Welcoming Harvard Professor Dr. Hunter Gehlbach to Panorama Education as Director of Research
We’re thrilled to welcome Dr. Hunter Gehlbach from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to the Panorama Education team. A leading educational psychologist, Dr. Gehlbach will lead Panorama’s survey design work while fostering best practices in survey methodology and measurement for the education community.
Dr. Gehlbach will continue to hold his position as associate professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education where his research focused on applying social psychological principles to educational challenges. Previously, he taught high school social studies in Pennsylvania.
As Director of Research at Panorama Education, Dr. Gehlbach will also advise product development, helping to design strategies that teachers can use to enhance their teaching practice. A long time friend to Panorama Education, Dr. Gehlbach has already collaborated on the Panorama Student Survey, which was unveiled publicly for use by educators last month.
We sat down with Hunter to learn about his interests in survey design, teaching, and his most memorable vacation:
What are your hopes for working with Panorama on survey design?
The most important thing for me is that teachers can use the results from our surveys to become better teachers. As a former teacher myself, I think a great deal of focus has shifted towards a narrow subset of the outcomes that we care about–but I truly believe that asking the right questions through a high quality survey tool can provide tremendous feedback for teacher growth.
How did the Panorama Student Survey collaboration develop?
I had long been interested developing a set of survey measures that both (a) provided teachers with feedback to help them improve and (b) assessed a wider array of student outcomes than is typically prioritized. However, other projects always pushed this interest to the back-burner.
But when Panorama was enthusiastic about these two goals, saw eye-to-eye with me about wanting the measures to be publicly available to all schools, and was willing to partner with our research team to support a rigorous survey development process, the foundation for a very productive collaboration was established. Since then, I’ve wanted to build upon these efforts and directing research with Panorama is a great fit.
Why are you interested in measuring student perceptions through surveys?
One of the things that I’m most excited about with Panorama putting these measures out into the public domain is the range of topics addressed by the measures. In other words, the Panorama Student Survey covers so many critical facets of teaching and such an array of student outcomes, I think it will help others to recalibrate what we care most about in education.
For example, most policy-makers today focus a lot on assessment and test scores. However, for a student who is deciding whether or not to drop out of school, it suddenly seems much more important to care about that student’s relationships with teachers, valuing of the subject matters in his or her classes, and sense of belonging at school than what test score the student received on a single assessment.
In all, I believe the measures coming out of our research with Panorama will help expand the range of what outcomes we want to focus on in education. That’s what we hope to measure and that’s why I’m equally thrilled to join the Panorama team.
What’s been your most memorable vacation trip?
This summer, my family traveled to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. I experienced some of our country’s most amazing natural landscapes and wildlife through the eyes of my young children.