Fadia Nasser-Abu Alhija, the first Israeli Arab woman to be appointed an associate professor at an Israeli research university and a graduate of UGA’s College of Education, is consulting with College of Education professor Allan Cohen and a grant team at the University of Kentucky on a joint research project.
During her recent visit to the UK College of Education, Nasser-Abu Alhija, along with Cohen and Hye-Jeong Choi, co-principal investigators of a $1.6 million grant from the National Center for Special Education Research, spent the day with University of Kentucky professor Brian Bottge and his grant team discussing new math assessments and the research designs for evaluating them.
“Teaching math is very important to me,” said Nasser-Abu Alhija. “The thinking is whether we can implement the same project back home. I wanted to learn first hand how the Kentucky project was implemented and the requirements needed to accomplish it.”
Nasser-Abu Alhija was most impressed with the project’s hands-on approach to helping students with disabilities connect math with real-life situations. At the end of her six-month visit to the U.S., she will work on attaining a grant and the cooperation of schools in Israel to conduct a potential comparative study.
In addition to evaluating student achievement, Nasser-Abu Alhija teaches research methods courses and statistics in the Jaime and Joan Constantiner School of Education at Tel Aviv University, where she also heads the Center for Advancement of Teaching. She and her team are responsible for administering, analyzing and reporting the results from all teaching evaluation surveys at the university.
“The purpose is to help faculty improve their teaching,” said Nasser-Abu Alhija. “We have several services for teachers like regular workshops, individual counseling and classroom observations. We have to work together with the students and faculty to improve teaching.”
Prior to receiving her PhD in research, evaluation, measurement and statistical methods from the department of educational psychology, Nasser-Abu Alhija taught high school math for 13 years. In 1993, she decided to continue her education in mathematics at the College of Education and apply her passion for evaluation methodology to education.
“This topic was a bridge between math and education,” she said. “And basically, what I learned is the applied aspects of that so I can research educational issues while using some kind of analysis very close to mathematics. I wanted to use math to provide some answers.”
Nasser-Abu Alhija’s research focuses on the methodology of measurement and evaluation of achievement as they relate to gender and culture, evaluation of teachers and teaching and the structural validity of measures and tests.