Member Spotlight – Nida Rinthapol

Nida ImageEducation:

University of California Santa Barbara

Ph.D. Education with emphases in Cultural Perspective and Comparative Education and Quantitative Methods in Social Sciences.

M.A. Education

B.A. Psychology

What is your current position(s) and what do you do?

I am currently teaching research method courses in the Department of Child and Adolescent Development at California State University Northridge. I am also serving as a Co-Chair in the data and analytics workgroup within the Southern California Evaluation Association (SCEA) where I manage and maintain membership information, develop various surveys, and compile reports to support the SCEA with data and analyses to inform planning and decision making within the organization.

What led you to the field of evaluation?

My dissertation committee member, Dr. John T. Yun, the former director and founder of University of California Educational Evaluation Center (UCEC) got me involved in the field of evaluation. By participating in the UCEC during graduate school, I learned and developed skills and interest in the field. That was where I met Dr. Anne T. Vo who was also a graduate student working for the center at the time. Dr. Vo is now serving as a Chair for the Southern California Evaluation Association (SCEA).

What has been your favorite moment in your career so far?

At University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), where I was the Associated Director for Data Resources, my colleague Kelly Wahl and I worked on evaluating grading practice and its impact on student academic success. We found that criterion-referenced grading (i.e., assigns grades without curving) promotes learning and minimizes achievement gaps in school. With this knowledge, we aimed to encourage faculty and educators to incorporate this way of grading into their teaching practice.

Moments like that made me recognize the power of research and evaluation in the context of school reform.

What motivates you at work?

My students. I love seeing how their eyes light up when they talk about their research interest or when they finally understand difficult course concepts that they had been struggling with. The opportunity to mentor and also learn from my students, their interests, aspirations, and goals continue to motivate me as an educator.

If you could give advice to young professionals in evaluation, what would it be?

Networking. Networking. Networking. I can’t stress that enough. It does not have to be something formal like academic presentations or workshops. At SCEA, we offer many opportunities to network with fellow local evaluators in Southern California through happy hours, and other local gatherings (we have academic workshops and professional panels too!).

What are your favorite resources for evaluators?

American Evaluation Association (AEA) website (www.eval.org) is probably the most well visited site among evaluators. I personally would recommend other evaluators not to forget resources near you such as your employer, professors, or colleagues. Most of my opportunities have come from those that I have already known.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I am fascinated by the real estate market in Southern California. I started investing in real estate after graduate school, and I often check out different listings online during my free time and go to open houses on the weekends. The nerd and entrepreneur in me have developed evaluation rubrics in assessing values and returns as I come across each property.

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