Abstracts
 
Education Research Conferences Program: Abstracts
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Integrating Knowledge Analysis and Interaction Analysis Approaches to Studying Learning and Conceptual Change
Principal Investigator(s): Andrea A. diSessa (University of California-Berkeley), Bruce L. Sherin (Northwestern University), David Hammer (University of Maryland, College Park), Mariana Levin (University of California-Berkeley and Michigan State University), and Orit Parnafes (Tel Aviv University)
Award Period: 8/10/2010-9/30/2011
Conference Date: June 5-8, 2011

Twenty-nine researchers from various universities and research institutes gathered for an intensive conference aimed at integrating knowledge-focused and interactionist approaches to the study of mathematics and science learning. The participants, who represented multiple perspectives, engaged to study how individual cognitive dynamics interact with complex social dynamics. The conference was motivated by the need to foster the coordination of “situated/sociocultural” and “cognitive” approaches to the study of learning, with the intention of achieving four goals: (1) laying the foundation for developing integrated approaches to studying mathematics and science learning; (2) developing integrative analytical methods around analytical projects, by using tools from both knowledge analysis and interaction analysis; (3) examining meta-questions concerning the pros and cons of such integration; and (4) generating a community that advances the integrative agenda. Click here for the conference website.


Building Better Students: Preparation for Life After High School
Principal Investigator(s): Richard D. Roberts (ETS), Jeremy Burrus (ETS), Krista Mattern (The College Board), and Bobby Naemi (ETS)
Award Period: 8/10/2010-9/30/2011
Conference Date: December 8-10, 2010

The purpose of the conference was to bring together world‐renowned researchers and policy makers to hold an informed and candid discussion on how we, as a nation, can best build better students through four key educational venues: (1) teachers and the curriculum, (2) programmatic interventions, (3) selection and assessment, and (4) policy. In total, 30 people served as keynote speakers, session speakers, chairs, or provided remarks during the conference. The conference dialogue about college and workforce readiness focused on cognitive competency (the skills and knowledge that students need to be able to succeed) and non-cognitive competency (the psychological attributes that students must have to be productive members of society). Click here for the conference website.

News Coverage: “Experts Begin to Identify Nonacademic Skills Key to Success” (Education Week)


The Widening Socioeconomic Achievement Gap: Causes, Consequences, and New Evidence
Principal Investigator(s): Sean F. Reardon (Stanford University)
Award Period: 9/1/2010-8/31/2013
Conference Date: May 15-16, 2012

A working group meeting and a subsequent scholarly and policy conference were convened to investigate the causes and consequences of the rapid increase in socioeconomic educational achievement gaps over the last 30 years. The goals of the project were to: (1) stimulate new research and ideas on the causes and consequences of patterns and trends in socioeconomic achievement gaps; (2) convene an interdisciplinary working group conference of the commissioned paper authors to discuss the research; (3) convene a scholarly and policy conference to present the completed commissioned work, stimulate public, scholarly, and policy discussion of the issue; (4) disseminate the commissioned work broadly, though an edited volume and a set of policy briefs accessible to policymakers and the media; and (5) assist in the training of PhD students in education and the social sciences through their participation in the working group meeting and conference.


Research on Family–School Partnerships: An Interdisciplinary Examination of State of the Science and Critical Needs
Principal Investigator(s): Susan M. Sheridan, Gina Kunz, Gwen Nugent, and James Bovaird (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
Award Period: 9/1/2010-8/31/2011
Conference Date: September 19-21, 2010

This conference, co-sponsored by AERA and the National Science Foundation, was organized to (a) identify research “known’s and unknown’s” related to conditions that influence family-school continuities, partnerships, and intervention implementation; (b) determine effective mechanisms for monitoring families’ and schools’ engagement in partnership practices; (c) bolster basic and applied interdisciplinary research of the effects of specific partnership practices on the learning and development of children and adolescents; and (d) advance a research agenda to enhance empirical and scientific understandings of variables and outcomes associated with family-school partnerships. The workshop sought to enhance mutual understanding among participating researchers, stimulate research collaborations, and foster the identification of critical research needs and methods to address research gaps and new directions. Click here to view the meeting materials, including video presentations of the panelists and discussants.


Socializing Intelligence Through Academic Talk and Dialogue
Principal Investigator(s): Lauren Resnick (University of Pittsburgh)
Award Period: 12/15/2010-5/31/2012
Conference Date: September 22-25, 2011

This conference brought together scholars who have conducted research showing important cognitive and social effects of participation in content-based discussion, with friendly skeptics and critical education practitioners, to consider four key questions: (1) How good is the evidence for these effects?; (2) How should we characterize the kinds of discussion that seem to be producing positive effects?; (3) How can we explain the findings, especially the out-of-field transfer effects and the rises in scores on intelligence and general cognitive ability tests that have long been resistant to training and teaching?; and (4) How can academic talk and dialogue be scaled to become a common practice in classrooms?

Resulting AERA Publication: Socializing Intelligence Through Academic Talk and Dialogue, Lauren B. Resnick, Christa Asterhan, and Sherice Clarke (Editors)


Thinking Systematically: Advancing Knowledge of School Districts Under Pressure
Principal Investigator(s): Kara S. Finnigan (University of Rochester), Alan Daly (University of California, San Diego), and Eliot Weinbaum (University of Pennsylvania)
Award Period: 2/15/2011-6/30/2013
Conference Date: November 2-4, 2011

This intensive research workshop focused on district improvement under high-stakes accountability policies, with a particular emphasis on the linkages between organizational learning, district-wide learning communities, and underlying social networks as districts try to bring about improvement under these policies. Twenty-two scholars from across the country and internationally convened to develop conceptual frameworks, methodological approaches, and innovative research strategies that are most likely to yield useful findings and improve educational outcomes for students. The conference also highlighted practices that research suggests are most effective for districts and identified the pressing measurement issues related to studies of district improvement.


