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KU education expert's lecture will review adverse effects of policies and practices

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

LAWRENCE — Efforts to modernize and upgrade educational practices can sometimes deliver unintended consequences. A University of Kansas researcher will examine these findings and offer steps forward during his inaugural distinguished professor lecture.

Yong Zhao, Foundation Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies and director of the Center for Creativity and Entrepreneurship Education, will present “What Works May Hurt: Side Effects in Education” at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27, in the Big 12 Room of the Kansas Union. A reception will follow at 6:30 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public.

In this presentation, Zhao, who also holds a joint appointment in the School of Business, plans to discuss the long-ignored phenomenon of side effects of educational policies and practices, bringing a fresh and perhaps surprising perspective to evidence-based practices and policies.

“Medical products are required to disclose both their intended outcomes and known side effects,” Zhao said. “Educational policy and practice, however, carries no such labels. Thus, teachers, school leaders and the public are not told, for example, that ‘this program helps improve your students’ reading scores, but it may make them hate reading forever’ or that ‘school choice may improve test scores of some students, but it may lead to the collapse of American public education.’”

Identifying the adverse effects of some of the “best” educational interventions with examples from classrooms to boardrooms, Zhao will investigate causes and offer clear recommendations. This presentation is based on his latest book of the same title released by Teachers College Press.

Zhao is a highly respected researcher and author who has published over 100 articles and 30 books, including Reach for Greatness: Personalizable Education for all Children (2018), "Counting What Counts: Reframing Education Outcomes" (2016), "Never Send a Human to Do a Machine’s Job: Correcting Top 5 Ed Tech Mistakes" (2015), "Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon: Why China has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World" (2014), "Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization" (2009) and "World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students" (2012).

Prior to joining KU in 2016, Zhao served as the presidential chair, director of the Institute for Global and Online Education, and associate dean in the College of Education at the University of Oregon. He was a University Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University, a global chair professor at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom and a professorial fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Education Policy at Victoria University, Australia.

Zhao has received numerous awards, including the Early Career Award from the American Educational Research Association, Outstanding Public Educator from Horace Mann League of USA and the Distinguished Achievement Award in Professional Development from the Association of Education Publishers. He is an elected fellow of the International Academy for Education and is recognized as one of the most influential education scholars.

Zhao received his master’s degree in education and a doctorate in educational psychology, both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received his bachelor's degree in English language education from Sichuan Institute of Foreign Languages.

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