Boston College professors Andrew Hargreaves and Marilyn Cochran-Smith were recently listed on a ranking of the top 200 university-based education scholars based on public influence. Educator Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute developed the metrics for the ranking. Hargreaves, the Thomas More Brennan chair in the Lynch School of Education (LSOE), was ranked 12th. Cochran-Smith, Cawthorne Professor of Teacher Education for Urban Schools in the LSOE, was ranked 45th.
The metrics for the ranking consists of Google Scholar score, number of books published, rank of their bestselling book on Amazon, mentions in education publications such as Education Week and The Chronicle of Higher Education, blog, newspaper, and Congressional record mentions, and finally Klout score-a calculation based on an educator’s Twitter account.
“[This ranking] is an honor, of course,” Cochran-Smith said. “The list is particularly about those who have an impact on the current discourse about education. There are so many controversial aspects of education reform at this point in time, so having a voice that has an impact on discourse related to policy and research is an important thing.”
Hargreaves also offered his thoughts on the ranking. “A ranking reflects an individual, but it also reflects an institution,” he said. “It’s impossible to get a number like  unless you have really good people to work with and you can create an outstanding impact together.”
Like Hargreaves, Cochran-Smith received a boost in her ranking from her Google Scholar score, a search engine repository of scholarly articles on education. “I assume that the ranking meant that people are reading my work, which is, of course, very gratifying,” Cochran-Smith said.
Both also offered their critiques of rankings in general. Hargreaves focused on metrics, while Cochran-Smith paid attention to Hess’ political bias.
“When you look at these things, they’re a very rough indicator,” Hargreaves said. “I’m sure if you played around with the numbers, there would be more than two on the list. I don’t think it helps me at all, but it’s one of things that help Boston College [because] it shows to people in a concrete way what we’re able to do.”
“While these rankings are interesting and can give educational issues larger visibility, as far as I know, how to actually calculate this ranking was decided by one person-Rick Hess at the American Enterprise Institute,” Cochran-Smith said. “And he has a very specific political viewpoint.”
Cochran-Smith joined the faculty at BC specifically because of the institutional commitment to social justice in both the LSOE and the University at large.
“To be at a place where there really is a commitment and not just lip service to this idea is great,” she said.
Hargreaves also focused on social justice and how it is related to his position as the Thomas More Brennan chair. The family that endowed this chair had a son who died on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center. The mission of the chair is to promote social justice and connect theory and practice in education.
“I probably already had some of the things that this metric is supposed to value before I came, but my job is to balance the kind of work we do within [the LSOE] and the world outside it,” Hargreaves said.
Currently, he is working with school administrators in California, where education reform is a high priority. Cochran-Smith said that her research in teacher preparedness and teacher quality makes it more prominent at this time.
“In almost every country, there have recently been major changes regarding how teachers are prepared and how every country can assure teacher quality for students in elementary and secondary schools,” she said. “The shared assumption is that in any given country, the quality of the nation’s teachers and the health of the economy is connected.”
Hargreaves also commented on why he remains at the University rather than looking for work at an even more prestigious school of education. He was attracted in particular by the mission of BC to promote what he termed “social justice, disciplined inquiry, and service to others.”
“I think we attract a lot of students who could go to Harvard or Stanford, but choose to come here because of the mission and sense of community that Boston College has,” Hargreaves said. “I’m really grateful to Boston College for bringing me here, and I’m really grateful for all the time I have had to spend with people in the community.”