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School of Education Students Share Their Experiences From AERA ‘24

H. Bernard Hall, PhD (left) and Monét Harbison (right) lead a roundtable presentation at the 2024 annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association.

May 6, 2024

This year, the brightest minds and distinguished voices in educational research gathered in Philadelphia for the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). For those who do not know, AERA is a national research society that has the goal of advancing knowledge about education, encouraging scholarly inquiry regarding education, and promoting the use of research to improve education. Each year at its annual meeting, scholars, students, practitioners, and researchers showcase their research to thousands of attendees from across the country.

The AERA annual meeting is the largest conference on educational research in the world. Individuals from schools and colleges of education submit their applications for the privilege of presenting to their peers. The School of Education was well represented at this year’s meeting as 75 students and faculty members delivered 51 presentations over four days.

For students in the School of Education, attending and presenting at AERA is a life changing experience. Among students who presented this year were PhD students Tajma Cameron and Tamecah Pinkney. They joined Associate Professor and Department Chair for Policy and Organizational Leadership Ayana Allen Handy, PhD, to share research from their project titled, “Black Girls Steaming Through Dance.” The two shared that the coursework from the PhD program and the faculty prepared them to present with confidence at the meeting. “The Methods courses in the PhD program has allowed me to provide that critical lens to the research I was seeing in the classroom,” said Cameron. Pinkney applauds the preparation and coursework this program gives. “It’s made me unapologetically me,” she said.

For her second year participating in the AERA conferences, Monet Harbison, partnered with associate professor of urban teacher education, H. Bernard Hall, PhD, participated in a lively roundtable presentation discussing how to use hip hop to reconstruct and reimagine education that works for everyone. Harbison said, “We in particular used Nas’s song ‘If I Ruled the World,’ that was an homage to a larger-than-life person in the hip hop sphere... also thinking about how we can use the lyrics of a hip hop song to philosophize around hip hop music.”

Something that stood out to Harbison during the creation of her project was that her professors at Drexel see her as an emerging colleague rather than their subordinate. She claimed that this is not something that is “normal” in doctoral programs at other schools, which makes Drexel stand out in that regard. “We have a very particular type of operation within the School of Ed that allows us to have these ideas open and out loud with each other,” said Harbison as she praised the professor-student relationship she has experienced at Drexel, “I don’t feel like someone is telling me how to think, they are helping me learn how to better articulate my thoughts.”

Karena Escalante is a PhD student who was a part of multiple presentations at this year’s meeting. She zeroed in on one paper that she wrote alongside School of Education graduate, Katrina Struloeff, PhD ’23, called "Liderazgo en la Industria de Educación: Conflict and Commitment Unpacking Latina Leaders within the P-20 Educational Continuum". “It was an argumentative literature review where we examined the literature of recent articles talking about Latinas and education leadership,” she said. Karena remarked about the networking opportunities that AERA allows her and her fellow students who will graduate this June. “It’s beautifully overwhelming to see thousands of educators across the continuum and just seeing all that everybody does,” she said.

Without hesitation, Neisha Terry Young exclaimed that this AERA experience has been “life changing” for her, saying that it has helped her grow in her identity as a scholar. “I am also able to connect with my professors on a different level at the conference and learn from the sessions, hear the ideas, and say, ‘oh I didn’t know that, can I try that out in my own work,’” she said. “It has really been very instrumental in helping me to develop my identity as a scholar and helping me to think about who I wish to become as a professor moving forward.”

Terry Young’s research centers around amplifying the voices of Black immigrant youth. She said that for her, the AERA conference is like a final project, and all the work that she does at Drexel throughout the year prepares her for that big moment, “Drexel has really designed a program that is integral to conference presentations and scholarly development, and everything is just so relevant,” she said.