Dr. Leighton’s research focuses on the affective, cognitive and social variables that influence student achievement. In particular, there are two research programs that describe Dr. Leighton’s current work: (1) the methodological and theoretical underpinning of think-aloud interviews and cognitive laboratories, two techniques often used to gather evidence to substantiate claims about the knowledge and skills educational tests measure in test-takers (i.e., validity arguments – see Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, 2014); and (2) students’ understanding and use of formative feedback related to academic or learning errors and performance on cognitive diagnostic tests (see Learning Errors and Formative Feedback [LEAFF] model).
Dr. Leighton’s research has been funded by Tri-Council research grants, including the Canadian Education Statistics Council (CESC), National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). She is past winner of the American Educational Research Association, Division D (Educational Measurement & Research Methodology) Significant Contribution to Educational Measurement and Research Methodology for the Cambridge University Press book – Cognitive Diagnostic Assessment: Theory and Applications, and former editor of Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice (EMIP), a flagship journal for the National Council on Measurement in Education.
Recognized by the Canadian Council of Learning as a Minerva Scholar, Dr. Leighton collaborates with scholars around the globe, including key partnerships such as the Learning Environments Across Disciplines (LEADS), and the International Collaborative for Performance Assessment of Learning in Higher Education (iPAL). As a testing specialist and registered psychologist, she has served as a member of technical advisory committees to many leading educational measurement organizations, including ACT, College Board, Educational Testing Service, Pearson.