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Project Team: Engineering Education

Mitchell Nathan, PhD, BSEE, Co-Principal Investigator

Mitchell Nathan

Professor Mitchell Nathan (website link) studies the cognitive, embodied, and social processes involved in learning and teaching mathematics, science and engineering in classrooms and the laboratory, using analyses of discourse, survey and assessment instruments, and experimental design. Dr. Nathan examines teacher beliefs about student learning and the influences of the expert blind spot, where high content knowledge in teachers shapes their expectations of novices' conceptual development. Among students, Dr. Nathan examines their inventions of mathematical representations and strategies for reasoning about alebraic problem solving and pattern generalization.  In the social setting of the classroom, Dr. Nathn explores the role of discourse, collaborative understanding and socially mediated learning. Dr. Nathan has secured over $10M in external research funds and has over 50 peer reviewed publications in educational research and cognitive psychology, as well as over 80 scholarly presentations to US and international audiences. He is currently Chair of the Learning Sciences program and a founding officer of the International Society of the Learning Science (ISLS).

L. Allen Phelps, Co-Principal Investigator

Allen Phelps photoOver the past 25 years, Professor Phelps' research and teaching has focused on improving policy and practice in career and technical education, secondary special education, and major education initiatives connecting education and the economy. As Director of the Center on Education and Work (CEW) and a faculty member in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, his current work is examining: restructured high schools that include youth with disabilities, post-school outcome analyses, career-focused and community-linked charter high schools, and integrating performance accountability and educational improvement strategies. The CEW is committed to developing and disseminating evidence-based practice and policy for advancing learning and career development across connected contexts (i.e., school, work, college, community, and family settings). In his faculty role, he leads graduate courses and seminars on: foundations of higher, postsecondary and continuing education; high school redesign; and leadership in education-and-work systems and 2-year colleges.   

Amy Prevost, Project Assistant

Prevost has been a graduate student in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis for 2 years. As a student, Amy has worked with the Department of Engineering Professional Development under the direction of Dr. Philip O'Leary to help define an evaluation plan for the department that would enable a more accurate account for 'return on investment' with relationship to education outreach initiatives. In addition to being a student, she is the Scientific Courses Coordinator for a Madison-based non-profit engaged in continuing education and education outreach in the area of molecular biology and biotechnology. Prevost has earned bachelor's degrees in molecular biology and French and a master's degree in adult and continuing education. 

Amy Atwood, Project Assistant

As a PhD candidate in the Quantitative Methods program of the Department of Educational Psychology, Amy has received extensive training in statistical methods and research design.  This background is put to use through her contributions to the engineering education portion of the project.  Her own research has primarily focused on using simulated data to examine the performance of statistical methods, particularly those involving violation of test assumptions and preliminary tests of significance, in the interest of more clearly delineating appropriate use of the methods under examination. 

Benjamin Stein, Project Assistant

Ben SteinStein is a graduate student in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, where his work is in hyperspectral laser design.  Before returning to school, he worked as a math instructor at Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University and an electronics design engineer at ASML.  These experiences an engineer and educator lend themselves to his curricular analysis work for the education portion of the project.