Melissa Dodson is a principal researcher at AIR with over 15 years of research expertise focused on STEM teacher preparation and STEM K-12 programs for students underrepresented in STEM. Currently, Dr. Dodson is the principal investigator of an NSF INCLUDES grant, the American STEM Alliance Network Improvement Community. She is also the senior advisor for the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) in the Southwest region where she oversees teacher preparation and professional development priorities in eight practitioner/researcher alliances. In 2014, she was awarded an IES grant and serves as the principal investigator of a study examining Texas teacher preparation programs and estimating their effects on teacher and student outcomes. In addition, she is the project director leading a study evaluating the TEACH Grant program for the U.S. Department of Education.
In previous positions, Dr. Dodson developed systems to monitor teacher preparation programs, including candidate enrollment, satisfaction, completion, in-service teacher retention and attrition, and teaching competencies. She assisted in the development of the UTeach Teacher Observation Protocol, which measures teacher competencies and is one of the national instruments featured in the MET project. Dr. Dodson was a senior-level manager at the UTeach Institute, a center that supports the scale-up of the UTeach STEM teacher preparation program at over 44 universities across the nation. In this role, she developed and oversaw processes for assessing fidelity of implementation of the program at each university site using interview and focus group protocols, surveys, and archival program data. In 2002, Dr. Dodson served as a select panel member of the Evaluation and Redesign of University Teacher Educator Programs for the Louisiana Board of Regents and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. In this role, she developed state standards for teacher preparation programs, reviewed universities’ teacher preparation redesign plans, provided feedback to universities regarding their proposals, and made recommendations to the university system relative to acceptance of the redesign plans.