ABOUT ME


I received my B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles. While serving as an academic counselor through the UCLA Early Academic Outreach Program, I developed an interest in working with young adults. This experience motivated me to continue to impact young adults by becoming a public high school teacher after graduating with my MAT at the University of California, Irvine. I developed the economics program at Beckman High School, where I taught AP Microeconomics for several years.
My experience as an educator allowed me to work with a diverse group of students. In doing so, I saw the challenges that the education system faces in educating all students equally. This motivated me to seek to better understand the problems in our education system and how to evaluate effective, evidence-based solutions. Prior to beginning my Ph.D., I received my Master’s in Public Policy from UCI. My capstone project revolved around the impact of University Bridge Programs on college success for low-income, first-generation students.

As a Ph.D. student, I spent my time working on a number of diverse research projects that focus on improving the college experience and learning outcomes for students, using both quasi-experimental and experimental designs. My dissertation, funded by a Spencer Dissertation Fellowship, was an evaluation of a two-year learning communities program for incoming Biological Sciences majors and its impact on both academic and non-academic outcomes.

PUBLICATIONS


Looking Beyond Academic Performance:

The Influence of Instructor Gender on Student Motivation in STEM Fields

Recruiting more female faculty has been suggested as a policy option for addressing gender disparities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields given its ability to engage female students through a role model effect. While a small but growing body of literature has examined the role of instructor gender at the higher education level, it typically focuses only on academic outcomes. This paper utilizes a unique data set that includes not only information about student course performance in STEM but also a number of motivation-related measures. We find that having a female instructor narrows the gender gap in terms of engagement and interest; further, both female and male students tend to respond to instructor gender. We conclude by discussing the policy implications of these findings.
Link to Journal

EASEing Students Into College:

The Impact of Multidimensional Support for Underprepared Students

Extensive theoretical literature and qualitative evidence nominate learning communities as a promising strategy to improve persistence and success among at-risk populations, such as students who are academically underprepared for college-level coursework. Yet rigorous quantitative evidence on the impacts of these programs is limited. This paper estimates the causal effects of a first-year STEM learning communities program on both cognitive and noncognitive outcomes at a large public 4-year institution. We use a regression discontinuity design based on the fact that students are assigned to the program if their math SAT score is below a threshold. Our results indicate that program participation increased the academic performance and sense of belonging for students around the cutoff. These results provide compelling evidence that learning communities can support at-risk populations when implemented with a high level of fidelity.
Link to Journal
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Tenure-Track Appointment for Teaching-Oriented Faculty? The Impact of Teaching and Research Faculty on Student Outcomes

This article presents new quasi-experimental evidence regarding the effectiveness of teaching-oriented faculty with tenure-track appointment, a model pioneered at the University of California (UC) system. Using data from six cohorts of students at a UC campus, we examine the impact of initial course-taking with three distinct types of instructors—tenure-track research faculty, tenure-track teaching faculty, and contingent lecturers—on students’ current and subsequent academic outcomes. Descriptive analyses indicate that tenure-track teaching faculty assume a substantially larger teaching load than either research faculty or lecturers. Using a three-way fixed effects model, we find limited evidence supporting differences by faculty type on either current or downstream student outcomes.
Link to Journal
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Examining the Relationship Between 2-year College Entry and Baccalaureate Aspirants’ Academic and Labor Market Outcomes: Impacts, Heterogeneity, and Mechanisms

Using the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002), this paper analyzes students’ baccalaureate attainment and early labor market performance, comparing 2-year college and 4-year institution entrants and exploring the potential heterogeneous treatment effects of initiating one’s college experience in a 2-year college by individual pre-college academic preparation. Utilizing propensity score matching on a rich set of student demographic characteristics, academic and high school attributes, we find that 2-year college entry sharply reduces baccalaureate aspirants’ likelihood of earning a baccalaureate, and such negative effects are particularly pronounced for students in the highest quartile of pre-college math ability. In terms of labor market outcomes, female 2-year college entrants are less likely to gain full-time employment, as compared to their female 4-year institution counterparts. We also examine various mechanisms that may hinder 2-year college entrants’ baccalaureate completion, including the impact of 2-year college attendance on early academic progress, challenges of the transfer process, loss of credits at the point of transfer, and post-transfer academic shock. Our results provide suggestive evidence in support of all four mechanisms.
Link to Journal

RESEARCH


Broadly speaking, my research focuses on issues and topics that revolve around higher education policy. Specifically, my work centers on improving STEM education and teacher effectiveness in addition to providing a basis for implementing and evaluating educational interventions. As a Ph.D. student, I have worked on a number of diverse research projects that focus on improving the college experience and learning outcomes for students using both quasi-experimental and experimental designs. My work aims to inform higher education administrators and practitioners with research that can help students cross the finish line.

WORKING PAPERS

The impact of a STEM learning community: Does it work and which students benefit the most?
Over the past few decades, there has been a nationwide push to improve performance and persistence outcomes for STEM undergraduates. As part of this effort, recent research has emphasized the need to focus not only on improving the delivery of course content, but also on addressing the social-psychological needs of students. One multifaceted intervention that has been proposed as a way to address both cognitive and social-psychological aspects of the learning process is learning communities. In this study, we examine the impact of a learning community for first-year biological sciences majors, the Enhanced Academic Success Experience (EASE) program. Incoming freshmen are assigned to the EASE program based on their SAT Math score, a metric demonstrated to be a key predictor of student success in the program. We find that enrollment in the EASE program is correlated with higher STEM course grades, an increase of 0.25 (on a 0-4 point scale) in cumulative first-year GPA, and gains in non-academic outcomes, such as measures of sense of belonging and academic integration. Further, these outcomes are more pronounced for particular subgroup populations. For example, whereas surveyed male students seemed to benefit academically from participating in a learning community, female students reported a greater sense of belonging in regard to the biological sciences major and reported higher values for behavioral indicators of academic integration. In light of these findings, we discuss the potential of discipline-specific learning communities programs to improve academic outcomes for students most at-risk of leaving STEM majors, such as students underprepared for college level coursework.
Charting college success: A meta-analytic study of motivation interventions
Over the past decade, interventions grounded in theoretical frameworks concerning student motivation (i.e., “motivation interventions”) have been implemented at a rapid pace on college campuses in an effort to address low undergraduate persistence rates. The scope and diversity of these interventions suggests the value of a systematic synthesis. The current meta-analysis investigates the extent to which motivation interventions improve the academic performance of college students. We identified 39 intervention studies that used random assignment, manipulated an intrapersonal competency (as identified in a recent National Research Council report), and measured an academic performance outcome. Overall, we found that interventions were modestly effective, resulting in an average effect size of .18 (95% CI [.11 to .25]), but were particularly effective when targeting specific student groups, such as under-represented ethnic or racial minority groups (URM). These efforts inform implications for policymakers and practitioners in higher education, which are discussed in the conclusion.
College Acceleration for All? Mapping Racial Gaps in Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment Participation
This paper documents the patterns of white-black and white-Hispanic enrollment gaps in Advancement Placement and Dual Enrollment programs across thousands of school districts in the U.S. by merging several data sources. We show that the vast majority of districts have racial enrollment gaps in both programs, with wider gaps in AP than DE. Results from fractional regression models indicate that geographic variations in these gaps can be explained by both local and state factors. We also find that district-level resources and state policies that provide greater access to AP and DE are also associated with wider racial enrollment gaps, implying that greater resources may engender racial disparity without adequate efforts to provide equitable access and support for minority students.

SELECTED PRESENTATIONS


Do Learning Communities Work in STEM Education?

Do Learning Communities Work in STEM Education: Evaluating the Impact of the Enhanced Academic Success Experience Initiative (EASE) on Student Success
UC Santa Barbara, Gevirtz Graduate School of Education
ExpandED: Broadening the Understanding of Today's Educational Issues lecture series
April 4, 2018

Transferring from a Community College or Initiating in a 4-year College Directly

Transferring from a Community College or Initiating in a Four-year College Directly:
Estimating the Impact on Student Academic & Labor Market Outcomes
CC2PhD: UCLA Community College Studies Conference
June 2018

TEACHING


University of California, Irvine

Teaching assistant and lab instructor for the following courses:

  • Research Design (Educ 10)
  • Statistics for Education Research (Educ 15)
  • Graduate Statistics (Educ 288A)
Beckman High School

Teacher for the following courses:

  • Advanced Placement Microeconomics
  • College-Preparatory Economics