AERA Virtual Research Learning Center


The AERA Virtual Research Learning Center (VRLC) is a virtual space for students, early career and advanced scholars, practitioners, and others in the education research community to receive professional development and research capacity–building trainings. It is a resource for introductory and advanced courses on research methods, data analysis, and professional/career development in education research. Researchers around the world can access the AERA-VRLC to enhance, expand, or refresh their research skills.

The AERA-VRLC is aligned with the current focus of the larger AERA professional development program to provide training in specific research methods and skills, cover significant research issues in related disciplines (e.g., economics, psychology), emphasize specialized areas (e.g., research on children placed at risk), address professional development issues (e.g., publication skills/strategies, research integrity), focus on research for the improvement of practice, or examine recent methodological and substantive developments in education research.

To access the AERA-VRLC, visit the AERA-VRLC Registration Website. Feel free to contact AERA-VRLC at with any questions.



2018 AERA Annual Meeting Professional Development courses available via live webcast from the AERA-Virtual Research Learning Center


Select professional development and training courses will be available via live-stream during the 2018 AERA Annual Meeting. Participants can join the these courses live! Specialized training in quantitative and qualitative research methods, advanced skills in statistical techniques, and other important substantive areas, are addressed in the professional development courses. Courses are designed at various levels (e.g., basic, intermediate, advanced) to reach graduate students, early career scholars, and other researchers who seek to increase their knowledge and enhance research skills. To participate virtually in the live-stream VRLC courses you may register here.

PDC04: Introduction to Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Instructors: Amy L. Dent, University of California, Irvine; Terri D. Pigott, Loyola University Chicago; Joshua R. Polanin, Development Services Group; Joseph Taylor, BSCS

Date: Thursday, April 12
Time: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. 
Fee: $135

This course will introduce the basics of systematic review and meta-analysis. Topics covered include developing a research question, searching the literature, evaluating and coding studies, conducting a meta-analysis, and interpreting results for various stakeholders. Participants are encouraged to bring an idea for a systematic review to the course, with time reserved for discussion about it with course instructors. Course activities will include lecture, hands-on exercises, small-group discussion, and individual consultation. The target audience includes both those new to systematic review and meta-analysis and those currently conducting either type of project. Knowledge of basic descriptive statistics is assumed.

PDC11: Exploring a Data-Informed Approach to the Development of Students’ Social-Emotional Competencies
Instructors: Rolf K. Blank, NORC at the University of Chicago; Katie H. Buckley, Transforming Education; Bob LaRocca, Transforming Education

Date: Friday, April 13
Time: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. 
Fee: $135

The purpose of this course is to provide researchers, educators, and administrators with best practices in assessing and supporting student social-emotional learning (SEL) skills. Participants will have the opportunity to explore measures designed for different uses, and SEL-related strategies for improving student outcomes. The course will begin with a discussion of the research and rationale behind measuring SEL and an examination of current assessments and their differing purposes. The second half of the course will feature a discussion on how to use resulting data from SEL measures (at the classroom, school, and system levels) and will model concrete, hands-on strategies and tools to strengthen student skills.

PDC16: Using NAEP Data on the Web for Educational Policy Research
Instructors: Debra Kline, Educational Testing Service; Edward M. Kulick, Educational Testing Service; Emmanuel Sikali, U.S. Department of Education

Date: Saturday, April 14
Time: 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. 
Fee: $105

This course is for researchers interested in using the NAEP Data Explorer Web tool. Participants will be guided through an examination of the NAEP data, focusing on (1) student, teacher, and school variables; (2) relationships between student performance and characteristics of students, their teachers, and their schools; and (3) using NAEP data to supplement other educational research. The course provides hands-on learning and active participation. Participants will work independently and share their findings with the group. The course will highlight the newly released 2017 NAEP math and reading data. 

PDC21: What Would it Take to Change Your Inference? Quantifying the Discourse about Causal Inferences in the Social Sciences
Instructors: Kenneth Frank, Michigan State University

Date: Saturday, April 14
Time: 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. 
Fee: $105

Participants will learn the fundamentals of inferences from quantitative analysis in the social sciences, including Rubin’s causal model (the counterfactual) and statistical control through regression. Using these fundamentals, they will learn to characterize the robustness of statistical inferences and violations of assumptions from quantitative analyses. They will learn to characterize the robustness of inferences from a regression in terms of correlations associated with an omitted variable (assumed to be zero in making inferences from a regression). Participants will learn not only how to conceptualize the robustness of an inference but also how to calculate the sensitivity of inferences from general linear models using spreadsheets (Excel) or macros in SPSS, SAS, or STATA. Participants will learn how to apply the techniques to concerns about internal and external validity, as well extensions of the techniques to logistic regression and multilevel models. Participants will learn to employ a language for articulating the robustness of inferences that can be applied to their own analyses or to inferences in the literature.



AERA Webcasts on Communicating Locally with Federal Policymakers Now Available


AERA offered two webinars in July to provide guidance and tips for members interested in visiting local congressional offices while Congress is on recess in August, to highlight the value of education research. The webcasts are available to view free of charge here.

2017 AERA Annual Meeting Professional Development and Training Courses Live-Streamed through the VRLC

The 2017 AERA Annual Meeting in San Antonio begins April 27th! A rich and dynamic program of professional development and training courses is being offered at the Annual Meeting. Expert scholars and researchers from universities, research institutions, and government agencies are offering some 27 courses. Those unable to attend Professional Development and Training courses in person can live-stream three professional development courses from anywhere through the AERA-Virtual Research Learning Center (VRLC). To participate virtually in the live-stream VRLC courses you may register here.

Professional Development and Training courses offered via live-stream

PDC14: Strategies for Sharing Your Research
Instructors: Jenny Grant Rankin, University of Cambridge
Date: Friday, April 28, 2017
Time: 8:00am – 12:00pm (Central time)
Fee: $55.00

This course focuses on how to best communicate research findings. It is appropriate for researchers and scholars who have researched (or are currently researching) any topic within the education field and who do not want their findings to languish on a forgotten shelf or webpage. Participants will learn about a variety of opportunities, how to land those opportunities, and strategies to maximize those opportunities to share their work with varied audiences. The course is split into three sections: laying the groundwork (branding, websites, social media, etc.), speaking (TED Talks, conferences, media interviews, NPR/radio, etc.), and writing (book deals, journals, magazines, etc.) Sections involve participant interaction and hands-on activities to apply concepts. Participants will learn to leverage resources available to women and underrepresented minorities so more diverse perspectives are represented in field dialogue. In addressing significant professional development issues (e.g., writing and speaking strategies), this course will encourage dynamic, memorable research presentations and accessible, widespread communication of education research findings.

PDC17: Using the AERA/APA/NCME Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing to Improve the Quality of Education Research
Instructors: Linda L. Cook, Educational Testing Service; Wayne J. Camara, ACT, Inc.; Michael T. Kane, Educational Testing Service
Date: Friday, April 28, 2017
Time: 1:00pm – 5:00pm (Central time)
Fee: $55.00

The purpose of this course is to help education researchers improve the quality of their research through application of the recently published Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (AERA/APA/NCME, 2014). The course content will focus on the 2014 Standards with a specific emphasis on the reliability, validity, and fairness standards. The content of the course will also include selected materials that will be reviewed by course participants and used to demonstrate how the Standards can be applied and used to improve the fairness, validity, and reliability of the materials. At the end of the course, participants should be familiar with the content of the 2014 Standards and should understand and be able to apply the standards included in the Fairness, Reliability, and Validity chapters to their work. The target audience for the course is advanced graduate students, early career scholars, and senior researchers and practitioners who are interested in strengthening their understanding of how the Standards can be used to improve their research. Prerequisite skills required by the course are a general familiarity with the ideas and vocabulary associated with simple measurement concepts. The course will include both lecture and interaction. Participants will be asked to critique several examples of research studies or other materials using the reliability, validity, and fairness standards. Issues related to state testing programs, selection tests, international testing programs, and value-added models will be included in the discussion of the application of the Standards. Participants are encouraged to bring their own examples to the course for discussion; however, participants are not required to bring any material or equipment to the course.

PDC19: Accessing and Exploring NCES Data
Stephen Quin Cornman, U.S. Department of Education; Emmanuel Sikali, U.S. Department of Education; Andrew A. White, National Center for Education Statistics; Laura Nixon, U.S. Census Bureau; Osei Ampadu, U.S. Census Bureau; Jumaane Young, U.S. Census Bureau
Date: Saturday, April 29, 2017
Time: 8:00am – 12:00pm (Central time)
Fee: $95.00

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has several state-of-the-art data tools that allow users to easily access and analyze data. This course provides participants with a comprehensive overview of those tools to access data sets. Participants will learn how to access public-use and restricted-use data sets, create reports and data tables, find published reports, and conduct analyses in selected statistical tools. NCES offers a large variety of national, state, local, school, and student data sets including assessment data, cross-sectional data, survey data, and administrative records. Participants will understand which data sets cover their educational topic of interest. The course is designed for graduate students, faculty members, researchers, and other users with an interest in using NCES data for their research studies, evaluations, and data projects. Participants are not required to have any pre-requisite skills to attend, and should bring their personal laptops for interactive, in-class activities. Each participant will receive an Accessing and Exploring NCES Data “cookbook” that provides comprehensive instruction and screen shots explaining how to navigate six NCES data tools and one distance learning module.

Newly Offered Through the AERA-VRLC

AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research Informational Webinar
Presenters: George L. Wimberly, American Educational Research Association;
Jean G. Agosto, American Educational Research Association

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) announces its 2017–2018 AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research competition for graduate students. This fellowship is targeted for members of racial and ethnic groups historically underrepresented in higher education (e.g., African Americans, Alaskan Natives, American Indians, Asian Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders). This program provides mentoring and funding support to develop research skills and conduct studies in education related fields and topics. The deadline for submitting an application is November 1, 2016.

This informational webinar was offered on Thursday, September 22, 2016 to discuss the Minority Fellowship in Education Research program’s goals, the application process, and details about the competition. Potential candidates are encouraged to view this webinar prior to submitting a proposal.