Investigating Core Practices of Professional Development That Impact Teacher and Student Learning: Implications for a Research Agenda
Principal Investigator(s): Pam Grossman (Stanford University), Hilda Borko (Stanford University), Susan O'Hara (Stanford University), Emily Davis (Stanford University), Betty Achinstein (University of California, Santa Cruz), and Rod Ogawa (University of California, Santa Cruz)
Award Period: 2/15/2011-6/30/2012
Conference Dates: November 10-11, 2011 and January 30-31, 2012

Two convenings were held to develop and prioritize research questions and suggest a program of research for investigating professional learning opportunities that impact the quality of teacher and student learning. The objectives for the conferences were to (1) facilitate collaboration among renowned scholars on teacher professional development who reflect varied domains of inquiry and methodologies; (2) examine existing literature and identify gaps in the chain of evidence linking professional development to teacher practice and student learning outcomes; (3) suggest directions for new research on professional development and identify necessary tools for measuring the enactment and outcomes of professional development; and (4) write a white paper that articulates new directions for research that investigates features of professional development that impact teaching and student learning.


Promoting and Sustaining a Quality Teaching Workforce
Principal Investigator(s): Gerald K. LeTendre (Pennsylvania State University) and Alexander W. Wiseman (Lehigh University)
Award Period: 8/15/2011-9/30/2012
Conference Date: November 7-10, 2011

The conference brought together scholars from multi-disciplinary and international backgrounds to address two critical areas in teacher effectiveness and teacher quality: (1) what existing cross-national measures of teacher effectiveness and teacher quality are most promising, and how can these be aligned to maximize their research potential; and (2) what core constructs of teacher quality or effectiveness are missing, and how can cross-national research help identify these. Participants sought to identify both what is used and what is missing in the international and comparative analysis and reform of teacher quality to inform evidence-based educational policy formation around teacher quality in the U.S.


Interest, the Self, and K-16 Mathematics and Science Learning: Making Connections and Charting the Way
Principal Investigator(s): K. Ann Renninger (Swarthmore College) and Martina Nieswandt (University of Massachusetts-Amherst)
Award Period: 9/1/2011-9/30/2012
Conference Date: May 6-8, 2012

Using a wiki and videoconferencing, this conference brought together researchers from the fields of motivation, mathematics education, science education, learning science, and developmental psychology, to think together about the role of the motivational variables of interest and self-efficacy/self-concept of ability/self-concept in K-16 students’ learning of mathematics and science. Issues considered included but were not limited to the following: (1) the alignment of approaches to conceptualizing, measuring, and generating interest; (2) conceptual and empirical differences among constructs of academic self-efficacy and academic self-concept, even when studied within the same academic domain; and findings indicating that academic self-concept influences academic self-efficacy but not vice-versa; (3) the role of the achievement context in student learning; and (4) the possibility that findings from studies of motivation and learning in other disciplines may not apply to hierarchical domains such as mathematics and science.

Resulting AERA Publication: Interest in Mathematics and Science Learning, K. Ann Renninger, Martina Nieswandt, and Suzanne Hidi (Editors)


Access, Competition, and For-Profit Education
Principal Investigator(s): William A. Darity, Jr. (Duke University) and Tressie M. Cottom (Emory University)
Award Period: 12/30/2011-6/30/2013
Conference Date: September 21-22, 2012

This interdisciplinary conference focused on the significant social, political, and educational movement, en masse, of students into an underexamined institutional type by posing the following questions: Why are for-profits more popular among those populations with whom traditional colleges and universities have had the most difficulty enrolling and matriculating? Do for-profits constitute an innovative avenue for greater opportunity for access to quality higher education for students from underrepresented groups? What does the dominance of for-profits among African Americans and Latinos mean for Minority Serving Institutions? The conference explored conceptual and methodological tools for examining these phenomena. The conference agenda is available here.

News Coverage: “Conference Brings Together For-Profit Colleges and Scholars Who Study Them” (The Chronicle of Higher Education)


Building a National Research Agenda to Improve the Educational Assessment and Attainment of English Language Learners
Principal Investigator(s): John W. Young (ETS), Jamal Abedi (University of California, Davis), Joan Herman (CRESST/University of California, Los Angeles)
Award Period: 12/30/2011-3/31/2013
Conference Date: September 19-20, 2012

This project convened a two-day workshop with the goal of developing a national research agenda for the next decade that will lead to improved assessment designs, policies and practices as they impact English Language Learners (ELLs). Objectives included the development of plans for future research collaborations (such as teaming on grant proposals) among the workshop participants and with other researchers; dissemination of information obtained from workshop participants through journal and book publications; and dissemination of information obtained from workshop participants through a seminar in Washington, DC targeted to congressional staff and education policymakers (held in the summer of 2013).


The Sociocultural Contexts of Academic Literacy Development for English Learners
Principal Investigator(s): Timothy Boals (World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment/WIDA Consortium) and Edynn Sato (WestEd)
Award Period: 12/30/2011-6/30/2013
Conference Date: October 9-12, 2012

This conference on academic literacy development in adolescent English Learners (ELs) focused on developing a common conceptual framework for academic literacy and academic literacy development and forging a shared research agenda. Some of the research questions explored in the conference included: What skills and practices constitute academic literacy? What does academic literacy development in adolescent ELs look like and how can this development be assessed? What classroom contexts may foster the development of academic literacy in adolescent ELs? The goals of the conference were to: (1) arrive at a shared definition of academic literacy, particularly as it applies to ELs, that is context-bound and dialogic in nature and can be used to guide the design of scholarly work and interpretation of research data; (2) arrive at a framework for looking at academic literacy development that can inform scholarly research on instructional practices and assessment for ELs; and (3) receive feedback on and solicit commitment for participation in a scholarly volume of work related to academic literacy development in adolescent ELs.

