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, and special problems. 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 Research on Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Development group, on the Board of Directors of the International Society for Intelligence Research, and on the editorial boards of Intelligence, Journal of Expertise, Journal for the Education of the Gifted, and Gifted Child Quarterly.
My public scholarship has appeared in 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.
Selected Public Scholarship
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.
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., & Zhang, D. (October 16, 2019). The most revealing screen: Standardized tests have their problems, but they remain the best way of assessing students’ academic merits. City Journal, Fordham Institute
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. (August 21, 2019). College rankings might as well be student rankings. The Conversation, Business Insider, Salon, Alternet
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. (February 17, 2019). Book review: Making kids cleverer: A manifesto for closing the advantage gap. Times Educational Supplement. (print magazine)
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., Hsu, S., & Clynes, T. (October 7, 2016). Where Nobel winners get their start. Nature News & Comment (covered by Quartz, LeMonde, Le Figaro, Sciences et Avenir)
Wai, J., Nisen, M., Goudreau, J., Stanger, M., Jackson, A., & Morrell, A. (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016). U.S. colleges ranked by student brainpower. Business Insider (over 9.7 million reads)
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. (December 8, 2015). Having smart neighbors could mean a higher income for you. Quartz, World Economic Forum (named “best of the year” by The World Economic Forum)
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
Hsu, S., & Wai, J. (September 10, 2015). These 25 schools are responsible for the greatest advances in science. Quartz (covered by The Wall Street Journal, Science, U.S. News, Harvard University)
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. (July 8, 2015). By neglecting spatial intelligence, how many Elon Musks have we missed? Quartz
Wai, J. (March 22, 2015). Frank Bruni is wrong about Ivy League schools. Quartz
Wai, J. (March 10, 2015). We should be paying attention to the 1% of brainiacs, not billionaires. Quartz
Wai, J. (February 3, 2015). The stubborn pattern of academic aptitude by college major: 1946 to 2014. Quartz, World Economic Forum (named “best of the year” by The World Economic Forum; among the most widely shared articles on Quartz of all time)
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 28, 2014). Should the SAT be optional? Quartz (recognized by the American Enterprise Institute for “best ideas”)
Wai, J. (August 5, 2014). The case for starting statistics education in kindergarten. Quartz
Wai, J. (July 28, 2014). If you want to be rich and powerful, majoring in STEM is a good place to start. Quartz (cited by The New York Times)
Wai, J. (June 28, 2014). A shocking number of successful people went to elite schools. Business Insider, Inc. Magazine
Wai, J. (March 27, 2014). One size does not fit all: The need for variety in learning. National Public Radio: Mindshift
Chabris, C. F., & Wai, J. (March 9, 2014). Hire like Google? For most companies, that’s a bad idea. Los Angeles Times (Sunday print section)
Wai, J. (January 3, 2014). Even as a child, Jeff Bezos was a data-obsessed, workaholic genius. Quartz
Wai, J. & Nisen, M. (October 23, 2013). The 25 countries with the most brainpower. Business Insider, Yahoo! (cited by The Washington Post)
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
Wai, J. (November 11, 2012). The U.S. needs to focus its educational efforts on talented Americans. TechCrunch
Wai, J. (July 24, 2012). The SAT needs to be harder. Education Week (response from VP of ETS)
Wai, J. (July/August, 2012). The brainiac-billionaire connection. Psychology Today. Pages 78-85, 92 (discussed and cited by Fareed Zakaria)