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Intellect

BYU education professor gets $25,000 grant, access to major Gates-funded database

A faculty member in the David O. McKay School of Education at Brigham Young University recently received a $25,000 research grant from the National Academy of Education and access to the Measures of Effective Teaching Longitudinal Database.

The grant will fund assistant professor Bryant Jensen’s research on cultural dimensions of classroom interactions. He and his team of student researchers will have access to the expansive database for one year, starting this month.

The MET project, sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was a research partnership between 3,000 teacher volunteers in seven school districts and dozens of independent research teams. The data, including thousands of hours of classroom video, were collected during two school years beginning in fall 2009.

“It is a large, intimidating database that has only been accessed by a few people, and this is the first time they are opening it up to external researchers,” said Jensen. “They have videos of classrooms (including 360-degree cameras), school records (including standardized achievement tests) and surveys from students, teachers and administrators.”

The hypothesis that Jensen and his team will research will be how to measure cultural dynamics in classroom settings using an observational scoring system.

We have an elaborate model we have proposed, and we think that we can actually score these things,” said Jensen. “For example, some cultural groups do better in competitive classes than minority groups. We want to test that. We have 11 dimensions in our model that we want to score. Competition is one of them.”

The research collection is stored at the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. The database provides resources for researchers to work on issues related to the MET study’s focus on designing fairer, more powerful and more reliable methods for measuring teacher effectiveness.

Jensen joined the McKay School staff in 2012 as an assistant professor in the Teacher Education Department, teaching the multi-cultural education course in the Department of Elementary Education. He will also teach a research course in BYU’s Educational Inquiry, Measurement and Evaluation doctoral program in the fall.

He graduated from Arizona State University, with a master’s degree and a doctorate in educational psychology. Prior to joining the McKay School, he taught in the Master of Arts in Teaching Program at Bard College—a liberal arts college in New York. Additionally, he has worked at the University of Oregon as a post-doctorate research fellow.

To learn more about the MET Longitudinal Database, visit icpsr.umich.edu/METLDB. For more information, contact Bryant Jensen at 801-422-3241.

Writer: Preston Wittwer

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