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Evaluation, Statistics & Measurement

The PhD program in Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement (ESM) has been carefully designed to provide students with an integrated, sequenced, and experientially-based doctoral program leading to a meaningful professional career.

The overall focus of the program is to provide students with the requisite skills and experiences essential for three types of professional careers:

  1. as an evaluation, applied statistics, and assessment or measurement faculty member in higher education settings,
  2. as an external evaluator employed by an evaluation group or organization providing external evaluation services, or
  3. as an internal evaluator or in-house ESM consultant serving the needs of the organization in which they are employed.

Located within the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling, the ESM program integrates evaluation, statistics, and measurement theory, content knowledge, technical skills, and highly relevant and meaningful field experiences to enable graduates to function as esteemed professionals, productive scholars, and leaders in their sub-fields of interest.

About the PhD Program

ESM Program Brochure

Intended Audience

The ESM program is intended for students with education, social science, applied statistics, and/or related academic backgrounds seeking employment within the growing fields of applied evaluation, assessment, and statistics. These fields have grown substantially in response to the needs of the federal and state governments, non-profit organizations and foundations, and private sector entities to demonstrate and continually improve the effectiveness of their programs and services. The ESM doctoral program is based squarely upon the needs of students seeking to enter ESM fields, expand opportunities within their current professional situation, or prepare for an academic career and engage in research.

Program Features

There are several unique features of the ESM program:

  • Focused Competency Development:  All students are exposed to a solid academic core of specific knowledge, skills and professional dispositions in the form of foundational ESM theory, concepts, and applied competencies.
  • Theory to Practice Course-Based Field Experiences: Each student is required to engage in multiple hands-on fields experiences linked to specific ESM courses content, enabling the students to personally experience the application of theory to real-world practical problems.
  • Theory to Practice Internships Targeted to Student Interests: Students are required to fulfill two evaluation internships in organizations settings (university,  community-based, or other settings) in an area of professional or career interests.
  • Highly Experienced & Engaged Faculty: The ESM faculty are highly experienced and productive scholars with a mix of expertise and experience in research, evaluation, assessment, and applied statistics. The current three faculty members have many decades of combined experience directly relevant to the ESM program. All ESM faculty are also actively engaged in major professional associations (e.g., American Evaluation Association, Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association).
  • Regular Access to One-on-One Faculty Support & Guidance: Advanced ESM courses, focusing on the application of knowledge and skills, have a small class size which provide students with ideal learning opportunities for targeted group and one-on-one instruction.

Program Goals for Students

Upon completion of the ESM doctoral program, students will have gained: a) knowledge of foundational evaluation, applied research methodology, and measurement concepts, theories, and applications; b) competency with research designs that include and integrate experimental, quasi-experimental, qualitative, and mixed-method approaches; c) extensive hands-on field experience in the application of evaluation, research, and methodologies to contemporary educational and social problems; and d) experiences in applying evaluation, quantitative and qualitative methodology, and measurement skills and competencies in diverse social and organizational settings.

Career Opportunities

Recent program graduates have found various professional opportunities upon graduation. Currently, alumni of the program are employed as higher education faculty members, senior administrators in a variety of organizational settings, and program evaluators. Some have even continued on to postdoctoral program evaluator opportunities.

Application Requirements

January 1 is the priority deadline for fall. Applicants may still apply through April 1 with the understanding that funding will be highly unlikely and space may be limited.

Applicants are required to have earned at least a bachelor’s degree.

Financial Aid Information

Includes EPC GA Application form, departmental fellowships/scholarships, and links

Leia Cain

Leia K. Cain
Assistant Professor

Jennifer Ann MorrowJennifer Ann Morrow
Associate Professor

Louis RocconiLouis Rocconi
Associate Professor

Gary SkolitsGary Skolits
Associate Professor

Current Students & Alumni

Brenna Berry, ESM student

Brenna Berry

Brenna has a BS in psychology from Penn State University. Her primary research interests include assessing the validity and reliability of measurements, STEM education assessment, and cognitive science. Brenna is currently a graduate research assistant for Jennifer Ann Morrow, associate professor.

