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#2020APPAM Know the Program Committee: Vivian Wong


The 2020 APPAM Fall Research Conference in November will be held under the auspices of the theme: Research across the Policy Lifecycle – Formulation, Implementation, Evaluation and Back Again (read our interview with APPAM President-Elect and Chair of the Program Committee, Dr. Sherry Glied of NYU on more about the theme). Since we're still few months away, APPAM wants to introduce you to members of the Program Committee. For the next few weeks, every Monday we'll give you a quick peek into one of the Chairs of the Program Committee with short but informative interviews. Last week we profiled Dr. Juan Pedroza, and the week prior, Dr. Haydar Kurban . 

Today, we're excited to introduce you to Dr. Vivian Wong, one of the three Co-Chairs of the Education Policy Area. Dr. Wong is an Associate Professor in Research, Statistics, and Evaluation in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia.


What’s it like being on the program committee?

Like being at the APPAM conference, it is fun and interesting to see a preview of the work that people are doing, the types of questions researchers are thinking about, and the innovative methods and data people are using to answer these questions. Perhaps because of our months of social isolation, I have also enjoyed connecting with program committee members. This year, our program committee members included both junior and senior members of the field, representing multiple domains of education research. It was great to see all of their thoughtful questions and comments about proposal abstracts.

Why did you join APPAM?

My research interests are at the intersection of education policy and research methods. I spend a lot of time thinking about developing innovative methods for evaluating education policies in field settings. In this way, APPAM has always been a natural home because the conference always includes great sessions and discussions in education policy and in research methods. I first joined APPAM as a graduate student, and was excited to have the opportunity to see researchers present who I have long-admired and read about their work. Now, APPAM provides a great opportunity to catch up with and see the work of colleagues and friends, and meet new junior colleagues in the field.

How did you choose your research area?

I chose my research area because one day Tom Cook asked me how we “know” which research designs and methodological approaches “work” in producing more valid causal estimates in field settings. Over the next several years, I worked with Tom’s research team thinking about empirical evaluations of method performance in education evaluation contexts, as well as in other areas of social science research. More recently, I and others have extended this work into thinking about how we “know” when results are replicable, and understanding why results may fail to replicate. Given that the overarching goal for many social scientists is to understand policies and programs that succeed in reducing inequality and improving educational outcomes, it is important that results informing evidence-based decision-making is both trustworthy and replicable to target populations of interest.

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