Margaret Eisenhart

Margaret Eisenhart
University of Colorado Boulder | CUB · School of Education

Ph.D. Anthropology, 1980, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

About

89
Publications
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Introduction
Margaret Eisenhart is Distinguished Professor Emerita in the School of Education, University of Colorado Boulder. Her research focuses on applications of cultural anthropology to education, ethnographic research methods, and girls and women in STEM. Her most recent publications include discussions of high school student identities, STEM schools, multi-scale ethnographies, and text messaging among high school students.

Publications

Publications (89)
Article
Full-text available
In the past several decades, women have made considerable progress toward gender equity in the USA, but women in general and women of color in particular continue to be underrepresented in some fields of STEM, notably engineering and computing. Women of color in these fields are also underrepresented in the STEM education research literature. In th...
Article
Full-text available
The Mixed Methods Working Group, sponsored by the Spencer Foundation, included senior-level scholars and funders who use or support the use of multiple methods in education research. The group was convened to discuss guidelines for mixed methods research that addresses broad and enduring educational problems in an increasingly diverse and unequal s...
Chapter
This chapter begins with a brief review of how American anthropologists of education have traditionally thought about culture and ethnography. Then, it discusses two major changes, or “turns”, in conceptualizing culture since the 1970s and examines their implications for new forms of educational ethnography. Following the tradition of anthropology...
Article
Digital technologies open new windows for ethnographic explorations of cultural experiences. In this paper, we examine text messaging among academically talented teenage girls of colour at three US urban high schools. Texting introduced a new communication modality into the girls’ lives and created a space for new discourses mediating their partici...
Article
In this paper, we investigate how the national imperative to increase opportunities for young women of color in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and to broaden their participation was taken up locally at two high schools in one school district. Using ethnographic and longitudinal data, we focus on four young women of color (t...
Article
In recent years, cultural anthropologists conducting educational ethnographies in the US have pursued some new methodological approaches. These new approaches can be attributed to advances in cultural theory, evolving norms of research practice, and the affordances of new technologies. In this article, I review three such approaches under the rubri...
Article
Drawing on a 3-year ethnographic study in 2 urban high schools serving majority low-income students of color, we reveal how the meaning and authoring of self in mathematics and science are produced among high-achieving students in contexts profoundly influenced by neoliberal policies. We highlight the institutional practices and cultural imaginarie...
Article
Full-text available
In this article, we present findings from a three-year comparative longitudinal and ethnographic study of how schools in two cities, Buffalo and Denver, have taken up STEM education reform, including the idea of “inclusive STEM-focused schools,” to address weaknesses in urban high schools with majority low-income and minority students. Although int...
Article
Although experts increasingly call for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education to begin in middle and elementary schools, a 3-year intervention beginning with high-achieving female high school sophomores demonstrated that young women can develop a serious interest in engineering in high school. However, subsequent post-high scho...
Article
In response to numerous calls for more rigorous STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education to improve US competitiveness and the job prospects of next-generation workers, especially those from low-income and minority groups, a growing number of schools emphasizing STEM have been established in the US over the past decade. Ho...
Article
Full-text available
Women and members of U.S. minority groups continue to be seriously underrepresented in engineering. In the literature on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) diversity, women and minorities typically are treated as distinct groups. However, this approach is challenged by nearly two decades of scholarship on “intersectionality,”...
Article
Little evidence exists to assess the effects of dance training on special populations. Research in this field has relied on pretest-posttest methods for gathering data. While such data gathering methods may be appropriate for particular research problems, alone they may be inadequate for broad-based, exploratory investigations of programs and effec...
Chapter
I am a person who has always been much more interested in other people’s lives than my own. Growing up in white, middle-class Washington, DC, I had friends and classmates who had lived all over the world and regularly moved on from Washington to exotic places like San Diego, Honolulu, Germany, Japan, and Africa. I so wanted to go with them, to meet...
Article
What are the effects of globalization and how are these manifested in local communities and in the learning of science there? These questions are unpacked within one local community in the United States, a place called “Uptown” where I examine the educational opportunities and pathways in science that are available for low-income Black American gir...
Article
This article addresses the ‘state of qualitative inquiry’ in the sense of how that inquiry is being positioned in the current construction of a US national policy agenda for ‘scientifically based’ education research. In the author’s view, qualitative inquiry is being drowned out in the national agenda despite its ability to provide the kinds of ans...
Article
