Thomas F Nelson Laird Profile Image
Thomas F Nelson Laird
Associate Professor and Director, Center for Postsecondary Research
W.W. Wright Education Building Room EDU4264
Phone : (812) 856-8366
Fax: (812) 856-8394
Send me an e-mail
Department:  Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Affiliations:  Center for Postsecondary Research, Higher Education & Student Affairs , Education Policy Studies
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Dr. Nelson Laird teaches in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program and directs the Center for Postsecondary Research. Dr. Nelson Laird’s work focuses on improving teaching and learning at colleges and universities, with a special emphasis on the design, delivery, and effects of curricular experiences with diversity. He is principal investigator for the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement, a companion project to the National Survey of Student Engagement. Author of dozens of articles and reports, Tom’s work has appeared in key scholarly and practitioner publications. He also consults with institutions of higher education and related organizations on topics ranging from effective assessment practices to the inclusion of diversity into the curriculum.


  • Ph.D. Higher Education, 2003, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
  • M.S. Mathematics, 1997, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
  • B.A. Mathematics, 1995, Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN




  • Nelson Laird, T. F., Chen, D., Kuh, G. D. (2008). Classroom practices at institutions with higher-than-expected persistence rates: What student engagement data tell us. In J. Braxton (ed.), The role of the classroom in college student persistence. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, No. 115. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F. Shaw, M. D. (2012). Faculty diversity in colleges and universities. In J. A. Banks (ed.), Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education (pp. 870-873). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F. Engberg, M. E. (2011). Establishing differences between diversity requirements and other courses with varying degrees of diversity inclusivity. Journal of General Education, 60, 117-137.
  • Rocconi, L. M., Ribera, A. K., Nelson Laird, T. F. (2015). College seniors plans for graduate school: Do deep approaches to learning and Holland academic environments matter" Research in Higher Education, 56, 178-201.
  • Kuh, G. D., Nelson Laird, T. F., Umbach, P. D. (2004). Aligning faculty activities and student behavior: Realizing the promise of Greater Expectations. Liberal Education, 90(4), 24-31.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F. Kuh, G. D. (2005). Student experiences with information technology and their relationship to other aspects of student engagement. Research in Higher Education, 46(2), 211-233.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F., Sullivan, D. F., Zimmerman, C. K., McCormick, A. C. (2011). STEM/ non-STEM differences in engagement at US institutions. Peer Review, 13(3), 23-26.
  • Webber, K. L., Nelson Laird, T. F., BrckaLorenz, A. M. (2013). Student and faculty member engagement in undergraduate research. Research in Higher Education, 54, 227-249.
  • Palmer, M. M., Hoffmann-Longtin, K., Ribera, A. K., Ribera, T., Nelson Laird, T. F., Dankoski, M. E. (2013). Enhancing vitality in academic medicine: Faculty development and productivity. To Improve the Academy, 32, 89-106.
  • Gonyea, R. M., Kuh, G. D., Kinzie, J., Cruce, T. M., Nelson Laird, T. F. (2006). Expectations and engagement: How liberal arts college students compare with counterparts elsewhere. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F. Cruce, T. M. (2009). Individual and environmental effects of part-time enrollment status on student-faculty interaction and self-reported gains. Journal of Higher Education, 80(3), 290-314.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F., Niskod-Dossett, A. S., Kuh, G. D. (2009). What general education courses contribute to essential learning outcomes. Journal of General Education, 58(2), 65-84.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F., Garver, A. K., Niskod-Dossett, A. S. (2011). Gender gaps in collegiate teaching: Understanding teaching style differences between male and female faculty. Research in Higher Education, 52, 261-277.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F. (2014). Reconsidering the inclusion of diversity in the curriculum. Diversity and Democracy, 17(4), 12-14.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F. (2015). Gifting time: Faculty activities with a philanthropic orientation. In G. Shaker (ed.), Faculty Work and the Public Good: Philanthropy, Engagement, and Academic Professionalism (pp. 63-78). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
  • Shaw, M.D., Lambert, A.D., Cole, E.R., Nelson Laird, T.F., Haywood, A.M., (2015). Using faculty preference to identify disciplinary pairs and foster collaboration.Journal of Excellence in College Teaching, 26(3), 93-120.