Resulting Publication: Multilingual Learners and Academic Literacies: Sociocultural Contexts of Literacy Development in Adolescents, Daniella Molle, Edynn Sato, Timothy Boals, Carol A. Hedgspeth (Editors), Routledge


A Needed Catalyst: A Proposal for an Interdisciplinary Conference on Epistemic Cognition
Principal Investigator(s): Clark Chinn (Rutgers University) and Jeffrey Greene (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Award Period: 5/15/2012-12/31/2013
Conference Date: January 31-February 2, 2013

This conference brought together leading educational psychologists, science educators, and philosophers working in the area of epistemology to catalyze and synthesize new conceptual and methodological directions for epistemic cognition research and applications. At the conference, focused dialogue on the conceptual foundations of epistemic cognition sought to foster greater coherence between the three disciplines; lead to methods for measuring epistemic cognition that produce psychometrically strong data; generate profitable directions for future empirical research; and encourage continued collaboration across the disciplines. The conference was organized around four core questions: (1) How should epistemic cognition be conceptualized? (2) How situated is epistemic cognition? (3) What kinds of methods can assess different aspects of epistemic cognition most effectively? (4) What are proper epistemic cognition goals and methods of instruction?


Seeking Common Ground: A Multidisciplinary Examination of Critical, Analytic Thinking in Learning and Development
Principal Investigator(s): Patricia Alexander, Kevin Dunbar, and Kathryn Wentzel (University of Maryland)
Award Period: 12/1/2012-12/31/2013
Conference Date: October 2013

The purpose of this conference was to bring together scholars from varied disciplines, including educational psychology, reading, second language learning, special education, neuroscience, social psychology, statistics and measurement, and social and cognitive developmental psychology to engage in two days of intensive conversations around a shared goal—to understand the development of critical, analytic abilities of all K-20 students and to come to a better understanding of how to foster the application of these abilities to academic tasks. Four central questions guided the discussions: (1) How is the construct of critical, analytic thinking conceptualized and operationalized in each researcher’s field and in their research?; (2) What insights have been garnered from the study of critical, analytic thinking?; (3) What are the issues and concerns associated with the study of critical, analytic thinking in each researcher’s field and in their research?; and (4) What are the next steps that must be taken to foster critical, analytic thinking for all K-20 students?


Undermatching to Post-Secondary Education: A Conference Exploring the Scale, Scope, Causes and Consequences
Principal Investigator(s): Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj and Elaine Walker (Seton Hall University)
Award Period: 12/1/2012-12/31/2013
Conference Date: June 3-4, 2013

This conference brought together approximately 25 leading researchers in the fields of college choice, access and success to explore, discuss, and share research findings on students undermatching to post-secondary educational institutions and to propose potential research projects and collaborations related to this phenomenon. Over the course of the two-day event, invited attendees shared current and as yet unpublished research and participated in moderated sessions in five main areas: the scale and scope of the issue of undermatching; the factors that contribute to undermatching; the consequences of this phenomenon for students’ educational, social, and economic trajectories; methodological questions and data requirements for measuring and studying undermatching; and strategies and interventions that may respond to and reduce the incidence of undermatching.


Developing a Framework for Professional Conduct and High Quality in Design-based Research: Perspectives from Two Educational Design Fields
Principal Investigator(s): Theodore Kopcha, Cory Buxton, and Kevin Moore (University of Georgia)
Award Period: 12/1/2012-12/31/2013
Conference Date: September 24-26, 2013

Educational designers from two distinct design fields – the Learning Sciences and Instructional Design & Technology – came together using the ‘crossroads’ model to generate a framework for professional conduct and high quality research in design-based research (DBR). The purpose of this conference was to bring together DBR researchers from both the Learning Sciences and Instructional Design & Technology in a single setting to answer the current questions about DBR, refine our understanding of rigorous and valuable DBR, and improve the public perception of DBR as a viable method. Click here for more information about the conference.


Sociopolitical Development, School Engagement, and Psychological Well-Being: Defining Terms and Assessing the Evidence Base
Principal Investigator(s): Ben Kirshner (University of Colorado-Boulder), Carlos Hipolito-Delgado (California State University, Long Beach), and Shelley Zion (University of Colorado-Denver)
Award Period: 12/1/2012-5/30/2014
Conference Dates: May 23-25, 2013 and February 6-7, 2014

Two convenings were held to accomplish four objectives: (1) define constructs across disciplines that are relevant to empowerment and learning for marginalized youth; (2) assess the quality of the evidence base about the connections between sociopolitical development and broader indices of school engagement, well-being, and youth development; (3) design interdisciplinary programs of research that address gaps or weaknesses in the knowledge base; and (4) write white papers that articulate the rationale for further research in this area and disseminate them to networks of scholars and funding agencies. In order to define the constructs, disciplinary groups examined the questions: (1) What does each perspective conceptualize as the core constructs of SPD and youth engagement?;( 2) What are core practices of SPD and youth engagement across domains?; and (3) What is the evidence base connecting SPD and youth engagement with improved school and developmental outcomes?


Evolutionary Perspectives on Educational Research, Policy, and Practice
Principal Investigator(s): Daniel Berch (University of Virginia), David Geary (University of Missouri), Jerry Miller (The Evolution Institute)
Award Period: 4/1/2013-3/31/2014
Conference Date: November 7-9, 2013

This gathering facilitated the exchange of cutting-edge findings and recent theoretical developments, promoted new collaborations, and advanced the design of innovative educational research methods to test falsifiable evolutionary hypotheses pertaining to formal education. Substantive topics included: character education, acquiring moral knowledge and actions (e.g., fairness and social justice), the importance of play in learning and development, the costs and benefits of cooperative learning and real-world problem solving, and the evolutionary origins of pedagogy. Click here for the conference website.


Beyond Reflexivity and Advocacy: Exploring the Ontological Turn in Educational Research
Principal Investigator(s): Jerry Rosiek (University of Oregon) and Lisa Mazzei (University of Oregon)
Award Period: 4/1/2013-12/31/2014
Conference Date: July 28-August 1, 2014

The primary objective of the conference was to advance scholarship in educational research methodology by bringing together scholars working from different disciplinary angles on an emerging “ontological turn” in social inquiry and social science methodology. This “ontological turn” builds on the ideal of methodological reflexivity, which requires researchers to acknowledge the way writing constitutes—in limited ways—both the objects of its inquiry and the subjects to whom the research is addressed. The goal of the conference was not to forge a consensus about a new unified successor methodology that would displace existing methods of empirical research. Instead, the goal was to contribute to a new wave of methodological innovation through a reconceptualization of the purposes some forms of research serve.


