The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

School of Education - Educational Research Methodology

Welcome from the Chair

Randy PenfieldHello, and welcome to the Department of Educational Research Methodology (ERM). Our department is a vibrant collection of faculty and students, all interested in the advancement and application of methodologies used in research, assessment, and evaluation contexts. With eight full-time faculty, over 50 graduate students, and approximately 30 graduate-level courses in methods-related topics offered on a regular basis, ERM graduate programs benefit from one of the largest concentrations of research methodology training in the nation. Our programs offer comprehensive training across a wide range of methodological approaches, including statistical modeling, psychometrics, program evaluation, educational measurement, item response theory, and assessment.

Members of the ERM faculty are leaders in the field of methodology, and are internationally recognized for their expertise in applied statistics, educational measurement, psychometrics, item response theory, assessment, and program evaluation. The ERM faculty is passionate about research, and also devoted to providing high quality instruction that integrates their expertise into the classroom learning experiences.

Students in ERM are talented and accomplished. They enter ERM with a wide range of professional interests and goals related to research methodology, and leave ERM with the training needed to become leaders in their respective professions. I am proud to say that our graduates are among the best trained in the nation, and are highly competitive on the job market.

We appreciate your interest in ERM and hope you will explore the educational opportunities available in ERM. If we can be of any assistance while you learn more about ERM, our programs, and our students, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Randy Penfield, Professor and Chair
Department of Educational Research Methodology

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Department Overview

The Department of Educational Research Methodology (ERM) is committed to advancing knowledge and practice within the fields of research methodology, assessment, measurement, program evaluation, and applied statistics. As a department, we focus on the methodologies used for three broad purposes: (a) answering research questions about teaching, learning, and other behavioral systems; (b) assessing knowledge, skills, abilities, and cognitive traits; and (c) evaluating educational and social programs. The methodologies used across these three purposes span a wide range of approaches, including descriptive and inferential statistics, contemporary statistical modeling, modern measurement and psychometric modeling techniques (including item response theory), case studies, and qualitative analyses.

ERM Degrees: We offer M.S. and Ph.D. degrees, as well as a joint M.S./Ph.D. program that enables students to finish the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees on an accelerated timeline. The M.S. degree provides applied training in research methodology, data analysis, assessment, measurement, and program evaluation. The Ph.D. program offers more in depth training with a stronger focus on conducting original research that advances the field of methodology.

ERM Careers: Individuals with graduate degrees in research methodology, educational measurement, program evaluation, and psychometrics are in extremely high demand across a range of private sector and nonprofit professional environments. Graduates of ERM programs are prepared to work as professionals in a variety of educational and social science settings: school districts, state departments of education, testing organizations, evaluation centers/organizations, research centers/organizations, and universities. Just a few of the positions associated with graduate training in ERM include: psychometrician, assessment specialist, research scientist, program evaluator, test developer, research methodologist, and educational measurement specialist. More information about careers stemming from graduate degrees in ERM can be found on the Careers page of this website.

ERM Training: The graduate programs in ERM offer training that is comprehensive and rigorous. Our curriculum provides high quality instruction in applied statistics, assessment, measurement, and program evaluation methodology, as well as opportunities for students to obtain hands-on experience through involvement on data analysis, research, and evaluation projects. One strength of ERM is its extensive course offerings in measurement and psychometric modeling, spanning courses in validity and validation, classical test theory, introductory item response theory, advanced item response theory, multidimensional item response theory, linking and equating, language testing, computer-based testing, and structural equation modeling. Descriptions and syllabi of all our course offerings can be found on the Courses page of this website.

ERM Practical Experience: A defining property of ERM training is the extensive opportunity for practical learning experiences offered through participation on data analysis contracts and grants, participation in research, and a wide range of internships, practicums, and field experiences pertaining to research methods, program evaluation, measurement, and assessment. More information about these opportunities can found on the Practical Experience page of this website. Our commitment to ensuring that every ERM student has an opportunity for practical learning experiences has led to the development of the Office of Assessment, Evaluation, and Research Services (OAERS), which is devoted to supporting and facilitating hands on, out-of-classroom learning experiences for ERM students. OAERS houses funded projects in program evaluation, measurement, and data analysis on which ERM students serve under the mentorship of ERM faculty, and also coordinates internship and practicum opportunities for ERM students.

ERM Students: Students in ERM come from a wide range of academic backgrounds, including education, psychology, mathematics, statistics, public policy, and economics. ERM students work closely with faculty and one another; a culture that maximizes both the student experience and success following graduation. Our student body is highly accomplished; many of our students participate in national and international conferences, collaborate with ERM faculty on research and evaluation projects, and are awarded highly competitive summer internships. Profiles of current ERM students that include information about their educational backgrounds and research interests can be found on the Current Students page of this website.

Spotlight on ERM Students, Faculty, & Alumni

ERM students, faculty, and alumni are often featured in the news, magazines, and other media resources. We feature some of these spotlights here.

January 15, 2015 Spotlight: ERM’s Nonprofit Evaluation Support Program (NESP) provides valuable help to community-based organizations while offering unique hands-on experiences to ERM students.

October 10, 2014 Spotlight: ERM is an international leader in educational measurement and psychometrics. Read more about ERM faculty research and expertise in these areas.

April 24, 2014 Spotlight: Dr. Holly Downs mentors students in Program Evaluation, and ERM’s Office of Assessment, Evaluation, and Research Services (OAERS) provides evaluation support to community partners through its new Nonprofit Evaluation Support Program.

March 1, 2014 Spotlight: ERM Alumnus Christine Meyer describes her experiences in her first full-time position as a program evaluator after graduating from ERM’s M.S. program.

November 4, 2013: Spotlight: ERM Alumnus Josh Goodman receives the 2013-2014 Early Career Award from the UNCG School of Education.

October 7, 2013 Spotlight: Dr. Holly Downs provides exception teaching and service in program evaluation.

September 30, 2013 Spotlight: Second year ERM student Shuying Sha describes her experiences in ERM.

Mission and Goals

The Department of Educational Research Methodology is committed to advancing knowledge and practice within the fields of research methodology, measurement sciences, program evaluation, and applied statistics. This commitment is manifested through the pursuit of excellence in four broad areas:

  • preparing professionals to have a positive impact at all levels of organizations with missions related to research methodology;
  • providing outstanding instruction and development opportunities (e.g., classroom experiences, participation in research) to students in our department’s educational programs and to students across UNCG;
  • engaging in scholarship and applied research that advances related fields; and
  • serving as a methodological resource for researchers at UNCG and beyond.

Contacting Us

We want to hear from you! If you have any questions about our programs, initiatives, students, or training, please let us know. All inquiries can be sent to Rachel Hill, ERM’s Administrative Associate, at:

In addition, our mailing address is:

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Department of Educational Research Methodology
School of Education Building, Rm. 254
1300 Spring Garden St.
Greensboro, NC 27402-6170

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