Thursday, February 18, 2016

Deborah Rivas-Drake awarded Spencer Midcareer Grant

Tags: diversity and social justice, professional development, rivas-drake

Deborah Rivas-Drake has been awarded a prestigious fellowship by the Spencer Foundation. The Spencer Midcareer Grant is designed to enrich the work of academic midcareer scholars, by providing support for those who are interested in advancing their understanding of a compelling problem of education by acquiring new skills, substantive knowledge, theoretical perspectives, or methodological tools.

Rivas-Drake’s research will focus on “Conceptualizing and Studying Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Practices in Schools: Implications for Adolescent Ethnic-Racial Identity Development.” She explains: “Every day in schools across the U.S., adolescents are learning about the potential role of ethnicity and race in their lives through their interactions with peers, experiences in segregated academic hierarchies, and exposure to differential treatment by adults. What are the underlying conditions in which youth make sense of these at times conflicting messages, and how might the social-emotional qualities of schools matter in this process?”

The Spencer Midcareer Award will enable Rivas-Drake to gain insights into instructional and leadership practices in schools that promote competencies such as empathy and perspective-taking that undergird positive social and emotional development among youth. She is developing particular expertise in SEL practices—how they are defined, studied, and implemented in schools with ethnically/racially diverse populations—and examining the potential role of SEL in shaping youths’ ethnic-racial identity development. To do so, she is consulting with mentors at U-M and at the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning; undertaking observations at local and regional schools implementing SEL; completing coursework; and attending TeachingWorks seminars. Understanding SEL practices in greater depth will allow Rivas-Drake to substantively and methodologically expand her research program to consider particular SEL practices in adolescent ethnic-racial identity processes.

The Spencer Midcareer Grant Program is now in its second year. Fellows in the program are released from teaching and service responsibilities to pursue their learning objectives during the year-long term of the grant. For more information on the grant program, see the website.

The Spencer Foundation was established in 1962 by Lyle M. Spencer “to investigate ways in which education, broadly conceived, can be improved around the world.” It began formal grant-making in 1971, and since then has made grants totaling nearly $500 million.

Deborah Rivas-Drake is Professor, School of Education; Professor, Department of Psychology, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

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