Janice Aurini

Associate Professor

PhD Sociology (McMaster)

profile picture of Janice Aurini.

Email: jaurini@uwaterloo.ca

519-888-4567 x 48343

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


Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision (2017, 2021, 2022, 2023)


Outstanding Performance Award, University of Waterloo


Outstanding Performance Award for Teaching and Scholarship,  University of Waterloo
2016-2021 Editorial Board: Sociology of Education
2015-2022 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
  • Student Transfer and Mobility 
  • Ed-Tech Connect
  • 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.

Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=3PRMOFwAAAAJ&hl=en

Upper-Middle-Class 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 and demographic surveys with high-SES parents in three strategic research sites sporting drastically different higher education systems (HE): United States (highly stratified),Canada (moderately stratified) and Germany (lower stratification). 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 project is funded by SSHRC.

Robotics and 21st Century Classrooms: 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). We were awarded a SSHRC Connection Grant to host a two-day workshop, bringing together academics, industry stakeholders, and policy-makers to discuss changing education and labour market demands.

  • 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.” https://cognit.ca/fr/research/project/184195
  • Stokes, A., J. Aurini, J. Rizk, R. Gorbet and J. McLevey. 2023. “Using Robotics to Support the Acquisition of STEM and 21st Century Competencies: Promising (and Practical) Directions.” Canadian Journal of Education. Vol 45(4): 1141-1170.

Student Mobility in Ontario: My team recently conducted over 150 focus groups and interviews with students travelling along five pathways: university to university, university to college, college to college, college to university, and swirlers who have attended three or more institutions. We also conducted a thorough review of qualitative research on student transfer in Ontario. This project was funded by ONCAT.

Teachers, Health and Remote Work: I am working on a SSHRC New Frontier’s funded project on the health impacts of remote teaching and tutoring in Canada and Bangladesh. Led by Dr. Ellen MacEachen, we are conducting a systematic and narrative review of the literature. We are also conducting focus groups with educators in both countries, with the aim of developing policies and practices to make remote work healthier and more sustainable.

Summer Learning Inequality: This 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 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. I was on The Agenda and conducted over 30 radio interviews.

  • Davies, S., J. Aurini and C. Hillier. 2023. “Reproducing or Reducing Inequality? The Case of Summer Programs.” Canadian Journal of Education. Vol 4(4): 1055-1083.

http://tvo.org/video/programs/the-agenda-with-steve-paikin/summer-learning-losses http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/janice-aurini-waterloo-first-summer-setback-study-in-canada-1.3721924

A sample policy report Building Confidence Making Connections: Continuing the Summer Literacy Learning Project in Ontario Schools can be found at: http://www.ontariodirectors.ca/summer_literacy.html

Covid-19 School Closures: I am working on a few Covid-19 and schooling papers with researchers at the University of Waterloo, Memorial University, University of Ottawa, and the University of Toronto.




School Violence and Harassment: My next project will explore issues related to violence and harassment in schools. I currently have an internal UW grant to explore this topic.

This project lays the groundwork for a grant application on school safety in Ontario. Drawing on the sociology of organizations, this project will work along five tracks: 1) Examine trends in school violence and harassment; 2) Provide a historical analysis of policies related to school safety; 3) Conduct a jurisdiction scan of school safety policies with a focus on policies that have been demonstrated to make schools safer; 4) Interview teachers & staff (e.g., early childhood educators) in Ontario to examine the organizational contexts that make violence or harassment more likely and difficult to address (e.g., information silos). The objective is to use these data to develop recommendations for improving school safety and data collection and monitoring tools.

Selected publications

  • Aurini, J. and S. Davies. Forthcoming. “Covid-19 School Closures and Educational Achievement Gaps: Lessons from Summer Setback Research.” Canadian Sociological Review.
  • Aurini, J. and S. Davies. 2021. “Covid-19 School Closures and Educational Achievement Gaps: Lessons from Summer Setback Research.” Canadian Sociological Review. 58(2): 165- 185.

  • Aurini, J., R. Pizarro Milian, and R. Missaghian. 2023. “The Micro-Foundations of Predictable Stability: How Multigenerational Achievement Informs Upper-Class Parenting.” Qualitative Sociology. Vol 45(3): 1055-1083.
  • Davies, S. and J. Aurini. 2021. “Canada’s Evolving Prism: Three Eras of Higher Education and Nation Building.” European Journal of Higher Education. 11(3): 239-254.
  • 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. http://www.fairchancelearning.com/education-onward
  • 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.