Courtney Bell, WCER Director
On July 1, 2020, Courtney Bell took the helm as the new director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. Bell, selected to lead WCER after a national search, was formerly a principal research scientist with Educational Testing Service (ETS), the world’s largest private, nonprofit educational testing and assessment organization. Bell brings extensive experience in education research to her new role, with a focus on teaching quality and how to measure it.

School of Education Dean Diana Hess says, “Dr. Bell is an extraordinary educational leader and researcher. Her background as a high school teacher, a faculty member, a leader of complex and innovative research teams and projects, and principal researcher with ETS uniquely prepares her to be an excellent leader of WCER.”
International Society for Quantitative Ethnography launched the "QE COVID Data Challenge,” a seven-day data sprint coordinated by WCER’s David Williamson Shaffer and his Epistemic Analytics team. Nearly 100 data and research experts collaborated remotely from 16 countries.
In a new book, Beth Graue, director of the Center for Research on Early Childhood Education (CRECE), and co-author Dominic F. Gullo of Drexel University bring together scholars to describe how their disciplines have contributed to research and practice of early childhood education. With a focus on the field's roots, authors aim to better understand the evolution of early education at a time of great public interest, investment and development.  
Jerlando F. L. Jackson, director of Wisconsin's Equity & Inclusion Laboratory (Wei LAB), and colleagues collected data during a one-year intervention to teach geoscience faculty members about diversity, equity and inclusion. Researchers found evidence for the potential of using highly immersive mixed-reality simulations that combine artificial intelligence with human conversational intuition to teach faculty specific behaviors for making institutional progress.
In this study published in Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, Nafsaniath Fathema and Mohammad H Akanda explored the effects of instructors’ discipline and prior Canvas (Learning Management System) experience on their actual use of Canvas. Results revealed statistically significant differences in instructors’ use of Canvas by academic discipline and prior Canvas experience.

This study by Peter Goff and colleagues introduces a new approach to measure the effectiveness of teacher preparation programs (TPP) by examining to what extent TPPs produce employable teacher candidates. Findings show that attending a specific university’s TPP makes a difference for novice teacher applicants’ hiring outcomes. However, TPP competitiveness is inextricable from the geographic locale where it operates.

WCER’s Christine Pfund, UW–Madison colleague Janet Branchaw and UCLA ‘s Lourdes Guerrero co-edited a special mentoring issue of Journal of Understanding Interventions, which reports on methods for increasing diversity among students pursuing science careers. The issue is made up of seven papers --“reports from the field” – that includes these studies written by the editors:
This study by Jenna Rogers, Janet Branchaw and Christine Pfund analyzes data from 410 participants across 31 research mentor training implementations. Participants reported significant post-training gains in mentoring skills and overall quality of mentoring, regardless of training dosage and mentoring experience.
One of the roles of the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) is to serve as a hub for mentor and mentee training for biomedical researchers with the goal of diversifying the workforce. This paper, co-authored by Pfund, reports on a national Master Facilitator community of practice devising strategies applicable to a broad array of interventions.
In this working paper, WIDA’s Diep Nguyen argues that pedagogical competence must be viewed through the lenses of sociolinguistic and sociocultural responsiveness. The CLEAR (Culture, Language, Equity and Responsiveness) paradigm articulates and organizes a set of key understandings, educational commitments, habits and practices that undergird anti-bias, and culturally and linguistically responsive teaching. 
A team of researchers and designers from Field Day Lab, the Wisconsin Evaluation Collaborative, WID and the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center created side-by-side virtual reality and Tabletop learning experiences on IceCube’s polar research. Findings show both exhibits increased users’ perceived basic understanding and sparked curiosity.