Student Profile: Amy Roberts Wants Her Research to Impact Teachers and Policy Makers

Name: Amy Roberts
Hometown: Bel Air, MD
3rd Year Doctoral Student in Educational Psychology: Applied Developmental Science, and VEST pre-doctoral fellow
Amy Roberts

Amy is an Institute of Education Sciences pre-doctoral fellow in the Educational Psychology: Applied Developmental Science Ph.D. program at the Curry School of Education.  She received her B.A. in Psychology from Roanoke College. Prior to graduate school, Amy worked as a Research Assistant at Towson University, collaborating with the Division of Early Childhood Development at the Maryland State Department of Education. She also worked as an educator in the child care setting. She works with Dr. Jennifer LoCasale-Crouch and Dr. Bridget Hamre at the Center for the Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL).

Why did you come to the Curry School of Education?
I have always been very interested in education and child development. I previously worked in child care, first as a toddler teacher, and later as a preschool teacher.  In college I had the opportunity to learn how research could be used to study learning processes and inform educational practices. Then, after college, I worked at the Maryland State Department of Education, and saw how research could inform policy decisions. These experiences led me to pursue a career in educational research, and I decided to attend UVA because I was really impressed by the research and scholarship at Curry.

What has been your most important lesson at Curry so far?
I’ve had an opportunity to see how valuable good research can be. I’ve worked on several projects at CASTL focused on creating and delivering professional development for toddler and preschool teachers. One professional development program I’ve worked on called “ECI” or “Effective Classroom Interactions” is an online course that delivers content on evidence-based practices, specifically the effective ways to interact with young children. It is highly engaging and accessible to learners. I know from my time as an educator that professional development opportunities like these are not the norm. It is exciting to see research applied to educational settings, especially early childhood settings which I care so deeply about!

What at Curry has made a special impact on you?
I would definitely have to say the people! Everyone at Curry and CASTL has been very generous with their time. The faculty members possess an impressive breadth of knowledge and it has been really valuable to learn from them. On top of that, they are a welcoming group so it has been a wonderful community to be a part of! It has been especially beneficial working closely with my faculty mentors, Jennifer LoCasale-Crouch and Bridget Hamre. They have encouraged me to pursue my own research interests and provided support to help me succeed. I am really grateful to be working with them!

What do you plan to do after graduating from Curry?
I plan to continue pursuing educational research focused on early childhood education. In general, I want to continue exploring how early care settings can be improved and how we can best support the teachers in those settings. My goal is to work at the intersection of practice and policy and pursue research that is meaningful to teachers as well as policy makers. 

Amy is a 2015 recipient of the Homer Humphreys Fellowship. The Humphreys Fellowship was established in honor of the late Homer Humphreys, a principal and teacher in Virginia and also an adjunct faculty member of the Curry School.