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Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education
Ruth Childs

Ruth Childs

phone: (416) 978-1079

Leadership, Higher and Adult Education

Centre for the Study of Canadian and International Higher Education

Research Overview

Ruth Childs conducts research on the design and equity of large-scale assessments, admissions processes, and other evaluation systems. Her most recent large research projects investigated how elementary students deal with uncertainty when answering multiple-choice questions and what Ontario's universities are doing to improve access for underrepresented groups. She holds the Ontario Research Chair in Postsecondary Education Policy and Measurement.

Academic History

PhD in Quantitative Psychology from University of North Carolina
BSc in Psychology from Duke University

Teaching Overview

Professor Childs teaches courses in research design, survey research, assessment, and evaluation.

Representative Publications

Childs, R. A., Elgie, S., Brijmohan, A., & Yang, J. (2019). “What if I don’t know the answer?” Fifth-grade students’ responses to uncertainty in test-taking. Canadian Journal of Education, 42, 905-930. 

Paabo, M., Brijmohan, A., Klubi, T., Evans-Tokaryk, T., & Childs, R. A. (2019). Participation in peer-led supplemental instruction groups, academic performance, and time to graduation. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice.

Fraser, C., Herman, J., Elgie, S., & Childs, R. A. (2018). How school leaders search for and use evidence. Educational Research, 60(4), 390-409.

Brijmohan, A., Khan, G. A., Orpwood, G., Brown, E. S., & Childs, R. A. (2018). Collaboration between content experts and assessment specialists: Using a validity argument framework to develop a college mathematics assessment. Canadian Journal of Education, 41, 584-600.

Childs, R. A., Broomes, O., & Herbert, M. B. (2018). Deciding whether to respond: A latent class analysis of nonresponse on Ontario’s Grade 9 Assessment of Mathematics. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 64, 70-87.

von Bergmann, H., & Childs, R. A. (2017). Creating a test blueprint for a progress testing program: A paired-comparisons approach. Medical Teacher, 40(3), 267-274.

Childs, R. A., Hanson, M. D., Carnegie-Douglas, S., & Archbold, A. (2016). Investigating the effects of access initiatives for underrepresented groups. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education.

Childs, R. A., Ferguson, A. K., Herbert, M. B., Broad, K., & Zhang, J. (2016). Evaluating admission criteria effects for underrepresented groups. Higher Education Research and Development, 35, 658-668.

Childs, R. A., & Ferguson, A. K. (2015). Changes in, to, and through the initial teacher education program admission process. In L. Thomas & M. Hirschkorn (Eds.), Change and progress in Canadian teacher education: Research on recent innovations in teacher preparation in Canada (pp. 420-440). E-book published by the Canadian Association for Teacher Education.

Doran, J., Ferguson, A. K., Khan, G. A., Ryu, G., Naimool, D., Hanson, M. D., & Childs, R. (2015). What are Ontario’s universities doing to improve access for underrepresented groups? Toronto: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.

Cyr, D., Childs, R., & Elgie, S. (2013). Recruiting students for research in higher education: A guide. Toronto: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.

Childs, R. A., Broad, K., Gallagher-Mackay, K., Sher, Y., Escayg, K.-A., & McGrath, C. (2011). Pursuing equity in and through teacher education program admissions. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 19(24), 1-16.

Casey, C. E., & Childs, R. A. (2011). Teacher education admission criteria as measure of preparedness for teaching. Canadian Journal of Education, 34(2), 3-20.

Emenogu, B. C., Falenchuk, O., & Childs, R. A. (2010). The effect of missing data treatment on Mantel-Haenszel DIF detection. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 56, 458-468.

Miller, T., Chahine, S., & Childs, R. A. (2010). Detecting differential item functioning and differential step functioning due to differences that should matter. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 15(10), 1-13.

Childs, R. A., & Fung, L. (2009). “The first year they cried”: How teachers address test stress. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 64, 1-14.

Childs, R. A., & Umezawa, L. (2009). When the teacher is the test proctor. Canadian Journal of Education, 32, 618-651.

Childs, R. A., Ram, A., & Xu, Y. (2009). Combining dual scaling with semi-structured interviews to interpret rating differences. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 14(11), 1-9.

Dénommé, F., & Childs, R. A. (2008). Does Ontario have an achievement gap?: The challenge of comparing the performance of students in French- and English-language schools on national and international assessments. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 71, 1-24.

Casey, C. E., & Childs, R. A. (2007). Teacher education program admission criteria and what beginning teachers need to know to be successful teachers. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 67, 1-24.

Childs, R. A., Jaciw, A. P., & Saunders, K. (2007). Scoring guide alignment: Combining scorer judgments with item parameter estimates to set cut points. International Journal of Testing, 7, 243-254.

Childs, R. A., Dunn, J. L., van Barneveld, C., & Jaciw, A. P. (2007). Does it matter if you “kill” the patient or order too many tests? Scoring alternatives for a test of clinical reasoning skills. International Journal of Testing, 7, 127-139.

Childs, R. A., & Bower, B. (2006). Teacher testing and certification: An historical perspective from Ontario. Journal of Educational Administration and History, 38, 279-291.

Childs, R. A., & Jaciw, A. P. (2003). Matrix sampling of items in large-scale assessments. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 8(16).

Childs, R. A., & Oppler, S. H. (2000). Implications of test dimensionality for unidimensional IRT scoring: An investigation of a high-stakes testing program. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 60, 939-955.

Meet Ruth Childs - Watch the Video