Associate Professor

PhD Sociology (McMaster)profile picture of Janice Aurini.


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Current Opportunities for Prospective Graduate Students

I am working on several projects and am currently accepting M.A. and Ph.D students. I have funding opportunities for students working on these projects (however I am open to other topics/projects). To view current opportunities, and how to apply, please view the current opportunities webpage.

Selected Honours and Positions

Date Award


Outstanding Performance Award, University of Waterloo


Outstanding Performance Award for teaching and Scholarship,  University of Waterloo
2016-current Editorial Board: Sociology of Education
2015-current Editorial Board: Canadian Review of Sociology
2013 Featured Researcher: People for Education
2011 Visiting Scholar, University of Pennsylvania, Department of Sociology
2006-2008 SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, Harvard University, Department of Sociology

Research and teaching areas

  • Education
  • At Risk Youth
  • Inequality
  • Organizations and Occupations
  • Qualitative Methods

Major Projects

  • National Stratification Systems of Higher Education, Parenting Logics, and Social Reproduction: The Case of the United States, Canada and Cuba
  • Ed-Tech Connect
  • Upper-Middle Class Parenting in Canada and the United States
  • Summer Learning Inequality (also referred to as ‘summer setback’)
  • Private Education in Canada

Broadly, my research examines issues related to education and schooling. These projects intersect with research and theories of organizations, family, inequality, and technology. As a qualitative researcher, I use a variety of techniques to answer my research questions including interviews, field research, video-recorded observations, and photo-interviewing. I have also worked on several mixed method projects. My graduate students are intimately involved in these projects, collecting data through RAs and publishing articles and chapters with me. Several of my students are using these data for their theses. 

I am working on several projects and am currently accepting M.A. and Ph.D. I have funding opportunities for students working on these projects (however I am open to other topics/projects). To view current opportunities, see:

My latest project was recently awarded a SSHRC Insight grant. Drawing on an ecological perspective and theories of social stratification and parenting, this project expands the scope of contemporary parenting research by clarifying the relationship between national stratification systems, parenting logics, and social reproduction. The research team will conduct interviews, demographic surveys, and time diaries with high-SES parents and a sub-sample of  low-SES parents in three strategic research sites sporting drastically different higher education systems (HE): Boston, United States (highly stratified), Toronto, Canada (moderately stratified) and Berlin, Germany (xxx). My research will map the production of inequality across nations, using an ambitious comparative design to isolate how macro-level structures and parenting interact to form variable patterns of social stratification. This research will be relevant to ongoing policy efforts to promote more inclusive and equitable growth within Canada's HE system and labour market.

I recently completed a multi-method project on robotics and 21st century competencies. We conducted focus groups, interviews, video-recorded observations and surveyed educators in nine Ontario school boards (with Drs. John McLevey, Robert Gorbet and Allyson Stokes). I was recently awarded a Connection Grant. The team hosted a two-day workshop, bringing together academics, industry stakeholders, and policy-makers to discuss changing education and labour market demands. We also wrote a white paper and are working on peer reviewed publications:

Aurini, J., J. McLevey, A. Stokes, R. Gorbet and J. Rizk. 2019. “Ed-Tech Connect 2019: An Intersectoral Workshop on Education, Technology, and 21st Century Labour.”

The third project examines a key source of educational disadvantage – summer setback. Less advantaged children tend to lose literacy and numeracy skills over the summer months. This project examines the sources of these disparities and whether summer program interventions mitigate their impact. The project includes gathering quantitative and qualitative data on the effects of summer programs (with Scott Davies, Emily Milne and Cathlene Hillier).

We have conducted over 200 interviews with teachers, parents and students and have spent many hours in the field examining the relationship between families and schools. We also conducted 35 interviews with students using a photo-interviewing technique.

This research has generated a lot of media attention. Recently, I was on The Agenda and conducted over 30 radio interviews. For example:

A sample policy report Building Confidence Making Connections: Continuing the Summer Literacy Learning Project in Ontario Schools can be found at:

I am also interested in the growth and change of the private education sector in Canada. Projects on this topic include examining the rise of various forms of private education, determinants of school choice, and private education entrepreneurs. This research agenda broadly examines the growth and legitimacy of private education, and the relative impact of markets on decision-making. Most recently I co-edited a book on the global spread of supplementary education.

Finally, I am working on the second edition of an advanced qualitative methods textbook with Dr. Melanie Heath (McMaster University) and Dr. Steph Howells (University of Guelph). 

Finally, I am working on a few Covid-19 and schooling projects and papers with researchers at the University of Waterloo, Memorial University, and the University of Toronto.

Selected publications

  • Aurini, J. and S. Davies. Forthcoming. “Covid-19 School Closures and Educational Achievement Gaps: Lessons from Summer Setback Research.” Canadian Sociological Review.
  • Davies, S. and J. Aurini. Forthcoming “Canada’s Evolving Prism: Three Eras of Higher Education and Nation Building.” European Journal of Higher Education.
  • Aurini, J., R. Missaghian and R. Pizarro Milian. 2020. “Educational Status Hierarchies, After-School Activities, and Parenting Logics: Lessons from Canada.” Sociology of Education 93(2): 173-189.
  • Hillier, C., E. Milne and J. Aurini. 2019. ““It’s not just helping your kid with homework anymore: The Challenges of Aligning Education Policy with Parents and Teachers.” Canadian Public Policy 45(4): 497-510.
  • Hillier, C. and J. Aurini. 2018. “What Role does the Parent-Effect Play in Child-Centered Research? The Case of Photo-Interviews of Children’s Home Reading Practices.” Qualitative Research. 18(4): 492-509.
  • Hillier, C. and J. Aurini. 2018. “The Summer Reading Blues: Children’s Accounts of Summer Literacy Practices”. In P. Albanese, L. Tepperman and E. Alexander (editors). Reading Sociology, Third Edition. Oxford University Press.
  • Aurini, J., M. Heath and S. Howells. 2016. The How To of Qualitative Research. Sage Publication, Inc.
  • Milne, E. and J. Aurini. 2015. "Schools, Cultural Mobility, and Social Reproduction: The Case of Progressive Discipline". Canadian Journal of Sociology. Vol 40(1): 51-74.
  • Davies, J. and J. Aurini. 2013.“Summer Learning Inequality in Ontario.” Canadian Public Policy. Vol 30(2): 287-307.
  • Aurini, J., S. Davies, J. Dierkes (editors) 2013 Out of the Shadows? An Introduction to World-Wide Supplementary Education. Emerald Press.
  • Aurini, J. 2012 “Patterns of Loose and Tight Coupling in a Competitive Private Education Marketplace: The Case of Learning Center Franchises.” Sociology of Education. Vol 85(4): 376-390.
  • Aurini, J. 2011 “How Upper-Middle Class Canadian Parents Understand the Transmission of Advantages.” Education and Pedagogy. Vol 23(60).
  • Aurini, J. and L. Quirke 2011 “Does Competition Encourage Strategic Action in the Private Education Sector?” Canadian Journal of Sociology. Vol 36(2): 173-197.

Example of policy reports

  • Gorbet, R., J. Aurini, J. Rizk, A. Stokes, J. McLevey and Nicole Figueiredo. 2020. “Covid-19 Pandemic and Canadian Schooling.” In partnership with Education Onward Council.
  • Aurini, J., J. McLevey, A. Stokes and R. Gorbet. 2017. “Robotics and 21st Century Learning.” Ontario Ministry of Education, Council of Directors of Education.
  • Aurini, J. and S. Davies. 2011. “Do I Have to Go Home Already? A Report on the 2011 Summer Learning Literacy Program in Ontario Schools”. Ontario Ministry of Education, Council of Directors of Education.
University of Waterloo

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