Brendan Eagan, Educational Psychology

Why did you decide to pursue graduate studies? 

During undergrad, I worked as a pedagogical assistant for four years, creating educational materials and curriculum, and supporting professors. I made countless decisions that I hoped would improve learning outcomes and help instructors. However, I was always curious about the impact of those decisions and how one could know whether or not we were making improvements. My supervisor, who also happened to be my adviser, encouraged me to study education given my passion for understanding and supporting learning. Her suggestion took a few years to germinate but eventually led me to one of the best schools of education in the world, which happens to be in my hometown.

What was your most meaningful experience at UW–Madison? 

Working in the Epistemic Analytics lab here at UW–Madison has literally taken me around the world. I was fortunate to be involved in international collaborations that led me to Namibia, Japan, France, the UK, as well as many institutions here in the United States. The collaborators I worked with are part of a growing community of scholars that held its first international conference here in Madison last fall. We have formed an international society staking out a new field of study — quantitative ethnography. Being part of a research culture in our lab, and more broadly at our university, enabled me to work with world-class researchers to co-construct what Jim Gee referred to as “a revolution coming to education and social sciences.” This exciting experience is ongoing and I cannot wait to see where it takes me next!

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

David Williamson Shaffer as an instructor and advisor helped me realize the potential I was not aware I had. I’ve never worked harder or learned more than I did in his classes and working in his lab.

"Working in the Epistemic Analytics lab here at UW–Madison has literally taken me around the world. I was fortunate to be involved in international collaborations that led me to Namibia, Japan, France, the UK, as well as many institutions here in the United States."

What advice would you give to incoming students? 

Take care of yourself and your peers, find a network of mentors to support your development, and above all, have fun — whistle while you work.

What are your plans for the future? 

I’ve started a position in the Epistemic Analytics lab as the associate director of partnerships and community engagement, and will be involved in the new Master’s in Learning Analytics program being launched here at UW–Madison!

You’re a UW–Madison expert now, so we must ask: Which is the best Babcock ice cream flavor?

I haven’t had one I didn’t like, but I think orange custard chocolate chip might be my favorite … it probably requires further study.

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