Category Archives: Quantitative Methods in Education

CEHD experts quoted in MinnPost on use of student data

Theodore J. Christ, professor (Educational Psychology) and director of the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement; Michael Rodriguez, professor (Educational Psychology) and Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development; and Mistilina Sato, associate professor (Curriculum & Instruction) and Campbell Chair for Innovation in Teacher Development were recently featured in the MinnPost article, “Minnesota is really good at collecting student data, but not the best at using it.”

The article discusses a recent report released by the Minnesota State Office of the Legislative Auditor which found “significant time and resources” were used to administer the tests but more than half of the principals and teachers surveyed said they felt “unprepared to interpret key test score data.”

“I mean, they’re just drowning in [data],” Christ told MinnPost. “It’s all over the place. And if they don’t have the capacity to use it, they just turn away from it.”

“Schools that get useful information from those MCAs are the ones that do the deeper dives,” Rodriguez explained in the article. “They look at the variability. They look at the group differences. They look at: How are students with these kinds of experiences doing versus students who don’t have those experiences, and which kinds of experiences are we giving a kid that helps them perform better? And that requires someone who can go in and breakdown those numbers and do some analysis. Not many schools have staff that can do that.”

“Every school seems to have its own assessment culture,” Sato explained to MinnPost. “Once you enter into the school, you have to first learn about how that school is using [data].”

The article mentions a class Rodriguez and Sato are developing for all students in Curriculum & Instruction’s teacher prep program. The course will help teacher candidates interpret the data available to them to better educate their students.

MinnPost ends the piece with an important question from Christ.

“We need to make a decision: Are we going to be a state who simply has decided data is not important? And then let’s stop collecting it, because we’re spending tens of millions of dollars collecting it, but we don’t know how to use it,” Christ told MinnPost. “Or are we going to be a state who values data and research? And [then] we’re both going to collect that data and support the use of it.”

Read the full article.

Ed Psych, special education receive top rankings

Education Sciences Building
Education Sciences Building

The Department of Educational Psychology and our special education program were ranked in the top 10 of the 2018 U.S. News & World Report rankings of graduate schools. We maintained a #8 ranking in special education and moved up to #9 in educational psychology. The department is part of the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) which ranked 12th among public professional schools of education, 21st among all schools, in the rankings.

CEHD is a world leader in developing innovative programs to address opportunity gaps in child development, teaching, and learning. Consider its outstanding partnership programs with school districts in Minnesota that apply evidence-based teaching methodologies to strengthen schools. Note also the impact of recent groundbreaking research on autism—which Jason Wolff, assistant professor in special education was a part of—has uncovered new patterns of brain development in infants. CEHD’s productivity last year included $44.3 million of externally funded research.

CEHD’s developmental psychology program (Institute of Child Development) was also ranked by U.S. News &  World Report and is #1 in the country.

“Our college continues to reach new heights of excellence in graduate teaching, research, and outreach,” said Dean Jean K. Quam. “We are focused on improving the lives of students across Minnesota, the nation, and the world.”

Learn more about Educational Psychology’s top rated masters and doctorate programs.

Rankings methodology: U.S. News surveyed 379 schools granting education doctoral degrees. It calculates rankings based on quality assessments from peer institutions and school superintendents nationwide, student selectivity, and faculty research and resources, which includes student/faculty ratio and faculty awards as well as support for research.

Davison recognized for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate and Professional Education

Mark L. Davison

Mark Davison, John P. Yackel Professor in Educational Assessment and Measurement in the Department of Educational Psychology’s quantitative methods in education program, was recently honored with an Outstanding Contributions to Graduate and Professional Education Award from Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, and the University of Minnesota Alumni Association. This award recognizes excellent teachers who engage students in a community of intellectual inquiry, are significant mentors and role models, and develop and promote activities that help students understand the larger context of their intended professions.

One of a select group of University of Minnesota teachers chosen for this honor, Davison will receive a one-time $15,000 award and become a member of the University’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers, which serves the University through various activities that aim to improve teaching and learning.

“We all are very pleased to see Mark’s important contributions to graduate education recognized in such a meaningful way.  His highly accomplished former students made a persuasive case for him receiving the award,” said Geoffrey Maruyama, department chair.

Davision will receive his award in a ceremony at McNamara Alumni Center on April 27, and, along with his fellow recipients, will be introduced to the University’s Board of Regents meeting May 11-12.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Davison on this well-deserved honor!

Andrew Zieffler: Making connections

Andrew Zieffler
Andrew Zieffler

Walking into Andrew Zieffler’s office, I can’t help but wonder about the signed Dawson’s Creek posters on his wall, “What’s the story behind those?” I ask. “Back when I was teaching high school math, talking about Dawson’s Creek was a way to connect with my students.” Zieffler explains. “And over time, I became a fan of the show.”

Zieffler didn’t always see teaching as his calling. “My dad was a high school math teacher,” he says. “It was the one thing I didn’t want to do.”

Starting out as an undergraduate, Zieffler planned to become an engineer but ended up changing his major seven times. “I was history major for awhile, a German major for awhile. I was going get a degree in math but got talked into also majoring in education,” he recalls.

After graduation, Zieffler taught AP statistics and various math courses in a high school for four years. “I enjoyed teaching high school a lot,” he says. “The teaching, coaching, and getting to know kids was great.”

