Research and Teaching Interests
During my tenure at Swarthmore, I always thought of myself as a teacher first. My main teaching interests were in the fields of urban education and educational policy, where I employed the perspectives of sociology, anthropology, political science, economics and history to examine the challenges for creating and maintaining the supports necessary for equitable, democratic, and multicultural educational practices and policies. Both courses explored the larger social, economic and political contexts in which education is embedded as well as focused on issues of teaching and learning. Introduction to Education, a course that I initially developed and taught for almost thirty years, provided an opportunity for about one-third of all Swarthmore undergraduates each year to critically reflect on and analyze the educational structures and processes that have played a central role in their lives. In 1999, I was honored to receive the Lindback Award for Outstanding Teaching at Swarthmore College.
My research interests and academic writing about education changed over the course of my career at Swarthmore. Extending research for my doctoral dissertation, I did a longitudinal interview study of women's personal and political development, starting when the women were in high school in 1970 and concluding in 1987. During the early 1990's during the democratic transition in Hungary, I spent several months there doing field research on the challenges for civic education and the teaching of history. Policy issues related to teacher quality and the role of teacher education in liberal arts colleges have been topics about which I have both written and have been involved through committees at the national level and the Consortium for Excellence in Teacher Education, of which I am a founding member.
In my final years on the faculty, and since retiring, my research focused on urban education reform. I worked with a team of researchers from Research For Action (RFA) in Philadelphia to explore the effects of the state takeover and the "diverse provider model of education in the School District. We followed changes in a group of low performing elementary and middle grades schools that were managed by a number of private providers. We examined a variety of changes in these schools, including data use and whether and how it informs instruction. The work I did at RFA offered me the opportunity to complicate the dialogue on key issues of urban policy and practice in what I see as an increasingly problematic national direction.
For the majority of my years on the faculty, I was Chair of the Education Program, later the Department of Educational Studies. From 1989-1992, I was Associate Dean of Students at the College and during my final semester in the Dean's Office, I was the Acting Dean of the College.
Blanc, S., Bulkley, K., Christman, J., Liu, R., Mitchell, C., Travers, E. (2010). Learning to Learn from Data: Benchmarks and Instructional Communities. Peabody Journal of Education.Vol. 85, (2).
Travers, E. Complicated Choices. Research for Action. Philadelphia, PA. December, 2009.
Travers, E. (2002-2007). A number of articles in the Philadelphia Public School on standardized testing, the diverse provider model, the Office of Restructured Schools, Adequate Yearly Progress, curricular reform and teacher retention in the Philadelphia School District.
Travers, E. Philadelphia School Reform: Historical Roots and Reflections on the 2002-2003 School Year Under State Takeover," Penn Graduate School of Education Perspectives on Urban Education, (on-line journal), October, 2003.
Travers, E. (1995). The challenges for civic education in Hungary. Oxford Studies in Comparative Education, 5 (1): 177-212.
Travers, E. (1993). Women of Riverside High: Personal and political development, 1970-87. In K. Hulbert & D. Schuster (Eds.) Women's lives through time: Educated women of the twentieth century (pp. 322-357). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Travers, E. & Sacks, S. (1989). Joining teacher education and the liberal arts in the undergraduate curriculum. Phi Delta Kappan, 70 (6): 470-474.