Summer Session Offers Broad View of Research and Careers in Education for Undergrads
June 20, 2012 - Undergraduates from across all disciplines are encouraged to explore what the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies (GSE&IS) has to offer during Summer Session. Associate Professor of Education Robert Cooper says that taking a Summer Session course will greatly enrich the lives and learning of those who are exploring a future career as teachers and/or school administrators.
“We know that teaching isn’t just about content, but also about life experience,” notes Cooper. “If we can get teachers in the classroom who come from a variety of different perspectives… they’re going to come with a plethora of experiences that will impact and shape the next generations of students.”
Cooper, who serves as the Director of the Education Studies Minor at GSE&IS as well as the Faculty Director of the Principal Leadership Institute, revealed that while he was an undergraduate majoring in Government at Pomona College, he was drawn to a career in education as a more direct way to serve urban communities.
“At one point, I had aspirations to public office,” recalls Cooper. “I thought there had to be a more effective way to impact the daily lives of people. As an educational researcher I get a chance to study issues and design policies that impact the lives of people in urban communities; communities for which I deeply care about.”
This summer, Cooper looks forward to teaching a course titled, “Introduction to Urban Education.” He plans to tailor course readings to topics of interest to class members, a feature of Summer Session that he feels is most advantageous to students.
“We will look at issues like race, class, gender, special education, as well as the relationship between schools and macro- level forces … housing, segregation, labor policies,” says Cooper. “We have some core readings, but what I do is think about the interests of the students and add readings as the course goes along.
“Professors engage and interact with the undergraduate students on a more personal level during summer session,” he observes. “Typically, students who take courses during the summer are students who are deeply interested in education (broadly defined), and have prior knowledge about the field.”
Another advantage to students is the smaller class size of summer courses. Cooper says that the average summer class is between 15-25 students. Although GSE&IS has had a summer session available to undergraduates for years, he feels that current course offerings have a broader appeal to students from other disciplines who wish to explore the fields of education and educational policy, with topics such as “Mexican Americans and Schools,” “Issues in Education: Perspectives from History and Popular Culture,” “Bullying and the Law,” and “Children’s Understanding and Experiences of Social and Economic Inequality.”
“The classes are all very small, so students get a very different educational experience [than what they typically experience during the school year],” states Cooper. “If you talk to students who participate in the education minor, one of the things they like most about our program is that they have an opportunity to interact with professors in ways that they don’t often get a chance to do in some of their other courses.”
Cooper also underscored the quality of ladder faculty who teach these accelerated, in-depth courses during Summer Session.
“We have made a very conscious effort over the last couple of years to offer courses taught by ladder faculty so the quality and caliber of the courses are the same as a student would get during the regular academic year,” Cooper points out. “That’s why students come to UCLA, to have courses with some of the best minds in the country. These courses are taught by faculty who are doing research in these areas to highlight for students the intersection between research and practice.”
To view courses and register for Summer Session in the Education Department at GSE&IS, log on to UCLA Summer Sessions here.
- Joanie Harmon
Pictured above: Associate Professor of Education Robert Cooper encourages undergraduates to explore a wide range of issues within secondary and higher education, in order to develop a diverse workforce of educators.