First semester finals: Doing is Being

“Doing is being,” according to Professor Kathryn Masyn. After taking Professor Masyn’s Introduction to Applied Data Analysis this fall, I think what she means is that classroom learning is abstract – it only becomes real in practice. This past semester, each of my final projects were great examples of “being by doing,” of putting knowledge into practice. I’d like to briefly describe my finals so that prospective students can really understand the kind of work that goes on at HGSE. (Of course, this is only my experience, and does not represent every student at HSGE).

For Politics of U.S. Education Policy (A-024, Professor Marty West) we were asked to write a final paper on a topic of our choice that demonstrated our understanding of the course material. I chose to write about the political lessons to be learned from a program called School-Within-a-School at Brookline High School here in Brookline, Massachusetts. My research included literature on the schools-within-schools movement, classroom observations, and interviews with current and former administrators at the program. That paper ended up being around sixteen pages in length.

For Implementing Inclusive Education (A-117, Professor Thomas Hehir) the class was divided into several small teams of three to five students. Each team was assigned to a local school that is successfully including students with disabilities in regular classrooms and curriculum. Our assignment was to work with the staff at our assigned school to identify and explore a problem of practice, apply ideas from our course to the problem, and present our findings in front of the class as well as representatives from the schools we worked in. Each team was also asked to submit a group essay (about 20 pages) describing their problem of practice, research methods, results, and recommendations. My team studied a program at Newton North High School that connects students with disabilities who have “aged out” of high school to vocational and volunteer opportunities in the community.

In Introduction to Education Finance and Budgeting (A-029, Professor Jon Fullerton) we again worked in small teams on specific consulting projects for the Somerville Public Schools district. For example, my partner and I spent six weeks working on a literature review and cost-benefit analysis of preschool spending in the district. We presented our findings (using PowerPoint) at Somerville High School in front of the district Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Director of Data, Budget Director, and other administrators.

Our final assignment in Introduction to Applied Data Analysis (S-040, Professor Kathryn Masyn) was to produce a publication-ready empirical research article. We worked in pairs using STATA (statistical software) and a large data set to formulate a research question, analyze empirical evidence using multivariate linear regression techniques, and write up our findings in APA manuscript style (about 15 pages).

Needless to say, this was a lot of work. I could not have completed most of these assignments at the beginning of the semester. Turning in these final projects caused me to reflect on how much I’ve learned since August. I was gratified to see that all of my final projects involved applying classroom learning to the real world. If you believe that “doing is being,” then I encourage you to continue exploring all the opportunities at HGSE!

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