August 2019


Hello, Pracademics!

Director’s Note: Learning about Learning
Happy August! We hope that summer was an opportunity to recharge. For parents, our kids have enjoyed their relative leisure, and we have enjoyed not having to argue over homework and early bedtimes and juggling schoolwork and extracurricular activities. As the kids start to make back-to-school preparations, we hope that you will also be thinking about the research you will take on to shape learning in your department. In this issue, we highlight a trial and Pracademic from our BetaEd initiative, which gives educators a central role in learning about learning. Our Pracademic partners keep us in childlike awe. The work you do is fascinating, and we appreciate that we get to explore with you.
Let’s get sleuthing!

Best Wishes,
Pracademia in Practice: Engaging Parents

This month we feature a trial in a school designed to test strategies to increase parental involvement—a challenge for most schools. Twelve classes (K–3rd grade) at P.S. 182Q Samantha Smith School in Queens, NY, participated in a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effects of email or text messaging in communicating about an event to engage parents in the classroom. Three conditions were tested: 1) hard-copy notices only, 2) hard-copy plus email, and 3) hard-copy plus text message. Teachers documented parental attendance at the event. Relative to the paper-only condition, messages issued by paper plus email improved show-up rates by more than 50% (p = 0.06). These results were particularly strong among parents of kindergarteners. Supplementing paper notifications with email reminders appears to be a simple and low-cost approach to improve parental engagement. The school has since completed a second RCT in collaboration with our team, focused on parental engagement in overseeing recommended homework.
Learning Corner: Learning about Learning

We are constantly learning, even though it may not be obvious. For example, you may change lanes on the highway because your experience has told you that following a car towing a trailer may slow you down. You learned. Perhaps you avoid a certain restaurant on a Saturday night because the wait is intolerable. You learned. We often think of schools and universities as the places where learning takes place—and it does—but learning also happens as you move through life, observing and questioning.
News and Updates

BetaGov offers regularly scheduled opportunities to learn about research and, specifically, the BetaGov model. This is designed to be a brief “Research 101” for those who are new to the arena. We cordially invite you to attend one of our “Pracademia” webinars. During this one-hour presentation, we provide an overview of the value of research and operational definitions of general research terms. We also introduce our attendees to the BetaGov model of research and how it differs from, but can support, a traditional academic model. To find out more about Pracademia or to register, please go to our website. Our website also provides some tools and resources that may help you in considering how to innovate, how to develop a trial idea, and how to do research. You can also follow our Twitter account, where we post updates about BetaGov trials as well as links to relevant articles, research, and projects!
Partner Spotlight: Rachel Rosenbaum Mandell

We are pleased to share a recent conversation that we had with one of our education Pracademics, Rachel Rosenbaum Mandell, an assistant principal and instructional leader in the New York City Department of Education, working at a public elementary school in Jamaica, Queens. Rachel has dedicated the past 17 years to serving students in the NYC area. Her current school includes more than 700 students, 35% of whom are English-language learners and 90% of whom are from low-income households (eligible for free or reduced-price meals). Rachel has conducted two randomized controlled trials in partnership with BetaEd (BetaGov's education initiative). See the Pracademia in Practice section for more detail on Rachel’s research.
Have an inspired pracademic day!
BetaGov  |  The Marron Institute of Urban Management   |  New York University  
60 Fifth Avenue, 2nd Floor  |  New York, NY 10011  |

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