Hands-On Learning Experiences in ERM
A core component of graduate training provided by the Department of Educational Research Methodology (ERM) is a wide range of practical experiences obtained by working on real projects related to data analysis, program evaluation, measurement, and assessment. In order to maximize the practical, real-world learning experiences of our students, ERM created the Office of Assessment, Evaluation, and Research Services, or OAERS for short. OAERS is a division of ERM that is devoted to supporting and facilitating hands-on learning experiences of ERM students. The motto of OAERS is “Learning by doing.” OAERS has a goal of providing every ERM student with opportunity to gain practical experiences to support her/his learning experiences.
OAERS supports and facilitates the practical experiences of ERM students in two ways. First, OAERS serves as a structure to support funded grants and contracts on which ERM students participate under the mentorship of ERM faculty. OAERS provides the physical space, the computer resources, and the staff and administrative support for funded grants and contracts in the areas of data analysis, program evaluation, assessment, and measurement. All such projects brought through OAERS directly involve ERM students working on the project, thus serving as a rich training ground for ERM students.
A second way that OAERS supports and facilitates the practical learning experiences of ERM students is through the OAERS Internship Matching Program, which matches internship opportunities of professional organizations with ERM graduate students seeking practical experience in assessment, measurement, program evaluation, or data analysis. OAERS cultivates on-going relationships with a wide range of organizations having internship opportunities, and it is through these relationships that OAERS explores and identifies appropriate internship opportunities for ERM students. At the same time, OAERS monitors the internship needs of each ERM student, so that each ERM student can be optimally matched to the internship opportunity that best aligns with the student’s educational and professional goals. The OAERS Internship Matching Program has been met with fantastic success, and is rapidly expanding to include a wide range of professional organizations with national and international internship opportunities.