David Lopatto is the Samuel R. and Marie-Louise Rosenthal Professor of Natural Science and Mathematics, Professor of Psychology, and Director of the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment at Grinnell College. His career includes a term as Chair of the Faculty as well as a stint as Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College.
Lopatto’s work uncovers the complex career and personal gains students acquire for doing authentic research with faculty mentors. Central to his research and national impact have been several survey instruments that capture student self-reported feedback and enable analysis of the impact of experiences on student self-perceived gains in knowledge, skills, and confidence in research. The Survey of Undergraduate Research Experiences (SURE) was developed by Lopatto in 2004 and was the first instrument available to faculty and program directors for assessing the impact of research programs. It was quickly adopted by faculty for use in diverse applications.
Since the introduction of the SURE (now in its third iteration), Lopatto has directed the development of related instruments, including measures of perceived student impacts of classroom-based STEM research (CURE), interdisciplinary STEM curricula (RISC), and research in non-STEM areas (ROLE). These assessment tools are now used by over 150 institutions with over 10,000 students annually.
Possibly the most significant impact of Lopatto’s work has been in establishing standardized faculty practice for assessment, which has laid the groundwork for development of new approaches and tools for student outcomes assessment. Progress in the past decade has advanced assessment practice in STEM communities, and the conversation has expanded to include education researchers, cognitive scientists, and evaluation scholars, all of whom now inform practical understanding of student learning in STEM.
He was elected a Fellow of the Education Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2015 and was awarded the Bruce Alberts Award for distinguished contributions to science education by The American Society for Cell Biology in 2016.
His published work includes the book Science in Solution: The Impact of Undergraduate Research on Student Learning.