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PHD Measurement, Statistics, and Evaluation

December 15, 2013


No one values education more highly than those who have received little or none themselves. Such was the case with my parents, my father had attended school for only five years and my mother had never attended school and was unable to read and write. Thus, our parents were especially determined that their seven children would be able to take full advantage of whatever educational opportunities would present themselves. Despite our modest household budget, we had over 2,000 books in our home, and newspapers were regarded as a necessity rather than a luxury. I absorbed and have fully embraced this reverence for education and this is why I have always been as determined to learn and advance academically as my parents hoped that I might. School has never been difficult for me because of my love of learning and the boundless encouragement that was provided at home. 

 Teaching is a career that carries with it high status, security and a good salary in my home country of Turkey. For these reasons, my parents encouraged me to major in classroom teaching at college, though I was not especially enthusiastic about the prospect of teaching. I disapproved of the generally restrictive attitude to female education in Turkey and felt that my own experiences of poorly prepared and indifferent teachers would likely be an indicator of the quality of training that I might expect to receive. After having studied in the program, my cynicism only increased as I was able to closely observe the way that many of my fellow students were much more interested in the personal advantages available to a teacher rather than in teaching itself.

 Much of this changed, however, when I met my teaching supervisor who was indeed a very successful teacher in the fullest sense of the word, who clearly loved to pass on her skills and enthusiasm. She provided a challenging but very positive academic environment and a well thought out training plan for her students.  I found her enthusiasm for teaching to be highly infectious. I began to settle happily into my program and to truly enjoy my studies and internship training.

 After graduation, I could hardly wait to begin teaching. I was appointed to a suburban district elementary school in a poor area. The environment reminded me of my own schooldays, though the quality of teaching was even worse than I had suffered.  I was teaching a class of 50 students in the fifth grade, some of whom could not even read or write. I decided that I would give my all, however, to help these children who had fallen between the cracks of the floor of our educational system. I used to stay for three or four hours extra every day after school to look after them, guide them, and help them. At this time, I thought that this was what I wanted to do with my life. Yet, while I enjoyed teaching, I love learning even more and also devoted myself to continuing my education, hopefully in the West, and striving for broadening horizons in education.

 While I enjoyed teaching very much, I began to long to be part of systematic changes and improvements to our educational systems through the design and implementation of much more effective evaluation and testing. I applied for a scholarship program offered by the Turkish Ministry of National Education that supports future academics and I was one of only five students who were accepted to the program for graduate education in educational sciences in the U.S.  Thus, I began graduate studies at XXXX University in the Department of Educational Psychology. This program has been enormously beneficial to me. I was provided with insights into how students learn and the broad variety of ways in which learning can be supported and enhanced. I was also equipped with knowledge of quantitative methods and modern measurement theories of which Item Response Theory was particularly fascinating to me. Topics such as Differential Item Functioning and Program Evaluation have deepened my understanding of ‘fairness issues’ in education and how improper assessment practices can lead to unjust outcomes. I am enormously pleased to have achieved this level of study in education and it has given me the confidence to pursue studies on a doctoral level. I wish very much to continue to enjoy association in vibrant academic group and experiencing the educational culture that creates a mutual learning environment between academics and fellow students. I feel enriched by the sharing of experiences and the exposure to cultural differences, particularly among international students.

 My central goal in applying to your program is to enhance my knowledge of measurement methods and applied statistics to enable me to make the greatest contribution possible to our educational systems once I return to Turkey, where I hope to fill leadership roles in the improvement of evaluation and testing and, thus, the quality of education itself. I am especially interested in applied measurement methods and  my research interests include, but are not limited to, the causal relationship between teacher education and qualifications and the quality of teaching provided, the role of the school in developing critical and analytical thinking skills and as a predictors of girls’ achievement and career choices. It is also my hope, once I have obtained the Ph.D degree, to undertake independent research and to share the skills and knowledge gained by teaching at the college level.

 I have carefully researched the doctoral programs available to me and feel that the one provided by E.D.M.S is the ideal ‘fit’ for me. I am particularly drawn by the promise of a supportive faculty possessing the very highest level of expertise available in my areas of interest, the breadth of the research opportunities offered and the very valuable opportunities to work on projects in research centers. I am aware that the program will attract many well qualified applicants. However, I genuinely consider myself to be an exceptional candidate. I believe that my life’s journey to date provides evidence of diligence, determination, academic ability, adaptability and great intellectual curiosity;  I am convinced that these qualities, together with my relevant professional and academic career to date, will enable me to ‘add value’ to the academic community. 

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