Robyn Thomas Pitts

Assistant Professor

  • Faculty
  • Morgridge College of Education

What I do

Assistant Professor of Evaluation and Mixed Methods Research<br>Research Methods and Statistics Program <br>Research Methods and Information Science Department<br>Morgridge College of Education<br>The University of Denver<br>Director of REACH, the <i>Research, Evaluation, and Assessment Collaboratory Hub</i>

Professional Biography

Dr. Thomas Pitts, PhD, is an assistant professor at the University of Denver (DU). She began her career as secondary science educator with Teach for America and earned a professional Master of Education in Teaching (MEdT) degree from the University of Hawai’i at Manōa with an emphasis on secondary science and a research focus on scientific literacy. During her career as an educator, Dr. Thomas Pitts designed and implemented 10+ unique HS science courses, trained 3 cohorts of new teachers in summer training institutes in Texas and Mississippi, and founded the first Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) charter high school in Colorado as part of a 7-member founding team. She concurrently worked as an educational administrator using student learning outcomes (SLO) assessment data for program evaluation as science department chair, grade leader, and assistant principal of KIPP Denver Collegiate High School (KDC). Dr. Thomas Pitts also worked as a clinical skills coordinator at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (VTCSOM).

In both institutions, Dr. Thomas Pitts streamlined systems and logistics for SLO assessment and facilitated educational programming centered on developing competencies through interim, formative, and summative assessment. At KDC, she was responsible for leading the site-level K-12 state assessment program and for school report card-based action plans required by Denver Public Schools. At VTCSOM, she was responsible for facilitating medical education (MedEd) performance assessments known as objective, structured clinical examinations (OSCEs) and for partnering with medical educators to align content, instruction, and assessment with medical licensing examination (USMLE) requirements.

Through her doctoral training at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Dr. Thomas Pitts explored the use and influence of assessments within educational organizations while working on a number of studies involving assessment in higher education, standardized testing, accountability reporting, and educational evaluation. As an assistant professor, she has developed courses on research design, ethics, and evaluation and created extracurricular learning opportunities for aspiring evaluation and assessment methodologists. Dr. Thomas Pitts annually hosts Evaluating Better Together for regional evaluators and engages in program assessment using SLO evidence as a DU assessment fellow.

Currently, Dr. Thomas Pitts studies evaluation education and evaluator education programs, teaches evaluation and mixed methods, directs REACH (the Research, Evaluation, & Assessment Collaboratory Hub at DU), and provides evaluation consultation services on grant-funded projects advancing equity and promoting culturally responsive educational models. Outside of the university, she spends her time parenting, hiking, biking, camping, and skiing.

Degree(s)

  • Ph.D., Educational Research Methodology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2017
  • M.Ed.T., Professional Teaching Degree, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2009
  • BS, Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, 2007

Professional Affiliations

  • American Evaluation Association
  • Colorado Evaluation Network
  • American Educational Research Association
  • National Council on Measurement in Education

Research

I research how and why people learn evaluation in the university setting, including a focus on student learning outcomes assessment, organizational learning, and the use of evaluation to support classroom learning. In this context, I research how evaluation affects people and situations with an overall focus on culturally responsive and reflexive practices. I currently teach graduate-level courses in research methods and evaluation, including many experiential learning courses, and manage a student interest group, a collaboratory hub serving the community, and annual conference for local evaluation students/practitioners.