Dr. Matthijs Koopmans, professor of educational leadership, joined the faculty at Mercy College in 2011. Previously, he worked for several educational research organizations, including the Strategic Education Research Partnership Institute, Academy for Educational Development and Metis Associates. He has taught at several colleges in the greater New York metropolitan region (Hofstra University, York College/City University of New York, Adelphi University and Yeshiva University). As an independent contractor, he has conducted evaluations for MGT of America, Institute for Student Achievement, National Urban Technology Center and Newark Public Schools. He published his research in numerous peer-reviewed journals and continues to present his work at national and international scholarly conferences. He is a founding editor of the International Journal of Complexity in Education and serves on the editorial board of Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences. He earned his Doctorate in 1988 from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Ed. D. HARVARD UNIVERSITY, Cambridge, MA. Graduate School of Education, 1988. Human Development.
Ed. M. HARVARD UNIVERSITY, Cambridge, MA. Graduate School of Education, 1984. Non-specialized.
Drs. RIJKSUNIVERSITEIT UTRECHT, Utrecht, Netherlands. Institute of Pedagogical and Andragological Sciences, 1983. Clinical Pedagogy.
Kand. RIJKSUNIVERSITEIT UTRECHT, Utrecht, Netherlands. Institute of Pedagogical and Andragological Sciences, 1979. B. A. in Pedagogy.
My current research is in three areas: 1. Fractal estimation, 2. Cause and effect relationships and 3. The application of complexity theory to education. Below is a further description of my research activities in each of these three areas.
1. Fractal Estimation
Fractals are fascinating. They describe regularities in the patterns of nature that repeat within themselves. Such self-similar patterns can be readily appreciated in clouds, coastlines, trees and their branches the flow of rivers, and many other natural phenomena. Fractals can also occur in time series, i.e., long strings of repeated measurements, where the variability across the series can reveal self-similar patterns. My research tries to extend conventional statistical techniques, such as time series analysis, to study such patterns. It has often been argued that fractals in time series speak to the adaptive behavior of systems in the absence of extreme events. In other words, they describe such systems during their ordinary life. My focus is on the behavior of educational and other social systems. I use existing data sets to search for fractal patterns that have not been previously detected. Some datasets I have recently looked at are daily school attendance (2010 – 2014), daily recordings of the number of births to teens in the state of Texas (1964 – 1999), monthly recordings of U.S. unemployment (1948 – 2017), and political orientation in the United States (1953 – 1989) and in the Netherlands (1978 – 1996). Currently, I am working with simulated time series data to address some issues in the reliability of the interpretation of fractal estimates and take an interest in finding fractal patterns in climate data.
2. Cause and Effect Relationships
Reading Judea Pearl’s Causality: Models, Reasoning, Inference blew my mind. The book shows the intractability of the problem of cause and effect, and how difficult it is to establish a relationship between causes and consequences while effectively ruling out all alternative explanations and moderating factors. In educational research, the surge in randomized control trial studies starting in the nineties of the previous century are one of the most workable responses to this challenge, but, like most of Pearl’s book, they focus on linear causality, where cause precedes the effect and the underlying dynamics of the relationship are essentially relegated to theory. I take an interest in those underlying dynamics, which come from a different kind of causality, which occurs when cause and effect are intertwined in an ongoing feedback loop. I do theoretical work and apply such feedback loops to educational intervention research and to the urban school reform efforts that have taken place over the past two decades to see what we can learn from it.
3. Application of Complexity Theory to Education
The advent of complexity theory and related ideas, such as chaos theory and agent-based models, have generated a great deal of excitement in the many fields of knowledge including education. It is hard to deny that education is complex, and it is also hard to deny that it is a dynamical process, so exploring what the insights from complexity theory can offer to educational researchers, practitioners and policy makers makes a lot of sense. I take pleasure in facilitating research that demonstrates the relevance of complexity theory in education and to that end I co-established a journal called International Journal of Complexity in Education, co-edited a book entitled Complexity in Education: Concepts, Methods and Applications (published by Springer), and co-organized annual day-long symposia on complexity in education for the Conference on Complex Systems for the past six years.
Stamovlasis, D., & Koopmans, M. (2021). Complexity in education: The new era is growing – Editorial. International Journal of Complexity in Education, 2(1), 1-2.
Koopmans, M. (2021). Using time series to analyze long-range fractal patterns (Sage University Papers on Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences, Vol. 185). Sage.
Koopmans, M. (2020). Problem formation and problem resolution in American schools. International Journal of Complexity in Education, 1(2), 165-183.
Koopmans, M., & Stamovlasis, D. (2020). Complexity in education: A new era begins – Editorial. International Journal of Complexity in Education, 1(1), 1-7. https://complexityineducation.com/index.php/ljce
Koopmans, M. (2020). Using time series analysis to estimate complex regular cycles in daily high school attendance. Fluctuation and Noise Letters, 19(1). DOI: 10.1142/S0219477520500030.
Koopmans, M. (2019). Fractality and power law distributions: Shifting perspectives in educational research. Northeast Journal of Complex Systems, 1, Article 2. https://orb.binghamton.edu/nejcs/vol1/iss1/2/
Koopmans, M. (2019). Education is a dynamical system: Challenges for research. Journal of Experimental Education. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00220973.2019.1566199
Koopmans, M., & Sayama, H. (Eds.) (2018). Special issue: Proceedings of the Second Satellite Symposium on Complex Systems and Education, held at the Conference on Complex Systems, Cancun, Mexico, September 20, 2017. Complicity: An International Journal for Complexity and Education, 18(1), 1-44.
