NERA Pre and In-Conference Workshops
October 26-28, 2016
Propensity Score Analysis by Heather Harris and Jeanne Horst, and Jessica Jacovidis, James Madison University (Wednesday, October 26th, 8:30am-12:30pm)
This workshop will start with an introduction to the logic underlying propensity score analyses. An interactive session will follow where session participants will work with a data set to create propensity score matches using different matching methods in R (a free open-source statistical package). An optional introduction to R session (8:30 - 9:30 am) will be held prior to the workshop for those unfamiliar with working in the R environment.
Practical Applications of ECD in Assessment Development and Accountability by Kristen Huff, Curriculum Associates & Christy Schneider, NWEA (Wednesday, October 26th, 9:30am-12:30pm)
In this training session, you will learn the basics principles of ECD through real-life examples in assessment development and accountability models that employ student learning objectives (SLOs). Special emphasis will be given to how ECD can serve as a framework for validation arguments for both assessment design and SLOs. No prior experience in assessment development is required.
Using Mixed Methods to Tell the Whole Story by Felice D. Billups and Robert K. Gable, Johnson & Wales University (Wednesday, October 26th, 1:30-4:45 pm).
Mixed methods research projects provide researchers with the ‘truth’ generated from two very different perspectives: quantitative statistical analysis and qualitative narrative text. But the benefits of conducting mixed methods research is greater than the sum of its parts – the integration of the quantitative and qualitative paradigms yields a story that is both compelling and substantive. The current interest in mixed methods research is well deserved, as the value of this approach allows researchers to add depth, breadth, and new insights that a single paradigm approach would not provide. But for many new and veteran researchers, the question is how to begin when designing a mixed methods study? And how do you know whether your study appropriately matches the mixed methods approach? How do you know when to ‘mix’ and how do you report the findings? The tremendous interest in mixed methods applications has also generated tremendous confusion about how to design this type of study.
This workshop will focus on the myriad current definitions of mixed methods designs, the ways in which researchers can ‘mix’ their methods in a single study, including suggestions for data collection, data analysis, and data interpretation strategies. Designed as an interactive session, the workshop will be divided into three parts:
1. An overview of mixed methods research, how to design a mixed methods study, and examples of different types of mixed methods research designs
2. An example of an exemplary mixed methods study to illustrate how the combination of quantitative and qualitative methods creates a more meaningful – and holistic – story
3. Small work groups will convene where participants have the opportunity to share their own projects, either currently underway or in the planning stages, and work with workshop facilitators to develop their studies using the mixed methods approach.
Writing and Submitting a Journal Article in 12 Weeks! by Mary Grassetti, Framingham State University (Wednesday, October 26th, 1:30-4:45 pm)
In this workshop participants will examine the process of academic publishing. from getting started to responding to journal decisions. Topics include examining attitudes and beliefs about writing, planning for writing, finding and selecting an appropriate journal, and responding to an editor’s decision. Participants are asked to bring in a sample piece of writing (no matter what stage it is in) so that they may begin to examine the piece as a potential future journal article.
An Introduction to Data Visualization by Damian Betebenner, National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment (Thursday, October 27th, 8:30am-11:45am)
The proliferation of data, in general, and education related data, in particular, over the last decade has been dramatic. Researchers and analysts across varied organizations now possess vast amounts of education related data ranging from assessment scores to finance data to GIS data. Turning data into useful information requires a transformation turning the raw number into an intelligible “story”. One of the most important ways of accomplishing this transformation is through data visualization. Creating data visualizations capable of communicating the rich stories embedded within the data often requires customization that goes beyond what is available in most point and click statistical graphics applications. In this workshop participants will be gently introduced to various data visualization tools including the R software environment and the D3 javascript library to showcase tools capable of turning data into information.
Item-Writing and Survey Development Workshop by Elizabeth Pyburn and Deborah Bandalos, James Madison University (Friday, October 28th, 8:30am-11:30am)
This workshop is designed for anyone who develops or uses attitude, personality, opinion, or other affective scales and for those who want to know more about best practices in affective scale construction. In the first part of the workshop we will review the research on such topics as the impact of vaguely worded and of negatively worded items, the optimal length of a survey, how many scale points to include, whether scale points should be labeled or unlabeled, whether to include a neutral option, and how item order effects may impact responses. We also introduce and discuss theories of response processing, and how these can inform our understanding of the effects of these scale characteristics. For the second part of the workshop, we will provide hands-on practice in writing and revising items. We will use the joint expertise of the workshop instructors and participants to provide feedback to participants on items they are currently developing or revising. We encourage participants to bring with them items they are developing for use in this part of the workshop.

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