Austin Boyd

Austin Boyd

Austin completed his BA in psychology with a minor in biology from the University of Virginia. For the past four years he has worked part time as a substitute teacher in elementary schools, and over the last two years he spent his summers as an intern in the Prince William County Schools program evaluation department. His interests are in psychometric analyses and their use to improve standardized assessments, and more recently how network analyses can be used to improve organizational communication and effectiveness. Austin currently works as a graduate research assistant under Louis Rocconi, assistant professor.

Nikki Christen

Nikki Christen

Nikki has a master’s degree in information science from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a concentration in criminal justice from Tennessee Tech University. Her research interests include higher education assessment and psychometrics. Nikki is currently the assessment coordinator for the College of Education at Tennessee Tech University.

Nicole Jones

Nicole Jones

Nicole has a master’s degree in college student affairs administration and a bachelor’s degree in psychology, both from the University of Georgia. Her primary research interests include psychometrics and higher education assessment. Nicole currently works as a transition coach in the Office of First-Year Studies at the University of Tennessee.

Kevin Kidder, ESM student

Kevin Kidder

Kevin has a BS in psychology from Middle Tennessee State University and is a program manager at Texas A&M’s College of Medicine. He brings extensive knowledge and experience in program evaluation, with a specialization in mixed methods analyses and a strong statistical background. His skillset also includes creating and analyzing surveys, communication of evaluation findings with stakeholders, creating and performing needs assessments, conducting focus group interviews, and managing project timelines. Other research areas are focused on LGBTQ issues in higher education.

Rachel Ladd, ESM student

Rachel Ladd

Rachel graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2013 with a BA in psychology and returned to pursue a PhD in 2016. She has several years of professional program evaluation experience and enjoys working with community-based organizations, particularly those that focus on youth or mental health concerns. Her primary research interests include best practices in evaluation, cultural competency in evaluation, processes of identity development in youth, suicidology, and disparities related to mental health or educational attainment. She is currently a Graduate Research Assistant in the Office of Research Support.

Sarah Nadel, ESM

Sarah Nadel

Sarah has a master’s degree in quantitative research, evaluation, and measurement from The Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Northern Kentucky University. Her primary research interests include self-efficacy, motivation, and retention in higher education and within organizational settings. Sarah currently works as a survey researcher for the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR).

Jessica Osborne, ESM student

Jessica D. Osborne

Jessica is the associate director at the Student Success Center at UT and also a current student in the ESM program. She has a BA in English and an MFA in creative writing. Originally from Kingsport, TN, Jessica now lives in Knoxville with her husband and daughter.

Noelia Pacheco, ESM student

Noelia Pacheco

Noelia has a BA in English from Universidad de Santiago de Chile and a MA in Spanish literature and linguistics from Ohio University. Her main research interests are related to adult and higher education and particularly related to the question how systematic evaluation of educational programs can increase their effectiveness and their quality. She is currently working as a Graduate Research Assistant for Gary Skolits, associate professor.

Richard Parlier, ESM student

Richard Parlier

Richard earned his MS in professional counseling from Georgia State University and a BS in biology/cell biology at the University of Georgia. He currently works as a GRA for EPC. His current research interests include management, assessment, and sustainability of non-profits and organizational settings.

Christina Peterson, ESM student

Christina Peterson

Christina is passionate about promoting sensible nutrition, inclusive communities, and economic diversity through food system program and policy evaluation. She has a MS in nutrition and a BA in economics. Prior to starting her PhD, she worked for a wellness professional development non-profit conducting needs assessments, program evaluation and research on certification standards. She is currently working as a Graduate Research Assistant for the Office of Information Technology Research Computing Support group.

Anthony Schmidt

Anthony Schmidt

Anthony has a BA in anthropology from the University of South Florida and an MSEd in language education (with an emphasis in TESOL) from Indiana University-Bloomington. He is originally from Florida but has been in Knoxville since 2014. Before moving to Knoxville, Anthony lived in Busan, South Korea for about seven years. He moved to Knoxville to take a position at the University of Tennessee’s English Language Institute, where he is currently a teaching associate. He has international teaching experience in South Korea, Japan, and China. His research interests are related to higher education, especially international students in higher education.

