Professional Development


The University of Wisconsin–Madison houses strong graduate programs that consistently rank at or near the top of their fields. The Departments of Curriculum and Instruction (ranked #1), Educational Psychology (ranked #1), and Psychology (ranked #8) each offer high quality courses, which will be available to postdoctoral fellows. Fellows will confer with their committees to develop a plan for a series of courses geared toward enhancing knowledge of quantitative and qualitative methods in mathematics education and the learning sciences. Relevant courses include such courses in mathematics education, developmental and experimental psychology, quantitative research methods, and learning sciences as the following:

  • Seminar on Research Topics in Mathematics Education. A topical seminar offered every semester that provides students with an in-depth examination of research trends in mathematics education.

  • Introduction to the Learning Sciences. A two-semester course sequence offered each year that covers the historical and contemporary basis of the field of learning sciences and connects that to hands-on experiences with a variety of research methods used in the field.

  • Goals, Content, and Programs in Mathematics Education. A seminar that examines the research on teaching in mathematics education.

  • The Instruction of Mathematics. A seminar that offers an analysis of the current and historical learning theories influencing research and instruction in mathematics education.

  • Curricular Issues in Mathematics Education. A seminar that offers an analysis of research and evaluation of programs as they operate within the school environment.

  • Cognitive Development. A seminar that offers an introduction to several different frameworks for conceptualizing and studying cognitive development (primarily in childhood), including Piagetian, information-processing, nativist, core-knowledge, sociocultural, dynamic systems, and connectionist accounts.

  • The Development of Inductive Inference. An advanced seminar that covers both normative and descriptive theories of reasoning from data, with a focus on probabilistic judgments.

  • Culture, Cognition, and Development. A seminar that explores three influences on the development of cognition and thinking— culture (e.g., information we receive from others), nature (e.g., data on the physical world), and mind (e.g., innate structure)—and the roles these factors play in cross-cultural differences and similarities in cognition.

Fellows will also have access to courses in qualitative and quantitative methods. The quantitative methods area in the Department of Educational Psychology has a distinguished reputation of providing outstanding graduate training in two major specializations: statistics and measurement. Postdoctoral fellows will have the opportunity to take a wide range of rigorous courses in quantitative methods, including the following:

  • Design of Educational Experiments. A one-semester course that covers classical experimental designs and their application to education research, factorial treatment arrangements, confounding, repeated measures design, and other related topics.

  • Regression Models in Education. A one-semester course that introduces students to the foundations of regression analysis, logistic regression, and path analysis, as well as the open-source R computing environment.

  • Multivariate Analysis. An advanced statistics course devoted to multivariate distribution theory and analysis; multivariate analysis of variance, discriminant analysis, canonical correlation, and so forth.

  • Test Theory I and II. A two-semester sequence that addresses the theory and principles of test development and validation, including theories underlying validity, scoring procedures, prediction, and classification.

  • Hierarchical Linear Modeling. A one-semester course that addresses hierarchical linear modeling, including random intercept and random slope and intercept models; models for longitudinal data; and multilevel generalized linear models.

  • Structural Equation Modeling. A one-semester course addressing the specification and estimation of models for mediating processes and covering factor analysis, path analysis, and conventional SEM, as well as new developments in structural equation models for longitudinal and multilevel data.

In addition to quantitative methods training, fellows will have the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of classroom-based research and qualitative analysis methods through a variety of courses focused on education research, including the following:

  • Research Methods in Mathematics and Science Education. A seminar that provides overviews and in-depth analysis of the major qualitative methodological approaches in mathematics education research.

  • Research and Evaluation Paradigms in Curriculum and Instruction. A seminar that offers an analysis of differing orientations to evaluation and research, including an examination of the relationship of research orientation to methods of inquiry, theory, and practice.

  • Design of Research in Curriculum and Instruction. A seminar that offers a survey of the empirical foundations of research.

  • Introduction to Qualitative Research. A course that provides an overview of qualitative inquiry, examination of assumptions, standards, and methods for generating and communicating interpretations. Methodological and theoretical works illustrate case study, ethnography, narrative, and action research.

  • Field Studies and Ethnographic Methods. A two-course sequence that examines theories and techniques in the process and nature of instruction, studies of social interaction, language patterns in the classroom, and methods of data collection, analysis, and writing.

  • Protocol Analysis: Working with Verbal and Video Data. A seminar that introduces data analysis methods to examine educationally relevant phenomena as they occur in temporally ordered data, such as think-aloud and retrospective reports, interviews, conversation analysis, gesture analysis, classroom discourse, collaborative problem solving, and on-line learning.

Academic Community Participation

The postdoctoral fellows in our program will have the opportunity to further broaden their training experiences through participating in colloquia, lecture series, and other training opportunities offered primarily through the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER). WCER is a world-class research center providing a productive environment where leading scholars conduct basic and applied education research. WCER is home to nearly 60 research projects, employing some 350 faculty, staff, and graduate students. The colloquia and lecture series sponsored by WCER provide a number of opportunities for post-doctoral fellows:

  • Learning Sciences Brown Bag. This weekly brown bag series, held in conjunction with the Learning Sciences graduate program, addresses contemporary research issues and professional development and is intended for those interested in careers in research in the Learning Sciences.

  • Human, Animal, and Machine Learning: Experiments and Theory. A weekly brownbag in which faculty present research and tutorials generally relating to formal methods for the study and modeling of human inference.

  • WCER Learning Sciences Colloquium Series. These public colloquia, occurring 2–4 times per year, showcase prominent national and international speakers as well as regular and affiliated faculty from the Learning Sciences program area in the UW Educational Psychology Department.

  • WCER Visiting Minority Scholar Series. These public colloquia, typically occurring 4 times per year, showcase the work of minority scholars.

  • The Wisconsin Doctoral Research Program Lecture Series. These lectures, occurring 2–4 times per year, address professional development topics for advanced graduate students committed to careers in education research.

Postdoctoral fellows will also have the opportunity to participate in a number of other enrichment and training opportunities, including the following:

  • Grant-Writing Opportunities. Senior personnel will provide occasional opportunities to participate in collaborative efforts in writing grants.

  • Teacher Professional Development Opportunities. Postdoctoral fellows will periodically have the opportunity to assist with ongoing teacher professional development opportunities offered by senior personnel.

  • Hands-on Training in Video Analysis. Training with Transana is offered periodically throughout each academic year by the software developer.

  • Hands-on Training in Qualitative Analysis Software. Training in NVivo is offered periodically throughout each academic year.

  • General information technology training. DoIT (the campus Division of Information Technology) frequently offers free brown bags as well as fee-based mini-courses on popular software packages for working with spreadsheets and data bases, computer graphics, video, course management, document processing and web site design and programming.

Capstone Grant Writing Project

As a capstone experience, each fellow will develop, as an exercise, a research proposal for submission to his or her mentoring committee. The proposal will include all of the essential components of an IES grant proposal, including a summary, project description, budget and justification, proposed advisory board, bibliography, and statement of work. The committee will provide each fellow with feedback on the grant proposal as part of the formal evaluation process.