Professor Mountford’s Students “Distinguish Rhetoric from Reality”

Students critique and write a review of a publication

by Teresa Crane | Tuesday, Oct 02, 2018

For the past ten years, Professor Meredith Mountford in the department of Educational Leadership and Research Methodology has required her doctoral students to read NEPC’s expert reviews of selected, non-peer-reviewed publications.  The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), located at the University of Colorado Boulder, pursues the mission to produce and disperse high-grade, peer-reviewed research to aide in informing education policy discussions. 

This year, Professor Mountford decided to make a change to the assignment.  Her doctoral students are now expected to critique and write a review of a publication. The purpose of the assignment is to help students identify research that is less reliable than others, as well as become critical and apprehensive of publications from large organizations that may have political influence and agendas that do not prioritize public education.  Numerous reports from foundations and organizations contain political clout, biasedness, and/or limited credibility.  Therefore, as Professor Mountford stated during her interview with NEPC, the students learn to “distinguish rhetoric from reality”.

Dustin Pappas is one of Meredith Mountford’s doctoral students who had the honor of having his review of the Heritage Foundation’s report, Focusing on School Safety After Parkland, published.  The report was published after the devastating Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting.  The underlying problem of the report is it contains a considerable amount of biased research supporting a pro-gun stance.  Due to the lack of well-rounded research, the report fails to provide all perspectives to initiate an educational discussion.  This report was a perfect example for Dustin to write a review of the biased, inadequate nature of the document.

Meredith Mountford’s altered assignment has challenged her doctoral students and has prepared them to better identify unhelpful publications. As she mentioned in the NEPC interview, her doctoral students have “learned how to critique re-search that is less than reliable and to communicate its deficiencies to colleagues in a useful way that inspires change”.

Read full interview:

To read Dustin Pappas’ review:

To read the Heritage Foundation report: