Melinda C. Bier, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Center for Character and Citizenship, UMSL
Melinda C. Bier is currently the Associate Director for the Center for Character and Citizenship (CCC) and Senior Research Fellow in the Division of Educational Psychology, Evaluation and Research, College of Education, University of Missouri, St. Louis. Bier’s expertise spans the fields of Character Education, teacher preparation and professional development, and the design and use of instructional technology for enhanced teaching and learning. She has extensive experience in the adoption of K-12 educational innovations, providing and managing professional development for geographically and culturally diverse teachers, and in the philanthropic sector.
Bier currently serves as the project director for the development of a blended learning version of the CCC’s Leadership Academy in Character Education (LACE). LACE is a year-long professional development program that helps school leaders learn how to shepherd character education based school transformations. The project is collaboration between the Center for Character and Citizenship and HTC Educational Foundation to bring the highly successful US LACE program to Taiwan.
Bier is the principal investigator for a series of cross-disciplinary service learning projects that address the social determinants of health disparities called Youth Empowerment in Action (YEA!). Funded by the Missouri Foundation for Health and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, these projects all involve assessing the impact of school and community-based positive youth development interventions on outcomes such as health, character, and academic achievement. For example, The Youth Empowerment in Action! Tobacco Education, Advocacy and Media (YEA! TEAM) program is a research-based, service-learning program that integrates tobacco education, media literacy, and civic engagement. Other YEA! projects have focused on the support mechanisms necessary to the promotion of healthy and active life styles in rural, urban and suburban communities.
Bier is co-author of a comprehensive and interdisciplinary review of the scientific literature supporting the development of character in school age students with Marvin W. Berkowitz, Sanford N. McDonnell Professor of Character Education, University of Missouri-St. Louis. This work was funded by grants from the Character Education Partnership, US Department of Education Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, and The John Templeton Foundation. Bier has served as a consultant to US Department of Education, Mathmatica Policy Research, Character Education Partnership, and Caliber Associates on issues related to program evaluation.
In her previous positions as Visiting Research Fellow and Program Officer with the James S. McDonnell Foundation she administered the Cognitive Science in the Classroom Program, reviewed scientific research proposals, and investigated ways in which not-for-profit and philanthropic organizations could more efficiently collaborate to achieve their goals.
In her dissertation research she spent more than three years investigating the ways in which low-income families could make use of home computers and high speed Internet access to strengthen the school-home-community connection. This research won a NSF Dissertation Improvement Award and was highlighted in scholarly publications including Nature and The Scientist as well as in popular media such as USA Today, National Public Radio and local newspapers. She has been an advisor to the American Association for the Advancement of Science and NSF on issues related to ethics in cyberspace and the use of human subjects in educational research.
As Assistant Director of the Space Coast Center for Excellence she was responsible for the daily operations of the Florida Department of Education’s regional professional development and resource center, interpreting, disseminating, and supporting the implementation of both traditional and alternative methods of assessment and evaluation, and coordinating teacher workshops and curriculum development.
She has presented at international conferences and in the peer reviewed literature on the topics of Character Education, ethical concerns in educational research, and Internet use by underserved populations. Her most recent work has appeared in Health Promotion Practice and Journal of Media Literacy Education. Educational Leadership, The Handbook of Moral Education, and The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Bier co-authored Mobilizing for Evidence-Based Character Education (2007) for the Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools.