AMHERST, Mass. – It is being billed as a “Ronference,” which may seem like a particularly airy and whimsical way to honor the weighty career of one of the most substantial international contributors to the singularly serious field of psychometrics.
But that is precisely the case as the University of Massachusetts Amherst prepares a two-day celebration of the work of Distinguished University Professor Ronald Hambleton, chair of the research and evaluation methods program and co-director of the Center for Educational Assessment at UMass Amherst’s School of Education, and a central figure in the national psychometric community.
More formally, the Nov. 9-10 event is called “Teach Your Children Well: A Conference to Honor Ronald K. Hambleton,” featuring “one of the most influential, hard-working and prolific” members of the psychometric community.
The term psychometry is not a household word, but as practiced by Hambleton, psychometry has touched the lives of individuals, organizations, states and countries around the world, say conference organizers. Psychometry is nothing less than the theory and techniques of psychological measurements, including measurements of knowledge, abilities, attitudes, personality traits and education achievements.
Hambleton earned his B.A. degree with honors in 1966 from the University of Waterloo in Canada with majors in mathematics and psychology, and an M.A. in 1968 and Ph.D. in 1969 from the University of Toronto with specialties in psychometric methods and statistics. He joined the School of Education faculty in 1970.
In 1994, Hambleton was awarded an honorary doctorate from the faculty of social sciences at the University of Umea in Sweden. He also received the Chancellor's Medal for distinguished scientific research contributions and the School of Education’s Outstanding Teacher Award at UMass Amherst. He was promoted to the rank of Distinguished University Professor in 1998 – only the 16th appointment to this rank in the 150-year history of the university.
He has directed recently or co-directs currently, research contracts with the College Board, Educational Testing Service, Harcourt Educational Measurement, the Law School Admissions Council, Microsoft, the Massachusetts Department of Education, the National Assessment Governing Board, the National Science Foundation and Pearson Educational Measurement.