Research News

Hess, McAvoy to receive AERA’s Outstanding Book Award for, ‘The Political Classroom’

March 15, 2016

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) announced in a news release Tuesday the winners of several of its top 2016 awards for excellence in education research.

And among those being recognized are UW-Madison’s Diana Hess and Paula McAvoy, the recipients of the 2016 AERA Outstanding Book Award for their publication, “The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education.”

Diana Hess
This award is given for an outstanding book-length publication in education research and development, and is considered among the highest recognitions bestowed by AERA each year.

Hess is the dean of the School of Education and McAvoy is the program director of UW-Madison’s Center for Ethics and Education within the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. McAvoy also is an alumna of the School of Education, having earned her doctorate from the Department of Educational Policy Studies.

It’s no secret that civics education in America is facing serious challenges in today’s highly partisan world. On the one hand, intense political polarization is making it more difficult than ever before for teachers to wade into potentially controversial issues in their classrooms. And yet, helping students develop their ability to deliberate political questions en route to becoming knowledgeable and engaged citizens is an essential component of our democracy.

Paula McAvoy
Hess and McAvoy’s book is an effort to help address this conundrum. “The Political Classroom,” is based on the findings from a large, mixed-method study about discussions of political issues within high school classrooms. In their book, Hess and McAvoy explain that teachers will make better professional judgments about teaching prickly political issues if they aim toward creating "political classrooms" that engage students in deliberations about questions that ask, "How should we live together?"

“The Political Classroom” utilizes the research findings to present in-depth and engaging cases of teacher practice. Paying particular attention to how political polarization and social inequality affect classroom dynamics, Hess and McAvoy promote a coherent plan for providing students with a nonpartisan political education and for improving the quality of classroom deliberations.

Dean Kumashiro
Meanwhile, UW-Madison alumnus Kevin Kumashiro will receive AERA’s Social Justice in Education Award. Kumashiro, dean of the University of San Francisco’s School of Education, earned a Ph.D. from UW-Madison’s Department of Educational Policy Studies in 2000.  The Social Justice in Education Award honors an individual who has advanced social justice through education research and exemplified the goal of linking education research to social justice.

AERA will honor its top award winners for their outstanding scholarship and service at the fourth annual Awards Luncheon, April 10, at the AERA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. To learn about the 11 AERA award winners announced Tuesday, check out this news release.  Four additional AERA awards will be announced in late March. 

“This year’s award winners exemplify commitment to the study and practice of education,” AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine says in the news release. “We are proud to honor their outstanding scholarship and service to the field.”