UCR’s Graduate School of Education (GSOE) was recently awarded $885,834 as part of the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program that is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

The GSOE expects to use the funds, along with matching UCR funds, for eight doctoral fellowships for students who plan to study educational psychology and specialize in psychometrics. Psychometrics is a field of study that focuses on the science and techniques used for measuring attitudes, knowledge and academic skills and personality in education and technology. Psychometric tests performed in this field are often used to assess personality, motivation and aptitude. Research conducted in this field is critical to improving national educational outcomes.

Both Keith Widaman, associate dean of the GSOE and distinguished professor and associate professor of educational psychology Marsha Ing were the faculty that applied for this grant. Widaman earned his Ph.D in developmental psychology from Ohio State University in 1982 and has been the recipient of several grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study growth and development of adaptive behaviors in adolescents. Ing holds a Ph.D in quantitative research methods from the University of California, Los Angeles with her major interests lying in relating quantitative methods in STEM student outcomes.

Widaman told UCR Today that psychometrics experts are in demand at companies, research organizations and universities. “There are about three new job openings for each person receiving a Ph.D. in psychometrics, so many jobs go unfilled,” Widaman said. “This funding will help us attract the best and brightest students to this critical field.”

The GAANN program is part of the U.S. Department of Education’s student services program to provide fellowships to talented graduate students who have demonstrated financial need to fund the highest attainable degree in a field of study of national need. Grants awarded as part of this program can range from $100,000 to $750,000 in a fiscal year, and can last a maximum of three years. Both an annual performance and final performance report are expected to be submitted by grantees at the end of the grant period in order to assess the effectiveness of the GAANN program.

Funds received from the GAANN program for this year will add to the $4.4 million already received by the GSOE through the 2015 GAAN competition that provided graduate students with fellowships pertaining to Native American studies, botany and plant science, biological sciences, mechanical engineering and computer science.