  • Kuh, G. D., Chen, P. D., Nelson Laird, T. F. (2007). Why teacher-scholars matter: Some Insights from FSSE and NSSE. Liberal Education, 93(4), 40-45.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F., Bridges, B. K., Morelon-Quainoo, C. L., Williams, J. M., Salinas Holmes, M. (2007). African American and Hispanic student engagement at minority serving and predominantly White institutions. Journal of College Student Development, 48(1), 1-18.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F., Smallwood, R., Niskod, A. S., Garver, A. K. (2009). Effectively involving faculty in the assessment of student engagement. In R. M. Gonyea G. D. Kuh (eds.), Using NSSE in institutional research. New Directions for Institutional Research, No. 141. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Cole, E. R., Howe, E. C., Nelson Laird, T. F. (in press). Responsive and responsible: Faculty encouragement of civic engagement. Journal of College and Character.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F. (2004). Surfin with a purpose: Examining how spending time online is related to student engagement. Student Affairs On-Line, 5(3). Available at
  • Nelson Laird, T. F. (2005). The California Critical Thinking Dispositions Inventory (CCTDI) [a review]. Wabash Center of Inquiry Into the Liberal Arts: Crawfordsville, IN. Available at"news_id=2935.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F. (2007). The California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) [a review]. Wabash Center of Inquiry Into the Liberal Arts: Crawfordsville, IN. Available at"news_id=5121.
  • Dankoski, M. E., Palmer, M. M., Nelson Laird, T. F., Ribera, A. K., Bogdewic, S. P. (2012). An expanded model of faculty vitality in academic medicine. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 17(5), 633-649.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F., Shoup, R., Kuh, G. D., Schwarz, M. J. (2008). The effects of discipline on deep approaches to student learning and college outcomes. Research in Higher Education, 49, 469-494.
  • Mayhew, M. J., Seifert, T. A., Nelson Laird, T. F., Pascarella, E. T., Blaich, C. F. (2012). Going deep into mechanisms for moral reasoning growth: How deep learning approaches affect moral reasoning development for first-year students. Research in Higher Education, 53, 26-46.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F., Seifert, T. A., Pascarella, E. T., Mayhew, M. J., Blaich, C. F. (2014). Deeply affecting first-year students thinking: Deep approaches to learning and three dimensions of cognitive development. Journal of Higher Education, 85, 402-432
  • Wang, J-S, Pascarella, E. T., Nelson Laird, T. F., Ribera, A. K. (2015).How clear and organized classroom instruction and deep approaches to learning effect growth in critical thinking and need for cognition. Studies in Higher Education, 40, 1786-1807.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F. (2005). College students experiences with diversity and their effects on academic self-confidence, social agency, and disposition toward critical thinking. Research in Higher Education, 46(4), 365-388.
  • Kuh, G. D., Chen, P. D., Nelson Laird, T. F., Gonyea, R. M. (2007). Teacher-scholars and student engagement: Some insights from FSSE and NSSE. In American Council of Learned Societies. Student learning and faculty research: Connecting teaching and scholarship. A Teagle Foundation White Paper from the ACLS Teagle Foundation Working Group on the Teacher-Scholar. New York: American Council of Learned Societies.
  • Bridges, B. K., Kinzie, J., Nelson Laird, T. F., Kuh, G. D. (2008). Student engagement and student success at HBCUs and HSIs. In M. Gasman, B. Baez, C. Turner (Eds.). Understanding minority-serving institutions. Albany: State University of New York Press.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F. Garver A. K. (2010). The effect of teaching general education courses on deep approaches to learning: How disciplinary context matters. Research in Higher Education, 51, 248-265.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F., Niskod-Dossett, A. S. (2010). How gender and race moderate the effect of interactions across difference on student perceptions of the campus environment. Review of Higher Education, 33(3), 333-356.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F. (2011). Measuring the diversity inclusivity of college courses. Research in Higher Education, 52, 572-588.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F., Engberg, M. E., Hurtado, S. (2005). Modeling accentuation effects: Enrolling in a diversity course and the importance of social action engagement. Journal of Higher Education, 76(4), 448-476.
  • Hurtado, S., Nelson Laird, T. F., Perorazio, T. (2004). The transition to college for low-income students: The impact of the Gates Millennium Scholars Program. In E. P. St. John (ed.), Improving Access and College Success for Diverse Students: Studies of the Gates Millennium Scholars Program (Vol. 20, Readings on Equal Education, pp. 153-180). New York: AMS Press, Inc.
  • Nelson Laird, T. F. Ribera, T. (2011). Institutional encouragement of and faculty engagement in the scholarship of teaching and learning. To Improve the Academy, 30, 112-125.
  • Ziga, X., Nelson Laird, T. F., Mitchell, T. D.(2015).Preparing students for democratic citizenship in a multicultural society: Engaging diversity through Project MosaiK. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 52(3), 237-249.


  • Liberal Education: Editorial Board Member, Liberal Education, 2013-present.
  • Research in Higher Education: Consulting Editor, Research in Higher Education, 2008-present.
  • Journal of College Student Development: Editorial Board Member, Journal of College Student Development, 2006-2015.
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