The ExpERT program culminates in the receipt of the PhD degree. The path to this goal includes:
- Staged courses in statistics, design, measurement, education context and learning
- Research experiences with faculty conducting field experiments
- Monthly interdisciplinary seminars on education, methods and statistics (internal and external speakers)
- 12 months of stipend support
- Full tuition support (up to 5 years)
- Access to supplemental research funds
- Annual attendance at two professional conferences and one training conference in Washington, DC
David S. Cordray (P.I.), Professor of Public Policy & Psychology-Psychology.
Research Interests: Experimental and quasi-experimental tests of the effects of theory-based interventions in education and human service areas, the use of meta-analytic methods for summarizing prior research and for planning new RTFs, and estimating the effects of omitted variables in quasi-experimental studies.
Dale Farran, Professor of Education and Psychology-Teaching and Learning.
Research Interests: Risk and disabilities and their effects on young children's development, as well as the educational practices that should follow.
Mark Berends, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Education-Leadership, Policy, and Organizations.
Research Interests: The structure and effects of tracking in the United States, how family and school changes contribute to achievement differences among various student groups.
Paul Cobb, Professor of Education-Teaching and Learning.
Research Interests: The development of students' statistical reasoning and the means by which it can be supported, equity in students' access to significant mathematical ideas and mathematics teachers' learning as it is situated within professional teaching communities, and the institutional settings of schools and districts that shape and constrain their instructional practices.
Donald Compton, Associate Professor-Special Education.
Research Interests: Genetic and environmental influences on reading disabilities, genetic and environmental influences on reading, phonological processing, orthographic processing, and lexical development in reading-disabled children.
David Dickinson, Professor of Education-Teaching and Learning.
Research Interests: The role of language development in the consolidation of young children's linguistic, cognitive, and social abilities in fostering literacy growth, efforts to identify strategies that result in enhanced learning and in work developing techniques and systems for delivering materials and professional development to teachers that are effective and cost effective.
Doug Fuchs, Nicholas Hobbs Chair in Special Education and Human Development and Professor of Special Education-Special Education.
Research Interests: Assessment and instruction of students at risk for school failure because of disability or poverty, special education service delivery, and special education policy.
Lynn Fuchs, Nicholas Hobbs Chair in Special Education and Human Development and Professor of Special Education-Special Education.
Research Interests: Instructional practice and assessment of student progress with mild/moderate disabilities, including curriculum-based measurement and computer-managed instruction.
Ellen Goldring, Professor of Educational Policy and Leadership-Leadership, Policy, and Organizations.
Research Interests: School reform efforts that connect families, communities, and schools, features of schools and leadership that affect parent participation, expertise in school leadership, new models for professional development for school leaders, and linking leading and learning.
Ann Kaiser, Susan Gray Chair in Education and Human Development and Professor of Special Education-Special Education.
Research Interests: Early intervention, language intervention and acquisition, environmental designs for dependent populations, and policy.
Mark Lipsey, Director, Center for Evaluation Research and Methodology and Professor of Public Policy-Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies.
Research Interests: Applied research methodology, methods for program evaluation, experimental and quasi-experimental design and analysis for field settings, and techniques for meta-analysis and research synthesis.
Bethany Rittle-Johnson, Assistant Professor of Psychology & Human Development-Psychology.
Research Interests: How knowledge change occurs, how children learn problem-solving procedures, bridging the gap between psychological theory and educational practice.
Tom Smith, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Education-Leadership, Policy, and Organizations.
Research Interests: Cross-school variability in the incentives for teachers to participate in mentorship and professional development activities, the relationship between pre-service education and mentorship on new teacher turnover, the relationship between teacher credentials, content knowledge, participation in professional development activities, and teaching quality.
Dale Ballou, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Education- Leadership, Policy, and Organizations. Research Interests: Policies affecting the role of incentives and regulation in the training, recruitment, and retention of teachers.
Jessica Giles, Assistant Professor of Developmental Science-Psychology and Human Development.
Research Interests: Developmental psychology, social cognition, and legal psychology.
Steve Graham, Currey Ingram Chair in Special Education and Professor of Special Education-Special Education.