A Condition or a Process?: Researching Race in Education
Principal Investigator(s): Adrienne Dixson (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) and Gloria Ladson-Billings (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
Award Period: 4/1/2013-7/31/2014
Conference Date: November 2013

This conference brought together scholars in anthropology, economics, education, sociology, political science, law, history, and philosophy to discuss and examine issues of research methods, theory, and quality as they relate to researching race in education. Given the growing interest in critical perspectives on race and education (i.e., Critical Race Theory), it is important that the field have a substantive dialogue about theory, methods, quality and substance. This conference served to both advance the field in those areas, and help with improving how scholars engage in race research in education by clearly articulating: What constitutes quality race research? What theories drive race research? What methods help to engage race research? What kinds of questions should we be asking about race and education?


Inter-American Symposium on Ethnographic Research in Education XIII: Comparing across the Americas
Principal Investigator(s): Kathryn Anderson-Levitt (University of California, Los Angeles) and Elsie Rockwell (CINESTAV/DIE)
Award Period: 6/15/2013-6/30/2014
Conference Date: September 18-20, 2013

This conference sought to create the kind of direct engagement across languages and across national epistemologies that is needed to build a truly comparative ethnography of education. The conference focused explicitly on the rewards and challenges of comparative ethnography, and built a comparative perspective into its structure by requiring cross-hemisphere and cross-linguistic participation in every session. Comparison focused on the theme of “Majorities, minorities, and migrations in comparative perspective,” highlighting similarities and differences in the way we conceive of immigrants/migrants and minorities/majorities across the hemisphere. Within the realm of ethnography of education as practiced by anthropologists, linguists, sociologists and psychologists, this conference aimed for conversations not just across disciplines, but across countries and language zones. The structure of the conference promoted planning for future collaboration, particularly through workshop sessions, and will lead to an edited volume on comparing ethnography across the Americas. Click here for the conference website.


What are History Teachers Learning at Historic Sites?
Principal Investigator(s): Christine Baron (Boston University/Teachers College) and Brenda Trofanenko (Arcadia University)
Award Period: 9/1/2013-2/28/2015
Conference Date: February 28-March 1, 2014

This conference brought together experts in the Learning Sciences, History, and Museum education to investigate the effective use of historic sites as centers for history teacher education and professional development. Particular emphasis was placed upon exploring the use of the full range of historical materials—buildings, material culture, and documents---to develop historical thinking, problem-solving, and analysis. A core group of 15 researchers participated in a two-day conference at Boston University to (a) develop a status report on the state of empirical research in this field, (b) identify effective protocols for discerning and documenting teacher learning at historic sites, (c) identify specific pedagogies, methodologies, assessment and evaluation tools that demonstrably promote analysis of historical materials on-site and classroom integration (d) develop a research agenda to further the field and (e) stimulate partnerships in which to execute the necessary research. Click here for the conference website.


Policy and Politics of the Common Core
Principal Investigator(s): Jonathan Supovitz (University of Pennsylvania) and James Spillane (Northwestern University)
Award Period: 12/1/2013-4/30/2015
Conference Dates: February 20-21, 2014 and November 6-7, 2014

This conference brought together a nationally renowned and interdisciplinary group of scholars to develop, enact, and communicate research about the political context and the ways in which the Common Core State Standards movement is being implemented by policymakers and understood by practitioners. We will collectively examine the political environment within which the Common Core movement is occurring, how policymakers are constructing implementation strategies, how they are preparing for the next generation of high stakes tests, and the ways in which educators are interpreting and enacting policy messages. We seek to connect multiple theoretical and methodological perspectives and bring both established theory of policy implementation and newly developed theory into studies of standards, assessment, accountability and related implementation in the Common Core era. Read more about the conference here.

Resulting Publication: Challenging Standards: Navigating Conflict and Building Capacity in the Era of the Common Core, Jonathan Supovitz and James Spillane (Editors), Rowman & Littlefield


A Collaborative Conference to Expand and Reimagine the Nature of Vocabulary Assessment
Principal Investigator(s): Margaret McKeown (University of Pittsburgh), Judith Scott (ETS), Paul Deane (ETS), and Rene Lawless (ETS)
Award Period: 12/1/2013-11/30/2014
Conference Date: October 16-19, 2014

The conference sought to reimagine the nature of vocabulary assessment toward enhanced assessment practice and support of effective instruction in the era of the Common Core State Standards. The goal of the conference was to develop recommendations for teachers and researchers about productive ways to measure vocabulary knowledge and growth. It was organized around a set of framing questions within three broad themes–construct definition, assessment design, and educational impact. Anticipated outcomes of the conference include advancement of the field of vocabulary assessment by allowing researchers to better evaluate the results of vocabulary interventions and to more precisely understand the effects of vocabulary growth on literacy outcomes. A public research forum was held following the conference.


Behavioral and Methodological Issues in Higher Education Rankings
Principal Investigator(s): Michael Feuer (George Washington University) and Henry Braun (Boston College)
Award Period: 12/15/2013-4/30/2015
Conference Date: November 5-6, 2014

The purpose of this two-and-a-half day conference was to explore methodological issues in the design and interpretation of higher education rankings and to advance the scientific basis of such rankings by incorporating more explicit consideration of behavioral assumptions and effects. The outcomes were: (i) a taxonomy of ranking systems in terms of their methodology and uses, and behavioral responses by institutions and other intended users; (ii) a compendium of the relevant methodological issues and the strategies that have been or might be employed to address them; (iii) a set of testable hypotheses about behavioral responses that may compromise the validity of rankings; and (iv) a preliminary set of experimental designs to test those hypotheses.


