Scott Imberman, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Houston (UH) College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS), was recently named a 2010-2011 National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow. The fellowship award of $55,000 will help to cover salary and research expenses for the fellowship period. Imberman was awarded the fellowship for research investigating how English speaking students are affected by sharing classrooms with students who have limited English proficiency. He was one of 20 fellows selected from a competitive pool of nearly 200 applicants.
The National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship Program supports early career scholars working in critical areas of education research. The fellowships are administered by the National Academy of Education, an honorary educational society, and funded to the Academy by the Spencer Foundation. Now in its 24th year, the fellowship program has more than 600 hundred alumni who include many of the strongest education researchers in the field today.
"As an economist I'm interested in this issue because it helps us better understand how students interact with each other in social settings," said Imberman. "At the same time, this research has the potential to improve policy decisions that affect the quality of education, which is the primary driver behind most of my research."
Imberman will investigate the peer effects from students with limited English proficiency sharing a classroom with native English speakers. Previous research focused on how programs such as bilingual education affect the outcomes of students who are English learners. Currently, there is limited information about whether these programs may have a spillover effect onto other students. Since bilingual education generally keeps limited English proficiency students in separate classrooms, this can change the dynamic of the regular classrooms. Imberman will conduct the research jointly with UH economist Aimee Chin and Tilburg University economist N. Melten Daysal.
"This will be the first study to investigate what impact, if any, sharing a classroom with limited English proficiency students has on native English speakers," said Imberman. "This is a very important issue since the population of students who lack English proficiency in the U.S., and especially in Texas, is growing at a tremendous rate. We need to evaluate the best way to accommodate these new students, both in terms of their own education and in terms of the education of other students."
Imberman received his doctorate in economics from the University of Maryland in 2007, and his Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in 2002. He has been a member of the UH faculty since 2007. He is a member of the American Economic Association and the American Education Finance Association.
The National Academy of Education (NAEd) advances the highest quality education research and its use in policy formulation and practice. Founded in 1965, the Academy membership includes up to 200 U.S. members and up to 25 foreign associates who are elected on the basis of outstanding scholarship or contributions to education. More information about the NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, please visit, www.naeducation.org.
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