Research Interests: Writing instruction for students with disabilities, teaching expressive writing to students with learning disabilities.
James Guthrie, Director of Peabody Center for Education Policy, and Professor of Public Policy and Education, Chair of Leadership, Policy and Organizations-Leadership, Policy, and Organizations.
Research Interests: Educational policy issues and resource allocation, school finance, equity and adequacy issues, educational accountability, political processes and education, and theories of educational reform.
Karen Harris, Currey Ingram Chair in Special Education and Professor of Special Education-Special Education.
Research Interests: Writing instruction for students with disabilities, teaching expressive writing to students with learning disabilities.
Mary Louise Hemmeter, Associate Professor of Special Education-Special Education.
Research Interests: The effects of group and individual interventions on emerging literacy skills in preschoolers.
Stephen Heyneman, Professor of International Educational Policy-Leadership, Policy, and Organizations.
Research Interests: The contribution of education to social cohesion, education and corruption, trade issues associated with education commerce, comparisons in reform of higher education finance and management, issues of examinations and standardized testing, policy shifts in vocational and technical education, education financing and educational quality, economic choices of educational technologies, and cognitive skills and economic development.
Robert Jimenez, Professor of Language, Literacy, and Culture-Teaching and Learning.
Research Interests: The strategic processing of competent and less competent bilingual readers, the delivery of services and instruction to language minority students at risk for referral to special education and those with learning disabilities, using an ecological framework to examine the literacies of linguistically diverse students, and the potential of alternative literacy practices to promote these same students' personal, political, and economic goals.
Richard Lehrer, Professor of Science Education-Teaching and Learning.
Research Interests: Design of learning environments that foster the growth and development of model-based reasoning about mathematics and science, design and development of case-based hypermedia tools for teachers.
Carin Neitzel, Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education-Teaching and Learning.
Research Interests: The relations among a variety of familial socialization influences, the development of young children's metacognition and academic self-regulatory behaviors, strategy use and early expertise, and conceptual understanding and higher order thinking skills.
Deborah Rowe, Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education-Teaching and Learning.
Research Interests: Early childhood and elementary children's literacy learning, literacy instruction and design of classroom environments for young children.
Leona Schauble, Professor of Education-Teaching and Learning.
Research Interests: The development of scientific thinking, theory change, modeling approaches to science and mathematics, professional development of teachers.
Georgene Troseth, Associate Professor of Developmental Science-Psychology and Human Development.
Research Interests: Young children's symbolic development, knowledge representation, and children's representations of the mental states--the intentions, beliefs, desires, and knowledge--of other people.
Joseph Wehby, Associate Professor of Special Education-Special Education.
Research Interests: Children and youth with behavior disorders, observational assessment, functional assessment of aggressive behavior and risk factors in the development of problem behavior.
Liang Zhang, Assistant Professor of Public Policy-Leadership, Policy, and Organizations.
Research Interests: The return of college education and quality, public funding and institutional performances, academic labor market, especially the increasing usage of contingent faculty at colleges and universities.
Ask Better Questions
Use Better Methods
Find Better Answers
What works in education, and for whom, under what circumstances? As a PhD student, join researchers from a variety of disciplines - quantitative methods, psychometrics, education, psychology, economics, public policy and more - in studying common problems of learning, achievement and education. Vanderbilt's new predoctoral program gives students the opportunity to engage in rigorous, field-based, experimental research - along with interdisciplinary discussion and study of important educational problems - that equips them to ask better questions, use better methods and find better answers to today's pressing issues in education. Armed with the PhD degree, graduates will be prepared for employment in research-intensive institutions, to publish on relevant topics and to train the next generation of education scientists.
The Experimental Education Research Training (ExpERT) program features an integrated sequence of graduate courses in statistics, measurement and design, along with courses in educational practices, context and learning. It offers extensive field research experience with world-class faculty, monthly interdisciplinary lectures and colloquia, teaching experiences, internships and conference attendance. Students will acquire expertise in planning, executing and analyzing high-quality randomized field trials of educational strategies (e.g., programs, interventions, policies) firmly grounded in theoretical frameworks and supported by empirical evidence. The ultimate goal is to develop a new generation of education scientists who are both committed and well equipped to lead the way in education research.
How Do I Apply?
Step 1: Determine which department you'd like to be based in while in the program.
Step 2: Contact the participating faculty member from the department you have chosen.
Department of Psychology and Human Development
David S. Cordray, PhD
Director, ExpERT Program
Professor of Psychology and Public Policy,
Program in Quantitative Methods and Evaluation
Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations
Thomas M. Smith
Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Education
Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Department of Special Education
Lynn Fuchs, PhD
Joe B. Wyatt Distinguished University Professor
and Professor of Special Education
Department of Teaching and Learning
Dale Farran, PhD
Professor of Teaching and Learning
Step 3: Apply for admission to Peabody College of Vanderbilt University.
Postdoctoral Traning Fellowship Program on Rigorous Methods in the Learning Sciences
The Learning Sciences Institute (LSI) at Vanderbilt University is pleased to announce a post-doctoral fellowship program supported by a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the United States Department of Education. This multidisciplinary training program involves four faculty members: (1) Gautam Biswas, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, who will focus on computer-based learning environments in math and science education, (2) Paul Cobb, Professor of Mathematics Education and Peabody Chair in Teaching and Learning, who will focus on mathematics education in early elementary and middle school, (3) Bethany Rittle-Johnson, Assistant Professor of Psychology, who will focus on teaching and learning of mathe-matical problem solving in middle school students, and (4) Thomas Smith, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Education, who will focus on quantitative data analysis and the study of how policy influences teacher quality and student learning. The Post Doctoral students will be pro-vided with diverse training and research opportunities in the cognitive sciences, learning sciences, mathematics and science education, as well as in developing instrumentation and procedures for evaluating the effects of educational interventions using randomized field trials. Each postdoctoral fellowship is for two years, with the possibility of an extension for a third year. Each fellow will be expected to engage in collaborative research on at least two of three IES-supported research projects: (1) evaluation of computer-based learning environments in science domains with an emphasis on assessment and developing measures of content and prepa-ration for future learning, (2) use of contrasting examples to support procedural flexibility and conceptual understanding in middle school mathematics, and (3) conducting randomized field trials to evaluate a fully-developed early mathematics program. The postdoctoral fellowship will involve a lateral cross training component where the fellows will receive research training and mentorship by working across multiple projects, and a vertical scaling up component where the fellows will gain substantial experience in proposal writing by working closely with the PIs to extend the existing development projects to efficacy and replication proposals. The program will also include an education component that is linked to the IES funded Experimental Education Research Training (ExpERT) pre-doctoral program at Peabody College. We seek highly qualified applicants who have earned a doctorate degree in learning sciences, computer and cognitive science, instructional technology, psychology, mathematics and science education, teaching and learning, policy and leadership, and related areas. Must be a US citizen or permanent resident. The positions carry a stipend of $50,000 per year plus health insurance coverage and support for professional travel. Review of applications will begin on March 15, 2008 and will continue until the positions are filled. The starting date is negotiable between June 1, 2008 and September 1, 2008. Please send a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, and at most two publications (or manuscripts in progress), by electronic mail to firstname.lastname@example.org (Direct phone: 615-322-8100). Please arrange for three letters of reference to be sent directly to the same email address. If you have questions or require further information, please do not hesitate to contact one or more of the PI’s: Gautam Biswas (email@example.com), Paul Cobb (firstname.lastname@example.org), Bethany Rittle-Johnson (email@example.com) and Thomas Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org).
ExPERT Postdoctoral Training Program
Two two-year postdoctoral appointments are available every academic year. ExpERT is an interdisciplinary training program, supported by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute for Education Sciences (IES). The ExpERT program is designed to train education scientists in conducting experimental assessments to answer questions of "What works in education for whom, under what circumstances, and why?" To answer these types of causal questions, we emphasize the use of randomized field experiments and quality quasi-experiments, along with other methods/models required to understand the mechanisms by which effects occur and the scope/limits of their generalizability. Individuals with interests in experimental and quasi-experimental design and analysis, meta-analysis, measurement/assessment, or intervention fidelity are encouraged to apply.