Presumably teacher education programs should be guided by theories of learning to teach. This paper reports the results of analyzing documents and interviews about one program (probably fairly typical) from the perspective of two theories of learning. We find some evidence consistent with each theory, more that is inconsistent. Overall, the program...
Article
This article examines different conceptions of causation and their implications for understanding educational phenomena and conducting educational research. Specifically, I discuss four research designs for pursuing questions about causation in education. Two of these research designs take a variance approach to causation (that is, they attempt to...
Article
Finding improved ways to train education researchers has taken on new urgency as federal legislation such as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 call for “scientifically based research in education.” The authors of this article suggest an approach to socializing doctoral students to a common “culture o...
Article
Girls and women, especially if they are people of color, supposedly do not like computer technology or science. Myriad reports and studies document their limited interest and participation in these fields, both in school and at work. This article reports some preliminary results from an after-school intervention intended to increase urban, African-...
Article
In this article, we examine the definitions of “scientifically based research” in education that have appeared in recent national legislation and policy. These definitions, now written into law in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002, and the focus of the National Research Council’s 2002 publication, Sc...
Article
Peer review – the means by which one's equals assess the quality of one's scholarly work – has been used to determine academic merit for more than three centuries. Although the results of academic peer reviews are frequently challenged, peer review continues to be a commonplace of academic life. In the present scholarship climate, challenges to pee...
Article
This paper addresses an issue that constantly plagues all social science research: How should we adjust our conceptual orientations and methodological priorities to take into account apparently changing human experiences and priorities? I take up this issue in the form of three “muddles,” or confusing situations, that confront me as an ethnographer...
Article
Given the effort and expense it would take to get school choice right - free transportation and concerted efforts to disseminate accessible information are minimum requirements - we would do well to abandon it as a failed school reform idea, the authors conclude. But it is probably too late to stop the bus.
Article
This article proposes that the organization of some college curriculum programs as well as some workplaces presents special and perhaps unnecessary obstacles to women who might pursue science or engineering. The article begins with a framework for thinking about connections between school and work in various fields. This section reveals important d...
Article
Relying on ideas from practice theory and critical autobiography, I use this article first to tell, and then to analyse, a story about trying to publish a book whose contents are in some ways marginal to what is normally considered science or science education. During the publishing process, what counts as science got tangled up with what counts as...
Article
When Beth Graue asked me to consider "what kind of tool an interpretive review might be," I thought I was doomed. I appreciated that Graue, as the associate editor of Review of Educational Research (RER), wanted to rethink the purposes of review articles in light of non-experimental, non-survey approaches to educational research. I thought it was a...
Article
Are there any places where women succeed in science? Numerous studies in recent years have documented and lamented a gender gap in science and engineering. From elementary school through college, women's interest in science steadily declines, and as adults, they are less likely to pursue careers in science-related fields. Women's Science offers a d...
Article
This article explores the way in which scientific literacy has been defined, justified, and operationalized in current proposals for science education reform. We argue that, although the vision of scientific literacy reflected in reform proposals is broad, progressive, and inclusive, it is being implemented in narrow and conventional ways. As a con...
Article
The University of Arizona Funds of Knowledge for Teaching Project is part of a long tradition in applied educational anthropology that seeks to improve the experiences of non-mainstream, or "culturally different," students in schools. Unlike most previous work, however, this project engages the "natives" directly in the practice of ethnography. Her...
Article
Theories of how culture affects socialization and the formation of persons have long been of interest to anthropologists of education. In most of these theories, individuals are defined, categorized, shaved, or determined by social practices that reflect cultural priorities. Until recently, few educational anthropologists have given serious conside...
Article
This book presents the personal experiences of two educational researchers as they learned to conduct classroom research and combines their personal stories with an academic argument about the kinds of classroom research needed in the future. The chapters in this volume emphasize how the social science disciplines of psychology and anthropology hav...
Article
Full-text available
In this article we focus on two interrelated aspects of the process of learning to teach mathematics for understanding: (a) ideas and practices for teaching procedural knowledge and (b) ideas and practices for teaching conceptual knowledge. We explore one student teacher's ideas and practices, together with the messages about teaching for procedura...
Article
In this article we focus on two interrelated aspects of the process of learning to teach mathematics for understanding: (a) ideas and practices for teaching procedural knowledge and (b) ideas and practices for teaching conceptual knowledge. We explore one student teacher's ideas and practices, together with the messages about teaching for procedura...
Article
