College of Education

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Joi Merritt


 

SUMMARY: Dr. Merritt’s teaching, scholarship, advocacy, and leadership related to diversity, equity, and inclusivity have and continue to make an enormous impact on the lives of her students, her department, the COE, and JMU.


Dr. Joi Merritt is an Associate Professor of Science Education at James Madison University. She received her BS in Engineering (Chemical Engineering) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She then worked as a management consultant, where she designed, developed, and tested graphic user interfaces (GUI) for energy companies in the United States and Canada. Before returning to the University of Michigan and receiving her Ph.D. in Educational Studies (Science Education), Dr. Merritt was a high school chemistry and physics teacher in Charlotte, NC. Also, she was a professional math, science, and reading comprehension tutor for K-12 students. Her research focuses on (a) designing science and engineering curriculum materials and assessments to investigate K-12 student learning over time, and (b) preparing teachers of science to teach science equitably in the inclusive, culturally, and linguistically diverse classroom. She has had several publications and presentations at national conferences from her research projects.

Since joining JMU, Dr. Merritt has supported students of color in the College of Education, forming the Future of Teachers of Color organization in 2019. This organization has presented at the inaugural Student Diversity Summit. This year, the organization will sponsor First AID/CPR/AED training opportunities for all applicants to Teacher Education. Dr. Merritt’s advocacy work with the Future Teachers of Color has led to a collaboration with the Education Support Center to create a cooperating teacher/mentor match program for students of color in K-12 field-based experiences. Dr. Merritt’s work with the Future Teachers of Color and her role as the Vice-Chair of the COE Diversity Council showcases her unwavering commitment, advocacy, and leadership for and with students in the COE. These commitments were recognized by the university as she was the recipient of the 2020 JMU Compass Award for Advocacy. Furthermore, Dr. Merritt also works with colleagues across the university, whether it is in teaching courses or conducting research, stretching her collaborations and impact at JMU.

Through jmUDESIGN, Dr. Merritt was able to connect with Dr. Daniel Castaneda from the Department of Engineering.  Engineering students are entering the profession when technical challenges are increasingly complex and societal inequities abound. Inequities in engineering fields can result from simply not knowing or acknowledging the full ramification of their decisions and decision-making processes toward non-dominant groups. Dr. Castaneda and Dr. Merritt were awarded a National Science Foundation Research Initiation in Engineering Formation (RIEF) grant to generate evidence toward a teaching practice in an introductory engineering mechanics course that seeks to broaden a student’s mindset to be broader in their engineering design toward overlooked groups. For the NSF RIEF grant, Dr. Merritt serves as the co-PI and serves as a mentor on education research methods, as the course is re-designed to foster a change-agent mindset in engineering students.

Dr. Merritt’s teaching, scholarship, advocacy, and leadership related to diversity, equity, and inclusivity have and continue to make an enormous impact on the lives of her students, her department, the COE, and JMU.

 

 

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Published: Saturday, October 24, 2020

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 3, 2020

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