Amanda Siebert-Evenstone, Educational Psychology

Why did you decide to pursue graduate studies? 

I pursued grad school and found my way to Educational Psychology because I wanted to understand the messiness of learning — how does it happen individually and in groups, and how could I learn to measure it? I loved the messiness of the analyses and the optimism of looking at learning gains. 

What was your most meaningful experience at UW–Madison? 

My most meaningful experience occurred in the fall of 2019 when I was conference chair and hosted the first International Conference on Quantitative Ethnography. This was a pivotal event because it was the first time in my graduate studies that I felt like a real academic and not like an imposter. 

What class or professor had the greatest impact on you, and why?

There were two professors who really stood out to me. First was Teri Balser, who was the first to believe in me and the gifts I could bring to my work. Second, I am thankful for my PhD adviser, David Williamson Shaffer, who taught me the skills and eventually gave me the ability to believe in myself as an academic.

"I wanted to understand the messiness of learning — how does it happen individually and in groups, and how could I learn to measure it?"

What advice would you give to incoming students? 

The skills you used to get into graduate school are not always the ones you’ll need to finish. While undergraduate courses often encourage competition or individual effort, graduate school is a team effort and relies on working with others and constantly asking each other for help. Do not be afraid to ask for help. If folks are too busy, they will let you know. Do not assume they are too busy to help without asking. 

How will you celebrate your graduation?  

Soon after depositing my dissertation, I gave birth to my daughter, Ella. I celebrated by taking time off to be home with my family and newborn. 

What are your plans for the future? 

I plan to work for the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and will research the relationship between financial supports and student experience. Additionally, I will be a creative producer for an online Master’s of Learning Analytics program at UW–Madison, developing curricula, materials, and dynamic videos for this new program.

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