College of Education Professor Dr. Justin Ballenger Named 2021 National Science Foundation QCM Scholar

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Dr. Justin Ballenger

ATLANTA – Mercer University College of Education faculty member Dr. Justin Ballenger was recently invited by the Institute in Critical Quantitative, Computational and Mixed-Methodologies (ICQCM) to participate in the 2021 National Science Foundation (NSF) QCM Scholars cohort.

The NSF Quantitative, Computational and Mixed Methods (QCM) Scholars Program seeks to catalyze scholarship about STEM education and research.

Dr. Ballenger is one of 35 scholars in the cohort who will have the opportunity to affiliate with ICQCM for a two-year period. During this time, he will participate in a series of training seminars facilitated by leading methodologists, researchers and critical theorists. Support also includes personalized coaching and access to foundation resources.

Dr. Ballenger, who serves as assistant professor of STEM education and director of the STEM Education Innovation (SEI) Lab at Mercer, plans to use his time as an NSF QCM Scholar to conduct research on broadening participation in STEM among minoritized groups by supporting minority-led nonprofits that engage in STEM outreach.

“This is an amazing opportunity to learn from some the top scholars in the field of STEM education and build a greater understanding of how to support STEM outreach for students, schools and communities in Georgia,” said Dr. Ballenger.

Dr. Ballenger earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences, Master of Arts in Teaching in middle grades science and mathematics and Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction for STEM education from Clemson University.

He has taught or developed a number of courses in the College of Education focused on science/STEM methods, curriculum planning, teacher field supervision and culturally responsive pedagogy. He is also involved in the University’s education initiative in the Dominican Republic, where he directs its AgSTEM project.

In addition to his time at Mercer, he worked with the National Dropout Prevention Center to develop web-based courses for pre-service educators who are preparing to teach students from underserved populations, and he served as a public school STEM educator for 11 years, teaching in South Carolina and Georgia.

Dr. Ballenger holds National Board Certification in the area of Early Adolescent Science and has been recognized by Clemson University’s Call Me MISTER Program® as a Master Teacher.

His research agenda is focused on the academic achievement of underserved populations and pathways for students from underserved backgrounds to pursue STEM careers both in the United States and abroad.

ICQCM is committed to advancing the use of data science methodologies among scholars at institutions serving predominantly underrepresented students, underrepresented postdoctoral and faculty researchers at all institutions, and those who conduct research with Latina/o/x, Indigenous and Black communities.

Visit www.ICQCM.org for more information and www.nsf.gov to learn about the program’s sponsor, the National Science Foundation.

About the STEM Education Innovation (SEI) Lab

The STEM Education Innovation (SEI) Lab serves as a resource for STEM educators.  We produce scholarly information designed to support the development of educational practices and policies. Our work is focused on STEM Education to advance educational innovation, equality, economic development, and social engagement in the United States and abroad.  For more information, visit www.seilab.org.

About the College of Education

Mercer University’s Tift College of Education – with campuses in Macon, Atlanta and the University’s two regional academic centers – prepares more professional educators than any other private institution in Georgia. Named for the former women’s college that merged with Mercer in 1986, the College of Education offers baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and is guided by the conceptual framework of the “Transforming Educator,” which supports those who aspire to grow professionally throughout their careers, while also seeking to transform the lives of students. For more information, visit education.mercer.edu.

Kyle Sears
Kyle is the director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he coordinates hometown and university news releases and serves as editor of the News@Mercer e-newsletter and Reach magazine.​