Central College News

Central Professor Published in Top-Tier Sociology Journal

Featured: Central Professor Published in Top-Tier Sociology Journal

September 28, 2021

Shawn Wick, associate professor of sociology at Central, has co-authored an article published in “Social Forces,” a top-tier sociology journal.

The article, titled “The Effects of High Stakes Educational Testing on Enrollments in an Era of Hyper-Expansion: Cross-National Evidence, 1960-2010,” investigates how national high-stakes exams affect educational expansion across the world. It was co-authored by Jared Furuta, humanities and sciences dean’s postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University; and Evan Schofer, professor of sociology at University of California, Irvine.

“For this project, we were trying to understand the varied ways education systems around the world are structured, how they change over time and examine the consequences these systems produce for individuals and societies,” Wick says.

Wick and his co-authors show that high-stakes exams limit educational expansion and access by collecting and analyzing data from 142 countries. According to Wick, the limitations high-stakes exams place on educational expansion persist despite significant global pressures to provide equal access to education.

“Institutions can change, but often do so slowly over time,” Wick says. “Countries that initially adopted a more constrained educational model with high-stakes exams face a range of obstacles in transitioning to a system with more open access to schooling.”

At Central, Wick teaches a course on the sociology of education to help students understand the complex relationships schools, both in the United States and abroad, share with key institutions such as the family or economy.

“It is important as a student of sociology, and as members of our respective communities, to appreciate how our lives are interconnected. To understand how policies and practices, perhaps set in motion long ago, shape the opportunities and everyday lives of individuals today,” he says. “As a professor, I seek to demonstrate to students how sociology is particularly well-equipped to make sense of this complexity.”

Wick has taught at Central since 2011 and specializes in international development, globalization and sociology of education and organizations.