Koopmans, M., & Sayama, H. (2018). Editorial introduction. Complicity: An International Journal for Complexity and Education, 18(1), 1-3.
Koopmans, M. (2018). Exploring the effects of creating small high schools on daily attendance: A statistical case study, Complicity: An International Journal for Complexity and Education, 18(1), 19-30.
Koopmans, M. (2018). On the pervasiveness of long range memory processes in daily high school attendance rates. Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology and Life Sciences, 22(2), 243-262.
Koopmans, M. (2017). Nonlinear processes in time-ordered observations: Self-organized criticality in daily high school attendance. Complicity: An International Journal for Complexity and Education, 14(2), 78-87.
Stamovlasis, D., & Koopmans, M. (2017). Editorial introduction. Complicity: An International Journal for Complexity and Education, 14(2), 1-6.
Stamovlasis, D., & Koopmans, M. (Eds.) (2017). Special issue: Proceedings of the Symposium on Complex Systems in Education: Questions, methods and implications for practice, held at the Conference on Complex Systems, Amsterdam, Netherlands; September 20, 2016. Complicity: An International Journal for Complexity and Education, 14(2), 1-115.
Koopmans, M. (2017). Estimating perturbation and meta-stability in the daily attendance rates of six small high schools. Fluctuation and Noise Letters, 16(3). doi: 10.1142/S0219477517500213.
Koopmans, M. (2017). Using data to improve practice. Review of Action Research in the Classroom: Helping Teachers Assess and Improve their Work, by Sr. Mary Ann Jacobs and Bruce S. Cooper. Global Education Review, 4(1), 118-119.
Koopmans, M. (2017). Mixed methods in search of a problem: Perspectives from complexity theory. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 11(1), 16-18. doi:10.1177/1558689816676662.
Koopmans, M. (2016). Addressing the policy churn in public education in the United States. Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology and Life Sciences, 20(3), 401-422.
Koopmans, M. (2016). Betting on people: An essay review of Dale Russakoff’s The prize: Who is in charge of America’s schools? Education Review // Reseñas Educativas, 23 (June). http://edrev.asu.edu/index.php/ER/article/view/2036
Koopmans, M. (2016). Investigating the long memory process in daily high school attendance data. In M. Koopmans, & D. Stamovlasis (Eds.) Complex dynamical systems in education: Concepts, methods and applications (pp. 299-321). Springer.
Koopmans, M. (2016). Ergodicity and the merits of the single case. In M. Koopmans, & D. Stamovlasis (Eds.) Complex dynamical systems in education: Concepts, methods and applications (pp. 119-139). Springer.
Koopmans, M., & Stamovlasis, D. (2016). Introduction to education as a complex dynamical system. In M. Koopmans, & D. Stamovlasis (Eds.) Complex dynamical systems in education: Concepts, methods and applications (pp. 1-7). Springer.
Koopmans, M. (2015). When time makes a difference: Addressing ergodicity and complexity in education. Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education, 12(2), 5-25.
Koopmans, M. (2015). Large-Scale studies and their impact on theory and professional practice. Challenging Organisations and Society: Reflective Hybrids, 4(2), 782-795.
Koopmans, M. (2015). Lessons on whole system reform. Review of Leading Educational Change, edited by Helen J. Malone. Global Education Review, 2(1), 56-57.
Koopmans, M. (2015). A dynamical view of high school attendance: An assessment of short-term and long-term dependencies in five urban schools. Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology and Life Sciences, 19, 65-80.
Koopmans, M. (2014). Change, self-organization and the search for causality in educational research and practice. Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education, 11, 20-39.
Koopmans, M. (2014). Nonlinear change and the black box problem in educational research. Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology and Life Sciences, 18, 5-22.
Stamovlasis, D. & Koopmans, M. (2014). Editorial introduction: Education is a dynamical system. Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology and Life Sciences, 18, 1-4.
Koopmans, M. (2012). Review of New Thinking in Complexity for the Social Sciences and Humanities by Ton Jörg. Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology and Life Sciences, 16, 498-500.
Koopmans, M. (2012). An appreciation of the Yellow Book past 20. SCTPLS Newsletter, 20, 6-7.
Koopmans, M. (2009). Epilogue: Psychology at the edge of chaos. In S. J. Guastello, M. Koopmans, & D. Pincus (Eds.) Chaos and Complexity in Psychology: The Theory of Nonlinear Dynamical Systems (Pp. 506-526). Cambridge University Press.
Guastello, S. J., Koopmans, M., & Pincus, D. (Eds.) (2009). Chaos and Complexity in Psychology: The Theory of Nonlinear Dynamical Systems. Cambridge University Press.
I teach graduate students in the program of Educational Administration and Supervision at the School of Education. My regular teaching schedule includes the following courses:
- EDSA 510: Using Data for Instruction and Educational Policy
- EDSA 520: Curriculum and Learning: Theories into Practice
- EDSA 551: Organizational Dynamics and Culture of School Systems
- EDSA 597: Governance and Policy Issues for School District Leaders
- EDUC 611: Topics in Education: Thesis Seminar
In these courses, my teaching focuses on the use of data for the improvement of organizations such as schools and school districts, organizational development, and educational reform. I spent many years doing consulting work for schools and districts across the nation and assisted educational and youth development organizations with strategic planning activities. In my courses, I share what I learned in these settings, and discuss the latest thinking about how to support effective instructional leadership in the schools to create better opportunities for learning for all students in the United States and elsewhere.
- Professor, Educational Leadership
- Director of Assessment