November 29, 2017

Awards Enable DBOS Students to Make Their Mark on a National Level

Matthew Swope
Matthew Swope, a PhD student in the Applied Research & Evaluation program, recently won both a dean's travel award and an award from the American Evaluation Association.

Awards can have a way of multiplying.

Matthew Swope was one of two dozen students from the Division of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences who won dean’s awards to travel to national conferences in their disciplines. He used his award to attend the American Evaluation Association conference in Washington DC, where he received—of all things—another award.

Swope, who is a PhD student in Applied Research Methods & Evaluation, was honored with the AEA’s Student Research on Evaluation Award, for his work studying how a person’s preferences can affect their acceptance of evaluative data.

“I’m studying the way people view reality—epistemology—how can we tap that ahead of time to know what kind of data they will respond to,” Swope said. “Maybe we can figure out a scale to measure stakeholder epistemology so we can communicate findings in a way that stakeholders will understand and accept.”

The need for getting stakeholders to accept data is clear—without acceptance, the findings are rejected and the evaluation becomes useless, Swope said: “If you can present information in a way that is more aligned with the stakeholder epistemology, it’s more likely to be used.”

Swope, who double-majored in political science and physical anthropology as an undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Barbara, started his PhD studies at CGU in 2014.

He chose CGU and evaluation because it combined two activities he loved.

“I’m a total stats and methods nerd; I love statistics. But I also love working with people. Evaluation is the one rare opportunity where the two things meet. You can use science and impact the world immediately.”

Patricia Xi
Patricia Xi gave a poster presentation at the annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society.

Dean’s Travel Awards Have Profound Effect

Some of the other DBOS students also used their travel awards to attend the AEA convention, which was held in early November. One of them was Natalie Jones, who found the experience invaluable: “Attending this year’s conference was an amazing experience helping me to narrow my professional focus, contribute to the larger practitioner community, and build relationships with those in the field.” Kathleen Doll gave two presentations and did a lot of networking: “Being surrounded by so many evaluation pioneers reignited my desire to contribute to the field.”

Other national conferences in other fields were also attended by DBOS students using the travel awards. Patricia Xi assessed the latest trends in cognitive aging at the Psychonomic Society in Vancouver, Canada. Susan Mangan added to her theoretical understanding and her practical knowledge of positive psychology at the Association for Moral Education Conference in St. Louis.

The dean’s travel awards are offered each semester and provide DBOS students with as much as $500 for conference travel. Other students who received travel awards this semester were Dana Linnell Wanzer, Brittany Hite, Brittany Bell, Jenna Gilder, Leslie Trainor, William Carcamo, Vicki Spector, Nina Sabarre, Marin Laukka, Albertina Lopez, Darrel Skousen, Piper T. Grandjean Targos, Wing Yan (Vienne) Lau, Joo Young Lee, Elyse Postlewaite, Sucharita Belavadi, Caitlyn Gumaer, and Manijeh Mahmoodzadeh.

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The AEA also honored Claremont Evaluation Center Executive Director and Professor Stewart Donaldson.