University of Cambridge

Upon arrival in the UK, our first destination is the University of Cambridge.

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After a walk and punting (think gondola) tour of the town and campus, we get down to business.  We receive an overview of key issues in the UK from Dr. Anna Vignoles.

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We learn about and discuss topics of mutual interest, including presentations by Cambridge colleagues Sonia Ilie and Dr. Pauline Rose (Director of the Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre) who are studying access and progression to higher education in sub-Saharan Africa by creatively “piggy backing” onto Demographic and Health Program (DHP) survey data.  Dr. Jan Vermunt (Deputy Head of Faculty) shares his research about patterns of student learning that incorporate cognitive, regulative, affective, motivational, and social/collaborative components.  And postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Benjamin Alcott (a recent CSHPE graduate!), provides research on the unintended consequences of school exams for university access in the UK.

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CSHPE faculty share their research as well.  Lively conversation follows presentations by Drs. Steve DesJardins (effects of 21st century scholars program on college enrollments), Awilda Rodriguez (patterns and consequences of inequitable access to rigorous high school coursework) and Julie Posselt (faculty constructions of merit in high-performing doctoral programs.)

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After this energizing day of conversation, we enjoy dinner with our colleagues on the banks of the River Cam, which cuts through the town of Cambridge.

Cambridge – my kind of place

Upon arriving in Cambridge, I found that it was my kind of place. From the friendly taxi driver who knew the campus well enough to guide a weary first-time solo traveller, to the abstention from uttering the name of a dreaded rival “O” school, Cambridge felt like the home I had never been to.

One of my favorite experiences was taking in the research presentation gauntlet that featured a seemingly incessant procession of presentations from both Cambridge and Michigan faculty. Though I was quite familiar with most all of our Michigan faculty’s research interests, it was great to mentally settle into the daylong experience and make connections between all of the different topics being presented as if they were all part of some empirical poetry in motion. As the product of a liberal arts institution, the wide range of topics, moving from exploration of UK education policy to a deeper dive into the personal biases of faculty members, was a thrilling experience.

We also had the opportunity to enjoy British customs such as afternoon teatime! Overall Cambridge was a great first-stop on our CSHPE learning journey in the UK.

– Isaiah Bailey, master’s student