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Debbie Tyrrell

Contributing Faculty

Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership

School of Higher Education, Leadership, and Policy

Degree Program Ph.D. Education

Doctoral degree received from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, in Instructional Technology (online program). Additional graduate certificates earned in Instructional Technology and Interpretive and Qualitative Research from Duquesne. Dissertation titled Show and Tell: Learning with Interactive Videoconferencing in Kindergarten, examined students’ meaning making from a Vygotskian perspective. Ethnographic data collection included six months of onsite field study and observation in a kindergarten classroom. MBA degree received from the University of Pittsburgh. Undergraduate degrees from Carnegie Mellon University included triple BS degrees in mathematics, industrial administration, and economics. Professional responsibilities include work as an independent educational researcher, program evaluator, and grant writer. From 2009-2013, Dr. Tyrrell worked in the sponsored research department at Wheeling Jesuit University, Wheeling, WV, as an educational researcher and program evaluator for K-12 and adult learning projects funded by NASA, NASA Education, NIOSH, the Army Corps of Engineers, MSHA, and the Benedum Foundation. Tyrrell's research interests focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning, curriculum, pedagogy, and instructional technology design. Since 2014, Tyrrell's research and program evaluation responsibilities center on health-related grants received from the National Institutes of Health (USA) Science Education Partnership Awards. Her current grant, Pandem-Sim, includes an online role-playing simulation where high school students play the role of field epidemiologists, participate in problem- and case-based learning modules about infectious disease, and learn about biomedical careers. Pandem-Sim includes opportunities for life science teachers and students to explore epidemiological modeling, data science careers, and links between mathematics and epidemiology.

Before becoming an educator, Tyrrell ran small businesses centered on consulting services in the areas of networking, technology, and public utilities. Tyrrell's experience includes work with diverse populations in nearby homeless shelters as well as Namibia, Africa. Recent publications include a book chapter about using live simulations to teach human anatomy and the diagnostic process to high school students, and journal articles about the Pandem-Sim project and pilot test.

At Walden University, Tyrrell works as a dissertation committee chairperson for students in the Ph.D. programs in Educational Technology Design and Learning, Instruction, and Innovation specializations. Recent teaching responsibilities included the following courses: Innovation and Diffusion of Learning Technologies and Current Research in Educational Technology. She also serves as case study methodologist.

Courses Taught

EDPD 8192 - Diffusion of Learning Technologies

EDPD 8098 - Current Research in Ed Tech


EdD, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Post-master's Certificate, Georgia Institute of Technology and NASA ePDN - Atlanta, GA United States

Post-master's Certificate, Duquesne University - Pittsburgh, PA United States

Post-master's Certificate, Duquesne University, McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts - Pittsburgh, PA United States

MBA, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Triple B.S., Administration and Management Science, Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Public Service

Youth Steering Committee, Committee Member - Pittsburgh, PA

STEM competitions, Judge - Wheeling, WV United States

Beverly Heights Church, Volunteer - Pittsburgh, PA`, United States

Awards / Honors

Highly Commendable Dissertation Award, International Institute of Qualitative Methodology, Alberta, Canada, 2010

Doctoral Student Award, Building a Technology Research Agenda: An Early Career Symposium, National Science Foundation and the Association for Educational Communications & Technology Research & Theory Division, 2008

NASA EPSCoR Competitive Research, 2013


Wood, C., Tyrrell, D. C., Calinger, M., Shia, J., Kudlak, L., Ondeck, L. (2018). Pandem-Sim: Development and pilot testing of a live simulation of infectious disease outbreaks. Journal of STEM Outreach.

Tyrrell, D. C., Calinger, M., Wood, C., Langran, E., Borup, J. (2018). Pandem-Sim: Results of a High School Epidemiology Live Simulation Pilot Test: Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference.

Tyrrell, D. C., Calinger, M. L. (2016). Handbook of research on gaming trends in P-12 Education: Using a live simulation to teach human anatomy and the diagnostic process to high school students.


Piecka, D., Tyrrell, D. C. (2014). Using Critical Thinking Educational Strategies to Promote Biomedical Careers.

Piecka, D., Calinger, M., Wood, C., Shia, J., Kudlak, L., Tabachnick, B. G., Tyrrell, D. C. (2012). Evaluation of a live high school clinical science education simulation.

Piecka, D., Calinger, M. L., Wood, C. A., Tyrrell, D. C. (2016). Pandem-Sim: Impacts of a live, roleplaying simulation on teaching and learning.