Encyclopedia of Transportation Entry

1 10 2014

The chapter I coauthored with Henrik Gudmundsson, Greg Marsden, and Josias Zietsman on Sustainable Transportation was recently published in Mark Garrett’s Encyclopedia of Transportation: Social Science and Policy.2014-10-01_1323

Second Meeting of the DAC

30 09 2014

This morning we held the second meeting of the Dean’s Advisory Committee (DAC) for the University Libraries. The committee was asked the following questions which led to an engaging conversation that touched on the opportunities and challenges facing colleges, departments, programs, research institutions, faculty, and students:

  • What will research and teaching look like in ten years?
  • Is there anything you wish you could change about your research practices and the way you teach?
  • What barriers or obstacles prevent you from teaching differently and approaching research differently?
  • What core research, teaching, and learning skills, literacies, abilities, or mindsets could faculty and students develop at Virginia Tech? (How do we prepare students for jobs that don’t exist yet?)


Since I have been using Google Glass and Apps to advance the way I teach and undertake research, I have been confronted with a number of these types of questions over the past year. From this experience, I believe the future of teaching will be heavily influenced by “teaching analytics” that will enable faculty (and students) to identify how, where, and when student learning occurs. I also believe these data will enable faculty to become better teachers by identifying those techniques that effectively engage students.

As a relatively junior faculty member, I would also like to see the creation of “teaching coaches” who mentor faculty in the art of pedagogy. These coaches could be identified through VT’s awards for teaching or through projects funded by TLOS (Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies and be compensated (either financially or through a reduction in duties) for their mentoring work. The creation of an environment where faculty can experiment with new techniques, approaches, platforms, etc. is likely to be critical to advancing teaching and learning.

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Making Impact Evaluation Matter

24 09 2014

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending the Making Impact Evaluation Matter conference in Manila, hosted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), 3ie, and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). During the conference, I took part in a WASH Impact Evaluation Design Clinic and gave a presentation on the results of the impact evaluation I directed of the MCC-funded Rural Water Supply Program in Nampula, Mozambique. Whereas the final impact evaluation report was based on all of the data we collected, the results I presented in Manila focused only on the panel data obtained from the baseline (2011) and follow-up (2013) studies. The results from the panel data analysis (shown in the presentation below) align well with those developed from the full data set.


During the conference, Eric Vance spoke about his LISA2020 vision to create 20 statistical consulting laboratories in 20 developing countries by the year 2020. Eric is the Director VT’s Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Analysis (LISA) that was a key partner in the MCC impact evaluation. For more information on LISA2020 visit the program website.

VT doctoral student Marcos Carzolio also attended the conference and discussed his impact as the field statistician on the quality of data collected during the 2013 follow-up study. Marcos’s talk on Leveraging the Field Statistician to Ensure High Quality Impact Evaluations received the award for “Second Place Best Presentation by a Young Researcher.”

The slideshow below presents a number of images and tweets (#IEmatters) from the conference.

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New Paper – Transportation Research Part D

21 09 2014

A multi criteria decision analysis technique for including environmental impacts in sustainable infrastructure management business practices

James M. Bryce, Gerardo Flintsch, and Ralph P. Hall

Abstract: This paper presents a decision analysis technique to allow highway agencies to assess the tradeoffs between costs, condition and energy consumption. It is shown how the entire feasible solution space can be evaluated between multiple stakeholders with differing values to assess the desirability of the outcomes resulting from infrastructure management decisions. Furthermore, an example network-level analysis is presented using data from the Virginia Department of Transportation. The example analysis clearly shows a tradeoff between the most cost effective outcomes (i.e., minimizing the cost divided by the condition) and the outcomes where the energy consumption is minimized, and how decision analysis should account for this tradeoff. The results of the method presented in this paper show that various pavement management alternatives can be represented in terms of desirability, and that this desirability can assist the decision maker with making decisions about performance goals and targets.


New Paper in Survey Practice

13 09 2014

The Importance of Cleaning Data During Fieldwork: Evidence from Mozambique

Mark Seiss, Eric A. Vance, and Ralph P. Hall

Abstract: In many small-scale surveys with limited resources, data editing is usually conducted by a statistician after data collection has concluded. There are many benefits of including a statistician in the data editing process during the data collection phase of the survey. This paper describes a procedure for survey implementation of small-scale surveys in which the statistician identifies and edits the data as they are collected. We implemented this procedure during a household survey conducted in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, Africa, and detailed data on the editing process was recorded. This article analyzes this data to gain insight into the effects on the collected data. The results of the analysis indicate that the edited data may be of higher quality than data without edits.


MCC Impact Evaluation – Final Report

29 08 2014

Nampula_ReportI am pleased to announce the release of the final report of our impact evaluation of the MCC-funded Rural Water Supply Activity (RWSA) in Nampula, Mozambique. This peer-reviewed report provides a comprehensive discussion of the RWSA interventions, our research design, analysis approach, major findings, and the policy implications that emerged from this work.

The report can be downloaded from the MCC’s Open Data portal. This portal also provides access to the main surveying instruments and the raw data collected from the baseline (2011) and follow-up (2013) household surveys.

Defining Infrastructure

28 08 2014

During our urban infrastructure planning class this morning, we asked teams of students to select five words to describe infrastructure systems and list what they considered to be the main infrastructure systems. The two Wordles below capture their responses.

Words that describing frastructure

Words describing infrastructure

Major infrastructure systems

The major infrastructure systems



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