James Madison University

Psychological Sciences MA and Assessment & Measurement PhD Students and Faculty Present at NERA Conference

A total of 35 JMU graduate students, faculty, and alumni traveled to the Northeastern Educational Research Association’s (NERA) annual conference in October 2012. Of these, 7 current Psychological Sciences MA students, 13 Assessment & Measurement PhD students (7 of which are Psyc Sciences alums), and 6 faculty engaged in the conference. Moreover, 9 alumni from the Assessment & Measurement PhD program and/or the Psychological Sciences MA program contributed to NERA as presenters, discussants, session chairs, and board members.

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

PHOTO: JMU students

Research Presentations:


* indicates current graduate student

*Bashkov, B. M. (2012, October). Evidence using Benson's external stage. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Northeastern Educational Research Association, Rocky Hill, CT.

*Charsha,A., Smiley, W. & Anderson, R. (2012, October). Measuring cognitive engagement in low-stakes testing: confirmatory factor analyses of the cognitive engagement scale-2. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Northeastern Educational Research Association, Rocky Hill, CT.

*Gerstner, J. J., Pastor, D. A., & Finney, S. J. (2012, October). Evaluating the psychometric properties of the Scale of Ethnocultural Empathy: A confirmatory factor analytic approach. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Northeastern Educational Research Association, Rocky Hill, CT.

*Grays, M. P., & Hulleman, C. S. (2012, October). Assessing the factor structure of achievement goals: Reconsidering the trichotomous model. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Northeastern Educational Research Association, Rocky Hill, CT.

*Grays, M. P., & Hulleman, C. S. (2012, October). Beyond numbers: Using think-alouds to understand item interpretation and responses. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Northeastern Educational Research Association, Rocky Hill, CT.

Hulleman, C. S., *Kosovich, J.J., & Barron, K.E, Daniel, D.B. (2012, October). Mediated motivation: Investigating expectancy-value theory through longitudinal and experimental design. Paper presented at the annual Northeastern Educational Research Association conference, Rocky Hill, CT.

*Jurich, D. P. & Bradshaw, L. P. (October, 2012).  Modeling testlet effects within a diagnostic classification framework. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Northeastern Educational Research Association, Rocky Hill, BC.

*Lazowski, R.A., Pastor, D.A., Hulleman, C.S., Getty, S., & Barron, K.E. (2012, October).  Examining effects  of expectancy, value, and cost in an online science curriculum.  A hierarchal approach.  Paper presented at the annual conference of the Northeastern Educational Research Association, Rocky Hill, CT.

*Marrs, S. A. (2012, October). An investigation of the impacts of in-text citations on reading comprehension. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Northeastern Educational Research Association, Rocky Hill, CT.

*Naumenko, O. O., & Fulcher, K. H. (2012, October). An examination of a meta-assessment tool using generalizability theory. Paper presented at the annual Northeastern Educational Research Association conference, Rocky Hill, CT.

*Rodgers, M. (2012, October). Evidence using Benson's substantive stage. Paper presented at the annual Northeastern Educational Research Association conference, Rocky Hill, CT.

*Sessoms, J., Finney, S. J., & *Kopp, J. P. (2012, October). Does academic entitlement change over time? longitudinal mean and covariance structures (LMACS) study. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Northeastern Educational Research Association, Rocky Hill, CT.

*Socha, A., & DeMars, C. E. (2012, October). An investigation of sample size splitting on ATFIND and DIMTEST. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Northeastern Educational Research Association, Rocky Hill, CT.

*Swain, M.S. & Sundre, D. L. (2012, Oct.). Motivated examinees: Discriminating students who try when it doesn’t count. Paper presented at the annual Northeastern Educational Research Association meeting, Rocky Hill, CT.

*Young, W., Fulcher, K. & *Sessoms, J. (2012, October). Assessing the dependability of a performance assessment: Learning from multiple approaches.  Paper presented at the annual conference of the Northeastern Educational Research Association, Rocky Hill, CT.

Invited Panels and Workshops:


* indicates current graduate student

Faculty, alumni, and students presented invited workshops and panels during the conference.

Bandalos, D.L., Huff, K., Patelis, T., & Wendler, C. (October, 2012). Obtaining and maintaining a career in educational research. Invited panel at the annual meeting of the Northeast Educational Research Association, Rocky Hill, Ct.

Bradshaw, L. P. & *Jurich, D. P. (October, 2012).  An introduction to diagnostic measurement. Workshop presented at the annual conference of the Northeastern Educational Research Association, Rocky Hill, BC.

Pastor, D. A. (2012, October). An introduction to hierarchical linear modeling. Invited workshop at the annual meeting of the Northeastern Educational Research Association, Rocky Hill, CT.

PHOTO Dena Pastor

Sundre, D. L., DiPaola, T. Gable, R. & Winter, P. (2012, October). Find out where research is going next: What course of study will give YOU an edge? Invited panel at annual Northeastern Educational Research Association meeting, Rocky Hill, CT.

