My teaching philosophy is rooted in the basic idea that teaching is fundamentally about communication and personal connection or relevance. I work hard to develop a clear understanding of the topic I am trying to communicate to my students. I then work to connect that material in a meaningful way to my students’ lives. I gauge my success as a teacher by whether students are able to understand the course material and why it matters to their lives.
A the University of Arkansas I teach psychology of education, measurement of educational outcomes, special problems, and dissertation research. I’ve also taught statistics, research methods, and psychometric methods and have mentored many students at Vanderbilt, Duke, John Carroll, and Case Western Reserve. I currently serve as member at large for the AERA gifted SIG and am on the board of directors of ISIR in addition to serving on four editorial boards.
My public scholarship has appeared in Science, The Washington Post, Psychology Today, Los Angeles Times, Education Week, NPR, Quartz, Business Insider, The World Economic Forum and others and has been cited by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, and The Atlantic.
I’m an advocate for science communication in the service of science, and I’ve written articles and served on panels to encourage public engagement. I’ve also served on the board of directors of the MATHCOUNTS Foundation. I currently serve on the Research Advisory Board of the College Board Admissions Research Consortium and Chair of the Education Working Group of the Association for Psychological Science Global Collaboration on COVID-19.
Selected Public Scholarship
Wai, J. (2021). More than the message. A new guide offers advice for navigating barriers to successful science communication. Science, 372(6542), 579.
Wai, J., & Makel, M. C. (November 2, 2020). Why graduates of elite universities dominate the Time 100 – and what it means for the rest of us. The Conversation.
Wai, J. (October 21, 2020). What the research says on tests and test-optional policies in college admissions. Forbes.
Wai, J. (October 8, 2020). The undergraduate institutions with the most Nobel prize winners. Forbes.
Wai, J. (October 6, 2020). How research can help find the missing Einsteins. Forbes.
Farmer, A., & Wai, J. (September 21, 2020). Many colleges have gone test optional – here’s how that could change the way students are admitted. The Conversation, Business Insider
Lakin, J. M., & Wai, J. (July 28, 2020). Many students with the potential to excel in STEM fields struggle in school. The Conversation, Fordham Institute.
Wai, J. (December 13, 2019). Why we must get on board with RCTs if we want evidence-informed teaching. From “Nine research studies from 2019 you need to read,” Times Educational Supplement. (print magazine)
Wai, J., & Worrell, F. C. (September 9, 2019). How to increase access to gifted programs for low-income students and black and Latino children. The Conversation, Chalkbeat
Wai, J., Brown, M. I., & Chabris, C. F. (March 24, 2019). No one likes the SAT. It’s still the fairest thing about admissions. The Washington Post. (Sunday print section)
Wai, J. (September 12, 2018). What college rankings really measure – hint: It’s not quality or value. The Conversation, CNBC, Salon
Wai, J., & Rindermann, H. R. (April 19, 2017). The myth of the college dropout. The Conversation, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, CBS News, Time, World Economic Forum, Quartz (700k+ views, widely shared as a key discussion point in the debate over higher education)
Wai, J., Shoplik, A. L., Assouline, S. (October 12, 2016). Should I grade-skip my gifted child? The Conversation, The Huffington Post, Salon (cited by NEA Today)
Wai, J., & Worrell, F. C. (March 21, 2016). A nation at risk – how gifted, low-income kids are left behind. The Conversation, The Huffington Post, National Review, Business Insider, Quartz, AlterNet
Wai, J., & Miller, D. I. (December 1, 2015). Here’s why academics should write for the public. The Conversation, The Huffington Post, Quartz, Northwestern University (cited by the American Sociological Association)
Wai, J., & Worrell, F. C. (October 20, 2015). Why are we supporting everyone except our most talented students? Medium: Bright, National Review, Quartz
Wai, J. & Makel, M. C. (September 4, 2015). How do academic prodigies spend their time and why does that matter? The Conversation, Quartz, World Economic Forum
Wai, J. (September 9, 2014). Decades of Facebook likes will explain how you became yourself. Quartz (recognized by The Aspen Institute for “best ideas”)
Wai, J. (August 5, 2014). The case for starting statistics education in kindergarten. Quartz
Wai, J. (March 27, 2014). One size does not fit all: The need for variety in learning. National Public Radio: Mindshift
Wai, J. (January 3, 2014). Even as a child, Jeff Bezos was a data-obsessed, workaholic genius. Quartz
Wai, J. (July 31, 2013). Why we need to value students’ spatial creativity. National Public Radio: Mindshift, Quartz
Wai, J., & DiGioia, L. (February 15, 2013). Why we need the math police. Education Week