Applicants should have a PhD degree in psychology, education, statistics, economics, or a related social science discipline. Fellows must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
Send a letter of interest, vita, sample papers, and three references to:
David S. Cordray (Program Director)
Department of Psychology and Human Development
230 Appleton Place
Nashville, TN 37203-5701
Chris Hulleman | Joy Lesnick | Jason Luellen
Vanderbilt University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer
The interdisciplinary educational research training program at Vanderbilt University will use multiple educational and research activities to train a sizable cadre of education scientists who are experts in conducting randomized field experiments of theory-based interventions and approaches aimed at enhancing student learning in educational settings. These activities include newly crafted graduate courses, extensive research experience with faculty who conduct randomized field trials, four summer workshops, monthly interdisciplinary lectures and colloquia, teaching experiences, internships, and conference attendance. Over the next five years, 35 predoctoral trainees will acquire expertise in planning, executing, and analyzing high quality randomized field trials of educational programs and other strategies that are firmly grounded in theoretical frameworks and supported by prior empirical evidence on the viability of the proposed intervention. Coupled with skills in the use of meta-analytic procedures, the accumulation of evidence from such studies will provide an additional basis for answering questions of what works for whom and under what circumstances. To enhance the caliber of theories guiding practice, the development of interventions, based on theories and research about how people learn in educational settings, is a particular focus of the training program. The training program’s ultimate aim is to develop a new breed of education scientists who are both committed and well-equipped to articulate models of effective educational practice that are rooted in principles of learning and high quality empirical evidence.
Organizational Placement and Structure
Recognizing the need for an interdisciplinary perspective to address the important educational problems facing our nation’s schools, Vanderbilt University recently created the Learning Science Institute (LSI). Vanderbilt’s explicit rationale for creating the LSI was to dissolve intellectual barriers among its Schools and departments, thus, affording researchers from relevant disciplines (e.g., education, psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, engineering, and computer science) the opportunity to effectively collaborate on common problems of learning, achievement, and education. Given its University-wide organizational placement and its mission, the LSI provides the organizational home for the proposed IES-sponsored training program. Placed within the LSI, the proposed training program brings together over two dozen faculty, many with substantial national reputations, from across four departments within the Vanderbilt community. These faculty represent three program specialties in the Department of Psychology and Human Development (Cognitive Studies, Developmental Psychology, and Quantitative Methods and Evaluation) within the College of Education and Human Development, three other core departments within the College (Teaching and Learning, Special Education, and Leadership, Policy and Organizations). Additional expertise in statistics, economics, advanced research methods, cognition, and neuroscience is available from departments across the University. The LSI serves as a liaison to these other disciplines.
Themes and Goals
Figure 1 presents a stylized depiction of the targeted interface of the three major themes embodied in the proposed training model -- training in randomized field trials, training that occurs in educational settings, and training that is grounded in strong theories and principles about how optimal learning occurs. The emphasis for all trainees, re-gardless of their department of origin, is a shared knowledge base that is represented by the intersection of these three areas. Concerning the first theme, recent federal legislation has substantially raised the bar for all educational researchers interested in the effects of educational interventions and strategies in several notable ways. There is now a stated preference for the use of randomized field trials (RFTs) to estimate the effects of educational programs and strategies designed to improve student learning. Consequently, providing training in the plan-ning, execution, and analysis of RFTs constitutes a dominant focus of the training program.
However, the skills associated with conducting randomized trials are not sufficient by themselves to solve educational problems. An essential feature of a RFT is the specification of an intervention in an educational setting that is well grounded in relevant theories and supported by prior research evidence. Within the perspective of evidence-based practice, there are numerous sources of testable hypotheses (interventions) about how to enhance learning or remove barriers to learning. Knowledge of the educational setting derived from contemporary educational theory and research reveals at least three generic approaches to improving learning: (1) systemic reforms whereby the broad changes are introduced (e.g., school takeovers and the introduction of learning standards); (2) efforts to enhance the quality of teaching (e.g., professional development, and preservice training); and (3) the development of new materials directed at learners. Educational investigators must also understand the context within which these efforts can be initiated in order to successfully design and implement high quality research. Finally, repeated assessments by the National Academy of Sciences (e.g., National Research Council, 1999, 2000) and other researchers (see Craver & Klahr, 2001) have concluded that cutting-edge theory and research from such fields as cognitive psychology and neuroscience hold substantial promise for understanding the mechanisms of how people learn. At the same time, studies of basic and higher order cognitive processes often are undertaken within laboratories, using materials and topics that are unlike those needed in educational settings. Consequently, in addition to enhancing the technical quality of research methods, some members of the next generation of researchers must “extend laboratory-derived knowledge to teaching and learning in complex, real world environments” (IES, 2004, p.3). Furthermore, the complexity of pressing educational problems requires consideration of theories, evidence and methodologies from multiple disciplines. By grounding predoctoral training in these three themes, our expectation is that graduates will enhance the pool of educational scientists who are well-equipped to meet this challenge, function effectively within interdisciplinary teams, and conduct research that is responsive to the major problems confronting education.
Figure 1 and its interlocking pieces of a puzzle not only highlight the overlap of the four academic departments within the College of Education and Human Development in certain regards but also signal their individual perspectives on and experiences with educational problems. Research programs in the Department of Special Education are directed by pioneers of evidence-based practice (notably Professors Doug and Lynne Fuchs). Their collective record of accomplishments in conducting randomized field tests in educational settings provides a valuable fund of experience that can be drawn upon by other faculty and trainees. Professor Elliott, the newly appointed Dunn Professor and Director of the Center for Assessment and Intervention Research, also brings substantial expertise in the area of assessment and testing.
Programs of study and research in the Department of Psychology and Human (PHD) Development make two distinctive contributions to the interdisciplinary focus of the training grant. First, several faculty in the Cognitive Studies and Developmental Psychology programs are adopting and adapting theories developed from laboratory-based studies of basic and higher-order cognitive processes and testing them in actual educational settings (e.g., Professors Carr, Hoover-Dempsey, and Rittle-Johnson). Second, Ph.D. faculty in the Program on Quantitative Methods and Evaluation (QME) provide expertise in fundamental and advanced statistical methods (e.g., Professors Cordray, Lipsey, and Steiger) and field experimentation, quasi-experimental design and program evaluation (Professors Bickman, Cordray, and Lipsey). Faculty in the Department of Teaching and Learning investigate models of learning and instruction (Professor Lehrer), as well as evidence-based practices in early childhooddevelopment (Professor Farran).
The Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations (LPO) makes three distinct contributions to the interdisciplinary nature of the proposed training grant. First, LPO faculty examine the effects of broad-scale educational reforms (e.g., Professors Porter and Wong) and specific systemic reforms that involve changes in professional development programs and teachers’ pay (e.g., Professors Ballou, Desimone, and Porter). To complement the statistical and methodological expertise in QME program, faculty in LPO have specialized expertise in Hierarchical Linear Modeling (Professor Smith), multiple regression analysis and econometric modeling (Professor Ballou), sampling and survey design (Berends), and program evaluation (Professor Desimone). Faculty in LPO also add substantially to the collective interdisciplinary representation within the proposed IES training program. Additional disciplines that are represented include: Economics (Ballou), Sociology (Berends), Political Science (Wong), Educational Administration/Policy (Guthrie and Smreker), Policy Analysis (Desimone), and Educational Theory and Policy (Smith).
Organizational Change and Institutionalization: Incrementalism
The proposed IES training program has deliberately focused on crossing departmental boundaries of the four major departments within the Peabody College of Education and Human Development that have the clearest relevance to improving learning, education and educational reform efforts. As the program becomes institutionalized through its University-wide placement within the LSI, it is expected that other departments across the University will participate as full partners. One major goal for this training program is to reinforce the mission of the LSI by contributing to the institutionalization of interdisciplinary research on educational problems at Vanderbilt. Adding a training function within the LSI creates another important mechanism by which faculty and graduate students from different disciplines and perspectives can work collaboratively. We anticipate that this program will serve as a catalyst for bringing together an ever increasing number of scientists for the purpose of enhancing education through evidence-based practices, based on the best available educational, cognitive, neuroscience and organizational theories and research about how to improve learning in educational settings.
