Dr. Melissa Rae Goodnight

Dr. Melissa Goodnight

Contact Information

702 S. Wright St., 3062LH
Urbana, IL 61801
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Dr. Goodnight joined the Global Studies program in 2017. She began social, health, and educational work abroad as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Kingston, Jamaica. Dr. Goodnight holds a PhD in education from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) with an emphasis in comparative and international education. Her training as a comparativist nurtures her appreciation for studying sociocultural, political, philosophical, economic, scientific, and technical issues from an interdisciplinary and transnational approach. 

Dr. Goodnight's research and teaching interests include human rights, democracy studies, research design and methods, evaluation, policy (at the global, national, and local levels), and education/schooling (especially for underserved and historically marginalized communities). She has studied social justice curriculum in Chicago Public Schools and writing pedagogy in U.S. higher education. However, most of her recent research has been conducted in India and has focused on issues of quality and equity in its rural primary education system. Also, Dr. Goodnight recently published an article on persisting social justice concerns within Indian society related to the intersection of different caste, gender, ethnic, and religious identities (see publications). Her upcoming research explores the influence that women's participation in rural fieldwork has on gender relations within different states of India.

Research Interests

  • Education (K-12 schooling and higher education)
  • Research methods and design
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Human rights
  • Social justice theories (e.g., feminist standpoint, critical race, postcolonial)
  • Social and educational policy
  • Democracy and citizen-led movements
  • Areas: India, United States, and Jamaica

Research Description

Based on her fieldwork across several rural districts of India, Dr. Goodnight is currently working on the following manuscripts for journal submission: 

· Goodnight, M. “We Went in Favor of Rebellion:” A Narrative Inquiry into the Creation of India’s Annual Status of Education Report (ASER). 

· Goodnight, M. Theorizing from the Ground: Citizen-engaged Evaluation in Rural India.

· Goodnight, M. Design Influence: The Source of an Evaluation’s Power Beyond Process and Results.

The above are interrelated studies of the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) in India. ASER evaluates primary education and children’s learning across rural districts of India. ASER is a citizen-engaged evaluation, relying on the participation of roughly 25,000 volunteers and over 500 partner organizations every year, and it is conducted entirely independent of the Government of India by the non-governmental organization, ASER Centre. ASER represents a unique model for the evaluation of social systems (e.g., education): it is groundbreaking in its scale, cost effectiveness, simple assessments, and “citizen-led” approach. Dr. Goodnight conducted field observations, document analysis, and interviews (with ASER architects, staff, volunteers, and partners) to complete her studies, which constitute the first research on ASER’s evaluation design and the influence of its evaluation model, domestically (i.e. within India) and globally.


Goodnight, M. & Bobde, S.(2018). Missing Children in Educational Research: Comparing School-based andHousehold-based Assessments in the Pursuit of Education for All in India.Comparative Education, 54(2), 225-249: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03050068.2017.1383085

Goodnight, M. (2017). CriticalRace Theory in India: Theory Translation and the Analysis of Social Identitiesand Discrimination in Indian Schooling. Compare: A Journal of Comparative andInternational Education, 47(5), 665-683: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03057925.2016.1266926

Goodnight, M. (2017). TheLanguage-Related Academic Self-Confidence of Non-citizens in U.S. Colleges.Journal of College Student Development, 58(6), 947-954. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/670093


  • Ph.D. Education, University of California Los Angeles (emphasis: comparative/international education)
  • Graduate Certificate in Writing Pedagogy, University of California Los Angeles
  • M.A. Education, DePaul University (emphasis: social and cultural foundations)
  • B.F.A. Theatre Performance, Chapman University

Distinctions / Awards

  • Outstanding Dissertation Award, UCLA Department of Education, 2017
  • Research on Evaluation Student Award, American Evaluation Association, 2016
  • Distinguished Teaching Assistant/Special Reader Award, UCLA Department of Education, 2015


  • Fulbright-Nehru Student Research Grant, 2014-2015


  • GLBL 100: Introduction to Global Studies
  • GLBL 200: Foundations of Global Studies Research
  • GLBL 494: Research Methods I

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Goodnight, Dr. Melissa Rae The Language-Related Academic Self-Confidence of Non-citizens in U.S. Colleges Journal of College Student Development 58 6 2017, p. 947-954.
Goodnight, Dr. Melissa Rae Critical Race Theory in India: Theory Translation and the Analysis of Social Identities and Discrimination in Indian Schooling Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education 47 5 2017.