Collaborative Research for Action and Equity in Education
Principal Investigator(s): Mark R. Warren (University of Massachusetts Boston)
Award Period: 7/1/2014-12/31/2015
Conference Date: April 30-May 1, 2015

This conference brought together education researchers who conduct collaborative research with community and education activists in support of change efforts to advance equity and justice in education. The purpose of the conference was to assess and advance the state of the growing field in collaborative research methods. Collaborative research is used as an umbrella label to include action research, participatory action research, youth participatory action research, community-based research, and other forms of engaged scholarship. What unites this field is its explicit attention to working with community, youth and/or educator activist groups pursuing change agendas focused on increasing equity and justice in education. Despite these similarities, scholars operate separately in their diverse methods, including disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches and also qualitative and quantitative approaches. An important purpose of this conference was to build a more unified field. This conference brought collaborative researchers from diverse methods together to compare and contrast their approaches, share best practices, grapple with challenges and problems in the field, and, overall, assess and advance knowledge in the broader field.


Research on Teaching and Learning Difficult Histories: Global Concepts and Contexts
Principal Investigator(s): Terrie Epstein (Hunter College-CUNY) and Carla Peck (University of Alberta)
Award Period: 11/1/2014-10/31/2015
Conference dates: June 24-26, 2015

The conference brought together historians, political scientists, sociologists and educational researchers from across the globe to break new ground on research related to teaching and learning difficult histories. By difficult histories, the organizers mean historical narratives and other forms (learning standards, curricular frameworks) that incorporate painful, traumatic and/or violent events into regional, national or global accounts of the past. Teaching and learning difficult histories is among the most complex and sensitive concerns in humanities education, yet necessary for reconciliation, social cohesion and judicious civic engagement. Research on teaching/learning difficult histories not only can assist in broadening and deepening young people’s historical and contemporary understandings. It also can enhance their civic identities as they learn to comprehend, reflect and act on the complexities of today's increasingly inter-dependent world.


Using Time Diary Data in Education Research
Principal Investigator(s): Seth Gershenson (American University)
Award Period: 11/1/2014-10/31/2015
Conference date: March 6-8, 2015

Rich time-use data from time-diary surveys are now available for more than 100 countries and social scientists from several disciplines are currently using such data to address a number of policy-relevant research questions. However, the education research community has been slow to utilize data from time diaries, despite the likelihood that education policies and interventions influence the time use, both in and out of school, of students, parents, and teachers. Furthermore, the ways in which students, parents, and teachers allocate their scarce time potentially influences students’ academic achievement, non-cognitive and social development, and long-run socioeconomic outcomes. The conference convened a diverse, interdisciplinary group of time-use researchers, time-diary surveyors, and education scholars with the dual intentions of discussing current education research that uses time-use data and shaping a future research agenda that utilizes time-use data to address important questions in education research. Click here for the conference website.


Maximizing the Affordances of Contemporary Technologies in Education (MATE)
Principal Investigator(s): Olusola Adesope, A.G. Rud, Richard Lamb, and Joy L. Egbert (Washington State University)
Award Period: 11/1/2014-10/31/2015
Conference date: October 1-2, 2015

Rapid advances in contemporary technologies are reshaping how students learn across the world. Today’s students are growing up in a world where technology is seemingly innate and contextually integrated into their daily experiences. Although efforts have focused on understanding new ways of using these technologies to meet educational goals, researchers are faced with enormous challenges in enhancing the use of these technologies to arouse student attention and improve motivation, engagement, and learning. This conference brought together leading researchers in new media and contemporary technologies for robust discussions to move the field of educational technology forward. Participants developed a research agenda to shape thinking and inspire rigorous studies to examine the effects of contemporary technology use on learning. The conference aimed not only to inspire new thinking but to develop a collaborative research agenda around technology use in higher education. Outcomes will be widely disseminated through a published volume, symposia at national and international conferences, and media releases. Click here for the conference website.

News Coverage: “Conference Explores Teaching with Technology” (WSU News)


Advancing Individual Differences Research on STEM Learning Opportunities: A National Conference
Principal Investigator(s): Michael Gerber and Michael Gottfried (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Award Period: 3/1/2015-2/29/2016
Proposed Conference Date: 2015

Although a substantial amount of research now exists on general questions regarding STEM education, only a limited research base exists that addresses the needs of students with disabilities in STEM. Without a unified research base, opportunities for these individuals to study and learn in STEM disciplines, as well as resulting work and career options, are highly curtailed. Moreover, the collection of researchers currently engaged in important foundational work on STEM learning and students with disabilities has only limited organized opportunities for them to identify each other, exchange information, study the findings of others, and initiate new collaborations and extensions of their current work. A modest, networked community has slowly begun to emerge, stimulated, in part, by larger-scale funded projects. Still, conference venues and publishing outlets remain less coherent than in other fields. Most critically, no coherent conceptual framework yet exists within which this emerging body of research can be organized and made visible as a guide to sustained investigations or new initiatives. This conference is planned to address these various needs and provide as an intellectual product a research framework useful both for the emerging community of researchers interested in STEM-learning and students with disabilities.


Global Migration, Structural Inclusion, and Citizenship Education Across Nations: An International Conference
Principal Investigator(s): James Banks (University of Washington)
Award Period: 3/1/2015-2/29/2016
Conference Date: June 22-26, 2015

Many students from ethnic, racial, linguistic, and religious minority groups have weak identifications with their nation-states because they feel structurally excluded and marginalized within their schools and nations. This international conference, co-sponsored by the Spencer Foundation, explored research, theory, and practice that reveal how citizenship education courses and programs can be re-conceptualized and changed so that they will help students from marginalized groups to attain a sense of inclusion within their schools and nation-states, political efficacy, and clarified national identities. This conference consisted of papers that describe research and case studies of school civic education courses and programs in different nations. The goal of these courses and programs was to help students from diverse groups acquire a sense of structural inclusion within their nation-states and clarified national identities. An important outcome of this conference was a set of research questions, innovative research methods, and concepts that will contribute to interdisciplinary research related to global migration, structural inclusion, and civic education. Another intended outcome of this of this conference will be a book published by a major publisher that will consist of externally reviewed and revised versions of the conference papers.


