UCR’s Graduate School of Education Receives Federal Grant to Prepare Students in Psychometrics

U.S. Department of Education GAANN award will support students as they become experts in improving the U.S. education system

An image of Keith Widaman, a distinguished professor and associate dean (left) and Marsha Ing, an associate professor of educational psychology in UCR’s Graduate School of Education.

Graduate School of Education faculty Keith Widaman, a distinguished professor and associate dean (left) and Marsha Ing, an associate professor of educational psychology.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — The Graduate School of Education (GSOE) at the University of California, Riverside has been awarded $885,834 from the U.S. Department of Education’s Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program. The grant, together with matching funds from UC Riverside, will support eight doctoral fellowships in educational psychology.

The grant will fund students specializing in psychometrics, a field of study concerned with the science and techniques for measurement in psychology and education, including measures of attitudes, academic skills and knowledge, personality traits, and educational achievement. Psychometrics is a critical component of national efforts to improve educational outcomes.

GAANN fellowships, which last for up to three years, support outstanding students who qualify for financial assistance and are pursuing terminal degrees—typically the Ph.D.—in areas of national need. Keith Widaman, a distinguished professor and associate dean in the Graduate School of Education, applied for the funding with Marsha Ing, an associate professor of educational psychology.

Widaman said that, while psychometrics experts are in demand at companies, research organizations, and colleges and universities, there aren’t enough qualified graduates to fill the available positions.

“There are about three new job openings for each person receiving a Ph.D. in psychometrics, so many jobs go unfilled,” Widaman said. “This funding will help us attract the best and brightest students to this critical field.”

Widaman said the program is a good fit for students with prior training in mathematics and statistics, but an extensive background is not required. The GSOE places a strong emphasis on enrolling highly qualified, underrepresented students.

The GAANN award to the Graduate School of Education adds to $4.4 million already awarded to UCR during the 2015 GAANN competition. Those funds are supporting students in Native American studies, botany and plant science, biological science, mechanical engineering, and computer science. The GSOE funds bring UCR’s GAANN total to more than $5.3 million.

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