Teaching & Mentoring


Brief descriptions of a few of my past and current course offerings:

Education and Inequality in the United States (Undergraduate)

Why do we hear so much about “achievement gaps” between students from different racial/ethnic groups, social class backgrounds, genders, and geographic locations, yet things never seem to change very much? Are problems with the U.S. education system truly causing the nation to fall behind other countries? If so many influential commentators seem to believe that the U.S. schooling system is “broken”, why has no one found a way to fix it?

Before we can begin answering these questions, we must develop a sociological perspective on schooling by critically examining the many functions education serves in a complex society. Viewing education through a sociological lens allows us to consider how schooling reflects, reinforces, and undermines different elements of the social structure.

This course draws on sociological theory and research to examine schooling-related issues including education and social mobility; family background and student achievement; schools and socialization; racial, ethnic, gender, and generational disparities in educational outcomes; and the sociology of education reform.


Introduction to Social Statistics (Undergraduate)

This course introduces methods for analyzing quantitative data (i.e., numbers) to help answer questions about how society works, with specific applications to classic sociological research questions on poverty, inequality, and social mobility. We’re constantly bombarded with statistical information from the news media, politicians, advocacy groups, and our teachers and professors. But how do we know which information is worth paying attention to?

Introduction to Social Statistics covers the relevance and practice of quantitative data analysis, the presentation of quantitative information, probability and uncertainty, basic statistical inference, and hypothesis testing. The course teaches how to calculate relevant statistics using the open-access software package jamovi, and how to read and critically interpret quantitative sociological articles. In doing so, the course satisfies UCD requirements for quantitative literacy. The course also provides a foundation for more advanced quantitative methods courses, like Intermediate Social Statistics.


Intermediate Social Statistics (Undergraduate/Graduate)

This course covers elementary statistical techniques frequently used in social science research. The goal of the class is for students to learn the fundamental tools of quantitative research and to become critical consumers of data and statistics encountered in everyday life.  The first part of the course will introduce descriptive statistics. These measures of central tendency, variation, and distribution allow social scientists to describe social phenomena. The focus will then proceed to inferential statistics, which are used by social scientists to infer the nature of relationships among groups of variables. The concepts and skills learned in this part of the course include calculating measures of association, calculating confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing, including an introduction to regression methods.

The emphasis will be on the logic of statistical procedures and their application in the context of social research as opposed to a formal treatment of statistical theory. The mathematics of statistics will be de-emphasized, but not avoided.  Understanding statistical concepts will be facilitated by hands-on data analysis using the statistical software Stata.  This software package enables students to easily conduct exploratory data analysis as well as more complex multivariate modeling.  No prior computing expertise is required, and instruction in the use of computers for data analysis will be provided. The course will be organized around two weekly lectures and one recommended weekly lab session.


Quantitative Analysis in Sociology (Graduate)

This is the second course in the graduate quantitative methods sequence in the Department of Sociology, required of Ph.D. students. Building on the material covered in Intermediate Social Statistics, this course focuses on multivariate regression analysis methods commonly used by sociologists. This course includes two components: a lecture-based theoretical overview of core statistical concepts and a lab-based programming component using Stata software. Compared to a similar course in a statistics department, Quantitative Analysis in Sociology places much greater emphasis on data management/analysis skills, substantive interpretation of parameter estimates, and practical applications than probability/statistical theory or mathematical computation.


Seminar in the Sociology of Education (Graduate)

This 10-week course introduces graduate students to a selection of core theoretical perspectives and research topics in the sociology of education. Course readings offer macro- and micro-sociological perspectives on education’s multiple institutional roles in stratified societies, the United States in particular. This course emphasizes the diversity of theoretical approaches and research methodologies in the sociology of education, and highlights the contributions made by sociological research to our understanding of issues related to socialization and stratification.


Mentoring Programs

I also direct two mentoring programs for early-career social scientists:

Broadening Participation in Social Inequality Research (BPSIR)

The UC Davis Center for Poverty & Inequality Research in collaboration with 14 California HSIs, invites current undergraduates to register for the Broadening Participation in Social Inequality Research (BPSIR) summer program, which introduces students from these institutions to inequality and social policy research sciences and helps them develop knowledge and skills for successful graduate school application, enrollment, and completion.

We invite rising second- and third-year undergraduates from our partner institutions to join the free, remotely delivered BPSIR Year 1 program. Year 1 students will learn about opportunities for graduate study in the social sciences by participating in interactive, remotely delivered professional development activities with CPIR faculty and graduate students as well as graduate school preparation programing delivered by the UC Davis Office of Graduate Studies.

Students who participate in the Year 1 program will be eligible to apply to become members of the BPSIR Year 2 cohort each summer. The Year 2 program consists of an eight-week, residential, summer program housed on the UC Davis campus. Each Year 2 student joins a CPIR faculty member’s social inequality-focused research group and works alongside current graduate students and postdoctoral scholars as research assistants. In addition to invaluable research experience and fully funded travel, lodging, and meals; Year 2 students receive a $4,500 stipend to support their participation in BPSIR.


National Research Center On Poverty And Economic Mobility Early-Career Mentoring Institute

The Center for Poverty & Inequality Research co-hosts, along with the University of Wisconsin’s Institute for Research on Poverty, a biannual week-long National Research Center on Poverty and Economic Mobility Early-Career Mentoring Institute (ECMI). Held in Davis, California, the ECMI provides valuable mentoring and career development opportunities to poverty and social mobility scholars who are in the early stages of their research careers and who have the potential for leadership in supporting members of populations that are underrepresented among academic researchers.

An interdisciplinary roster of four distinguished faculty mentors, four featured speakers, and up to twelve ECMI participant scholars will attend the week-long institute. In addition, ECMI participants will receive guidance on writing a research grant proposal that will be eligible for consideration to receive one of two $25,000 research grants on policy relevant human services research on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Institute activities provide participants with opportunities to develop skills that will support policy relevant human services research. The Institute will address a wide range of mentoring and professional development topics, such as:

  • Becoming an effective mentor
  • Key topics in human services research
  • Building and managing a research team
  • Developing effective writing habits
  • Engaging with media, community organizations, and lawmakers
  • Grant writing strategies
  • Including participant voice in research
  • Studying hard to reach populations
  • Conducting policy relevant research
  • Incorporating a racial equity lens in research
  • Secondary data sources: promises and pitfalls