James Madison University

Students Present Research at NERA Annual Conference


Two Psychological Sciences MA students and six Assessment & Measurement PhD students presented their empirical research at the Northeastern Educational Research Association (NERA) annual conference in October 2010. Moreover, six alumni from the Assessment & Measurement PhD program (three of which were also alumni from the Psychological Sciences MA program) also presented their scholarly work at NERA. NERA is an organization whose mission is to encourage and promote quality educational research and to create a venue for experienced and new researchers. http://www.nera-education.org/index.php

During this three-day conference, the 8 currently enrolled students (names in bold below) presented a total of 9 papers. These papers were co-authored with Assessment & Measurement and Psychological Sciences faculty.  Some of these students also served as session chairs and/or discussants during the conference.

France, M..3 & Harmes, J. C. (2010, Oct). Using Students Think-Alouds and Confirmatory Factor Analysis to Improve the Measurement of University Mattering.

Jurich, D.5,  Pastor, D1., & Goodman, J. (2010, Oct). An Application of Multilevel Modeling to Investigate Item Features Impacting Comparability between Test Administration Modes.

Koepfler, J.3 & Jurich, D.5 (2010, Oct).  Rapid Responding: An Overlooked Threat to Validity

Kopp, J.,5 Zinn, T.,1 Finney, S.,1 & Jurich, D.5 (2010, Oct). “I Can’t Believe She Gave Me A C!” Measuring Entitlement in Higher Education.

Lau, A.2 & France, M.3 (2010, Oct). General Education Outcomes and Advanced Placement Exam Performance.

Marsh, K.,3 Hulleman, C.1, Hawkins, P. & Mann, T. (2010, Oct). Back to BASICS: An Evaluation of Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students.

Orem, C.4 (2010, Oct). Evaluating the Quality of Assessment: Applying G-Theory to a Non-Traditional Performance Assessment.

Russell, J.,4 Anderson, R.,1 Meixner, C., & Lovin, L. (2010, Oct). A Mixed Methods Approach to Developing Measures of Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching in Preservice Teachers.

Zilberberg, A.,3 & Pastor, D.1 & Harmes, J. C. (2010, Oct). Psychometric Properties of the Short Version of Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ-26).

  • 1 Assessment and Measurement and/or Psychological Sciences Faculty
  • 2 Assessment & Measurement PhD alum
  • 3 Psychological Sciences alum; current student in Assessment and Measurement PhD
  • 4 Current Assessment and Measurement student
  • 5  Current Psychological Sciences student

The students also participated in professional development sessions purposefully geared toward graduate students regarding employment, future of the field, and skills necessary to be successful. In addition, they engaged in several free training sessions that focused on various methodological, measurement, and statistical techniques.

Anna Zilberberg and Becca Marsh, two first-year Assessment & Measurement PhD students and Psychological Sciences alums offer their perspectives of a graduate student attending this conference.

Becca Marsh:  “I returned from the 2010 NERA conference having gained invaluable insight into professional development opportunities and research currently conducted by students and professionals in the assessment and measurement field. The conference provided an array of opportunities for students, including: pre-conference workshops; research symposia; discussion panels; and a series of keynote speeches.  

Pre-conference workshops gave me the opportunity to become more acquainted with specific aspects of measurement such as survey design and qualitative data analysis with NVIVO software. The research symposia introduced me to various research directions within the field and allowed me to engage in discussions with fellow students, faculty, and professionals not affiliated with my own program. As a student presenter at the conference, I gained experience presenting research results to a new audience. Moreover, I benefitted from constructive feedback on my conference paper from an assigned presentation session discussant. Perhaps one of the most invaluable experiences of the conference was the opportunity to interact with esteemed academicians and practitioners in the field of educational research during question-and-answer discussion panels and social events.  As a student who had recently changed academic paths from cognitive psychology to psychometrics, a first-time NERA attendee and presenter, I found each of these aspects of the conference to be very helpful for professional and research development.”

Anna Zilberberg: “As a second-time NERA attendee and a first year doctoral student in the Assessment and Measurement program at James Madison University, I returned from this year’s conference energized and focused, with a renewed sense of belonging to a cohesive academic community dedicated to building research partnerships. Just as my first time at NERA, I felt lucky to have had the opportunity to benefit from all that NERA has to offer, including networking with seasoned researchers in the field, attending workshops and research symposia, and presenting my own research. I was yet again surprised at how rich and diverse the professional opportunities are in the field of educational research – there were professionals representing the testing industry, independent research companies, academia, and freelance consulting.  I feel that I benefitted greatly from all the sessions I attended and my only regret is that I could not be in multiple places at the same time. One session in particular, however, seemed especially important at this stage of my academic career.

The session I found to be the most beneficial this year was ‘Fordham Five on Finishing and Further: Dissertation Research Then and Now.’ Hearing Fordham graduates discuss the ordeal of writing a dissertation brought the topic home for me. I realized that I have not fully faced the fact that the dissertation experience is in my very near future and that now is the time to brainstorm potential topics and prepare myself for this work. Each presenter during this session had a somewhat different story on how they completed their dissertation and valuable – albeit sometimes unexpected – advice on how to choose a topic and persevere through the writing process. I walked out of that session inspired and ready to take on this new academic challenge. I already look forward to the next year’s NERA and the new insights it will inspire!”