Skip to main content

News Home

Graduate Student Q&A with Benjamin Baumfalk

Benjamin Baumfalk
Benjamin Baumfalk

Name: Benjamin Baumfalk

Hometown: Lincoln, Nebraska

Major/program: Quantitative, Qualitative and Psychometric Methods in the Department of Educational Psychology

CYFS graduate assistantship: CYFS’ Bureau for Education Research, Evaluation and Policy, and the Nebraska Academy for Methodology, Analytics and Psychometrics

Anticipated date of graduation: May 2018


Describe your CYFS graduate assistantship and how it fits with your research goals.

I work on a variety of education evaluation projects through my assistantship. Some of these projects are internal to the university and some are external, with entities such as the Nebraska Department of Education and other community organizations. Most of my time has been dedicated to the evaluation of the Nebraska School Improvement Grants program, which aims to improve the lowest performing schools in the state. This assistantship allows me to see how evaluations play out in real world contexts and how methodology applies. In the future, I would like to continue working with education evaluation and help further the methods and overall usefulness of evaluation for stakeholders.


What is your educational background?

I graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in biology. I then earned my Master’s in teaching, learning, and teacher education along with a teaching certificate in secondary natural sciences, also from UNL.


What is your primary research interest?

 My primary interest is in understanding how social science research methods can best be employed in evaluation contexts. Evaluation often occurs in uncontrollable, dynamic environments, and this has implications for the methodology used and the interpretation of results. More specifically, I’m interested in novel approaches to measuring intervention fidelity and its impact on social, behavioral, and academic outcomes. Accurately knowing the extent to which an intervention was carried out as it was designed is key to making judgments about its effectiveness.


What motivated you to pursue this research field?

I’ve been fortunate to see education from many different perspectives—including roles as a supervisor for before- and after-school programs and as a research and evaluation specialist for the Nebraska Department of Education. Through these experiences, I’ve learned the importance of evaluation for effective education interventions, programs, and policies. Through my current doctoral program, I hope to contribute to this developing field of study and become a better evaluator in the process.


What do you enjoy doing outside of school?

I enjoy spending as much time as possible with my wife, Moani, and two daughters, Nola, seven, and Eva, six. Our daughters are burgeoning gymnasts and were recently moved up to the competition level, so the gym will soon become our second home. Our family also likes to travel and spend time with extended family and friends. We are going to Hawaii in May to celebrate the graduation of my wife’s niece, Kana Leia, who will earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawaii.