Dr. James P. Van Haneghan

Dr. James P. Van Haneghan

Professor, Department of Professional Studies
Program and Instructional Evaluation, Assessment, Research Methods, Cognition & Problem Solving, Mathematics Education


B.S., Psychology and Business, SUNY College at Brockport, 1979
M.S., Experimental Psychology, SUNY College at Geneseo, 1982
Ph.D., Applied Developmental Psychology, University of Maryland, 1986

Teaching Philosophy

My approach to teaching draws on the heuristic guidance provided by the “How People Learn” framework that was explicated by the National Research council (How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School, Washington, DC, National Academies Press, 2000). First, I believe it is important to vary instructional strategies depending upon the goal of instruction. Hence, sometimes group activities, projects, or experiential learning strategies might be important. Other times, lecture may be the appropriate approach. Second, it is important for students to have opportunities for both formative and summative feedback about their work. This means giving students assignments and assessments throughout the semester and providing them with opportunities to submit multiple versions of assignments (e.g., drafts of papers). Third, it is important to consider who my students are, their strengths and weaknesses, and their aspirations. How I approach content will vary depending upon the background of my students and their interests. Finally, as much as possible, I like students to be able to apply what they learn and use it in a realistic context. Hence, I like to include projects and other applied activities in my courses.


My research interests are varied. Over the last several years my research focus has been on evaluation of programs in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) area. In particular, I have spent the last several years examining the design and efficacy of the Engaging Youth through Engineering middle school module curriculum in conjunction with the Mobile Area Education Foundation. Along with colleagues from MAEF and my graduate students, we have been interested in how we can measure the impact of the modules on students’ understanding of engineering design, student beliefs about STEM areas, and learning in related domains. I also have been involved in evaluating STEM teacher training and professional development. I am interested in organizational evaluation and assessment as well, having served as Director of Assessment and Evaluation in the College of Education at USA for 10 years In particular I am interested in how organizations balance the burden of assessment with the potential benefit of improved performance. Over the years, I have done research focused on problem solving and problem-based learning, motivation, mathematics education, teacher professional development, research methods, assessment, and other areas. I have been a frequent reviewer of tests and assessments for the Mental Measurements Yearbook Series, having been a reviewer for 6 editions.


Over the years I have engaged in both professional and community service. I have been a reviewer for several journals in education and human development, I have served as an officer in two professional organizations, I served as both the program chair and the TIG chair for the Prek-12 Educational Evaluation Thematic Interest Group of the American Evaluation Association. Over the last several years, I have been a board member and I am now president of CREATE (the Consortium for Research on Educational Assessment and Teaching Effectiveness).

In the local community, I have over the years been a consultant, advisor, and collaborator with the Mobile Area Education Foundation. From 2000 to 2013, I served on the Advisory Board for the Home Instructional Program for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) in Mobile. More recently, I have provided grant writing consultation and evaluation support to the Drug Education Council.

I have worked collaboratively with the Mobile County Public School System, helping them with implementation of their Transformation School Initiative, helping them to explore school climate data, and helping them address concerns about standardized testing in Mobile.

While at USA, I have served on a variety department, college, and university committees. These included: the IRB, the College of Education Assessment Committee, University Assessment Committee, and most recently the QEP advisory board committee. I have also on occasion served as evaluator for colleagues across campus as well as within my college. I have spent time both writing evaluation plans and carrying out evaluations.


Dr. Van Haneghan began his career as postdoctoral fellow in the mental retardation training program at George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. After his time as a postdoctoral fellow, he moved to the Learning Technology Center at Vanderbilt University for two additional years. After leaving Vanderbilt he taught research methods, statistics, educational psychology, and human development at Northern Illinois University for five years before coming to South Alabama in 1995 to be part of the Instructional Design and Development faculty. He has numerous publications and presentations. He is currently a member of the American Educational Research Association, the American Evaluation Association, the American Society for Engineering Education, and the Consortium for Research on Educational Assessment and Teaching Effectiveness (CREATE). He is the president of CREATE as well as a member.



IDE 630 - Quantitative Methods III

IDE 615 - Assessment and Evaluation for Leaders

IDE 635 - Advanced Measurement and Evaluation

IDE 660 - Program Research and Evaluation

EPY 602 - Advanced Learning Theory