I conduct research in several areas related to children, youth, education, and community-engaged research.

1. Elementary school recess and middle school break time

I have worked for the past decade studying elementary school recess and am writing a book entitled Rethinking Recess: Designing Purposeful School Recess for All Children to be published by Harvard Education Press, due out in fall 2019.  The book project explores the decline of recess during the standards-based accountability era, its revitalization, the challenges faced by schools in creating safe and healthy play environments for children, opportunities for improving recess, and state and local policies surrounding recess.  I’ve worked closely with the organization Playworks, which is focused on providing safe and healthy recess to elementary school children nationwide. My most recent study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is presented in this brief.  Findings from a randomized controlled trial of Playworks I conducted with Mathematica Policy research can be found here.   

Middle School Break Time Study Team, Winter 2018

My most recent project was a collaborative research project with Santa Cruz City Schools to explore break time at middle schools.  I worked with a team of 25 undergraduate students, a doctoral student, and a high school intern to collect observations and interviews at seven local schools.  The study explores the kinds of activities middle school students engage in during their breaks and alignment with middle schoolers' developmental needs.  Read the report here.

2. Education and youth development among K-12 students

I have conducted research in several areas related to K-12 education, focusing on school climate, family engagement, and education policy.  For example, as a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, I examined family engagement policies in the California school districts’ Local Control Accountability Plans.  I have also examined chronic absenteeism, the link between physical health and educational outcomes, students' extracurricular activities and their links to educational outcomes, and youth development in community technology centers.

3. Cross-sector collaboration and data sharing

I am one of the research leads for the Silicon Valley Regional Data Trust (SVRDT), a partnership of the Santa Clara County Office of Education and the University of California, Santa Cruz, that provides a secure information sharing environment to combine data from public schools and health, child welfare, and juvenile probation agencies. Research with the SVRDT is just beginning and includes both the study of the implementation of the cross-sector data sharing initiative as well collaborative research using the SVRDT data itself. Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy at the University of Pennsylvania produced this case study of the SVRDT.

This work builds on my previous research with the Youth Data Archive at the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford University.  For example, see my co-edited volume with Milbrey McLaughlin, From Data to Action: A Community Approach to Improving Youth Outcomes (Harvard Education Press). 

4. University-community partnerships and community-engaged research practices

I study the process of community collaboration and university-community partnerships in research.  I am an affiliate of the University of California Center for Collaborative Research for an Equitable California (https://ccrec.ucsc.edu/) and I’m spearheading an initiative on UCSC campus focused on community engagement in student learning and research. I’ve also written about reinventing university research to focus on community engaged practices with colleagues and the role of undergraduate research in community-engaged research practices as well as the role of undergraduate research experiences in community-engaged research.

5. Postsecondary student success

At the Student Success Evaluation and Research Center (SSERC), where I was the inaugural Faculty Director, we collaborate with faculty, students, and staff to conduct research in support of educational equity and undergraduate student success at UCSC.  I have studied the role of Learning Support Services in promoting student achievement, the ways that university actors perceive student success metrics and outcomes, and the effects of a university-based economic stability program supports students' retention and educational outcomes.