Berkeley Educator 2019

September 18, 2019

The 2019 edition of the Berkeley Educator is here! 

This year's magazine explores the topic of STEAM Equity, looking at science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics through the research and scholarly work of our faculty and students. The stories are available online below by clicking on the headline.  The Berkeley Educator is also available in PDF. If you would like a printed copy mailed to you at no charge, send an e-mail to, with your name and mailing address.

Dean's Message 

When we dedicate ourselves to educational research and practice, many of us aspire for the next generation’s significant progress in well-being and a desire for a deeper evolution of humanity. We might not only envision a better future characterized by social, economic, cultural, and technological advances but also a stronger connection to each other across social backgrounds and communities. Read more.

Engaging Autistic Students Through Music (By Ellen Lee, Contributing Writer)

A classically trained violinist, Rachel Chen has performed in quartets, on stage with orchestras, and even in spontaneous jam sessions with street musicians. Now Chen’s musical background comes in handy as she studies the behavior and interactions of autistic individuals, in particular, stimming, or self-stimulating; and repetitive actions such as the flapping of hands, the continuous tapping of various objects, or the back-and-forth rocking of the body. Read more.

Machine Translation of Courses Could Assist Transfer Students

Fewer missed opportunities. Better prepared transfer students. Very possibly an increase in college completion rates. That is the potential impact of Professor Zachary Pardos’s latest research on how using big data techniques to analyze college courses can improve a transfer student’s class selection. What’s happening behind the scenes is a complex data analysis that shows the effectiveness of using machine translation to examine course descriptions and historic enrollments. Read more.

Chunyan Yang Joins GSE Faculty (By Ilene Lelchuk, Contributing Writer)

Chunyan Yang is so passionate about the power of public education and the importance of school psychology that sometimes she tears up when discussing her career path. “Public education can bring unimaginable growth and opportunity. I couldn’t imagine that without public education, I would have gotten to this point,” Yang, who grew up in rural China, said as the words caught in her throat. “Schooling is a public good, a core value.” Read more.

Tesha Sengupta-Irving Joins GSE Faculty (By Dara A. Tom)

In the early grade school years, math is designed to be taught with colorful manipulatives (wooden blocks, magnets, etc.), puzzles, and games. Around 3rd grade, for too many students, it becomes drudgery, and labels such as being “good” or “bad” take hold. The rest is history. But it doesn’t have to be that way, says Professor Tesha Sengupta-Irving, a mathematics education researcher and one of two new GSE faculty members this year. Her appointment started July 1. Read more.

Summer Program Builds College Readiness (By Wylie Wong, Contributing Writer)

Meet the inaugural class of the NAF Future Ready Scholars Program, a group of 45 high school sophomores from Vallejo, Antioch and the Central Valley who spent three weeks on campus this past summer taking science, technology, engineering and math classes, while also learning leadership and community collaboration skills. Read more.

Professor Marcia Linn Named Corey Chair (By Marcia Linn)

I am deeply honored to be named the Evelyn Lois Corey Chair in Instructional Science. I especially want to thank my colleagues for their willingness to select me for this award. The goal of the Corey chair resonates with my interests in improving teaching and learning with insights from instructional science. Read more.

Professor Janelle Scott Named Birgeneau Chair

Professor Janelle Scott, whose research examines the relationship between education, policy, and equality of opportunity, has been appointed the Robert C. and Mary Catherine Birgeneau Distinguished Chair in Educational Disparities. Scott has been a faculty member at UC Berkeley since 2008 and a longtime leader of the Race, Diversity and Educational Policy Cluster at the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society (HIFIS), initially co-chairing the Cluster with Professor Na’ilah Nasir. Read more.

NSF Grant Funds New Research on Students Interactions with Science Data

Writing Data Stories is a new project that seeks to reorganize how young people, especially linguistically and ethnoracially minoritized students, learn about and interact with data. The project will engage middle school students in exploring scientific datasets about earth and the environment using flexible online data visualization and analysis tools. Read more.

Professor Geoffrey Saxe Retires

Professor Geoffrey Saxe, who studies cognitive development with a focus on mathematical cognition, has retired after 21 years at the GSE. Saxe has a long history with UC Berkeley, starting with earning his bachelor’s and doctorate degrees in Psychology in 1970 and 1975, respectively. He returned to the GSE as a full professor in 1997 after a postdoc in brain-behavior relations at Harvard University and then appointments as assistant, associate, and full professor at the Graduate Center/City University of New York and later at UCLA. Read more.

Professor Susan Holloway Retires

Professor Susan Holloway, whose interdisciplinary approach to research explores the conditions that support parents’ childrearing goals and practices, emotional wellbeing, and parenting self-efficacy, has retired after 22 years at the GSE. Much of Holloway’s research has examined the connections between educational institutions and families from non-dominant groups as defined by their position at the intersection of social class, race/ethnicity, immigrant status, and/or sexual preference. Read more.

Making STRIDES Toward Improving Science Instruction

A $2.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation is supporting Professor Marcia Linn’s research group with its STRIDES project (Supporting Teachers in Responsive Instruction for Developing Expertise in Science), which is developing and providing teachers with analytics about how their students understand target science ideas and concepts. Read more.

Mahasan Offutt-Chaney Awarded NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

As a restorative justice program coordinator at her alma mater Berkeley High School, Mahasan Offutt-Chaney started wondering about how her everyday work intersected with educational policy. She began asking, “How are some students in particular, like black students, over-policed and penalized and suspended in school? How are schools practicing punitive practices?” Read more.