The Educational Benefits of Diversity from Kindergarten through Graduate School: Educational Research for Policy and Practice in an Increasingly Diverse Nation
Principal Investigator(s): Amy Stuart Wells (Teachers College) and Roslyn Mickelson (University of North Carolina-Charlotte)
Award Period: 7/1/2015-12/31/2016
Conference Date: 2016

There are several heretofore disconnected, but powerful and persuasive bodies of educational research literature related to what the courts have called “the educational benefits of diversity” (Grutter v. Bollinger, 2003; Comfort v. Lynn School Committee, 1st Cir. 2005). The goal of this conference is to organize a small working group of these otherwise disconnected educational scholars to build a new network within AERA that can inform policy and practice in the 21st Century. The primary reason why this “educational benefits of diversity” network has not been formed in the past, despite the obvious need for it, is because these scholars and their work are dispersed across several disciplines and areas within the multi-dimensional field of education. Sociologists, psychologists, and social psychologists as well as experts in curriculum and teaching, educational leadership and educational policy have conducted research relevant to the educational benefits of diversity. At the same time, these educational researchers are focused on different levels of the educational system, with many conducting research on higher education and others focused mainly on k-12 education and/or pre-school education. What is needed is a working group conference or a “summit” on the educational benefits of diversity. The result of this two-day convening will be the framing of a powerful argument centered on what educational research has to say to policy makers and practitioners on these critical and timely issues. The conference will also establish a set of “next steps” for the nascent network that will include collaborative efforts to seek foundation and federal funding for inter-disciplinary projects moving forward.


Getting CTE Right: New Methods and Strategic Partnerships
Principal Investigator(s): Daniel Kreisman (Georgia State University) and Shaun Dougherty (University of Connecticut)
Award Period: 7/15/2015-7/31/2016
Conference Date: August 27-28, 2015

Education policy makers have increased their focus on both college and career readiness in recent years, so much so that this new focus is built into the Common Core Standards. This change in focus has also increased the consideration of career and technical education as a means to contribute to developing career readiness. Despite the renewed policy attention, there is woefully little high-quality research aimed at understanding the impact of participating in career and technical education in the K-12 system. That is, unlike core subjects, there is little consensus and even less empirical evidence on what constitutes success in CTE or how CTE instructor quality should be measured, amongst other pressing methodological issues. This conference proposes to directly address these challenges by: i) presenting ongoing research on CTE in the K-12 sector; ii) engaging researchers in a discussion concerning innovative evaluation methods for CTE; and iii) building bridges between researchers, policy makers, and research and evaluation offices of state and local educational agencies. The organizers expect that this conference will lead to new research partnerships between academics with expertise in CTE-related inquiry and agencies that both administer CTE programs and have a material interest in evaluating the impact of these programs on a variety of student outcomes. Facilitating these connections will lead to innovative evaluation strategies and research methodologies that will ultimately be utilized by future researchers as they seek to “get CTE right.”


Making as Learning: Tinkering, Innovating, and Making In and Out of School
Principal Investigator(s): Peter Wardrip (Children's Museum of Pittsburgh), Lisa Brahms (Children's Museum of Pittsburgh), and Kevin Crowley (University of Pittsburgh)
Award Period: 12/1/2015-12/31/2016
Conference Date: Spring 2016

Making, defined as building or adapting objects using real tools and real materials has emerged as an engaging entry point and activity for STEM education. In turn, there has been substantial attention given to making by various governmental agencies and the White House. Yet, as an emerging field, the practice of making is ahead of the research. In particular, there is very little research on the learning that takes place through making to support the fervor behind making. Building on a recent meeting on making and maker research, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh partnered to organize a research conference that is focused specifically on making as a learning activity. With a combination of invited researchers, additional researchers, practitioners and funders, this research meeting has two primary objectives: First, we aim to build a common research agenda on making as a learning process and makerspaces as sites of learning. Second, we intend to identify connections between making phenomenon and extent educational research areas, and facilitate the diffusion of research knowledge into practice. Ultimately, this work will build a community of researchers around the phenomenon on making and learning.


Cross-National Exploration of Principals’ Time Use: Patterns, Causes, and Effects
Principal Investigator(s): Moosung Lee (University of Canberra)
Award Period: 12/30/2015-6/30/2017
Conference Date: August 2016

This conference aims to deepen our understanding of principal time-use and thereby to advance current knowledge of principal leadership across different countries. Specifically, the conference aims to 1) capture common or particular patterns and effects of principal time-use across countries, 2) identify common or major causes that shape principal time-use across countries, 3) revisit the dominant theoretical model of principal leadership effects, 4) contribute to developing a new research direction, 5) develop a framework of data collection and related analytical tools of principal time-use that can be widely applied to contexts of different countries and 6) provide insights and guiding principles for policymakers and principals in terms of school improvement. To this end, the conference organizing committee will invite 26 leading and emerging scholars in the field of educational leadership and administration from different countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, North and South America. To maximize scholarly benefits from the diversity of the participants in terms of geographical foci, disciplinary backgrounds, methodological approaches, and theoretical stances, the conference will take a mixed-form of plenary presentations and intensive research workshops for two and a half days. The major outcomes of the conference will include: 1) a conference report, 2) conference materials, 3) research networking, and 4) an edited book.


A National Research Conference on Food and Housing Insecurity in Higher Education
Principal Investigator(s): Sara Goldrick-Rab (Temple University)
Award Period: 11/1/2016-12/31/2017
Conference Date: November 2-3, 2017

Recent research shows an alarming trend on college campuses: an increasing number of students report that they are struggling in college, sometimes even dropping out, because they cannot afford a consistent roof over their heads and enough food to eat. To better understand the causes of material hardship among undergraduates, and more importantly, to discover and evaluate potential solutions, this conference will convene 25-30 researchers studying food and housing insecurity in higher education. The goals of the conference will be to (1) advance scholarship into the prevalence and impacts of undergraduate food and housing insecurity and interventions designed to address it, (2) spur new thinking on the implications of housing and food insecurity in higher education for the meaning of college, the role of colleges in society, and the concept of college affordability, and (3) connect researchers to others in the field to galvanize new research and data collection. The invited researchers include scholars who are actively producing studies on the topic of material hardship among college students, from the fields of education, public health, sociology, psychology and counseling psychology, social work, policy, public administration, and economics. Most participants will present unpublished research into the prevalence and impacts of student food and housing insecurity or, more commonly, means to address it. Researchers will take part in panels focused on subtopics, each with a discussant.


