Ph.D. Program Concentrations


These concentrations are fluid, with permeable boundaries and overlapping resources. The interdisciplinary nature of our program encourages students to move among concentrations as they take courses and develop research related to both their own interests and the interests of the professors in our program. It is expected that by the time of graduation, students will have developed expertise in one or two of these concentrations.

Social and Cultural Contexts of Education
We take an expanded view of education that focuses on children and youth within both community and school settings and that attends to the complex interrelations between schooling and the social, cultural, historical, political, and economic contexts within which schools operate. Drawing from disciplinary and transdisciplinary methodologies, our macro-level focus bridges research, policy, and practice in order to understand how children’s experiences in schools and communities shape their educational, social, economic, and political opportunities. Our work includes attention to the dynamics of globalization and the ways in which migration and immigration impact children’s opportunities to learn and to participate in society.

Learning and Teaching
Recognizing that learning takes place outside as well as inside classrooms, and in groups of peers as well as when experts assist novices, we focus on understanding how learning is enabled by the resources of persons and artifacts available in the situations in which people engage jointly in activities and interaction. From this socio-cultural perspective, we explore how parents, teachers and other educators organize and support learning opportunities. We particularly encourage an inquiry orientation on the part of both learners and teachers and a dialogic approach to the co-construction of knowledge and exploration of its implications for effective and responsible action.

Teachers and Teacher Development
We focus on multiple, often overlapping research and practice topics about teachers and teacher development (TTD) such as the histories, contexts, and workforce contours of teaching and teachers; the lives and careers of teachers from entry to retirement; teacher preparation programs and practices; and the role of teachers in school reform and education policy. For more information about the TTD concentration and the faculty engaged in research in this area, go here.

Language, Literacy, and Culture
We believe that teaching, learning and schooling are always mediated by language practices. From fine-grained looks at talk and language practices to larger examinations of socio-political and historical contexts, this emphasis considers multiple dimensions of language and literacy in educational settings. Particular domains include bilingualism, language policy, reading and writing instruction, vocabulary, academic language, sociolinguistics and first/second language acquisition.  Our goal is to prepare researchers, teachers and educational leaders who are simultaneously equipped and committed to leveraging the power of language and literacy in service of a more democratic society inside and outside schools.

Mathematics and Science Education
We examine mathematics and science learning and teaching within the multiple contexts of classroom, school, family, and community. We are particularly concerned with understanding the educational needs of students from linguistic and cultural groups that have historically not fared well in our nation's public schools. Our core mission integrates theory and practice as we are committed to research that will improve mathematics and science learning/teaching for this student population.