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Lynch School of Education

Meet Our Students

educational research, measurement, and evaluation

The following bios from ERME master's and doctoral students give a quick glimpse at some of the research and employment opportunities students have in and outside of the program.

A selection of 2014-2015 Master’s students:

Emily Atkinson

                I am a fifth year Master’s student in the ERME program, and I work as a graduate research assistant at the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center at Boston College. My work is in PIRLS, Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, and has consisted of assisting in the preparation of passages, scoring guides, and items for the upcoming 2016 cycle. From my experience in the Office of Residential Life as a resident assistant to 32 freshmen girls, I have developed an interest in the intersection between program evaluation and research in higher education. My position as an undergraduate research assistant for the Boston College Campus School has evolved into a graduate research position through a research grant from the International Rett Syndrome Foundation. I have worked with a team of investigators to evaluate the effectiveness of sensory integration to increase functional reaching in children with Rett syndrome and related disorders.

                This year, I will be serving as the Lynch Graduate School Student Ambassador for the ERME department where I will work with the Graduate Office to host events and assist incoming and prospective graduate students.

Margeau Frigon

                 I am a fifth year Master’s student in the ERME program. This is my third year working with Dr. Beth Casey, who is a professor in the department of Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology. I have worked with her on one longitudinal study throughout its three years, following students from fifth through seventh grade. We are examining the students’ spatial skills to understand how these abilities can predict math reasoning and math fluency skills over time. I have assisted in the development of math assessments, applying knowledge of curriculum standards to ensure that math items are challenging and age appropriate. I have also participated in the initial analysis of test results, examining performance outcomes across the different math domains to provide feedback to teachers and schools.

Johanna Gubler    

                I am a second year Master’s student in the ERME program, and I work as a graduate research assistant at the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center at Boston College.  I am interested in studying issues of validity in educational measurement and the use of educational assessment for the improvement of learning outcomes. My work at the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center has included assisting in the development of the context questionnaires for these assessments and analyzing and reviewing the Rasch contextual scales based on TIMSS field test data. Prior to coming to Boston College, I worked at the Ministry of Education in Chile and was the National Research Coordinator for the TIMSS assessment in Chile.

Michael Kelly

                I am a first year Master’s student in the ERME program, and I work for the Boston College Office of Practicum Experiences and Teacher Induction as a graduate evaluation assistant. For the practicum office, my role is to assist in the evaluation of Boston College’s student teaching program, including survey creation, modification and distribution, as well as data collection, organization and analysis. My research interests mainly focus on understanding the environmental influences (psychological, sociological, technological, etc.) that affect student learning outcomes. Previously I have worked for the Center for Social Research at Calvin College as a research assistant evaluating summer learning programs hosted by non-profit organizations in Grand Rapids, MI. I also researched the extent to which mentor relationships influenced student academic, emotional, and spiritual development.  

A selection of 2014-2015 PhD students:

Ryan Auster

                I currently work as a Senior Research Associate at the Museum of Science. My primary responsibilities involve planning and overseeing many of our research studies involving quantitative methods, including instrument development, data analysis, and reporting, but I also participate in several of our program evaluation efforts and frequently consult with others within the Museum on data analysis and interpretation. I recently wrote a grant to work across science centers on a collaborative data initiative aimed at studying science museum visitors nationwide, and just received notification that we would receive funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the next three years to pursue this project, for which I will serve as Principal Investigator.

                Prior to coming to the Museum, I served as a Research Assistant at the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center at Boston College. I am in my seventh year as a doctoral student in the ERME program and currently instruct the Intermediate Statistics course, having TA'd various courses for the past three years. My dissertation work examines how to activate middle school students in ways that ignite persistent engagement in science learning.

Wen-Chia Claire Chang

                I am a third year doctoral student in the ERME department. My area of expertise and interest lies in theories and practices of program evaluation, specifically international development evaluation as well as evaluation of teacher preparation programs in the context of the education reform movement in the U.S.

                Prior to the ERME program, I worked as a program officer at the Education Development Center (EDC) office in Bangkok, Thailand for four years. I designed and managed programs addressing  issues on public health (e.g., HIV/AIDS prevention), poverty, and migration in Asia-Pacific countries such as China, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Taiwan. I also designed and implemented program monitoring and evaluation frameworks as an internal evaluator by working closely with stakeholders.

                During my time in the ERME program, I have been involved in implementing an evaluation of a five-year online teacher professional development program (Massachusetts FOCUS Academy: http://www.doe.mass.edu/mtss/ta/mfa/) funded by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. I also worked with Dr. Lauren Saenz as a teaching assistant for a graduate-level program evaluation course as well as conducted a literature review on evaluation of LGBT-Q youth bullying prevention programs. In addition, I worked with the data manager in the Lynch School of Education to develop database systems (using FileMaker), conduct analysis on student data, and provide inputs on external reports such as U.S. News report, CGS report, and Petersons as well as internal reports for department review.