Fairness in Educational and Psychological Tests: Critical Issues and Methodological Solutions
Principal Investigator(s): Jessica Jonson (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) and Kurt Geisinger (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
Award Period: 11/1/2016-10/31/2017
Conference Date: Fall 2017

A substantive change to the 2014 Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing was the elevation of fairness in testing as a foundational element of professional practice in addition to validity and reliability. The Standards endorse the view that all steps in the testing process—including test design, validation, development, administration, and scoring procedures—should be addressed in a manner as to minimize construct-irrelevant variance and to promote valid score interpretations for the intended uses for all examinees in the intended population. Therefore, this conference will highlight and attempt to advance current scholarship on critical issues and best practice methodologies for investigating fairness in educational and psychological tests. Although the Standards provide general guidelines for testing practice, the Standards do not cite key empirical or methodological scholarship related to recommendations or include examples or recommendations for practice. Therefore, the goals for this conference are to: identify critical fairness issues addressed by the Standards and important to testing in different professional fields; share empirical or methodological scholarship for investigating fairness across different types of educational and psychological tests; and identify gaps in research or practice to encourage advancements in how fairness evidence is gathered, used, and documented for tests. Potential issues to be discussed may include fairness procedures for test design and development, validation of score interpretations for intended uses and intended populations, accommodations, and safeguards against inappropriate scores interpretations.


Inequality in Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills: An International Comparison of Policy and Practice
Principal Investigator(s): Russell Rumberger (University of California, Santa Barbara) and Stephen Lamb (Victoria University)
Award Period: 11/1/2016-11/30/2017
Conference Date: Summer 2017

International comparisons using international datasets such as PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS show that there are large differences between countries in the extent to which socio-economic status (SES) is correlated with cognitive skills in reading, mathematics and science. Some countries achieve high levels of cognitive skill development combined with high levels of equity, while others reveal substantial inequality. Less attention has been paid, internationally, to the area of non-cognitive skills, such as resilience, motivation, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, despite recent work pointing to such skills being just as important as cognitive skills in shaping student outcomes and how well young people relate to school and society. This leads to a number of questions. To what extent are there differences between countries in the development of non-cognitive skills among students? Do differences across countries vary by student SES? What is the interplay between cognitive and non-cognitive skills and student SES and does this vary by school system? What might account for differences across school systems? This conference seeks to gain a deeper understanding of the extent of SES (and other group) differences in cognitive and non-cognitive skills of students in 14 cities across the world and to identify the structures, policies, factors and practices that mitigate or exacerbate these differences. It will do this by drawing together researchers from different cities participating in the International Study of City Youth (ISCY) to take part in a three-day structured program of workshops and plenary sessions around comparisons of school systems with presentations on illustrative case studies of policy and practice. The major output from the conference will be an edited book providing an international comparative analysis of differences in skill development, as well as chapters profiling different systems and policies and practice.


Studying Systemic Efforts to Improve Educational Outcomes for Black and Latino Males
Principal Investigator(s): Rosann Tung (Brown University) and Adriana Villavicencio (New York University)
Award Period: 12/15/2016-12/31/2017
Conference Date: September 21-22, 2017

This conference will bring together researchers and practitioners from cities that are implementing mature, intentional, systemic initiatives focused on Black and Latino male educational opportunity and attainment. The objectives of the convening are three-fold: First, to provide a space to share research findings emerging from these efforts, including successes and challenges in implementing district-wide initiatives focused on Black and Latino males. Second, to allow researchers to discuss challenges in assessing this type of work and generate creative solutions to address those research challenges. Finally, to begin documenting and sharing promising strategies to support Black and Latino male students on their pathway to high school graduation and college success. The convening will allow researchers and practitioners from seven states and districts to identify both commonalities and differences across systemic initiatives for Black and Latino males, and to develop a shared vision for how research can support and improve these efforts. By providing the opportunity for this cross-site learning community to come together and learn from one another’s efforts, the conference can contribute significantly to what we know about supporting the educational attainment of young men of color, while emphasizing the urgency of building strong evidence to help meet that goal.


Improving Research-Based Knowledge of College Promise Programs
Principal Investigator(s): Laura Perna (University of Pennsylvania)
Award Period: 12/15/2016-12/31/2017
Conference Date: October 2017

Over the last decade, but especially in the past few years, programs with a “promise” label have been advanced at the local, state, and federal levels. An emerging body of research begins to shed light on various aspects of these programs, but too little is known about the full range of program outcomes or the ideal structure or design of programs serving different groups of students. This research conference will address this knowledge need. The conference is designed to stimulate the production of theoretically-grounded, methodologically-rigorous research that improves understanding of the effects of college promise programs on a broad range of outcomes and the optimal design of college promise programs for promoting higher education access and attainment for underserved students. The conference will convene a diverse group of researchers and potential users of the research (policymakers and practitioners) to discuss and provide feedback on draft research findings and identify fruitful directions for additional research into the future. The conference is expected to achieve the following goals: 1. Develop a community of researchers examining college promise programs that includes scholars from diverse backgrounds and a range of career ages, and with diverse institutional affiliations, disciplinary perspectives, and methodological approaches. 2. Foster connections between scholars interested in examining college promise programs and policymakers and practitioners who are designing, operating, and funding these programs. 3. Produce high-quality scholarly papers that will be published in an edited volume by AERA or another academic/scholarly entity; and 4. Produce and disseminate a policy brief that provides easy-to-understand, research-based insights for policymakers, university and program administrators, funders, and other stakeholders interested in college promise programs.


