QMSA Thesis Projects – 2021 Cohort

Ming Cui

“Moral individuals’ unethicalness: How and when ethical pressure provokes unethical behavior”

Amy Liang

“Beating the COVID slide in education: The impact of pandemic-induced school closures on student engagement and education equity in Chicago public schools”


Enhancing student engagement has been an important goal for schools and education reformers. In this paper, engagement is defined as student’s active participation and intellectual performance from both traditional classrooms and remote learning environments. This definition recognizes that engagement depends not only on time (pre-pandemic or during-pandemic), but, more importantly, on the agency (students/teachers), and the place and space that the agencies situate. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, unprecedented changes in teachers’ instructional practices and pedagogical approaches such as using multimedia technologies overturned traditional in-person classroom settings. The goal of this study is to examine the effect of pandemic-induced school closures on student engagement. A total of 144,403 actively enrolled Grades 6-8 students from 406 Chicago Public Schools were analyzed with a three-level hierarchical linear modeling technique, examining pandemic-engagement effects across students of various backgrounds and schools of varying resources. Analyses on student’s intellectual engagement trends revealed two distinct patterns. Students earning a quarter grade (such as a B, C, or D) in pre-pandemic quarters demonstrated higher intellectual engagements and course performance in Spring 2020 under remote learning environments. However, students in schools around disadvantaged neighborhoods or schools with less abundant resources were likely to experience greater inequality and deterioration in educational outcomes. Our results provide implications for innovative new engagement metrics to effectively sustain and gauge engagement effectively in future hybrid modes of schooling.

Amanda (Andy) Peters

“Local immigration enforcement and crime: A nationwide analysis of the 287(g) program”


The 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) created the 287(g) program, which authorizes Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to delegate immigration enforcement to local law enforcement agencies. Under the program, city police departments, county sheriffs’ offices, and state law enforcement bodies voluntarily apply to the 287(g) program. If selected, ICE provides training in immigration enforcement practices to employees of the law enforcement agency, who are authorized to investigate individuals’ immigration statuses and detain undocumented individuals prior to immigration proceedings. The earliest 287(g) agreements between ICE and local law enforcement agencies were signed in 2002, and the program continues to this day. Proponents of 287(g) agreements argue that participating law enforcement agencies identify and detain dangerous “criminal aliens,” improving public safety and quality of life. Opponents claim that the 287(g) program undermines trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement, is costly for local law enforcement agencies, and contributes to the phenomenon of “crimmigration,” in which criminal and immigration law increasingly overlap.

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of 287(g) programs, I examine whether these programs reduce violent crime. In particular, I use propensity-score matching to pair counties which implemented 287(g) agreements with comparable counties that did not. I then use a differences-in-differences design to compare changes in county crime rates in the treatment and control groups. After estimating the causal effect of 287(g) agreements on violent crime using official crime statistics collected by the FBI, I repeat my analysis using self-reported crime victimization rates obtained from the National Crime Victimization Survey.

Haoyu Shi

“Neighborhood-Level Educational Attainment and COVID-19 Morbidity”