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School of Education Prof to be Honored with Dissertation Award 

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 23, 2016) – School of Education Assistant Professor Mariola Moeyaert, Ph.D., has received the 2016 Anastasi Dissertation Award from the American Psychological Association (APA) for her dissertation, “Three-level synthesis of single-subject experimental data: Further developments, empirical validation and applications.” Moeyaert will be presented with the award at the annual convention of the APA in August 2016.

School of Education Assistant Professor Mariola Moeyaert

Moeyaert's dissertation resulted in seven publications as first author in international peer-reviewed journals. 

The award recognizes distinguished dissertations that address a topic in the field of quantitative research methods including assessment, evaluation, measurement and statistics. “In my dissertation, I developed, optimized and extended the multilevel meta-analysis model that can be used to summarize or quantify large datasets,” she explained.

Moeyaert conducted computer intense simulation studies to validate the multilevel meta-analytic model that can be used for this purpose, and empirical illustrations were given to guide researchers and data-analysts. The dissertation is groundbreaking in that it yields a methodology to estimate effect sizes across a large set of similar focused studies and as a consequence, results in significant contributions to research, practice and policy.

“It’s important to know which treatment effects are statistically and clinically significant and to identify moderating effects (for instance: this treatment is more effective for older, male students in this specific geographic area),” she said. “It would be a waste of money and research investments if we would ignore all data that are available in previous published research. The multilevel modeling technique is very innovative as it takes the hierarchical structure of the data into account: observations are nested within persons, persons are nested within studies, etc.”

Moeyaert’s dissertation resulted in seven publications as first author in international peer-reviewed journals, and was funded by the Institute of Educational Sciences, the Flemish Research Foundation and the Junior Mobility Program of Katholieke Universiteit (KU) Leuven, Belgium.

The number of published studies in educational research is increasing at an astonishing rate and therefore appropriate statistical modeling methods are needed to summarize these studies, said Moeyaert. These quantitative methods remain underdeveloped and the statistical challenges of producing an accepted measure of treatment effect remain.

A Long Way from Belgium

Moeyaert, who joined the faculty last August, found the Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology to be warm and welcoming. Which was particularly helpful since she first arrived on campus last February on one of the coldest days in 50 years.

“I was very excited that there are applied experimental researchers collecting data here to which I can apply my statistical models,” said Moeyaert. There are also quantitative researchers like her, so she is with people who speak the same statistical language.

“The Division of Educational Psychology and Methodology has a strong program with a good mix of both applied researchers and methodologists,” she said. “Although I had three other offers from other universities for similar positions, UAlbany appeared to be the best fit in terms of my research expertise and attitude of faculty and students.”

Born and raised in Belgium, she grew up speaking Flemish, Dutch, French and German. She earned her doctorate in Educational Sciences (Quantitative Methods) at the Center of Methodology of the Pedagogical Research, KU Leuven, which is one of the oldest (built in 1425) and most highly rated universities in the world. During long international research stays funded by the Belgian government, she traveled to Austin, Texas, New York City, and Tampa, Fla., to establish relationships with leaders in her field.

Moeyaert studied physics, biology and mathematics as an undergrad and enjoyed mathematical applications and statistical modeling the most. But it wasn’t until graduate studies in educational sciences that her interest was piqued by methodological issues in modeling educational data.

“I valued methodological courses a lot and I realized that they are important for researchers, because you cannot conduct empirical research without the ability to analyze the data.”

Moeyaert misses the history and culture of Belgium, as well as traditional foods like “hutsepot” (a dish that includes mashed potatoes, carrots and onions), “stoofvlees,” (a type of beef and onion stew) and fresh oven baked bread.

“By following my dream to be a professor in quantitative research methods, I gave up a lot,” she said. “I miss the friends I grew up with and family.”

Moeyaert has adjusted well to the change of living in the U.S. At times, it can be lonely, not being with those who understand how Belgian people really think and feel. “Luckily, I am busy enough at the University and I am surrounded by warm students and faculty.”

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