Dr. Drew Gitomer Gathers No Moss As He Rolls Through His First 4 Years of Service As the GSE’s Rose and Nicholas DeMarzo Chair in Education
Drew Gitomer, long considered one of the nation's premier scholars on the assessment and evaluation of teaching with a stellar record of research on teacher quality and the assessment of learning, has lived up to his reputation as a leader and change agent for the Rutgers Graduate School of Education (GSE) since he was invested as the Rose and Nicholas DeMarzo Chair in Education in the fall of 2011. In just under four years Gitomer has implemented a plan of research, teaching, and professional leadership that has already made a lasting impact on scholarship at the GSE and contributed to the dialogue on teacher evaluation research and practice across the country.
Gitomer is the principal investigator of several grants with total awards reaching over $4 million. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the goal of the Classroom Artifacts as Indicators of Quality in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education project is to design a scalable prototype system to measure the nation's progress in STEM education through the examination of classroom assignments and assessments. The project aims to determine if a survey of classroom artifacts can provide insight into the extent to which students are asked to demonstrate understanding, skills, and practices that are aligned with the Common Core State Standards in mathematics and the Next Generation Science Standards.
The NSF project, Assessing, Validating, and Developing Content Knowledge for Teaching Energy, attempts to further our understanding of how teachers understand subject matter content in order to teach students effectively. Working within the domain of energy in introductory physics, the research project hypothesizes that teachers need to not only understand the physics of energy but also need to understand it in ways that can support student learning. For example, what are the particular concepts with which students have difficulty; what would be a good question to push student thinking; what would be an effective explanation for students being introduced to a particular energy concept?
In a multi-institutional collaboration (Seattle Pacific University, Facet Innovations, Educational Testing Service, and Horizon Research), the project has developed a theoretical framework for content knowledge for teaching in energy, developed and field tested an assessment of content knowledge for teaching energy, is studying how a sample of physics teachers enacts this knowledge in classroom practice via classroom observations and coding of instructional artifacts such as assessments and assignments, and is assessing the extent to which students learn the content of energy in physics. The research team, which includes Rutgers colleagues Eugenia Etkina, Candice Dias, and Rob Zisk, will then explore the relationships between performance on the content knowledge for teaching assessment with these teaching and student learning measures.
“Teaching evaluation has the potential to support effective teaching because when we evaluate something we make a clear statement about what matters. We have to be very clear about what those characteristics are: observations, classroom practice of teachers and students, assignments, kinds of knowledge—content and application,” said Gitomer. “As we get better measures we have a better chance to have a conversation and improve and to create learning opportunities for teachers so they can improve their practice on things that really make a difference in the classroom. Of course, teacher evaluation can also be done in ways that, unfortunately, are counterproductive so it is important for policies and practices to support and motivate individuals and institutions to improve teaching and learning.”
Gitomer also currently serves as co-editor of a new edition of the prestigious AERA Handbook of Research on Teaching—an essential resource for scholars who study teaching and learning—is the program director of the GSE’s Ph.D. program, and teaches the following graduate-level courses throughout the academic year: Evaluating Teaching, Validity and Assessment, Educational Research Methodology, and Cognition & Instruction.
In 2012 Gitomer began the DeMarzo Lecture Series on Teaching Excellence. This annual address features outstanding scholars such as Pam Grossman, Sean Reardon, and Gloria Ladson-Billings, who speak about issues on teaching in their research and initiatives. Videos of all of the lectures are viewable on the GSE’s YouTube channel.
Gitomer also works with the GSE’s Student Affairs Committee (GSAC)—of which he is a faculty advisor—to sponsor weekly brown bag lectures and other student-experience centered events and activities. The GSE Brown Bag Series is an informal forum for the sharing of research in all areas of education that occurs almost every Wednesday during the fall and spring semesters. Presenters include faculty and students from Rutgers University as well as guest scholars from other U.S. and international institutions. Some of the lectures are live-streamed on the GSE’s YouTube channel—all filmed sessions are also archived on the GSE’s YouTube channel for playback.
Gitomer has served as distinguished researcher and director of the Understanding Teaching Quality Center, as well as senior vice president for Research and Development, both at Educational Testing Service in Princeton, NJ. He has written and edited numerous highly regarded publications.