Gardenhire has worked on a variety of public-policy issues, primarily using mixed methods with a qualitative focus. Recently she has led implementation research into ModMath, a random assignment study of a modular approach to developmental (remedial) math for college students, and was lead author for the interim report. She also recently completed work on the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness (CAPR) descriptive study. She currently works on four projects as the lead implementation researcher: Career Ready Internships, 529 College Savings, the African American Male Initiative, and the New Mathways Project. She has been supporting the development of best practices in mixed-methods research approaches and recently led a 10-week survey course on mixed methods. She has also led training in interview skills and in the practicalities of implementing mixed-methods approaches in policy research.
Gardenhire has led implementation and qualitative inquiries for a number of past MDRC projects, including the Performance-Based Scholarship Demonstration, the Texas Developmental Summer Bridge Study, the Achieving the Dream qualitative study of students, the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe implementation study, and the Opportunity NYC implementation and qualitative study. She has designed many inquiries and conducted hundreds of interviews and focus groups with staff members and participants over her career. She regularly consults with other research projects focused on qualitative examinations of implementation. Gardenhire holds a bachelor’s degree with high honors from the University of California, Santa Cruz in environmental studies, and a doctorate in urban planning from Harvard University.