Four years into teaching, Zieffler began looking for a new challenge. Initially, he wanted to study math history at Brown—that is until he met professor of educational psychology, Joan Garfield. On a whim, Zieffler drove down from St. Cloud to visit the College of Liberal Art’s Math Department. When he mentioned his interest in statistics education, they referred him to Garfield.

Garfield was the mastermind behind the statistics education track in the quantitative methods in education program, and her passion inspired Zieffler to choose another path. “Joan and I talked for what must have been three hours, and my back-up school suddenly became my first choice,” he says.

Zieffler graduated with his Ph.D. in educational psychology. Now a senior lecturer in the Department of Educational Psychology’s Quantitative Methods in Education program, he teaches graduate level courses in statistics. Zieffler also oversees a group of graduate students who teach an undergraduate Basic and Applied Statistics course. “I work with graduate students to teach and write curriculum based on what we know about how people learn statistics,” he says.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Zieffler conducts research and outreach in over a dozen area schools where he leads the College in the Schools (CIS) program for statistics. CIS is a nationally accredited program that brings U of M faculty together with high school teachers to offer University courses in high schools.

“Most mathematics teachers have only had one or two college courses in statistics, and they’ve never had classes in pedagogy,” Zieffler says. As part of the program, he and his students study teachers’ understanding of different concepts in statistics and how it affects student learning. From there, they make recommendations for teacher professional development.

Just as Dawson’s Creek grew on him, so did teaching. “The most exciting part about of what I do is working with students,” he says. “It’s fun to see them grow and make connections between different concepts to solve problems.”

Michael Rodriguez: What you need to know about the GRE

Michael Rodriguez head shot
Michael Rodriguez

Many prospective students feel a twinge of anxiety when they think of taking the Graduate Record Examination, otherwise known as the GRE. That’s why the College or Education and Human Development asked QME professor Michael Rodriguez to provide some insight for people preparing to take the GRE and to answer the frequently asked questions about the test. Read more.

Rodriguez featured in University’s Driven to Discover campaign

Michael Rodriguez head shot
Dr. Michael Rodriguez

Opportunity gaps among children in our society are growing, and part of the problem is how we assess and educate them. Michael Rodriguez, Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development, co-director of the Educational Equity Resource Center, and professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s quantitative methods in education program, is being featured in this year’s Driven to Discover campaign for his work to close  these gaps by helping schools understand how to work with diverse students, families, and communities. View the campaign.

Rodriguez to chair National Board of Professional Teaching Standards’ Technical Advisory Group

Michael Rodriguez head shot
Dr. Michael Rodriguez

Michael Rodriguez, Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development, co-director of the Educational Equity Resource Center, and professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s quantitative methods in education program, was recently named chair of the Technical Advisory Group for the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). Also a member of the group’s Certification Council, Rodriguez has worked with NBPTS in a number of technical advisory roles since 2005.

Established in 1987, the mission of the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards is to advance the quality of teaching and learning by: (1) maintaining high and rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do; (2) providing a national voluntary system certifying teachers who meet these standards; and (3) advocating related education reforms to integrate National Board Certification in American education and to capitalize on the expertise of National Board Certified Teachers.

Three Educational Psychology faculty recognized with endowed chairs and professorships

Recently, three faculty members from the Department of Educational Psychology were honored with endowed chairs and professorships. These appointments— awarded over a period of three years— recognize the professors’ professional achievements and the impact of their work.

Dr. Clayton Cook (school psychology) is the first-ever John W. and Nancy E. Peyton Faculty Fellow in Child and Adolescent Wellbeing.  Dr. Panayiota Kendeou (psychological foundations of education) holds the Guy Bond Chair in Reading, and Dr. Michael Rodriguez (quantitative methods in education) will continue in his role as Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development. Please join us in congratulating them on their excellent contributions!

Faculty members in the Department of Educational Psychology hold a total of seven active endowed chairs and professorships.

Learn more about the other endowed chairs and professors of educational psychology.

Rodriguez talks with MPR, Pioneer Press about state math, reading scores

Michael Rodriguez head shot
Michael Rodriguez

Michael Rodriguez, Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development and professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s Quantitative Methods in Education program was recently interviewed by Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) and quoted in the Pioneer Press on the 2016 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs). Students’ performance on these statewide tests— which measure progress toward Minnesota’s academic standards in reading and math— remained largely unchanged over last year. More specifically, Black, Hispanic, and Native American students’ test scores continued to be roughly one-third that of their white counterparts.

Dr. Rodriguez told the Pioneer Press, although the state has made smart policy decisions to try to close achievement gaps, the MCA results don’t reflect that. “We haven’t seen it in the outcomes, and that’s really frustrating,” he said. “This is not just the Minnesota story. We see this nationally.”

“It’s really unfortunate that we expect so much from this single event test score,” Rodriguez said in his interview with MPR. “It’s telling us there’s not much movement. But I’m not convinced that single measure is going to be sensitive enough to pick of the kinds of movements that are occurring.”

When asked (by the Pioneer Press) what schools can do to improve outcomes for low-performing student groups, Dr. Rodriguez suggested communities be brought into the schools, making the instruction more culturally relevant to the students and demonstrating that education leads to greater opportunities.

Read the Pioneer Press article.

Listen to the MPR interview.