Dr. Jeong comes to us from Seoul National University, where she completed her Ph.D. in Agricultural and Vocational Education with a dissertation titled, “The Impact of Learning Experiences and Readiness-Related Characteristics on the Middle-Aged Participants’ Volition in a Returning to Farming Education Program.” She will be working with the OERC’s team of analysts and research scientists on a number of evaluations of education, training and workforce programs using the Ohio Longitudinal Data Archive. We interviewed Dr. Jeong to learn more about her background and what she hopes to accomplish here at the OERC.

1. Could you tell us about your educational background?

I grew up in the countryside and graduated from an agricultural specialized alternative high school, so I’ve always been really interested in agricultural education and how this intersects with education and employment. That has lead me to choose my major in agricultural and vocational education in graduate school.

I finished my master’s and doctoral degree with a major of vocational education and workforce development at Seoul National University (SNU). During my coursework, I worked as a research assistant for two years in the Center for Career and Vocational Education and Research at SNU, which mainly conducted research on education policy and practical interventions requested by the Ministry of Education. I also served as an administrative assistant at the Korean Society for Agricultural Education and Human Resource Development from 2018 to 2019. And, I gave lectures on teaching methods and theoretical foundation of plant resources and landscaping at the University of Seoul until I came here.

2. What are your research interests?

My main research interest is vocational education which provides connections between education and work. I am especially interested in the agricultural education sector, which can be called the starting point of vocational education and workforce development. My master’s thesis is about the agricultural literacy of urban elementary school students, analyzing the contextual effects, such as teacher’s literacy and related experiences on raising students’ agricultural literacy, and suggesting some practical recommendations at a class level. My doctoral dissertation is about middle-aged adults’ rural in-migration in the agricultural sector, which can be approached as a kind of career transition during their gradual retirement. To sum it up, I could say, I am both interested in education for contextual vocational literacy and specific workforce development.

Also, my other research interest is in analyzing labor market outcomes for individuals who are in the process of school to work transition. I have this interest because I had several opportunities to engage in diverse projects with vocational school students and college graduates who started to work after their education. I feel excited to see their job security during the transition process, the impact of first job experience on their later career, tertiary education and training, and their wage structure in the labor market.

Recently, I have been interested in the work to exit transition, or we can say, gradual retirement of the middle-aged. It’s kind of aligned with my dissertation which deals with the middle aged who are experiencing their gradual retirement from their late 40s to 60s. I am interested in analyzing the pattern of their career trajectories over their life course to see their occupational mobility using longitudinal data, and also in estimating their bridge job security in terms of employment retention, wage, and employment status.

3. What made you interested in the OERC?

Because the OERC deals with all kinds of education fields, it attracts me. I have a diverse research interest, and the OERC covers many projects which I am interested in. For example, I am interested in vocational literacy as well as vocational training and development. Because the OERC deals with such issues starting from preschool to workforce development, it motivated me to apply for this job and join this team.

Also, it has a large database including not only the education field, but also wage, housing, and vocational rehabilitation. It means we can further do analysis on educational outcomes, not sticking to just educational context, such as school or institution, but beyond the individual to real life issues.

4. What are you most excited to work on at the OERC?

I am excited to work on administrative data, which has a long sequence to capture the longitudinal effect. Also, the size covers hundreds of thousands to millions of observations. I haven’t visited this type of institution before which deals with diverse sets of databases from different departments of state agencies. It’s surprising how they communicate with so many stakeholders, manage datasets guaranteeing confidentiality, and evaluate policies and programs in a data-driven approach. I feel excited to join this team and hope I can contribute at least a little to them.

I also like the OERC team staff. They are so welcoming and I think it creates team building. To achieve a single goal, they exchange ideas, thoughts, and comments freely, while giving each person space and time to learn and reflect on things. So we're a team as a whole but also the individual with personality at the same time. I think it is the main goal of the OERC is to grow.

5. What has been your favorite thing about Columbus so far?

Riding a bike! I commute from home to the workplace, sometimes the OERC or other times CHRR, by bike. Because it is not very hilly here in Columbus, I can ride a bike more easily. I can see the leaves changing their color day by day in the autumn season. Sometimes it’s really interesting to find out different routes while riding a bike. Also, when I ride around the Olentangy river on the weekend, it brings me so much pleasure to feel the scenery and breeze along the river. I think Columbus is more nature-friendly like the place where I grew up.

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