About Me

Biographical Sketch

Jacob by a waterfall on the Mount Timpanogos trailI was born and raised in southeast Idaho where I worked on my family’s sawmill and logging business. After a two-year stint as a missionary in eastern Bolivia, I studied Mechanical Engineering and earned my Bachelor of Science degree from Brigham Young University-Idaho. I then studied robotics and control systems at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT with the MAGICC lab. My Masters thesis focused on 3-D path planning for small unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) in wilderness search and rescue operations. I then came to Utah State and recently completed a doctoral degree in Engineering Education. For my dissertation research, I conducted a controlled study of the flipped classroom with a sophomore-level undergraduate numerical methods course. I am currently doing post-doctoral work on multi-method mediation with Dr. Christian Geiser in the Latent Variable Analysis (LAVA) lab at Utah State University.

Research Interests

My research interests follow two general veins. The first includes open online education systems, electronic homework, intelligent tutoring systems, and interactive video lectures.

The second involves methodological and analytical tools that support these systems: structural equation modeling, latent variable analysis, and educational data mining. Influenced by an engineering background, I have an affinity for employing and extending theories with a clear mathematical foundation and testable assumptions.

Teaching Interests

Since at least high school, I have had a goal of becoming a university professor, which is the main reason I continued my education and completed a PhD. I am excited about the prospect of helping others learn so they can develop the skills they need to be successful (and also the sheer joy of learning). During graduate school, I became aware of a wave of new efforts to re-invent education, and to make it more accessible. Wikipedia, MIT open courseware, Khan Academy, Udacity, edX, Coursera, Duolingo, and Codecademy are a few examples.

The potential impact of these efforts is mind-boggling when you consider the number of students who can learn from a single teacher or small team. These also present new challenges to current teachers as we learn how to use open educational materials to improve the classroom experience, and determine how to handle students who have used them to obtain requisite knowledge but without having received course credit.