Inside Iowa State

Inside Archives

Submit news

Send news for Inside to, or call (515) 294-7065. See publication dates, deadlines.

About Inside

Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

May 21, 2004

Research briefs

When class affects the class

According to one Iowa State professor, contemporary educational research is remiss when it fails to address how lifestyle hardships affect learning in poor children.

Sarah Lubienski, an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, speaks from experience. Raised in a lower socio-economic family, she understands the challenges of families facing physical abuse, child neglect and other social issues that impact learning, either subtly or directly.

Yet Lubienski, an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, contends that much of current educational research prefers to ignore how the social struggles of some students may directly affect their classroom performances.

"Researchers since the 1970s have moved away from viewing disadvantaged families as 'deficient' and instead have emphasized strictly positive aspects of cultural diversity," she said. "Despite its good intentions, the movement toward celebrating diversity has diverted attention from socio-economic inequities. Researchers have made it taboo to study negative aspects of life among the lower classes. By avoiding the difficult issues that marginalized parents, students and their teachers face every day, educational research is becoming less useful and credible."

Lubienski's comments appear in a journal article she published in the recent Educational Researcher. She stresses that the inclusion of challenges faced by lower socio-economic households doesn't create "excuses" for teachers, but ultimately can help more effectively educate all students by making teachers aware of the special strengths and needs of disadvantaged children.

"Talking in-depth about class-related disparities involves acknowledging problems, such as malnutrition, parental substance abuse, domestic violence and childhood trauma," Lubienski said. "Though these problems occur in all social classes, they occur more often among families with low socio-economic status."

No. 1 bovine

An Angus cow from an Iowa State herd was ranked first in the nation by the American Angus Association, and sold at the National Western Livestock Show in Denver in January. The cow was ranked first out of 135,841 Angus cows nationwide for its genetics, which produces high quality beef.

"The Iowa State beef cattle breeding project was led by Iowa State animal scientists and their breakthrough was the use of ultrasound as a selection tool," said Mark Honeyman, who coordinates the ISU Research and Demonstration Farms. "They used the ultrasound technology to select cattle that now lead the Angus breed in intramuscular fat."

The ultrasound technology helped researchers make breeding selections based on the amount of intramuscular fat, better known as marbling. Marbling creates prime and choice cuts of meat that produce the tasty, juicy steaks consumers prefer.

The research herd also produced the third- and eighth-ranked Angus cows in the nation, which will be sold at the Angus Foundation Female sale. Embryos from the top-ranked cows also will be sold. The purpose of selling both the cows and the embryos is to share the genetics with producers throughout the industry.


"Despite its good intentions, the movement toward celebrating diversity has diverted attention from socio-economic inequities."

Sarah Lubienski