We studied schoolboys aged 7, 10, 12, and 17 years from England and Argentina in an attempt to explore the “social representations” attached to an “English” or “Argentine” national identity. In both countries, such social representations were characterized by geographical, demographical, and ideological dimensions, with differential emphasis placed...
Article
Full-text available
This article analyzes from several vantage points a classroom lesson in which a student teacher was unsuccessful in providing a conceptually based justification for the standard division-of-fractions algorithm. We attempt to understand why the lesson failed, what it reveals about learning to teach, and what the implications are for mathematics teac...
Article
This article analyzes from several vantage points a classroom lesson in which a student teacher was unsuccessful in providing a conceptually based justification for the standard division-of-fractions algorithm. We attempt to understand why the lesson failed, what it reveals about learning to teach, and what the implications are for mathematics teac...
Article
Is romance more important to women in college than grades are? Why do so many women enter college with strong academic backgrounds and firm career goals but leave with dramatically scaled-down ambitions? Dorothy C. Holland and Margaret A. Eisenhart expose a pervasive "culture of romance" on campus: a high-pressure peer system that propels women int...
Article
This paper describes the efforts of two researchers, an anthropologist, and a psychologist, to conduct collaborative research in teacher education. Drawing on 10 years of work together and literature on interdisciplinary collaboration, we discuss the issues we faced to remain true to our own disciplines and simultaneously contribute to research on...
Article
Educational researchers, early childhood educators, and parents often think of readiness for school as a measurable child characteristic. This ignores the social process by which readiness is used to group, rank, and compare children and the variability in the term's use from community to community. This study proposes that readiness for school sho...
Article
Full-text available
The proliferation of qualitative methods in educational research has led to considerable controversy about standards for the design and conduct of research. This controversy has been playing itself out over the last several decades largely in terms of the quantitative-qualitative debate. In this paper we argue that framing the issue of standards in...
Article
This article addresses the topic of cultural acquisition in terms of the question: What is the process by which individuals “take meaning” (Heath) from culture and make it a part of who they are? Relying on the work of Dreyfus, Holland, and materials from an ethnographic and interview study of a small group of college women, cultural acquisition is...
Article
Inspired by the work of Paul Willis and John Ogbu, we discuss women's apprehensions of the gender status quo. We look specifically at black and white university women in the American South. We ask how their apprehension of women's social position affects their response to schooling and how schools recreate the gender status quo. Our findings sugges...
Article
Although in theory ethnography has been put forward as a powerful naturalistic methodology, in practice it has rarely been used by educational researchers because of differences in assumptions, goals, and primary research questions. From my perspective as an educational anthropologist, I describe the research tradition of ethnography--its underlyin...
Article
This article reports the results of ethnographic interviews with 23 college aged women. The interviews were designed to elicit the ways in which the women conceived and organized career related information and made career related decisions. The findings are discussed with reference to previous anthropological studies of natural decision making. Twe...
Article
It is believed that educable mentally retarded (EMR) adolescents may exhibit problems in social and physical development in comparison with their normal peers. Dance education may be one way in which the physical and social development of EMR adolescents can be improved. The present study investigated the effects of a 10-wk dance program on 13 EMR...
Article
Finding that previous research has led to conflicting conclusions about the significance of peer groups in cultural transmission, we investigated the presentation of gender-related information in the fifth and sixth grades of one elementary school. The findings suggest that in some respects student peer groups complement the efforts of adults to so...
Article
This paper describes the development of a conceptual model concerning the relationship between the organization and utilization of staff in mental health centers, job satisfaction, and staff retention. In the rural and urban centers visited during the study, differences were found in the patterns of staff organization and utilization and in the mea...
Article
This project explored influences of the service delivery system on the distribution, especially the rural-urban distribution, of mental health practitioners in public settings. Research was planned as a two-phase pilot study--an ethnographic phase (open-ended interviews and day-long observations at 14 mental health agencies) and a survey phase (two...
Article
To be a competent teacher, the school environment must be organized to preserve a system of student behavior and group functioning which allows the teacher to select the activities in which the group will engage. This is often called "maintaining control" by teachers. Means of organizing the school context to affect student behavior are examined in...
Article
Thesis (M.A.)--University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Includes bibliographical references (leaves [65]-71).

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Projects

Project (1)
Project
My current project is a book-length manuscript focused on how high-achieving, young women of color, including some undocumented students, experienced learning about engineering in the context of their lives in high school and beyond. The book is based on 7 years of ethnographic, survey, and online study (2006-2013) of 24 young women during their high school and college years.