Cornell University

May 4 2012

Examining education

ILR students win Cornell undergraduate research award

Simon Boehme '14, Susanne Donovan '13 and Jenna Dorfman-Tandlich '12For their work on a first-of-its kind research project, three ILR students received an award at the Cornell Undergraduate Research Board Spring Research Forum.

Simon Boehme '14, Susanne Donovan '13 and Jenna Dorfman-Tandlich '12 won the top prize in the social sciences category for their project, "The Empire State: Labor-Management Relations in Public Schools."

The project involves creating an unprecedented database with information compiled from New York state teachers' contracts. This includes data on salary levels, tenure provisions, procedures for termination of non-tenured faculty and other items.

The student team says that the information can be used to compare working conditions and the state of labor-management relations across districts statewide and, ultimately, to investigate best practices related to teacher hiring and improving student outcomes.

"No one has ever done this kind of analysis for New York state," says Sally Klingel, an advisor to the student research team and director of labor-management programs, Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution.

"The students had to have knowledge of collective bargaining and labor relations in the education field. They had to apply what they’ve been learning in classes directly to this work."

In total, the team will review 700 contracts. Klingel says they have, to date, reviewed and coded about 300. They hope to complete this work at the end of the summer.

The students will present their project on Saturday, May 5 to members of the Scheinman Institute board of advisors. The Scheinman Institute sponsored the project with external funding support from alumni and board members.