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Education prof edits encyclopedia on educational research, evaluation

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

LAWRENCE — In his career educating and mentoring future teachers and educational researchers, Bruce Frey has helped students understand all manner of statistics, analytical tools, research designs, evaluation methods and other complex concepts. Now, he’s edited an encyclopedia that can do the same for students and researchers throughout the world.

Frey, professor of educational psychology at the University of Kansas, is the editor of the recently released SAGE Encyclopedia of Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation. The four-volume encyclopedia aims to fill a gap among textbooks, handbooks, monographs and other publications on areas of educational research, measurement and program evaluation.

Encyclopedias on each of the three major areas exist, but Frey’s gathers information on all three, considers overlap and relation between them, and provides a summary and definition of each entry as well as recommended reading to further understand each entry and cross-references within the volume. It also addresses sociopolitical issues and trends influencing research and practice in the respective fields. The work, available in print and electronically, will be of value to both students and professionals.

“The encyclopedia is largely for graduate students who know some about these topics but need more of an overview,” Frey said. “It’s also useful for faculty and researchers who need further information on a topic they might not be an expert in, and it’s especially useful for program evaluation.”

The project was three years in the making, beginning with the formation of a board of advisers, consisting of experts in research, measurement and evaluation as well as generalists. The board created a list of roughly 700 headwords, or entries that should be included. They then found authors and experts from around the country to write the entries. Frey credits KU doctoral student Alan Nong as being instrumental in identifying and securing the foremost experts in the field to submit entries. The final step was editing, much of which Frey performed during a sabbatical, and the volume was published earlier this year.

The 700 entries are organized alphabetically, but the volumes contain a reader’s guide that groups entries thematically to help those interested in a specific aspect to easily locate other salient entries. The electronic version contains a powerful search-and-browse feature combining the index, readers’ guide themes and cross-references as well. The encyclopedia also includes a chronology of the field, its development and a guide to classic books and journals on respective topics.

Each entry is either 500, 1,000, 2,000 or 3,000 words and provides not only a definition but gateways to supporting topics.

“Some topics, by themselves, are quite broad,” Frey said. “For example, there’s an entry called ‘adolescence’ which might need more words than ‘b Parameter,’ a value used in item response theory. Part of the task of writing an entry was not just writing a summary but being able to guide readers to further materials and other entries they may benefit from reading.”

Prior to editing the encyclopedia, Frey had written and edited books on research design, measurement, assessment and statistics, and he has authored numerous entries for other encyclopedias. The timing of the SAGE Encyclopedia of Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation comes at a particularly critical time, given the field of education’s ongoing curricular changes, policy debates and focus on high-stakes testing.

Photo: Bruce Frey has edited the four-volume SAGE Encyclopedia of Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation. Credit: Bruce Frey

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