“I’ve worked hard and benefitted from attending great schools with high quality teachers and mentors.”
Graduate Scholarship Recipient
Dissertation Proposal Title: Non-cognitive skills and the emergence of the black-white test score gap
Dissertation Description: When explaining her dissertation, Jill Bowdon said prior research has established that the black-white achievement gap expands more for students who enter kindergarten with high achievement than for students who enter with below average test scores. However, Jill said, “we still do not know why the most academically talented black kindergartners are losing ground over the course of elementary school.” Drawing on Early Childhood Longitudinal Study data, Jill’s dissertation addresses this gap in our knowledge by examining how non-cognitive skills emerge across elementary school and how racial gaps in these skills, both at the individual and classroom level, are associated with the growing black-white achievement gap.
Profile: Jill graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Earlham College with a B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology in 2002. Prior to entering the Ph.D. program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), she taught fourth grade in the Mississippi Delta through Teach For America. At UW-Madison she earned her master’s degree in sociology in 2008 and through the university’s Interdisciplinary Training Program in Education Sciences assisted with a randomized field trial in Los Angeles on science instruction. Currently, she is a research associate at the university’s highly respected Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP), which involves itself in the causes and consequences of poverty and social inequality in the US. She has presented papers at no fewer than ten major conferences around the United States, and in 2009 she also spent four months in Washington, DC, as an intern at Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.
Inspiration: Jill said that Steve Butler, a sociology professor at Earlham, “first exposed me to the study of educational inequalities. His classes and mentorship have been hugely influential in shaping my educational and career trajectory.”
Aspiration: When Jill’s doctoral studies are completed, she plans to continue her career in higher education as a teacher and researcher, specifically a tenured track professor.
Making a Difference: Despite all her educational honors and the papers and research she’s presented to some of the major educational and scientific organizations in the nation, Jill is most proud of her service in Mississippi with the Teach for America program.
Accolades: Jill “passed with distinction” both the Sociology of Education prelim in 2010 and the Stratification prelim in 2009. She was also a Graduate Fellow in the Interdisciplinary Training Program for Research in Education Sciences at UW as well as a Graduate Fellow in the Institute for Research on Poverty. In the spring of 2012, Jill was chosen to receive a dissertation fellowship at the Institute of Research on Poverty. As an undergraduate at Earlham, in addition to graduating Phi Beta Kappa, she was also the recipient of the William M. Fuson Award in Sociology and Anthropology.
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