Get to Know doctoral student Maritza Casas

My name is Maritza Casas. I grew up in Barranquilla, Colombia. It is a city located in the north coast of Colombia. A beautiful Caribbean city with warm weather, happy people, wonderful music and delicious food. As an additional fact it is also the home city of Colombian singer Shakira and actress Sofia Vergara.

I’m a doctoral student in REMO- research in educational measurement and psychometrics - and my advisor is Stephen G. Sireci.

I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and master’s degrees in psychology from the Universidad de los Andes and the Universidad Nacional de Colombia both in Bogotá, Colombia.

I studied psychology and worked for three years in clinical child psychology. Then, I worked as a lecturer in two psychology departments for 9 years teaching quantitative research methods and measurement methods in psychology. In my first master’s program , I validated a psychological scale for children with Colombian population and for my second master's, I assessed the impact of computerized test accommodations for blind students in a large-scale assessment developed by the Colombian government and required for college admission purposes. As part of my second master’s, I came to UMass for a short internship and got to know the program, professors and staff. Then, I knew that this would be the right place for me to pursue a doctoral program.

I came to the College of Education because it has one of the best and most recognized doctoral programs in psychometrics around the world. I knew the program of study, as well as some of the research projects, and they matched my academic and research interests.

I am currently working on two research projects. In one project I am implementing a penalized statistical procedure (LASSO) to perform variable selection and predict achievement in mathematics in the TIMSS-advanced. And the other project is on how to handle missing data when testing the dimensionality of a multistage- adaptive test: the Massachusetts Adult Proficiency Tests (MAPT).

I want to keep developing skills as a researcher and follow my research interests with a post doc. I would also like to focus on my family and friends, travel around the world, and live in a place close to the sea.

I don’t have much of leisure time but when I do, I like to dance, spend time with my friends, workout, go hiking and I also sing in a choir.

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