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How a Group of PhD Students is Changing Education

5 December 2011 0 Comments

On the third floor of the McKay building, tucked snugly in the Eastern wing, you’ll find a room; and in that room, you’ll find students; and in those students, you will find the determination to strengthen our nation’s educational systems.

Since 2007 the Educational Inquiry, Measurement and Evaluation (EIME) doctoral program in the McKay School of Education has sought to prepare knowledgeable, capable educational researchers with the capacity to work within a broad spectrum of functions and environments. “It’s a wonderfully rich program,” says Barbara Cullatta, program advisor and Associate Dean of the McKay School, “We have a very experienced faculty with a vast depth of knowledge.”

Program development began in 2005 after the federal government called for major universities to prepare more qualified educational researchers. Richard Young, Dean of the McKay School of Education, responded by appointing a team of faculty members to consider this need, with IP&T professor Richard Sudweeks as Chair. “It took almost three years and probably 20 iterations to finally get the new program developed,” recalls Culatta.

As EIME faculty and students will tell you, It was worth the wait. “When I first read about this program, I was like a kid in a candy store,” notes Holt Zaugg, an EIME student who was a high school teacher for 20 years. “This has definitely been a golden experience.”

Once accepted into the program, students learn how to recognize and investigate solutions for substantial educational issues, such as poor testing and ineffective curriculum. After completing a set of core classes, students choose an area in which they would like to focus their efforts. They are also given opportunities to acquire practical experience through mentored internships. When they complete the EIME program, graduates are prepared to work in a variety of settings, including federal and state offices of education as well as private research and development institutions.

The program has attracted students with a wide variety of educational backgrounds, ranging from business to psychology. EIME student TJ Bliss was working on a PhD in ecology when an alert professor helped him recognize what he really wanted to do. “He showed me that education was what I was really passionate about,” remembers Bliss, who finally considered coming to BYU after other options didn’t feel right. “I talked with Dr. Sudweeks, who told me that the EIME program would be a good fit. I just trusted him. I knew it was what I needed to do.”

Today the program boasts over 20 students and faculty members, who represent a rich variety of backgrounds and areas of expertise. Despite the difference in experience, everyone is united in one common goal. “We’re all here for one reason,” Zaugg explains. “We want to improve education.”

5 December 2011

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