UGA education professor receives Spencer Exemplary Dissertation Award

UGA education professor receives Spencer Exemplary Dissertation Award

Athens, Ga. – University of Georgia education professor Stephanie Jones is one of only five young scholars from across the nation to receive the 2007 Exemplary Dissertation Award from the Spencer Foundation.

The five award winners were chosen from Spencer Dissertation Fellowship recipients spanning the past four years and includes a $2,500 grant. The award program is designed to provide the research community examples of exemplary scholarly work by young researchers.

Jones, an assistant professor in the College of Education’s department of elementary and social studies education received travel expenses to attend the spring 2007 national meeting of the American Educational Research Association and the fall 2007 annual Bixby lecture at the Spencer Foundation in Chicago where she was honored.

Her dissertation, Living Poverty as a Girl: Literacy and Identity Between Social Classes, examined the lives, literacy skills and identities of seven white and one African-American working-poor girls and their mothers. The study drew from field notes, interviews, student work samples and photographs, historical artifacts, videos of classroom activity and other sources. Jones sought to merge anthropology, critical psychology, feminist sociology and new literacy studies into a study that challenges the tasks, expectations and interactions in classrooms across socioeconomic class lines.

Sociocultural and critical analyses of the girls’ and their mothers’ engagements with school demonstrate that they each faced psychosocial challenges as they attempted to construct future trajectories that deviated from their own mothers’ histories. These challenges were complicated by their daily experiences and relationships with white middle-class teachers and the impact of social class difference on classroom engagements. With a lens clearly centered on how class is lived, felt, understood and discussed, this study challenges the tasks, expectations and interactions in classrooms that are closely aligned with hegemonic beliefs and practices. While focusing broadly on literacy education, this work aims to stimulate productive discourse around social class, girls, schooling and conducting research across class lines in the United States.

Jones, who received her Ed.D. in literacy from the University of Cincinnati in 2004, joined the UGA faculty this past fall from the Literacy Program at Teachers College, Columbia University.