field of Urban Education; these four focus areas represent initial starting points for the Program.

The general descriptions for each focus area highlight what we regard as the major educational issues at stake; the illustrative questions that follow represent only examples of more specific topics and are not meant to exclude other research agendas.


Systemic Reform of Urban Education

Implications of curricular reform and higher student learning standards for changes in teacher preparation, effective assessment of learning, and university-school-community partnerships; investigation of systemic reform as a process distinct from normal policy evolution, including issues of accountability, governance, public and private sponsorship and funding, and evaluation of outcomes; development and testing of new conceptual models of institutional and organizational change relevant to the case of systemic educational reform.

What new strategies in the preparation of teachers are needed to increase student achievement across the full spectrum of culturally diverse urban populations?

How can we fully reconceptualize urban education in a K-16 framework, including effective curriculum articulation, teacher education programs and evaluation, and university, school, family, community, and corporate educational partnerships?

What are the best criteria and methods for evaluating systemic change proposals and their implementation, including outcomes assessment across the full K-16 spectrum?

What are the political, social, and educational implications of various actual and proposed forms of public vs. private sponsorship of educational programs and institutions?

Does systemic change call for leadership training and practices different in kind from what is needed within the existing policy context?


New Information and Communication Technologies

Implications of new information and communication technologies for changes in teacher education, curriculum enrichment, teaching methodology, educational administration, school-community relationships, effective assessment, and student achievement. Development and testing of new theoretical models of computer-mediated human communication and learning.

What are the relative advantages of face-to-face learning with a human teacher, independent or self-guided group inquiry projects, and interaction with intelligent information technologies? How can we better conceptualize combinations and hybrid forms of these approaches in classroom-based, distance education, or open learning models?

How do synchronous and asynchronous forms of computer-mediated communication among students and between students and mentors differ from traditional forms in educationally significant ways?

In what ways do new multimedia and hypermedia genres constrain and enhance concept development, critique, and creativity in the arts and humanities?

How do various uses of educational technology tend to narrow or widen the educational gap between students from economically privileged and those from economically marginal backgrounds?


Language, Representational Media, and Culture

Educational challenges and opportunities of urban language and dialect diversity; language and personal and cultural identity; educational implications of varying relationships among home, community, and school cultures; relationships between academic standards and curricular demands for language and literacy skills, creation and critical interpretation of visual and hybrid representational media, and critical aesthetic literacy.

What specific language and literacy resources do students need for success at various levels of the curriculum in different subject areas?

How can we more effectively conceptualize and investigate the role of language and culture in the personal identity development of teachers and students and the effects of identity issues on academic success?

What reduce potential conflicts exist between students' home- and community-based identities and those traditionally cultivated by the culture of the school?

How can the principles and practices of critical aesthetic education be extended as a unifying theme from humanities education to education in social studies, mathematics and natural science?


Urban Education and Global Communities

Education of all students for participation in global society and its social, cultural and economic networks; education of students representing diverse global populations in a world city; global communication systems and international urban communities and institutions as resources for teaching and curriculum in all subject areas.

How can urban education prepare students to participate in the global communication and economic networks of the new century and take better advantage of the rich cultural and technological resources and global institutions which exist only in large world-class urban centers?

How should schools respond to the trans-national perspectives of the many urban students who participate in communities with strong international ties and loyalties?

How can the linguistic and cultural diversity of urban communities be better utilized as a resource to help prepare all students for full participation in a global society?

What conceptual frameworks will better enable us to understand the educational needs and resources of global diasporic communities and new generations of students with complex, hybrid cultural backgrounds?


NOTE: Please see section 8 for the more specific research agendas identified for Arts, Humanities, and Social Studies Education; Science, Mathematics, and Technology in Education; and Educational Policy Studies.