As an education policy researcher, Dr. Min Sun's work has centered on the policies and practices for improving teacher and school effectiveness. She specializes in using quantitative methods, educator workforce development, teacher peer and learning, school accountability, and school improvement.
Her scholarship is built on the premise that federal and state educational agencies can serve as the “catalyst” for change and can provide assistance to that end; the actual change is enacted by effective teachers and schools that are striving to improve their practices. Seeing educational change through this lens has motivated her to connect two areas of scholarship that often are studied separately. Conventionally, quantitative researchers use rigorous causal methods on a large scale to assess the impacts of a policy/program on student outcomes. It is then left to qualitative researchers to examine the specific mechanisms of change in a small number of classrooms and schools. In practice, however, we need to integrate these two strands of research to better inform, and promote, successful school reforms. To achieve this integration, she uses novel strategies of social network analysis and computer-assisted text analysis to examine detailed “process” data on teacher professional networks, school improvement actions/tasks, and classroom instructional practices, but on a large scale. She then uses causal inference techniques to connect these quantitative measures of school and instructional processes with outcome measures on teacher labor market dynamics and students’ success, both short-term (e.g., test scores, attendance) and long-term (graduation, post-secondary education, and employment).
These approaches allow her to ask unique questions about developing teacher effectiveness and improving the lowest performing schools. Examples of key questions that she investigates are these: How does a teacher’s effectiveness affect the achievement of her/his colleagues’ students in the same school, and how do we build teacher teams that maximize student learning in the aggregate? What are effective school improvement and instructional practices, and in which types of schools and communities? In posing these types of questions, she addresses the long-standing criticism leveled at much of the exiting scholarship in policy studies: its inability to explain the specific mechanisms of change. One indicator of the quality and impact of her contributions to the field to date is her receipt of the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award.
Dr. Sun’s work has been published in peer-reviewed journals of American Educational Research Journal, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Education Finance and Policy, American Journal of Education, Teachers College Record, Educational Administration Quarterly, and School Effectiveness and School Improvement among others. Her research has received support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and agencies.
Dr. Sun serves as the Principal Investigator of Education Policy Analytics Lab (EPAL).
Education policy, School Effectiveness and School Improvement, Teacher and principal labor market; Peer effects and teacher learning; Quantitative methods (i.e., econometrics and social network analysis)
Ph.D. Dual major in Educational Policy (Ed. Policy) and Measurement and Quantitative Methods (MQM), Michigan State University
Selected Journal Articles
Jihyun, Kim, Min Sun, and Peter Youngs. “Developing the ‘Will’: The Relationship between Teachers’ Perceived Policy Legitimacy and Instructional Improvement.” Teachers College Record, in press
Master, B., Sun, M., & Loeb, S. (2018). Teacher workforce developments: Recent changes in academic competitiveness and job satisfaction of new teachers. Education Finance and Policy. 13(3), pp.310-332.
Sun, Min, Emily Penner, & Susanna Loeb. 2017. "Resource-and approach-driven multi-dimensional change: Three-year effects of School Improvement Grants." American Educational Research Journal, 54(4), 607–643.
Sun, M., Andrew Saultz, and Yincheng Ye. 2017. “Federal Policy and the Teacher Labor Market: Exploring the Effects of NCLB on Teacher Turnover.” School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 28(1), 102–122.
Sun, Min, Susanna Loeb, and Jason A. Grissom. 2017. “Building Teacher Teams: Positive Spillover from More Effective Colleagues.” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 39(1), 104–125.
Sun, Min, and Yongmei Ni. 2016. “Work Environments and Labor Markets: Explaining Principal Turnover Gap between Charter Schools and Traditional Public Schools.” Educational Administration Quarterly, 52(1): 144-183.
Ni, Yongmei, Min Sun, and Andrea Rorrer. 2015. “Principal Turnover: Upheaval and Uncertainty in Charter Schools?” Educational Administration Quarterly, 51(3): 409-437.
Frank, Kenneth A.*, Yun-Jia Lo*, and Min Sun*. 2014. “Social Network Analysis of the Influences of Educational Reforms on Teachers’ Practices and Interactions.” Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft (A German Journal). * Co-first authors, alphabetically ordered.