Martin Hooper

                I am a third year doctoral student in the ERME program, and I work as a Senior Research Specialist at the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center at Boston College. Academically, my research interest focuses on international large scale assessment methodology and predictors of student achievement on these assessments. As such, working at the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center has been an excellent fit for me. I coordinate the development of the context questionnaires for these assessments—a role that has included co-authoring the context questionnaire frameworks, developing questionnaire items and their associated scales, and analyzing the psychometric properties of these Rasch scales. I have also been involved in coordinating the technical reporting for the assessments, and I worked as a teaching assistant for the ERME course Large Scale Assessment: Methods and Practice, taught by Professor Ina Mullis. 

Clair Johnson

                During my first four years in the ERME program, I worked with multiple projects and professors, gaining experience in large-scale testing, instrument development, institutional research and evaluation, and program evaluation.

                This year I received the Lynch School Dissertation Fellowship to work full-time on my dissertation, which focuses on the complex role of evaluator identities in practices of stakeholder involvement. My study will utilize a mixed methods approach to understand how evaluators navigate through issues that arise around participation and power in program evaluation. Additionally, I am now using the experience I gained as a doctoral student to inform my work as an adjunct instructor in the ERME department, teaching Program Evaluation I to graduate students.

Minsong Kim

                I am a graduate research assistant for the Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation, and Education Policy (CSTEEP) and at the Roche Center for Catholic Education. At CSTEEP, I assist Dr. Henry Braun’s research study examining the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). This study’s objective is to investigate how the patterns of statistical associations of age, socio-economic status, and other characteristics vary within and across participating OECD countries. We employ various regression methods to infer the nature of relationship between problem-solving in a high-tech environment to literacy and numeracy skills.     We compare these results across OECD countries to inform policy so that they can compete effectively in the global economy and labor markets. 

                At the Roche Center, I am working on the Two-Way Immersion Network for Catholic Schools (TWIN-CS) project, which is the nation’s first network of Catholic schools implementing the two-way immersion instructions to serve the educational needs of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD)students. Major tasks include designing and analyzing surveys and interview protocols to examine the network’s functionality as well as the emergence of communities of practice among teachers, administrators, and two-way immersion mentors.  

Joshua Littenberg-Tobias

                This is my 3rd year working as a research assistant for Dr. Vincent Cho, who is a professor in the department of Educational Leadership and Higher Education.  I have worked on two main projects with him. The first was a study looking at how educators use Twitter for professional development. I co-authored a conceptual paper with him about this topic that was published in Learning Landscapes in 2013. Currently, we are working on a project looking at how Catholic schools integrate technology into their school mission to educate the “whole child.”  For the study, we developed a scale of teacher attitudes toward using the impact of technology on educating the “whole child.” We also used social network analysis to study how attitudes and practices around technology are distributed and disseminated within a school environment. We presented preliminary findings from the study at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting in 2014 and are currently working on a scholarly journal article.

Avery Newton

                I am a 2nd year doctoral student in the ERME department, working a 20 hour per week assistantship with Dr. Laura O'Dwyer.  Currently, the bulk of our work together involves three projects related to program evaluation, survey and scale analysis, and assorted consulting and quantitative research for two school districts and a local university.  As a part of my assistantship I have been able to collaborate with faculty and students throughout and beyond the Lynch School, which has exposed me to a multitude of research interests and methods within the education field. 

                I also work one day per week as a research assistant and evaluator for two educational organizations external to BC.  My primary research interest is in non-academic assessment (e.g., social and emotional learning), although I also maintain interests in college and career readiness, program evaluation, and education policy (my undergraduate major).

Caroline Vuilleumier

                I'm currently in my third year of doctoral work in the ERME program, and spent the past two years conducting research at the Roche Center for Catholic Education. During that time, I was part of a team of researchers overseeing a program evaluation of the Two-Way Immersion Network for Catholic Schools (TWIN-CS). Our main initiative was to assess the effects of an intentional network structure on principals' and teachers' sense of efficacy as dual language educators. More specifically, we have been looking into the ways in which communities of practice (COPs) have emerged among these educators and how these COPs vary depending on school contexts.

                While this has been my main research focus for the past two years, I have also been a statistics TA for Dr. Laura O'Dwyer, helped develop a science assessment scoring rubric for Dr. Nathaniel Brown, and worked with Dr. Zhushan Mandy Li to learn more about large scale assessment (specifically TIMSS) and item response theory models. Additionally, I've done consulting work with Dr. Larry Ludlow teaching researchers at another university about Rasch models and scale development.