Sundre, D. L., Markle, R. & Patelis, T. (2012, October). A change oriented plan of research. Invited panel at annual Northeastern Educational Research Association meeting, Rocky Hill, CT.

Awards and Recognitions from NERA:


Jerusha Gerstner, a psychological sciences alum and a first-year doctoral student, was elected to the Board of Directors as the chair of the Graduate Student Issues Committee (GSIC).

PHOTO: Jerusha Gerstner

Left to Right: Rochelle Fisher, Jerusha Gerstner and Kristen Smith

Bo Bashkov, psychological sciences alum and a first-year doctoral student, received runner-up for The Best Paper Award by a graduate student for his paper titled “Is psychological entitlement really stable over time? An empirical investigation”, co-authored by his advisor Sara Finney. Bo was also selected to be the co-editor of The NERA Researcher, which is the official quarterly newsletter of the Northeastern Educational Research Association.

PHOTO: Bo Bashkov

Left to Right: Bo Bashkov and Jeff Kosovich

Several students offer their perspective of NERA:


Sarah Marrs, a second-year Psyc Sciences student, interacted with esteemed leaders in the field, bolstering her commitment to her future in educational research.

Upon my return from this year’s NERA conference, there is one word I can use to describe my overall experience: Amazing. The sessions, workshops, keynote speakers, and networking opportunities available at this conference are unlike any I have experienced at other conferences. NERA is a relatively small conference, which makes it ideal for graduate students to become more comfortable presenting their research to new audiences.

 NERA also affords students ample opportunities to meet prominent names in the field and to discuss internship and career prospects. A memorable part of the conference for me was being able to meet the current New York State Education Commissioner, Dr. John King. During his keynote address, I found myself completely awed by his words because his job and his goals for the future of education are so similar to my own career goals. Being able to meet him and a few people who work closely with him was not only exciting, it was quite motivating because I realized that my goals are actually achievable, not just “lofty”.

Overall, NERA is an excellent conference for both current and future researchers and practitioners. At NERA, one can gain information about the latest methods and research findings in educational research, attend free workshops  (such as the computerized standard-setting workshop I attended), and network with accomplished members of field, all while gaining resources and information to further their own career.

PHOTO: Sarah Marrs

Left to Right: Sarah Marrs, Commissioner Dr. John King, and Megan Rodgers

Kristen Smith, a first-year Psyc Sciences student, appreciated the free training sessions and the panels geared toward graduate students.

Attending NERA was a quantitative researcher’s dream come true. Where else can you network with leaders in the field of assessment and measurement, attend FREE workshops, listen to presentations by esteemed colleagues, and expand your knowledge of innovative statistical techniques in such an intimate, welcoming environment? NERA offers an abundance of opportunities to experience all of these things and many more.

Whether you are a first-year student just beginning your pedagogical journey or an established researcher in the field, NERA offers opportunities for everyone to develop scholastically and professionally. One such opportunity that I am grateful to have experienced was an outstanding session sponsored by the NERA Graduate Student Issues Committee about obtaining and maintaining a career in educational research. Attending this invited panel was one of the many highlights of my time at NERA. It was an incredibly enriching experience to hear about job opportunities and the nature of employment in the field from established professionals like Kristen Huff, Senior Fellow of the Regents Research Fund; Thanos Patelis, Vice President of analysis, strategy, and operations for the College Board’s Research and Development department; Cathy Wendler, Senior Strategic Advisor for ETS; and our very own Debbie Bandalos, Assessment and Measurement Ph.D. program director.

In addition to contributing to my professional development, networking skills, and the breadth of my knowledge about statistical techniques, NERA also bolstered my appreciation of our program here at JMU. I left NERA more informed about current research being conducted in our field, more excited to further develop my own research ideas and more thankful to count myself as a member of this program. I am grateful for all of the invaluable experiences NERA provided me and I look forward to attending several more NERA conferences in the future.

PHOTO: Kristen Smith

Left to Right: Rochelle Fisher, Kristen Smith, and Jason Kopp

John Sessoms, a second-year Psyc Sciences student, took advantage of networking and learning about career opportunities while at NERA.

NERA is awesome. I greatly enjoyed my time at the NERA conference for several reasons, but two in particular stand out. First, I spent a lot of time networking by talking with JMU graduates and leaders in the field. They provided valuable insight into the various aspects of jobs that I am considering (e.g., the different responsibilities or skill sets needed). Because I hope to eventually work at a testing company, I talked to people from different testing companies to better understand how to prepare myself.

Second, I attended a panel consisting of leaders in the field answering job-related questions. It was extremely beneficial listening to these accomplished professionals discussing what they looked for in job candidates and the various obstacles we would face as new professionals. I feel like I have a much better idea of what to expect after graduate school. In sum, NERA helped me to develop personally and professionally, and I highly recommend that other students attend this conference as well.

PHOTO: John Sessoms

Left to Right: John Sessoms, Wendy Young, and Alan Socha

The Psychological Sciences students, Assessment & Measurement students, and faculty thank Dr. Donna Sundre, Director of the Center for Assessment & Research Studies, for helping to support our travels to NERA. 
PHOTO: Bus