Faculty Profiles

Marc A. Scott

Associate Professor of Educational Statistics

"What's interesting about being a statistician," says Marc Scott, "is that I get to work with people from many different fields, and track how they struggle to understand their world."

"What's interesting about being a statistician," says Marc Scott, "is that I get to work with people from many different fields, and track how they struggle to understand their world."

Scott, who received a PhD in statistics from NYU, is an assistant professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences in the Professions. He is also Steinhardt's director of Inter-Departmental Research Studies (IDRS). "Because the faculty and students have many areas of interest, the School needs a foundation for all of the different disciplines. My job is to make sure we offer the kinds of courses our students need, and one way I do this is by understanding what engages the faculty."

When not teaching or running IDRS, Scott is involved in two longitudinal research projects. One, funded by the US Department of Education National Assessment on Vocational Education (NAVE), looks at people's education goals. The focus of the research is non-traditional students who don't, for various reasons, experience a straight four-year baccalaureate trajectory. "Does it matter if a college student stops out periodically and then picks up later?” asks Scott. “Do these non-traditional students graduate (eventually)?"

Scott's other research project is a collaboration with Annetta Bernhardt, a research scientist at NYU's Brennan Center for Justice. "In this country roughly 30% of workers in their mid-to-late-thirties earn less than $10 an hour and can expect little to no real wage growth in the future. And education, while playing a role, is not a sufficient explanation. We are trying to determine why this is so by using national data that tracks about 10,000 workers over twenty plus years. The findings might suggest ways for some people to break out of this low-income cycle."

Students assist in Scott's research as much as possible, often with intense, day to day involvement. "The students I work with are great. I'm always looking for the human aspect of statistics, so I'm constantly asking the students what they care about."

Research projects arise from these conversations, says Scott. "One student is concerned with hydrating patients in nursing homes. If she and I do some data analysis it might make an important difference in those patients' lives. When the research comes from a place that means something to the researcher, statistics is no longer merely about numbers."

The resulting research has often had implications for policy. Scott's findings have been cited in court cases and debated in Congress. "When the research enters the public record, the findings are widely disseminated and taken seriously."

Research that affects policy is something Scott hopes the department continues to pursue. "We're building a faculty that cares about using their work to influence policy. We are already playing an important role in shaping policy and I think we can go further." Scott also hopes the department and its work become better known to the School at large. "We'd like to let others in the University know there are bridges to be built to this department - just as the department is building bridges to the world outside NYU."

Marc A. Scott's complete faculty bio.