University of Delaware Online Research Magazine
University of Delaware Online Research Magazine

ISSN 2150-5128

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Profile: Liz Farley-Ripple

by | October 12, 2015

  Alison Burris

Communications Manager,
UD College of Education and Human Development
Elizabeth Farley-Ripple did not set out to become an education researcher. As an undergraduate at Georgetown University, she started out majoring in Latin American Studies. Then came Professor Bill McDonald’s sociology course focusing on research methods. “I had an aha moment,” says Farley-Ripple. “I realized I could have an impact—and actually apply the ideas I had been reading about.”

From that moment on, her career path was set. As she continued her studies to get an M.A. in quantitative methods for the social sciences at Columbia University and a Ph.D. in education policy from the University of Pennsylvania, Farley-Ripple discovered she had an affinity for working with large-scale school system data and was curious about how educators used that data as well.

“I began to focus my work on understanding educators’ and the education system’s capacity to generate, interpret and apply data and research to decisions about improving schools,” Farley-Ripple explains.

Now an associate professor and interim associate director of the School of Education, Farley-Ripple’s goal is to contribute to both the evidence base that educators can tap into when making decisions, and to increase their capacity and likelihood to use that evidence. She accomplishes this through a number of initiatives. She is a co-investigator on two prestigious grants with UD colleagues: a Spencer funded study with Joan Buttram, director of the Delaware Education Research and Development Center, exploring the relationship between assessment systems, teachers’ instructional decisions and student outcomes, and a $5 million, five-year Institute of Education Sciences grant with Henry May, director of the Center for Research, Education and Social Policy, evaluating research use in education.

As if that weren’t enough, Farley-Ripple also connects these goals to her teaching. She teaches a research use course and a policy course in UD’s Ed.D. in Education Leadership program, a data literacy course in the M.Ed. in Teacher Leadership program, and has been working with faculty on the Educational Assessment for Classroom Teachers course in the Elementary Teacher Education Program.

“I want what I do to matter, to help improve schools by helping teachers and leaders positively impact their students,” Farley-Ripple says. “I strive to be responsive to real problems of practice in schools and for educators to see my work as valuable to their efforts. I may not be on the front lines, teaching a child to learn to read or leading a school, but I can reach and hopefully support countless educators by conducting research and sharing knowledge that positively influences the capacity and practice of those doing the critically important work in our schools.”


Encouragement from two professors and the opportunities they provided pointed Liz Farley-Ripple to research and statistical analysis, skills she now uses to analyze data from large school systems.

In 2013, 24.3% of full professors in science, engineering and health in the U.S. were women. — National Science Foundation

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