Loran Carleton Parker Awarded the College of Education Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice (DESJ) Award
Dr. Loran Parker, Associate Director, Principal Evaluator and Research Scholar at the Evaluation and Learning Research Center (ELRC), was awarded the College of Education Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice Award for 2022-23
Loran specializes in research, development, and evaluation of education experiences in formal and informal settings; evaluation of teacher/faculty professional development experiences and higher education institutional change; and research and evaluation of undergraduate education and training. She serves a leadership role in the development of scores of proposals each year and is actively involved in the work of at least a dozen funded projects. Over the course of her career, Loran has made significant contributions to DESJ at the K-12, undergraduate, graduate, and community levels. Her attached CV list 13 projects active in the past 5 years that support teaching and learning for equitable and inclusive student outcomes in higher education, as well as 4 projects specifically aimed at developing inclusive STEM experiences for youth. Many of these projects focus on identifying, developing, or influencing infrastructure, institutional culture, and faculty mindsets and practices that minimize barriers to inclusion.
Creating an Inclusive and Supportive Campus Climate: Loran brings a deeply rooted commitment to diversity, equity, and social justice to each and every project she touches – as a researcher, as an evaluator, and throughout her professional life. Her influence is evidenced in her efforts to replace deficit approaches to institutional, faculty and student development with asset-based thinking that values diversity in thought, culture, and traits and builds on strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses. Three examples illustrate Loran’s contributions to creation of an inclusive and supportive climate at Purdue: 1) As a member of the Purdue IMPACT team, Loran focuses on understanding the role of faculty professional development on faculty mindsets that support positive campus climates. Faculty participants report more positive attitudes toward students and their capabilities after IMPACT training, which is reflected in more student-centered teaching practices. Loran’s influence in changing faculty attitudes and beliefs and creating more inclusive campus climates extends nationwide through her work with the Gardner Institute and consulting with a variety of other institutions (e.g. Georgia State, U. Mass-Amherst, and University of Kentucky). 2) As Vice Chair, Chair, and Emeritus Chair of Purdue’s Administrative and Professional Staff Advisory Committee Chair, Loran served as a member of the Equity and Diversity Committee of the Purdue University Senate helping to insure that the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion of all people are part of the fabric of all University policies. 3) An inclusive campus is only as successful as its ability to define, measure and communicate success. Loran is currently working with Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to create engaging, powerful definitions 2 of success within their strategic plan and connect these definitions to measurements. Without these measures, the PVM community would be unable to determine the impacts of their efforts on campus climate.
Implementing Effective Teaching and Learning Strategies that Promote DESJ: An important part of Loran’s work that fosters implementation of effective teaching and learning strategies that promote DESJ includes facilitating learning conversations about defining and measuring inclusion. A common thread of the many higher education transformation projects listed in Loran’s CV is her work with faculty, administrators, and institutions to define and operationalize DESJ goals, develop strategies, and design effective measurement and communication strategies that support effective change. Loran’s work helps stakeholders track their progress, identify continuing challenges, celebrate success, and tell their story.
Advancing the DESJ Scholarship: Loran’s contribution to DESJ scholarship include contributions to the literature on undergraduate student success, faculty professional development, institutional culture change, and increasing and diversifying the STEM pipeline. Her work has been published in a host of peer-reviewed journals (e.g. Journal of STEM Outreach, Innovations in Education Teaching International; Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education; and Educational Assessment) and presented at a number of national conferences.
Increasing the Engagement and/or Educational Opportunities of the Campus or Community: Many of Loran’s projects serve to increase engagement and educational opportunities of the campus and the community. For example, Loran served as education research and evaluation partner on a $1.26 million Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) project funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) entitled, This is How we “Role:” Inspiring Future Researchers through Veterinary Medicine. This project, in partnership with the Purdue College of Veterinary Science, sought to diversify the pool of students aspiring to STEM careers by providing culturally responsive afterschool education programs to elementary age students that are educationally disadvantaged due to socioeconomic status, race, or ethnicity. The program includes clinician-scientist role models who are diverse in gender, race, and ethnicity to deliver the program that focuses on health conditions shared by people and animals (https://vet.purdue.edu/engagement/how-we-role/). Piloted with K-4th grade children at the Hana Community Center, this program has been distributed through “This is How We Role” chapters at 20 veterinary colleges nationwide (see distribution map here (https://vet.purdue.edu/engagement/how-we-role/index.php). The program won Inspiring Programs in STEM Awards from Insight Magazine in 2018 and 2020.
In every aspect of her work, Loran evidences her profound commitment to diversity, equity, and social justice (DESJ). Her work helps build more inclusive and supportive communities at Purdue, in the community, across the country, and increasingly in international contexts.