Need for the Proposed IES Training Program
The proposed training program was developed, based on: (1) the track record of students using RFTs in their dissertation; (2) an analysis of the full range of conceptual, statistical and methodological skills needed to provide compelling answers to questions of what works for whom under what circumstances; and (3) an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the current predoctoral training methods. Before describing the proposed training program, these perspectives are briefly described in the next few paragraphs.
RFTs and Dissertations
Whitehurst (2003) reported that only 6% of research reported in AERA’s two premier journals utilized a randomized trial. Within the past three years, 48 dissertations have been issued from the four departments represented in this proposal; based on their abstracts, 8% used a randomized field trial. Counting dissertations that employed either an RFT or a quasi-experimental design (in a field setting), the rate jumps to 25%. The majority of the rest were based on qualitative methods (27%) and correlational methods (35%).
Implications for training. Although it is unreasonable to expect that all educational research would entail an interest in answering causal questions, it appears that there is room for more emphasis on using randomized field trails, within the Vanderbilt/Peabody context.
What Works for Whom Under What Circumstances? Knowledge and Skills
As stated in the quote from the RFA that was cited at the beginning of this proposal, answers to questions of what works for whom under what circumstances are causal questions. RFTs represent the most trustworthy vehicle for testing the causal effects of interventions. Underlying the question of what works is the need to develop a trustworthy knowledge base in order to achieve evidence-based practices in education (Whitehurst, 2002). The spirit of IES’s statement in the RFA has the backing of a number of prominent education researchers (e.g., Boruch, deMoya, & Synder, 2001; Burkhardt & Schoenfield, 2002; Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, 2004; Cook, 2001; Slavin, 2002, 2004). On the other hand, these ideas have not been embraced by all educational researchers. Some have offered cautions (e.g., Berliner, 2002; Pellegrino and Goldman, 2002), but seemed predisposed to give the ideas a chance to mature. Still others (e.g., Olson, 2002; St. Pierre, 2002) appear to reject the evidence-based perspective altogether. Taking into account the recommendations of those who are cautious and being mindful of the damage that could be inflicted by basing all educational research on a single method, the proposed training program attempts to contextualize the scientific process (Berliner, 2002). So, what needs to be known? What skills beyond training in RFTs are required?
We agree that successful implementation and maintenance of randomization provides an internally valid basis for concluding that the cause (intervention) is uniquely responsible for the observed effect. Assuming sufficient statistical power (an aspect of statistical conclusion validity), the resulting unbiased estimate of effect is taken as evidence that the intervention “works.” More precisely, given the counterfactual model of causality underlying the use of high quality RFTs, the result is an unbiased estimate of the relative effects of an intervention on an outcome. From a strictly technical point of view, proper interpretation of this relative effect requires consideration of factors that are not directly controlled by randomization. The interrelated set of threats to validity (statistical, internal, construct, and external) presented by Shadish, Cook & Campbell (2002) provide a useful framework for unpacking the statistical and methodological issues that require attention. By extension, their scheme illuminates the array of skills and knowledge needed to construct a body of knowledge for evidence-based practice in education.
Issues of construct validity are particularly important in assessing what works. In addition to the technical skills associated with assessing construct validity, in-depth knowledge of theories and research underlying these constructs, the educational context within which they are assessed (effects) or installed (causes), and practical knowledge about educational settings is necessary. In particular, evidence-based educational practices that deal with constructs associated with causes (e.g., feedback) and effects (e.g., learning) are of interest rather than particular operationalizations (e.g., a standardized test score) of constructs. Theoretical constructs are rooted in substantive areas (e.g., cognition and learning), requiring expertise beyond the specific mechanics of conducting a randomized field trial. Because cause or effect constructs can be represented by a multitude of operations or methods, some of which are better than others, substantive training is needed to make wise design choices.
Conceptually, educational interventions can vary in their causal strength and complexity, involving a single construct (e.g., class size) or a package of constructs (e.g., professional development). In practice, the fidelity with which interventions are implemented can vary across settings and time. The counterfactual model of causality embodied in the RFT paradigm adds to the complexity; because the causal agent is really the difference between the treatment and control conditions (i.e. the relative strength of the intervention). This difference defines the what of what works. Not only does the intervention condition need to be fully described but so does the counterfactual condition. The understanding and measurement of conventional and innovative educational processes, contexts, and practices are essential if researchers are to provide meaningful answers about what works and identify the implications of their research for educational practice.
Optimizing the likely statistical conclusion validity of an RFT can be undertaken only after the intervention and counterfactual conditions are articulated. The nature of the innovation will determine the units of assignment (students, students within classes, classes/teachers within schools, schools within districts, and so on). Judgments or evidence about the relative strength of the intervention set the stage for establishing expectations about the likely relative effects. For example, with variances and covariances associated with clusters, subjects and assessment intervals, sufficient and efficient sample sizes can be determined to assure the RFT has adequate statistical power. It is critical that training provide the skills and resources for making these determinations. Adding “for whom and under what circumstances” to the question also moves the discussion to issues of generalizability or external validity. Both the recognition that an RFT provides an unbiased estimate of the average relative effect of an intervention (Holland, 1986), unless random sampling and a factorial RFTs is planned (thereby, greatly expanding the size of the trial), and determination as to whether the average effect is generalizable or applicable to subgroups require the use of more sophisticated statistical models. Identifying the circumstances under which an intervention works requires some kind of non-statistical and conceptual framework for enumerating the range of applications that are possible.
Implications for training. This brief assessment suggests that trainees require substantial familiarity with educational theories, research, processes, and context if they are to contribute to answering questions of what works for whom under what circumstances. So, in addition to broader methodological and statistical training, it is important that there is training in both the context of education and principles of learning.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Current Pre-doctoral Training
The many strengths of graduate training within the Peabody College of Education and Human Development are reflected in the high national ranking of the College as a whole and the high rankings of specific Departments (notably Special Education and Leadership, Policy and Organizations). Paradoxically, this success is partly due to tight disciplinary boundaries and the uniqueness of the theories, populations, and interventions that are studied by faculty in each department. These conditions make interdisciplinary efforts difficult, albeit not impossible. Disciplinary boundaries also affect the type of methodological and statistical training used to satisfy degree requirements. When students attempt to take courses in other disciplines or interdisciplinary courses, prior training may be insufficient or from a paradigm that makes it difficult for them to comprehend the value of the material. For advanced courses (e.g., quasi-experimental analysis and design), students often enter without shared and prerequisite background skills and knowledge. On the other hand, courses on the structure, content and context of teaching are often under appreciated (or avoided) by quantitatively oriented students because of their lack of precise theories and formulations.
Implications for training. In crafting the IES Training Program, a core set of statistical, methodology, and interdisciplinary education courses is delineated. As described in the next section, the technical courses have been sequenced so that new skills and knowledge build upon prior courses. The technical and interdisciplinary education courses are linked so that examples and problems are mutually reinforcing. In addition to formal training, there appears to be a need for a change in the scientific culture (Feuer, Towne & Shavelson, 2002).
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Unpacking the School Choice Debate in American Education. Presentation at the International Seminar on Macro Education Policy in the 21st Century by National Center for Education Development Research, Beijing, China.
Dunn, A.C., & Davis, J. (2006, March).
Recruitment and hiring practices within aneducational setting: A merger of educational policy & organizational behavior. Presented at the National Black Graduate Student Association (NGBSA) Annual Conference, Las Vegas, NV.
Hofer, K. G., Farran, D. C., Lipsey, M. L., Hurley, S. M., & Bilbrey, C. (2006, June).
Transitioning to school: Describing the classroom environment of rural, low-income children in kindergarten and 1st grade. Presented at the IES National Research Conference,Washington, D.C.
Hofer, K. G., Farran, D. C., Lipsey, M. L., Hurley, S. M., & Bilbrey, C. (2006, June).
Transitioning to school: Describing the classroom environment of rural, low-income children in kindergarten and 1st grade. Presented at the Head Start’s Eighth National Research Conference, Washington, D.C.
Huff, J. (2006, April).
Measuring a leader’s practice: Past efforts and present ppportunities to capture what educational Leaders do. Presented at AERA, San Francisco, CA.
Fuchs, D., Caffrey, E., & Lemons, C. (2007, February).
RTI and LD identification: Some alternative approaches. Presented at the annual meeting of the Learning Disabilities Association, Pittsburg, PA.
Lemons, C. (2006, November).
Progress monitoring and data-based decision making in the context of RTI: Current thinking and future directions. Presented at the New York University Response to Intervention Conference, New York, NY.
Lemons, C. (2006, October).
Response-to-intervention (RTI): Identifying learningdisabilities and improving student outcomes. Presented at the Council for Learning Disabilities. McLean, VA.
Lemons, C. (2006, July).
Phonics and word study instruction for second and thirdgrade: Evidence-based practice. Presented at the National Reading First Conference. Reno, NV.
Caffrey, E., Lemons, C., Fuchs, D., Fuchs., L. S., Compton, D., & Bouton, B. (2006,July).
Predicting reading growth with dynamic assessment. Presented at the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, Vancouver, BC.
Lemons, C. (2006, April).
Effective instruction for secondary struggling readers:Research-based practices. Presented at the Reading First Teacher Education Network Collaborative Development Seminar. Austin, TX.
Lemons, C. (2006, March).
Using the online resources: teacher reading academies andHEC online. Presented at professional development for Morgan State University faculty, Baltimore, MD.
Lemons, C., & Hollenbeck-Luther, K. (2006, February).
Response-to-intervention (RTI):An introduction. Presented at the Tennessee Council for Exceptional Children annual meeting, Memphis, TN.
Cordray, D.S., Hurley, S.M., & Matthews, P. (April, 2006).
The ExpERT Program. Presented at AERA. San Francisco, CA.
Nicotera, A., Teasley, B., Berends, M. (2006, April).
Examination of student movementin the context of federal transfer policies. Presented atAERA, San Francisco, CA.
Nicotera, A., Teasley, B., Berends, M. (2006, March).
Examination of student movement in the context of federal transfer policies.. Presented at theAmerican Education Finance Association, Denver, CO.
Giles, J. W., Samson, J. E., & Gursky, T. (2006).
Whence snips and snails: Children’s reasoning about the origins of gender differences. Presented at the 2nd Biennial Gender Development Conference, San Francisco, California.
Barr, R., Good, B., Lauricella, A., Miller, N., Nyugen, K., Strouse, G., Valencia, L.,Zack, E., & Calvert, S. (2006, July).
Early media exposure is related to preschoolers' executive function and spatial skills. Presented at the biennial meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development, Melbourne, Australia.
Troseth, G., Strouse, G., & Saylor, M. (2006, July)
Examining the “video deficit” in toddler learning. Presented at the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development, Melbourne, Australia.
Berends, M., Stein, M., and Nicotera, A.. (2007). “Instructional Conditions in
Charter Schools and Student Achievement Growth.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago.
Strouse, G., & Troseth, G. (2006, June).
Toddlers’ imitation of new skills from video and live instruction. Presented at IES, Washington, DC.
Strouse, G., & Troseth, G. (2006, March).
Toddlers’ learning of new skills from video and from direct instruction. Presented at the Eastern Psychological Association, Baltimore, MD.
Calvert, S., & Strouse, G. (2006, January).
The relation between multitasking behaviors and academic performance. Presented at the Hawaii International Conference on Education, Honolulu, HI.
Barr, R., Good, B., Miller, N., Nyugen, K., Strouse, G., Valencia, L., & Calvert, S.(2005, November).
Early media exposure and subsequent executive functioning. Presented at the 38th Annual Meeting of the International Society of Developmental Psychobiology, Washington, DC.
Calvert, S., Strouse, G., Strong, B., & Huffaker, D. (2005, June).
Children's imaginative discourse and play in a virtual MUD. Presented at the 35th Annual Meeting of the Jean Piaget Society, Vancouver, Canada.
Zumeta, R. (2001, May).
Does Psychology Create Pathology? Presented at the annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Maui, HI.
ExpERT Lecture Series
Date: Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Speaker: Geoffrey Borman, Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Location: 105 Payne
Date: Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Speaker: Bethany Rittle-Johnson, assistant professor, psychology and human development
Peabody College, Vanderbilt University
Location: 223 Wyatt
Research Symposium |Howard Bloom | Grover J. Whitehurst | Margaret Burchinal
Jessaca Skybrook |
Robert C. Granger, Ed.D | Joy K. Lesnick | Jason K. Luellen