Matthias von Davier (Lee Pellegrini)

Matthias von Davier, Distinguished Research Scientist at the National Board of Medical Examiners, has been named the J. Donald Monan, S.J., University Professor in Education effective in fall 2020, Stanton E.F. Wortham, the Charles F. Donovan, S.J., Dean of the Lynch School of Education and Human Development, has announced.

Von Davier succeeds Lynch School Research Professor Philip G. Altbach, who served as the Monan Professor in  Education for nearly two decades. The professorship is named for the late 24th president of Boston College.

This spring, in advance of his faculty posting, von Davier will join the Lynch School-hosted TIMSS and PIRLS International Study Center, which conducts regular international comparative assessments of student achievement in mathematics and science and reading, on behalf of the Netherlands-based International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. TIMSS and PIRLS enable participating countries to make evidence-based decisions for improving educational policy.

Starting in the fall, von Davier will teach courses in psychometrics, statistics, and large scale assessment, according to Larry Ludlow, professor and chair of the Lynch School’s Measurement, Evaluation, Statistics, and Assessment Department.

“We are very pleased to have Professor von Davier join our faculty,” said Ludlow.  “He not only brings technical expertise in a broad range of measurement and statistical domains, but also great creativity in recognizing and generating important problems and strategies for how to attack them. His name has already been mentioned in our Ph.D. admission applications, and we expect he will quickly attract additional highly talented masters and doctoral students to our department. We look forward to the new projects that he will add to our portfolio, and the many unique research opportunities that students will find available with him.”

Von Davier’s areas of expertise include item response theory, known as IRT, latent class analysis, diagnostic classification models, and the analytical methodologies used in large-scale educational surveys. His current work is concerned with extending, implementing and applying multidimensional IRT, IRTree, and latent response models, as well as speed/accuracy models to process data research using log-file and timing data from large-scale assessments.

“I very much look forward to joining the BC faculty,” he said.  “I had heard about BC while working at the Institute for Science Education. I was helping other research assistants as part of the German team of the 1995 TIMSS study, which was conducted by BC’s International Study Center.  Since coming to the U.S. in 2000, I realized that there were so many scholars who either worked at BC, studied there, or had a supervisor who now worked at BC, or had some other form of association—all of whom had a strong connection to the educational measurement research I was conducting. Over the years, my connection to BC deepened as I got more involved in research on international comparative assessment and extended my collaboration with [TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center Executive Directors] Ina Mullis and Michael Martin and later, with the Lynch School’s Henry Braun.  

“One of the many strengths of BC is its ability to build and systematically support an area of leadership in an area of inquiry, and to attract students and faculty by fostering an environment that allows them to thrive and to develop globally recognized expertise. I am very excited to join this community and to work together with faculty and students on research that pushes the envelope of educational measurement and assessment in years to come.”

Prior to his appointment at NBME, an independent non-profit organization that conducts high-quality assessments of health care professionals, von Davier was a senior research director at the Educational Testing Service’s Research & Development Division, and co-director of ETS’s Center for Global Assessment, leading large-scale psychometric research and operational analysis for international comparative studies such as the Programme for International Student Assessment, and the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies.  He also served as the psychometric advisor delegated by ETS to serve as a member of the project management team of TIMSS and PIRLS.

Von Davier has authored and co-authored more than 130 research articles, chapters and research reports, and edited five books.  A founding co-editor of Large-Scale Assessments in Education, a joint publication of the IEA and ETS, he was editor-in-chief of the British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology.  Additionally, he is co-editor of the series Methodology of Educational Measurement and Assessment, and serves as the executive editor of Psychometrika, the journal of the Psychometric Society.

His honors include the ETS Research Scientist award, the National Council of Measurement in Education Brad Hanson Award for Contributions to Educational Measurement, and the American Educational Research Association’s Division-D award for Significant Contributions to Measurement and Research Methodology.

Von Davier earned a doctorate in psychology with a specialty in psychometrics from Germany’s University of Kiel. 

Phil Gloudemans | University Communications | January 2020