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Lynch School of Education

Hat Trick: Mandy Li Receives Three Prestigious Dissertation Awards

Dr. Mandy Li

Lynch School of Education Assistant Professor Mandy Li has been awarded with three prestigious awards for her dissertation “Log-linear Models as Item Response Models.” The awards include the 2011 AERA Division D Outstanding Quantitative Dissertation Award, the 2012 APA Division 5 Distinguished Dissertation Award, and the 2012 Brenda Loyd Dissertation Award for outstanding dissertation in the field of educational measurement.  As part of the APA Division 5 Distinguished Dissertation Award she will deliver an address at the symposium in which the award will be presented at the 2012 APA convention.

Li, who joined the LSOE Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation (ERME) Department in the fall of 2010, is an expert in psychometrics and log-linear models. Psychometrics is the measurement and quantification of psychological phenomena.  For example, if one wanted to measure the height of an individual there are universally understood measurement systems; but, if one wanted to measure the anxiety, or mathematics ability of an individual, it is more complex. While most statisticians in education use existing analytical models in innovative ways to come to solutions, Dr. Li creates new statistical models to measure unobservable characteristics. 

“Dr. Li’s thesis is a remarkable accomplishment with respect to both its theoretical contributions and its implications for practice. It takes its place in a line of research that imports, adapts and extends powerful statistical techniques to address classic problems in psychometrics,” said Lynch School Boisi Professor of Education and Public Policy Henry Braun. “This thesis is unusual in that it represents not only a significant theoretical advance but also a thoroughly comprehensive treatment of different dimensions of the topic, ranging from estimation algorithms to simulation studies to practical applications. Such a body of work could really justify two dissertations. I place it in the very top rank of dissertations that I have read.”

“Li’s expertise in psychometric theory and statistical models enhances the department’s program of studies and opportunities for collaboration and funding ,” said Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation Professor and Department Chair Larry Ludlow, who believes that Li may be the only person ever to receive all three of these awards. “With Li on our faculty doctoral students will experience exciting cutting-edge research and dissertation opportunities that were previously not readily available. In addition, her skill-set widens the pool of excellent students from which the department can recruit to the Lynch School.”  

Last April, Dr. Li was honored by 2011 AERA Division D Outstanding Quantitative Dissertation Award the AERA 2011 annual meeting in New Orleans, LA. Nearly a year later, she is still receiving awards for her dissertation.

"It is an honor that my dissertation was selected among the numerous exceptional quantitative dissertations in the field, said Dr. Li. "I look forward to new collaborations and hope to make my research more accessible to education or social science researchers and practitioners."