Sun, Min, Annie Garrison, Christine J. Larson, and Kenneth A. Frank. 2014. “Exploring Colleagues’ Professional Influences on Mathematics Teachers’ Learning.” Teachers College Record, 116(6): 305-335.
Konstantopoulos, Spyros, and Min Sun. 2014. “Are Teacher Effects Larger in Small Classes?” School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 25(3): 312-328.
Sun, Min, William R. Penuel, Kenneth A. Frank, H. Alix Gallagher, and Peter Youngs. 2013. “Shaping Professional Development to Promote the Diffusion of Instructional Expertise among Teachers.” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 35(3): 344 -369.
Sun, Min, Kenneth A. Frank, William R. Penuel, and Chongmin Kim. 2013. “How External Institutions Penetrate Schools through Formal and Informal Leaders?” Educational Administration Quarterly, 49(4): 610-644.
Penuel, William R.*, Kenneth A. Frank*, Min Sun, Chongmin Kim, and Corinne A. Singleton. 2013. “The Organization as a Filter of Institutional Diffusion.” Teachers College Record, 115 (1): 306-339. *co-first authors.
Konstantopoulos, Spyros, and Min Sun. 2012. “Is the Persistence of Teacher Effects in Early Grades Larger for Lower-Performing Students?” American Journal of Education, 118 (3): 309-339.
Penuel, William R., Min Sun, Kenneth A. Frank, and H. Alix Gallagher. 2012. “Using Social Network Analysis to Study How Collegial Interactions Can Augment Teacher Learning From External Professional Development.” American Journal of Education, 119 (1): 103-136.
Sun, Min., Peter Youngs, Haiyan Yang, Hongqi Chu, and Qian Zhao. 2012. “The Association of District Principal Leadership Evaluation with Learning-Centered Leadership Practice: Evidence from Michigan and Beijing.” Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 24(3): 189-213.
Sun, Min, and Peter Youngs. 2009. “How Does District Principal Evaluation Affect Learning-Centered Principal Leadership? Evidence from Michigan School Districts.” Leadership and Policy in Schools, 8(4): 411-445.
07/2018- 06/19 Spencer Foundation, “Public Policy, Organizational Reform Strategies and Performance: A Textual Analysis of Strategic Actions that Move the Needle in Underperforming Schools.” Principal Investigator.
01/2018– 12/19 Spencer Foundation, “Cultivating Capacity for Racial Equity in Education.” Co-Principal Investigator (with PI Dr. Ann Ishimaru and Co-PI Dr. Filiberto Barajas-López).
07/2017– 06/18 Royalty Research Fund (RRF), “Using Text as Data to Understand School Improvement Strategies and Their Impacts.” Principal Investigator.
06/2017– 05/18 Washington Educational Research Association (WERA), “Research Collaborative on Addressing Systemic Disparities in Education.” Co-Principal Investigator (with PI Dr. Ann Ishimaru and Co-PI Dr. Filiberto Barajas-López).
08/2014– 07/19 National Science Foundation (NSF), “CAREER: Exploring Beginning Mathematics Teachers’ Career Patterns.” Principal Investigator.
09/2013 – 08/15 National Science Foundation (NSF), “Cross-National Comparison of School and District Supports for High-Quality Mathematics Instruction in the U.S. and China.” Co-PI with Thomas Smith and Paul Cobb.
07/2013– 07/14 Virginia Tech, “Organizing for Policy Implementation in Schools: Evidence from the Implementation of New Performance-Based Teacher Evaluation Reform in Virginia.” Principal Investigator. Jointly funded by CLAHS Grant-Writing Incentive Grants and Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment (ISCE).
06/2010 – 05/11 American Educational Research Association (AERA), in conjunction with National Science Foundation (NSF). “Shaping Professional Development to Promote the Diffusion of Instructional Expertise among Teachers.” Principal Investigator.
EDLPS 567 Teaching and Teacher Quality Policy
EDPSY 567 Applied Quasi-experimental Research in Education and Other Social Science
EDLPS 564 Economics of Education
EDLPS 560 Perspectives on Education Policy and Policy-Making