Seminar & Fall 2013 Syllabus

Educational Studies 308: Cities, Suburbs, and Schools seminar
Fall 2013 syllabus
– see also syllabi from prior years
Wednesdays 1:15-3:55pm, Life Sci 135, Trinity College (CT)

Associate Professor Jack Dougherty (email), McCook 302; phone 860-297-2296
See my office hours and instructions for making appointments

Course description: Our theme this semester is Housing and Schooling through Stories and Data. This upper-level undergraduate seminar operates as a team research workshop. We closely examine studies of cities, suburbs, and schooling in the metropolitan Hartford area, and create our own small-scale studies to develop research skills in two areas: historical (interpreting archival sources on housing discrimination and civil rights) and quantitative (creating interactive data visualizations on school choice policies). In addition, the seminar builds students’ experience with tools for digital scholarship and writing for the web. For the community learning experience, the seminar partners with local organizations to develop our research questions and discuss the significance of our findings. Prerequisite: Ed 200 or the Cities Program or permission of instructor. (Cross-listed with American Studies and Public Policy & Law.) Enrollment limited to 20.

Requirement: Each student must bring a laptop computer (not a tablet) for web-based writing, mapping, and data analysis in class. Any laptop with WiFi and current browsers will be sufficient. One inexpensive option is the $249 Samsung Chromebook (see review by Trinity’s Jason Jones). Let me know if you need help with this requirement.

Schedule of classes and assignments:
While the overall workload will not change, minor updates will appear in red. See links for class resources available online, though some require Trinity network access (see Connecting from off-campus with VPN).

Wed Sept 4    Introduction to Homes & Schools

Assign Exercise 1: Login to our class site (via the sidebar) and write a post that describes your assigned profile, results, and what you learned about the simulation, at least 250 words, plus at least one screenshot with a source credit caption. Select the appropriate category (exercise 1 simulation) for your post to appear on our site and receive credit. If you need help, see my online calendar. Due on Fri Sept 6th by 5pm.

Wed Sept 11  The roots of segregation in housing and schooling, part 1

Bring your questions and reading notes on:

In seminar:

Assign Exercise 2: Students (in pairs or duos) will be assigned one of the historical sources on housing barriers listed below. Write a short post (no more than 500 words) that includes the following:

  1. Describe the source for those who have not seen it. (When and where did it come from, and what does it reveal about housing barriers at that point in time?)
  2. Search for at least 3 other secondary or primary sources on a related topic, explain how you found them, and properly cite them using any accepted citation style (such as Chicago-style footnotes, or APA or MLA in-line citations with bibliography). You are not required to read these new sources at this time. Recommended: try the free Zotero tool or a similar citation manager application.
  3. Suggest 2-3 discussion questions for the seminar about your source. (Feel free to point us to a specific passage if that makes sense.)

Due on WordPress (category= Exercise 2 housing sources) by Sunday Sept 15 at 9pm

Wed Sept 18  History of struggle against segregated housing and schooling I

Sat Sept 21

  • Recommended: Sheff Movement meeting 9am (contact Amanda Gurren, Trinity intern for Sheff Movement); EnvisionFest in downtown Hartford

Wed Sept 25 History of struggle against segregated housing and schooling II

Bring questions and reading notes on:

In seminar:

Wed Oct 2 Writing Connecticut Civil Rights History on the Web

Wed Oct 9 Writing Public History, Copyright & Fair Use Law, and Peer Review
Read before seminar:

Wed Oct 16 Visualizing School Choice Data

  • Guests: Jacqueline Rabe Thomas (CT Mirror journalist) and Robert Cotto Jr. (CT Voices for Children), to discuss their individual “wish lists” for data visualizations about public school choice policies
  • Assign DataViz Essay: Working solo or in pairs, design an interactive data visualization from the community partners “wish list” and embed it in an interpretive essay about its broader meaning, underlying sources, and important decisions you made in designing it (about 500 words)
    • Draft 1 due in your team GDoc (on Moodle) by end of Wed Oct 30th
    • Exercise 7: Peer reviews assigned during seminar, due by end of Fri Nov 1st
    • Draft 2 due in WordPress (category=DataViz Essay, password-protected by team) by end of Fri Nov 8th
  • Read online before seminar: Jack Dougherty, Jesse Wanzer ’08, and Christina Ramsay ’09. Missing the Goal: A Visual Guide to Sheff V. O’Neill School Desegregation: June 2007. Hartford, Connecticut and Storrs, Connecticut: The Cities, Suburbs and Schools research project at Trinity College and the University of Connecticut Center for Education Policy Analysis, 2007. http://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/cssp_papers/6/.
  • In seminar (for example of data visualization with interpretation): Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, “State Report: Students in Desegregated Schools Test Higher,” CT Mirror, September 12, 2013, http://www.ctmirror.org/node/143623.
  • How to construct an interactive Google Spreadsheet chart
  • Exercise 6: Create four interactive charts with Google Spreadsheets and paste your work as a link under your name/initials in our public Exercise 6 Organizer page. Due by end of Friday Oct 18th. (See my extra office hours on Thursday.)
    • Part 1: Create a meaningful interactive chart for the data table in Valerie Strauss, “The bottom line on SAT scores in one chart” The Answer Sheet, Washington Post, October 9, 2013, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/10/09/the-bottom-line-on-sat-scores-in-one-chart/. (Challenge: Can you make two axes, like this?)
    • Part 2: Create a meaningful interactive chart for any two variables (of your choice) for all school districts from Connecticut Education Data and Research (CEDaR), CT Dept of Education, http://sdeportal.ct.gov/Cedar/WEB/ct_report/CedarHome.aspx?. (Hint: One way to show the relationship between multiple X-Y points is to create a scatter plot. The challenge is to sort and match up the two columns of data correctly. If your interactive chart does not display district names, that’s okay, as I’m still working on that one!)
    • Part 3 and 4: How to lie with charts. Using one data set (described below), create two presentations that portray different versions of the truth: one showing major progress, and one showing minor change. For data, use the rate of progress toward meeting the Sheff goal by combining two sources: Dougherty et al. “Missing the Goal,” Chart 4, page 12 (for early years) and (for later years) Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, “State Falls Short on School Desegregation Requirements,” The Connecticut Mirror, November 15, 2012, http://www.ctmirror.org/story/18223/state-falls-short-school-desegregation-requirements. (Hint: Sometimes you need to create a chart with missing data values in the middle. Another hint: How does changing the minimum and maximum axis values change the appearance of charts, while maintaining mathematical accuracy?)

Wed Oct 23 Visualization design, mapping, and school choice data

  • Read: Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College, “Quantitative Reasoning Profile: Jack Dougherty, Educational Studies,” Pedagogy in Action: The SERC Portal for Educators, Fall 2013, http://serc.carleton.edu/dev/sp/library/qr/profiles/dougherty.html.
  • Read: “Introduction” (with five subsections), The Data Journalism Handbook 1.0 Beta, edited by Jonathan Gray, Liliana Bounegru, and Lucy Chambers. (O’Reilly Media, 2012), http://datajournalismhandbook.org/1.0/en/introduction.html.
  • Read excerpt: Monmonier, Mark. How to Lie with Maps, Second Edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996, pp. 39-42.
  • In seminar: How to create thematic data maps with Google Fusion Tables (updated for Fall 2013, with embedded video tutorial)
  • Exercise 7: How to Lie with Maps. Using the Connecticut district-level racial data in the how-to tutorial above, create two maps that interpret the same data in different ways. One map should emphasize sharp racial divisions, while the other map should emphasize widespread racial diversity. Embed both maps in a WordPress post (category= Exercise 7 maps), and add a paragraph that explains their differences and how you created them. Due on Mon Oct 28th by 5pm. Hint: If you wish to portray the region as highly segregated and every district is either predominantly minority or predominantly white, how many ranges and what kind of coloring would you use?
  • In seminar: Update on community partner agreement; Password-protecting drafts; Planning your data visualization design and data needs; Additional appointments with instructor are encouraged

