Q&A with Dr. Ken Fujimoto
Title/s: Assistant Professor
Specialty Area: Research Methodology
Where is your hometown?
Long Beach, California
Tell me a little about your research and areas of expertise.
One area of my research involves developing novel Bayesian nonparametric item response theory (IRT) models to more effectively examine the quality of educational and psychological test data. These models identify and control when (1) test items function differently across latent subgroups of persons and (2) when correlated method effects are present in the data. Another aspect of my research focuses on evaluating and refining rating instruments that measure the quality of daycare centers and mental health-related constructs.
How did you become passionate about these topics? What or who inspired you?
My interest arose because of the implications test scores have on individuals and communities of individuals. When the scores are not accurate reflections of what it is intended to measure, misleading conclusions about individuals can be made. These misleading conclusions could bring consequences for the individuals, as well as form new or perpetuate stereotypes about the individuals’ communities. The desire to ensure that test scores are an accurate reflection of what they claim to reflect is what drives my research.
You have an MFA in creative writing. Do you still actively write? How is this training relevant to your work with analysis and measurement?
Being a new faculty member, I’m trying to be the best teacher I can be while trying to find time for my research. But I did write up until this summer, and hopefully, I’ll find time for it again. What I have been able to do is enjoy reading a short story here and there this semester.
A lot of people don’t really see the connection between the two, but to me, quantitative data (in education, social sciences, public health, and so forth) have a story to tell about the human condition. It is just that the numbers tell the story rather than words. So to me, extracting a message from a story and data are the same.
What courses are you instructing at Loyola?
Right now, I’m teaching introductory and intermediate applied statistics courses. Next semester, I will instruct a course on my specialty (item response theory), which will focus on examining the quality of the data used to form test scores.
What is one concept you want your Loyola students to learn from your course(s)?
The one thing I want my students to learn is that statistics is just one out of the many tools at our disposal to help us understand the human condition. And like any tool, it can easily be misused.