Spotlight: Courtney Bell
Meet Courtney Bell, director of the Wisconsin Center for Educational Research (WCER) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
In addition to her role as WCER director, where WIDA is housed, Bell is a professor of learning sciences at UW-Madison.
Courtney Bell completed her doctorate at Michigan State University in Curriculum, Teaching, and Educational Policy after earning her B.A. in Chemistry at Dartmouth College. A former high school science teacher and teacher educator, her research looks across actors in the educational system to better understand the intersections of research, policy and practice. Bell’s inter-disciplinary, collaborative work spans issues of parental choice, international comparisons of teaching, teaching quality, teacher learning, and the measurement of teaching. Most recently, she spent more than a decade as a research scientist at Educational Testing Service (ETS).
Bell is passionate about understanding and improving teaching for historically underserved children. Her studies use mixed-methods to analyze the measurement of teaching and the validity of measures of teaching quality, especially observational measures. Her current and recent studies investigate how administrators learn to use a high-stakes observation protocol, how raters use subject specific and general protocols, how measures of teaching compare across countries, and the ways in which observation protocols capture high-quality teaching for students with special needs. She recently served as a principal investigator on the OECD-organized Global Teaching InSights study, leading the development of observation systems to measure teaching quality in eight economies (see the associated video library). Bell was a Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellow, won the AERA Division L Dissertation of the year award, and was awarded research excellence awards from both the University of Connecticut and ETS. She has also published in a variety of scholarly journals and co-edited the 5th Edition of the American Educational Research Association’s Handbook of Research on Teaching.
In her role as WCER director, Courtney Bell leads one of the most productive education research centers in the world. WCER provides services and resources for UW–Madison researchers, graduate students and their collaborators, as well as educators, funders and communities locally and around the world. In this role, she has also had the opportunity to connect with WIDA International School Consortium member schools. For example, during an international development trip to Singapore last spring with other UW-Madison scholars, she visited Singapore American School (SAS).