As a Senior Education Researcher for Quality Information Partners (QIP), Bridget Thomas has been involved in many different projects, providing QIP with a very important academic research lens on our work. As an education researcher, Bridget is particularly interested in learning and social-emotional development in young children, and she is passionate about the effects of education policy on students and families.
After earning bachelor's and master's degrees in psychology, Bridget began her PhD program focused on educational psychology. Partway through the program, she had an epiphany; she often read about policy for fun, and it would make sense for education policy to be her main focus. Her advisor observed that Bridget tends to look at policy through the lens of a psychologist, which is a different vantage point from many others in the policy world.
Considering policy from a psychology perspective also means Bridget is committed to getting research into the hands of education practitioners, such as teachers and school administrators.
"We need to remember why we’re doing this research in the first place. If it’s not accessible to the people who are on the ground working with students, if we don’t also think about how we’re getting that information out there and implemented in a real way, there’s no point in doing it," Bridget says.
That is why Bridget makes a point to attend conferences where she might seem out of place, a researcher amid administrators, specialists, teachers, and data professionals. She wants to approach research with an understanding of the perspectives of practitioners. Having a better sense of their actual concerns influences the kind of research she does and the policy recommendations she makes.
In addition to a robust conference schedule where she presents her research and papers, Bridget writes and reviews research and informs QIP staff members about the latest issues and trends in education research and policy.
"One thing that connects all the things that I do—and a platform I have developed while at QIP—is pushing for better connections between researchers and practitioners, and within that, emphasizing the need for researchers to do a better job of translating research for multiple audiences. It is essential to understand the need to share research outside of academic circles and to communicate it effectively."
Bridget's PhD is from George Mason University, where she has been an adjunct professor in the College of Education and Human Development since 2007. She is currently the president of the Virginia Educational Research Association (VERA). She is also a member of the Northeastern Educational Research Association (NERA) and previously served as annual meeting co-chair for that organization, as well as a member of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the Eastern Educational Research Association (EERA), and the Mid-South Educational Research Association (MSERA).
Read some of Bridget's recent blog posts: