Fall 2014 Member Spotlight

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Jennifer R. McGee

Assistant Professor

Department of Curriculum & Instruction

Appalachian State University

How long have you been a member of NCARE?

I joined NCARE in 2009 as a doctoral student and have maintained membership. The 2009 NCARE annual meeting was my first presentation as a doctoral student and I was so nervous! I started serving on the NCARE Board as an at-large member to fill a term in 2013 and I was re-elected in 2014 to continue in that role on the Board.

Why did you join NCARE and how has being a member benefitted you?

I was encouraged to join by my advisor, Dr. Chuang Wang. I worked with Dr. Wang and Dr. Rich Lambert in the Center for Educational Measurement and Evaluation (CEME) at UNC Charlotte during my doctoral work and they encouraged me to submit a proposal to the 2009 NCARE annual meeting. I joined then and continued my membership because of my mentors in this field and all of my colleagues at UNC Charlotte. I liked staying in contact with everyone after I graduated and it really helped to always have a safe and comfortable place to try out new ideas. I’ve found NCARE to really be a “home base” for me professionally and I enjoy having a place that is so welcoming but so instructive.

Please briefly discuss research you are currently conducting (the elevator talk version).

Well – I think I have my hands in too many projects. I’m currently finishing data analysis for a grant that I worked on with the folks above at UNCC. We are looking at impacts of a 3 year long PD program on mathematics elementary teachers and their students. I just published an article from my dissertation with Dr. Wang on the validity of an instrument to measure self-efficacy of elementary mathematics teachers. I also have a small faculty research grant at Appalachian where we are studying data use practices in a rural school district. As a methods consultant, I do other work in many other areas like teacher education, literacy and special education.

What is your greatest lesson learned about conducting educational research?

I think for me, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you can never be too thorough or too prepared. I’ve collected data both as a researcher and as a student and I’ve also played around with enough data to know now that being thorough and prepared are just essential to doing a good job and having accurate results.

What are you most interested in learning about and/or doing next as a researcher?

I’m interested in combining some of what I’ve learned about mathematics self-efficacy and mathematics teaching self-efficacy to the idea of how teachers and administrators use data in their practice. I see and hear about so many bad/wrong/incorrect uses of data in schools that I am really interested in supporting educators in finding ways to correct those practices. I teach assessment to undergraduates as well as research and basic statistics to graduate students and I am learning more and more about the quantitative literacy that practitioners need now in order to navigate the data-based-decision-making world we live in today.