Outlier Research & Evaluation
Outlier Research & Evaluation is a team focused on bringing equity to education, with a focus on learners of all ages from groups historically underrepresented in STEM. Outlier has worked across boundaries of academic, public school, museum, industry and policy settings on numerous STEM education areas ranging from state-level STEM school policy to elementary school computer science. Outlier has a particular focus on understanding implementation, spread and endurance of educational innovations. In this work, Outlier uses implementation frameworks and component-based research approaches to generate knowledge about the parts of an innovation that work for whom, under what conditions and for how long. Outlier prioritizes applied research and evaluation conducted in partnership with practitioners and others who complement Outlier’s expertise with their own.
Jeanne CenturyResearch Associate Professor and Director, Outlier Research & Evaluation
Stephen BakerSenior Evaluation & Research Scientist, Outlier
Joanna SchiffmanSenior Researcher, Outlier
Huifang ZuoResearch and Evaluation Associate, Outlier
Dr. Jeanne Century is the Director of Outlier Research & Evaluation and a Research Associate Professor. Century’s work has almost exclusively focused on advancing equity in education primarily through research-practice partnership arrangements in large and small urban school districts. During her 35-year career (including 17 at UChicago STEM Education at the University of Chicago) Century been the principal investigator of numerous federal and foundation research grants focusing on a range of topics including inquiry science instruction, computer science education, STEM schools and sustainability of reform. Century’s primary research focus is on understanding, measuring, and supporting education innovation implementation, spread and endurance through implementation science and component-based approaches. Century has also conducted numerous evaluations on out-of-school and in-school programs, district and state reform efforts, higher education, teacher preparation, and civic leadership. In addition to research, Century has developed instructional materials, supported professional learning efforts for teachers and administrators and has provided technical assistance and strategic planning for leaders at the school, district, and state levels. Century also has policy experience at all education system levels including serving on the Obama-Biden transition team where she was responsible for STEM education as well as the Department of Education Agency Review.
Stephen Baker is Senior Evaluation & Research Scientist at Outlier Research & Evaluation and a mixed-methods researcher who has conducted program and policy evaluations for over thirty years. He has served as panel reviewer for NSF and the Department of Education and principal investigator and project director on evaluations funded by local and national philanthropic foundations, the Department of Education and NSF. His evaluation and research portfolio is broad, with concentrations in education reform, informal learning, community-based and collaborative policy approaches, and the social and emotional bases of student success. His current projects include a Department of Education RCT assessing STEM career development in high school students; a UChicago and City Colleges of Chicago collaboration to increase international content in CCC courses; an implementation study of evidence-based interventions at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services; and an NSF “Harnessing the Data Revolution” effort to develop convergent instruction materials for CyberGIS.
He holds masters’ and doctoral degrees from the Crown Family School and was a researcher at Chapin Hall at UChicago for more than 20 years. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses at the University in evaluation, research, data management, and U.S. social welfare. He was a member of the University of Chicago SSA/Chapin Hall Institutional Review Board, Crown Family School field instructor, and serves as facilitator of the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation Doctoral Fellows program.
Joanna Schiffman is a Senior Researcher at Outlier and is interested in examining how cognitive processes, attitudes, experiences, and environmental factors impact STEM learning. Since joining Outlier Research & Evaluation in 2019, Joanna has worked on a variety of research projects, including a Department of Education EIR-funded project examining the impact of STEM career readiness and social-emotional learning programming on urban high school students’ interest in pursuing STEM careers. Joanna has also carried out evaluations of educational programs with UChicago internal departments and organizations, including the Area Studies Center and the Network for College Success (NCS), as well as external organizations, including ComEd SmartGrid STEM Programs, Chicago Learning Exchange (CLX), and MathTalk. Prior to joining Outlier, Joanna’s research focused on the factors that influence young children’s math and spatial learning, including parental input and interaction, environmental contexts, and additional cognitive factors. In addition, Joanna has taught and written curriculum for psychology and education courses at the undergraduate and masters level. Joanna earned her Ph.D. in Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology at Boston College Lynch School of Education & Human Development and a B.A. in Psychology with a Cognitive Science concentration from Wesleyan University.
Dr. Huifang Zuo is a Research and Evaluation Associate in Outlier Research & Evaluation at the University of Chicago since 2017. She received her Doctoral Degree in Educational Research Methodology (focusing on quantitative methods) and M.A. in Geography Information Science (GIS). Currently, she is studying interdisciplinary quantitative methods that can be applied in educational research through the Master program of Quantitative Methods & Social Analysis at the University of Chicago. Dr. Huifang Zuo specializes in STEM education and workforce development research, particularly for underserved K12 populations. She also conducted geography-related educational research with integrating GIS technologies into education to better explore and understand educational outcomes. During her professional training, her research has focused on STEM education, neighborhood conditions in relation to academic achievement, and self-efficacy in learning English as a second language.