David Williamson Shaffer Awarded $2.5 million National Science Foundation EHR Core Research Grant

The National Science Foundation’s EHR Core Research program has awarded a $2.5 million grant to David Williamson Shaffer, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Learning Sciences at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the Department of Educational Psychology, and a Data Philosopher at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

In collaboration with Michael Gleicher and Zhiqiang Cai from UW–Madison, Professor Shaffer will develop and test a theoretical, statistical, and computational approach to subgroup-fair coding of qualitative data on learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Specifically, it will identify best practices for ensuring that codes are valid for subgroups within a population and develop tools that help researchers ensure that their codes are fair. As a result, this project will enable the STEM learning research community to produce coding of STEM learning data that is valid and reliable for all STEM learners, including students from minoritized and underrepresented groups. By creating methods to address problems of subgroup fairness in coding STEM learning data, the project will significantly increase researchers’ ability to address issues of bias in STEM education research and create and test curricula and tools that address the needs of minoritized and underrepresented students in STEM classes.

Professor Shaffer’s current work focuses on merging statistical and qualitative methods to model complex and collaborative thinking skills. He has authored more than 250 publications with over 100 co-authors, including the books How Computer Games Help Children Learn and Quantitative Ethnography.