About Us

Learn more about the PEARL research team and collaborators.

Research Team

  • Jessica Chittum

    Jessica Chittum, PhD

    Director of Assessment and Pedagogical Innovation, Office of Curricular and Pedagogical Innovation, AAC&U

    Jessica is Project Lead for PEARL and Co-Executive Editor of the International Journal of ePortfolio, after having served as an editor of the journal since 2012. She completed a PhD in Educational Psychology at Virginia Tech as well as a BS in Elementary Education (with an ESOL endorsement) and an MA in Exceptional Student Education from the University of South Florida. Prior to AAC&U, Jessica worked as a classroom teacher for a Florida public school district, an Assistant Professor of Elementary Education and Middle Grades Education at East Carolina University, and as Senior Scholar at Digication, an ePortfolio platform. Her research interests include ePortfolio, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Assessment, and academic motivation (particularly in STEM fields, rural contexts, and higher education). Jessica enjoys spending time with her family (read: chasing her toddlers around the house), hiking, yoga, and diving into a good book.

  • Nathan Henton

    Nathan Henton, PhD

    Program Associate/Assistant to the Associate Vice President, Office of Curricular and Pedagogical Innovation, AAC&U

    Nathan is a member of PEARL's Research Team and serves as Managing Editor of the International Journal of ePortfolio. He holds a PhD in Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication from the University of Memphis. Prior to joining AAC&U, Nathan spent 20 years as a classroom teacher in public schools, a community college, a public research university, and a small private university, specializing in first-year writing and academic and professional writing. He also taught courses in linguistics; U.S., British, and World literatures; Spanish; and Theatre. Past research interests have included writing pedagogy and assessment, writing centers, grammar pedagogy, Ernest Hemingway, Zora Neale Hurston, and literature pedagogy; his dissertation examined first-year writing program assessment practices at small liberal arts colleges and universities (SLACs). Nathan is an avid cyclist and runner, and he enjoys traveling and watching movies with his family.

  • Jacquelyn McCarthy Woodyard

    Jacquelyn McCarthy Woodyard, PhD

    Independent Consultant

    Jackie spent many years contributing to PEARL as a critical member of its Research Team. She earned her PhD in Instructional Design and Technology at Virginia Tech. Jackie's research interests include instructional design, language instruction, autonomous learning, and cultural preferences in relation to choice in the classroom and beliefs regarding education. Her dissertation research was titled “Autonomy Supportive Instruction as it relates to Students’ Motivational Beliefs on an ePortfolio Project: The Moderating Role of Culturally Based Learning Preferences.” Jackie also holds a BS in Human Development-Early Childhood Education, a BA in Spanish, and an MAEd in Curriculum and Instruction with endorsements in PreK-12 Spanish and ESOL education. Before returning to Virginia Tech to pursue a doctoral degree, Jackie taught middle and high-school Spanish and ESOL in Virginia public schools for 5 years. Jackie enjoys spending time with her husband, their four wonderful children, and their Weimaraners.


  • Kate Drezek McConnell

    Vice President for Curricular and Pedagogical Innovation and Executive Director of VALUEAAC&U
  • C. Edward Watson

    C. Edward Watson

    Vice President for Digital InnovationAAC&U
  • Lauren Bryant

    Assistant Director of Institutional EffectivenessVirginia Tech