CREO Alumni; Researcher, American Institutes for Research
Megan completed her MA in Sociology at the University of Notre Dame in 2013. Prior to joining the Sociology department, Megan earned a Master's degree in Humanities from the University of Chicago and a BA in English and American Studies from the University of Notre Dame. Megan's research interests include education, statistics and methods, policy, stratification, and organizations. Her dissertation, which is supported by an AERA/NSF Dissertation Grant, investigates changes over time in access and returns to college-preparatory academic course taking in high school, with a focus on how high school course taking shapes college success for low-income students and first-generation college goers. Over the past 35 years as income inequality has risen and the college-for-all mentality has helped motivate increasing academic intensity of high school curricula, access to college has expanded dramatically but college completion rates remain low, especially for disadvantaged students. Using quantitative methods and drawing on theories of maintained inequality, she examines how socioeconomic gaps in access to advanced high school courses and in the importance of high school courses for college success have changed since the early 1980s.
Another strand of Megan's research examines school choice programs from a school organizational perspective. In a paper based on her master's thesis, which won the Maureen T. Hallinan Award for Best Graduate Student Paper at AERA, she examines how a school voucher-driven influx of students into Catholic schools affects school academic and organizational practices. She finds that schools increase remediation and test preparation in response to both new academic needs and disciplinary challenges. In a Journal of School Choice article, Megan finds that school organization influences schools' perceptions of voucher policy and their decisions to participate in a voucher program. She is also working with Dr. Mark Berends on several projects, including a mixed-methods book project examining schools' experiences with the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program.
A third strand of Megan's research brings together her interest in school organizational practices with research in social psychology and stratification. In a paper with a fellow graduate student, she examines the influence of academic track and school context on the extent to which high school students from different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds form positive math identities.