Comprehensive Services for Children in Poverty: Setting the Research Agenda for Integrated Student Support
Principal Investigator(s): Mary E. Walsh (Boston College) and Erin Sibley (Boston College)
Award Period: 12/15/2016-12/31/2017
Conference Date: October 2017

In high-poverty, urban school districts across America, children face challenges outside of school that impede their success inside of school and in life. Research spanning a half century confirms children’s lives outside of school are critical determinants of their achievement in school, accounting for up to two-thirds of the variance in student achievement. Integrated student support, a school-based approach to promoting student achievement by coordinating supports and services to target both academic and non-academic barriers to achievement, shows exceptional promise for children growing up in the context of poverty. This conference will bring together 20-25 experts in the still-emerging field of integrated student support. A number of integrated student support approaches have been implemented in elementary and high schools across the country, but empirical research is still in its infancy. Strongly grounded in developmental-contextual theory, integrated student supports have shown promise to help impoverished students succeed in school. This is a critically important conversation at this point in time for a number of reasons. First, we now have an enhanced understanding of the influences of poverty and trauma on learning, and how these impacts can be mitigated. Second, there is an emerging body of empirical research demonstrating positive child outcomes. Finally, there has been a recent proliferation of attempts to meet the complex needs of children in schools. Additionally, the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 includes language recognizing the importance of integrated student supports to improve student outcomes. The conference will 1) consolidate what we know about integrated student supports, based on theoretical and empirical research, 2) determine gaps in the research that still exist, and 3) establish a national research agenda to drive the next decade of policy and practice related to these comprehensive approaches.


Use of Innovative Technology to Build Engaging Motivational Interventions for Diverse Learners
Principal Investigator(s): Sungok Serena Shim (Ball State University), Teomara Rutherford (North Carolina State University), and Sandra Graham (University of California, Los Angeles)
Award Period: 12/15/2016-11/30/2017
Conference Date: May 21-23, 2017

Motivational intervention has received much attention from the public, policy makers, educators, and researchers. The link between increasing student motivation and improved academic outcomes is an intuitive one, and, on average, these interventions have yielded tangible boosts in student achievement. However, work remains to ensure that such interventions have the maximum impact. We have identified four shortcomings of the existing motivational interventions: a) They address a limited set of motivational constructs, b) available intervention strategies mostly rely on non-engaging activities, c) learner diversity is considered as a moderator of interventions, rather than foundation for design, and d) school partners serve as receiver of the intervention, rather than active development partners. To address these shortcomings, this conference will convene 14 scholars from the field of motivation, technology, and developmental psychology. In addition, 6 school leaders who are eager to implement an innovative motivational intervention will be invited and participate in the dialogue. At this conference, the currently available programs will be scrutinized, and the future directions will be brainstormed. The ultimate outcome of the conference is a concrete action plan to develop one or more comprehensive motivational interventions that takes advantage of the full potential of technology while addressing various motivational challenges.


Policy, Practice, and Long-Term Outcomes: The Current State and Future Directions of Research for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities
Principal Investigator(s): Julia M. White (Syracuse University), Meghan Cosier (Trinity Washington University), John McDonnell (University of Utah), Mary Morningstar (University of Kansas), Diane Ryndak (University of North Carolina at Greensboro), and Qiu Wang (Syracuse University)
Award Period: 12/1/2016-12/31/2017
Conference Date: October 20-22, 2017

How to improve post-school outcomes for students with significant cognitive disabilities (SWSCD) must be at the forefront of critical issues in special education policy and practice. There is a dearth of research related to long-term outcomes associated with instructional practices, supports, services, and interventions for SWSCD, leaving practitioners and researchers with few tools to address these outcomes in meaningful ways. In addition, the recent reauthorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act mandates quality long-term outcomes for SWSCD. Along with mandating quality long-term outcomes, ESSA also redefined “evidence” in ways that support the use of multiple methods of inquiry for “high quality research findings… and… ongoing efforts to examine the effects of … activit[ies], strateg[ies], [and] intervention[s]” (§8101[21][A][ii][I]&[II]). This conference will convene nationally-renowned researchers and leading scholars in the field of special education to engage in the development and design of new approaches to researching factors that impact the improved long-term outcomes for SWSCD through: (1) assessing the quality of the evidence base related to instruction and outcomes for SWSCD; (2) achieving a collective understanding of the extant research and the use of research methods for studying long-term outcomes for SWSCD; (3) considering the expanded definition of “evidence” for future research; and (4) developing a research agenda and designing programs of research to determine the relationships among improved long-term outcomes for SWSCD and the contexts in which students receive special education services (e.g., access to general education contexts, self-contained classes and schools). Results will then be disseminated to the field through a book, a conference report, and presentations.


Equitably Resourced Public Schools
Principal Investigator(s): Jeannie Oakes (Learning Policy Institute)
Award Period: 3/1/2017-3/31/2018
Conference Date: May 2017

Public schools in communities harmed by increasing inequality, poverty and segregation struggle to support children to surmount the barriers they face to school success. They do so today in the face of more ambitious educational goals (preparing all students for college and career); a scaled‐back federal role (under Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)); shrinking state education budgets; and outdated and sometimes arbitrary funding systems that perpetuate disparities and fail to acknowledge the out-of‐school barriers to learning that are concentrated in distressed communities. Critical questions include what resources are needed in various types of communities to achieve today’s ambitious education goals, how should funds be distributed, and how can funds be used most wisely. This research conference will convene 30 national scholars who have recognized the need both for 1) new concepts of resource equity that align with the growing recognition that educational success is a function of a combination of in‐ and out‐of‐school factors and, consequently, 2) more comprehensive empirical research to inform policymakers’ and the public’s education funding decisions. The outcome of the conference will be a set of papers that lay out a multidisciplinary, multilevel research agenda, including new, promising research questions and methods for exploring the efficacy and cost of resources and interventions—both in and out of school—meant to reduce the impact of poverty and inequality on students’ schooling outcomes.

 
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