Vivian L.Gadsden Abstract

Vivian L. Gadsden Abstract

Toward Methodologies of Possibility: Studying Culture and Learning across Contexts

The representations and uses of the concepts, global and local, highlight the increasing diversity within countries throughout the world.  They argue for the un-bordering of culture, language, and learning across countries to embrace the range of people and sociopolitical histories that reside in any single space.  What constitutes space itself is being examined critically, with attention to the ways in which individuals assign meaning to the different locations that they inhabit.  What are the implications of these global and local shifts for the questions researchers ask, the studies we propose, and the approaches we use to study questions about emerging and persistent concerns?  How do researchers locate or situate themselves within their research in light of the different life experiences and knowledge regarding culture, learning, and difference that they bring to the acts and processes of research and learning.  This presentation will examine these and related questions, drawing upon relevant studies that rethink methodology, challenge the purposes of research, and reflect on the possibilities for engagement in diverse communities of students and families across contexts.


Vivian L. Gadsden

Vivian L. Gadsden is the William T. Carter Professor of Child Development, Professor of Education, and Director of the National Center on Fathers and Families at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also a faculty member in Africana Studies and in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies.  She served as Associate Director of the National Center on Adult Literacy.  Dr. Gadsden is Immediate Past President of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

Dr. Gadsden’s research and scholarly interests take a life-course developmental perspective that integrates historical and contemporary social analyses. Across her work, she seeks to uncover the cultural repertoires, strengths, and needs that young children, youth, and families bring to learning, schooling, health, and well-being. Guided by interests in the cultural and familial domains in which children, youth, and adults form identities, Dr. Gadsden’s scholarship examines how these identities are leveraged, while also documenting the social hierarchies that constrain and enable opportunity. As part of this scholarship, she is concerned with the ways language and literacy practices contribute to the development, engagement, and well-being of vulnerable populations. Her conceptual framework, family cultures, has been used widely to examine the interconnectedness among families’ political, cultural, and social histories and racialized identities; social practices; and literacy processes. Her current, collaborative projects include studies of Head Start children’s literacy learning and teacher communities; parenting and family engagement; young fathers in urban settings; health and educational disparities within low-income communities; children of incarcerated parents; and intergenerational learning within African American and Latino families.

Dr. Gadsden serves on the Board of the Foundation for Child Development, and has served or serves on numerous other foundation and Congressionally mandated review committees, including the Foundation for Child Development’s Young Scholars Program, the Spencer Foundation where she was a Resident Fellow, and White House initiatives. Most recently, Gadsden served as the chair of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on Supporting Parents of Young Children. The report from this study, Parenting Matters, was released in July 2016. In addition to her leadership roles in AERA, she has held leadership roles in the Society for Research in Child Development. Dr. Gadsden is a member of several editorial boards and was Co-Editor-in-Chief of Educational Researcher, published by AERA.  She has published numerous journal articles, book chapters, texts, and reports, including booklength volumes on literacy and African American youth; re-entry of incarcerated parents in the lives of children, families, and communities; and risk, equity, and schooling as well as a forthcoming book volume on children of incarcerated parents.  As Director of the National Center on Fathers and Families, she was instrumental in building research, program agendas to promote father involvement, and national policy initiatives in collaboration with the White House and federal agencies.

Dr. Gadsden is a Fellow of AERA and a member of the National Academy of Education. She earned her doctorate in education and developmental psychology from the University of Michigan.









Selected Publications

Gadsden, V. L. et al.: Parenting Matters: Supporting Parents of children Ages 0-8. Washington, D. C.: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. 2016.

Gadsden, V. L., & Lopez, N.: Race, gender, and class in the
Social determinants of health: Intersectionality in achieving social justice. In V. Murray & K. Bogard (Eds.), Perspectives on Social Justice and Health Equity. Washington, D.C.: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016.

Gadsden, V. L., & Dixon-Roman, E.: “Urban” Schooling and “Urban” Families: The Role of Context and Place, Urban Education, 1-29. 2016.

Gadsden, V. L., Davis, J.E., Johnson, C.J.: African American fathers and families in cultural and historical perspective. In J. Roopnarine (Ed.), Fathers across cultures. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Press. 2015.

Gadsden, V. L.: Family literacy. B. Street (ed.) Encyclopedia of Language and Education, New York: Springer.  (2014)

Gadsden, V. L.: Evaluating family and neighborhood context for PreK-3. Commissioned peer-reviewed paper. New York: Foundation for Child Development. 2014.

Gadsden, V. L., Jacobs, K. B., Peterman, N.A., & Reed, A.: Indicators for Evaluating

Family and Neighborhood Context for PreK-3. Commissioned paper.  New York: Foundation for Child Development. 2014.

Gadsden, V. L.: Is there a place for fathers in family literacy research and practice? In B. Wasik and B. Van Horn (eds.). Handbook on Family Literacy.  New York: Routledge. 2011.

 Fantuzzo, J.W., Gadsden, V.L., & McDermott, P.A.: An integrated curriculum to improve mathematics, language, and literacy for Head Start children. American Educational Research Journal, 48, 763-793. 2011.

Gadsden, V. L., Davis, J. E., & Artiles, A. (eds.) : Risk, Equity, and Schooling. Review of Research in Education 33, 2009.

Wortham, S. & Gadsden, V. L. : The complexities of “similarity” in research interviewing. Investigating classroom interaction: Methodologies in action. K. Kumpulainen & M. Cesar (eds.). 2009.

Gadsden, V.L. & Harris, D.M.: Enacting a cultural stance on the language, literacies, and schooling of African American Youth.  Reading Research Quarterly, 44 (2), 195-209. 2009.

Gadsden, V. L.: The arts and education: Knowledge generation, pedagogy, and the discourse of learning. Review of Research in Education 2008.