Wed Oct 30 Data Visualization workshop and preparing for peer reviews

Wed Nov 6  

In place of our regular class this week, schedule a 20-minute meeting with instructor by Wed Nov 6th (come together if working as a pair) to discuss:

  • your DataViz draft and peer review
  • how to insert your DataViz essay and digital objects as iframes (or links) in WordPress (category=DataViz Essay, with team password-protection), due Fri Nov 8
  • pick up reading packet for next week’s seminar
  • for Exercise 8, clarify which portion you will attend and write about for the Nov 8-9 school integration conference
  • comments on previous essay from CTHistory partner

Fri Nov 8

  • DataViz final essay and digital objects (embedded or linked) due on WordPress (category=DataViz Essay, with team password-protection) by end of Friday
  • Attend portion of Nov 8-9 school integration conference and for Exercise 8, write a 300-500 journalism-style summary of your segment of the event, which will be evaluated based on clarity of themes and accuracy of details, and post on WordPress (category = Ex8 conference) by the end of Monday Nov 11th. To receive full credit, include a photo (with source credit), ideally, one taken by you or another student.

Wed Nov 13 What school choice research does (and does not) reveal

Read before seminar (packet to come on hallway table outside McCook 301).
Guiding question: What are recent claims about Hartford student achievement in magnet schools, and why is there disagreement over this issue?

Exercise 9 & 10: Why do many people misunderstand claims about Hartford student achievement in choice programs (such as magnet schools, charter schools, Open Choice)?Write an op-ed essay designed for CT Mirror (about 750-1000 words, including references for fact-checking purposes) to clear up this confusion and add a drawing/graphic/table/chart of your design, to illustrate hard-to-understand concepts and/or the type of evidence needed to make more definitive claims. Post on our GoogleDoc OpEd Organizer page by the end of Tuesday Nov 19th and share your document for comments.

Additional resources:

Reflections on Integration conference; housekeeping and catching up on grading

Wed Nov 20    Who Chooses and How?

  • Read: Jack Dougherty, Diane Zannoni, Maham Chowhan ’10, Courteney Coyne ’10, Benjamin Dawson ’11, Tehani Guruge ’11, and Begaeta Nukic ’11. “School Information, Parental Decisions, and the Digital Divide: The SmartChoices Project in Hartford, Connecticut.” In Making School Choice Work For All, by Gary Orfield and Erica Frankenberg. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013.
  • Who Chooses research design with simulated student-level data (see Moodle) — What kinds of research questions CAN be answered with this student-level data? Brainstorm with partners.
  • Organize ride-sharing for Dec 4th

Wed Nov 27 – no class – Thanksgiving Break

Wed Dec 4 

New time and location: Meet at Mather Circle 12:30pm if you wish to ride with Christina, Karen?, or Savvy? (tell me if I listed the wrong volunteer drivers). EmilyM will speak with Elaina about arriving after their class ends.

Our seminar will attend a public meeting of the Impediments to Fair Housing Choice Task Force (see links for membership, prior agendas, Dec 4th agenda), to begin at 1pm in room 2B of the Legislative Office Building (also known as the LOB, next to the State Capitol). If driving, go to 300 Capitol Ave, Hartford, and drive behind the LOB to enter the parking garage for visitors. See Google Map directions. Your instructor has been invited to present a 25-minute historical overview on barriers to fair housing in Connecticut, with emphasis on the Hartford region. After the meeting, we will step out to the cafeteria or other room to meet for our last seminar session.

Wed Dec 11

Final web essay due on WordPress (category = Final Web Essay 2013) due at end of day (in place of final exam)

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