Kasey Vatter

Kasey Vatter

Kasey completed her bachelor’s degree in history at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and master’s degree in instructional leadership from Tennessee State University. She currently works as the vice president at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Knoxville. In this role, she oversees institutional operations including Student Services, Financial Aid, Institutional Accreditation Compliance, and Finance/Human Resources under the direction of the president. Prior to being at TCAT, Kasey was a program coordinator at the UT Institute for Public Service where she coordinated and managed executive and leadership development programs for local and state government officials.

John Walker, ESM student

John Walker

John earned his BS in mathematics from Grand Valley State University and an MA in international education policy from the University of Sydney. He currently serves as the assessment coordinator for the Experience Learning Initiative in the Teaching and Learning Innovation Unit. His research interests are primarily focused on higher education assessment and experiential education. He is particularly interested in what makes institutional assessments effective in a faculty initiatives, and what information faculty use from student assessments and how they use it to shape their pedagogy.

Meredith York

Meredith York

Meredith has a master’s degree in college student personnel and a bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Tennessee. Her primary research interests are in program evaluation and sexual assault prevention programs. Meredith currently works as an evaluation specialist at the National Institute for STEM Evaluation and Research.

Patrick Barlow, ESM graduatePat Barlow, ’14

Patrick is an assistant professor at the Office of Consultation & Research in Medical Education (OCRME) at the University of Iowa. His primary research areas are in higher education assessment, specifically in graduate medical education (GME) settings as well as teaching statistics and research methods in the social sciences, epidemiology, and clinical medical fields.

Pamela Bishop, ESM graduatePamela Bishop, ’12

Pamela is currently the Evaluation Manager with the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, where she evaluates interdisciplinary science education and research programs. Bishop also conducts research on the collaboration practices and productivity of interdisciplinary teams of scientists.

Jason Black, ESM graduateJason Black, ’12

Jason is currently a Senior Administrator in the Accountability, Research, and Assessment Office for Orange County Public Schools. Some of his research interests include: alcohol and drug prevention research, programming, and the evaluation of prevention programs. Also, he is interested in teaching quantitative research methods and psychology of substance use.

Erin Burr, ESM graduateErin Burr, ’09

Erin currently serves as an Evaluation Specialist IV at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science Education (ORISE) working on program evaluations of math and science education programs that include K-12 students and teachers; university students and faculty; and PhD-level researchers.

Ann Cisney-Booth, ESM graduateAnn Cisney-Booth, ’15

Ann currently works as a Senior Administrator in the Program Evaluation Department for Orange County Public Schools located in Orlando, Florida. Her research interests include evaluation of domestic violence programs, community/non-profit organizations and K-12 programs.

Shannon Coutler, ESM graduateShannon Coulter, ’09

Shannon currently works at the San Diego County Office of Education as a coordinator in the assessment and accountability office. In terms of research, he investigates levels of program implementation and its relation to program outcomes and assessments for organizational effectiveness.

Brittany Daulton, ESM graduateBrittany Daulton, ’15

Brittany’s primary research interests include higher education assessment, The First-Year Experience, measurement theory, technical education, and sense of belonging in college students.

Joseph L. Donaldson, ESM graduateJoseph L. Donaldson, ’11

Joseph’s current projects include Co-Chairing a statewide strategic planning effort for UT Extension and researching the Extension Agent performance appraisal system.

Shelley Esquivel, ESM graduateShelly Esquivel, ’10

Shelly is the Director of Institutional Research at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN.

Terry Gibson, ESM student

Terry Gibson Jr., ’19

Terry has a BS in mathematics from Savannah State University, an MA in curriculum and instruction from Tennessee Tech University, and an MST in mathematics from Middle Tennessee State University. He is currently an assistant professor of mathematics at Pellissippi State Community College. His research interests are in survey research, which includes survey development and validation, statistics education and quantitative methodology and higher education assessment and evaluation.

Sam Held, ESM graduateSam Held, ’14

Sam s the lead evaluator at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. His research interests revolve around science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and the STEM workforce. He i

Jenny Holcombe, ESM graduateJenny Holcombe, ’12

Jenny is currently a faculty member in the School of Nursing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where she teaches undergraduate research and graduate research, statistics, evidence-based practice, and epidemiology. Her current research is focused on graduate school selection instruments including interviews and measures of judgment, factors related to long-term allergen immunotherapy adherence, and relationships between religion/spirituality and end-of-life decision-making.

Susanne Kaesbauer, ESM graduateSusanne Kaesbauer, ’12

Susanne is currently a Senior Research Associate at the Picker Institute in Oxford, England.

Paul Kirkland, ESM student

Paul Kirkland, ’19

Paul has a BS in mathematics from Tennessee Wesleyan College and an MM in mathematics from the University of Tennessee. His research interests include mathematics education, statistics education, educational assessment and measurement, and program evaluation. He is also interested in teaching statistics and research methodology. He is currently employed as a Mathematics Teacher for the Monroe County School System.

Wenshu Li, ESM graduateWenshu Li, ’16

Wenshu is currently an evaluation fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Her primary research interests include evaluation and assessment in Engineering Education in both K-12 and college setting.

Sondra LoRe, ESM student

Sondra LoRe, ’19

Sondra is a doctoral candidate in the Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement program. She works as an evaluator for the National Institute for STEM Evaluation and Research (NISER) and has over 20 years’ experience in K-12 STEM education and leadership. She received her BA in economics from the University of Massachusetts, MS in curriculum and instruction from the University of Tennessee and EdS in educational leadership form Lincoln Memorial University.

Sherry Marlow Ormsby, ESM graduateSherry Marlow Ormsby, ’17

Sherry currently works as the Director of Measurement and Evaluation in the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Institutional Research (OPEIR) at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Her research interests include higher education assessment, student engagement and completion.

Niranji Pathirage, ESM graduateNiranji A. Pathirage, ’15

Niranji currently works as the Teaching Assistant for Statistics in Applied Fields II course. Her primary research interests include statistics education, program evaluation, and educational assessment. She is also interested in teaching statistics and research methods.

Carol Price, ESM graduateCarol Price, ’10

Carol currently works with the Institute for Assessment and Evaluation at the University of Tennessee on a variety of evaluation projects and as an independent consultant providing research support for local professionals and nonprofit organizations. Her research interests remain focused on the value of nature pursued through the newly created nonprofit organization LuNA, offering local support for nature and animals.

Jennifer Richards, ESM graduateJennifer Richards, ’07

Jennifer currently directs Hands On: Real World Lessons for Middle School Classrooms, a multi-state food safety education research program housed in the Department of Food Science & Technology at UT. Her research interests include teacher professional development, interdisciplinary curriculum and instruction, and psychological constructs of behavior change.

Tiffany Smith, ESM GraduateTiffany Smith, ’14

Tiffany is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Stout where she teaches subjects such as research methodology and evaluation to both undergraduate and graduate students. Her primary research interests include stakeholder communication and involvement as well as reflective practice in evaluation.

Amy Sullins, ESM graduateAmy Sullins, ’10

Amy is an associate professor of Education at Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens, TN. She is also a member of the Athens City School Board.

Lakmal Walpitage, ESM graduateLakmal Walpitage, ’16

Lakmal currently works as a research analyst at the Division of Health Care Finance at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. His primary research interests include statistics education, evaluation of programs for international students, and large scale assessment.

Thelma Woodward, ESM graduateThelma Woodard, ’12

Thelma works as an associate director for Institutional Research, Planning, Assessment, and Effectiveness at Wiley College in Marshall, TX.

Updated 09/23/2020

Educational Psychology & Counseling Department
College of Education, Health & Human Sciences

535 Bailey Education Complex
1122 Volunteer Boulevard
Knoxville, TN 37996-3452
Phone: 865-974-8145 Fax: 865-974-0135