AERA Webinar - Meet Members of Congress in Your District
Presenters: Juliane Baron, AERA Director of Government Relations;
Christy Talbot, AERA Program Associate, Government Relations

The House and Senate adjourn on July 18, 2016 for a six-week district work period. This is a perfect opportunity for education researchers who seek to broaden the connections between education research and its sound uses in policy and research to visit members of Congress while they are home. This webinar will provide information to education researchers seeking to learn strategies and build skills in communicating research to elected officials in their district offices.

AERA Fellowship Program on the Study of Deeper Learning - Informational Webinar
Instructors: Michael Garet, American Institutes for Research, George L. Wimberly, American Educational Research Association, Kristina Zeiser, American Institutes for Research

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) presents this informational webinar to provide an overview and describe the award components of the AERA-Study of Deeper Learning (SDL) Fellowship Program. The Deeper Learning data collected by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) includes a wealth of information from schools, students, and teachers at a sample of Deeper Learning network high schools and non-network high schools. Researchers discuss accessing and analyzing the Deeper Learning databases, along with potential topics and research questions that can be examined with the data. The discussion focuses on how to apply for the AERA-SDL Fellowship, eligibility requirements, and the professional development and training provided through the program. This project is supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

VRLC Courses Offered at the 2016 AERA Annual Meeting

An Introduction to Hierarchical Linear Modeling for Education Researchers
Instructors: D. Betsy McCoach, University of Connecticut; Ann A. O’ Connell, The Ohio State University
Fee: $125

This course will introduce the fundamentals of hierarchical linear modeling (HLM), focusing on fundamental concepts and practical applications with very minimal emphasis on statistical theory. In addition to presenting a conceptual overview of HLM, the instructors will utilize a school-based example to demonstrate the application of HLM within an organizational framework. Participants will learn how to analyze 2-level data using HLM 7, and they will learn to interpret the results of the analyses. Instruction will consist of lecture, demonstrations of the software, and hands-on data analysis opportunities. Students should bring a laptop equipped with the free student version of HLMv7 (from and SPSS or another data manipulation software. The course example data will run on the student version of HLM. (Please note that there is no MAC version of the HLM software program.)

Crafting the Story: An Introduction to Writing With Qualitative Data
Instructors: Karri A. Holley, The University of Alabama; Michael S. Harris, Southern Methodist University
Fee: $55

In this course, participants will examine and use narrative devices inherent to the writing of qualitative research. This interactive session will be conducted in the format of a writing course. Participants will engage with transcripts from an extant research study and cast analyzed data into different report styles, using rhetorical structures common to the different styles associated with the various qualitative research designs. The goal of this course is to conceptualize writing with qualitative data as storytelling. By the end of the course, participants will be able to 1) discuss common report styles and structures in qualitative research, 2) explain the role of writer perspective and intentionality in writing, 3) describe the influence of a writer’s relationship to the intended audience, 4) define the key elements of storytelling and their relationship to qualitative research, and 5) demonstrate how these elements can be used in their own research. The course is designed for advanced graduate students and early career scholars interested in qualitative research. Participants should have a working knowledge of qualitative research, have completed at least an introductory course in the field, and have experience reading, coding, and writing from transcripts. They will be tasked with a short writing assignment before the course. Participants should bring laptops and be prepared to write and share what they have written with other participants.

Analyzing the Civil Rights Data Collection for Education Policy Research
Instructors: Janis D. Brown, U.S. Department of Education
Fee: $95

This course will provide graduate students, researchers, and practitioners with information on how to access and analyze the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), a large-scale data set managed by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education. The CRDC is a universe collection of school districts on key education and civil rights issues in our nation’ s public schools. The data collected include student enrollment, educational programs and services, school discipline, and indicators of college and career readiness. Most data are disaggregated by race/ethnicity, sex, limited English proficiency, and disability. The course will include informational presentations, extensive demonstrations, several hands-on exercises, and group work discussions. Topics covered are: 1) an overview of the CRDC survey design; 2) demonstration of online data tools for accessing and analyzing CRDC data; and 3) sharing tricks and techniques for analyzing large-scale data sets. Participants will learn to 1) analyze CRDC data using online tools, 2) conduct statistical tests, 3) create data tables and graphs, and 4) understand how to obtain a restricted-use data license. Participants should have a general knowledge of research methods and statistics. Participants must bring their own laptop.





Also Available through the AERA-VRLC

Click here to view and register for courses.


Sensitivity Analysis: Quantifying the Discourse About Causal Inference

Kenneth Frank
Instructors: Kenneth Frank, Michigan State University

Participants will learn how to quantify concerns about causal inferences due to unobserved variables or populations.

Register or learn more

VRLC Course Trailer:
Sensitivity Analysis

Improving Generalizations from Experiments: New Methods

Larry V. Hedges

Elizabeth Tipton
Instructors: Larry V. Hedges, Northwestern University; Elizabeth Tipton, Teachers College, Columbia University

Course is aimed at researchers of all levels who are interested in either making generalizations from large-scale experiments that have been completed or planning to conduct large-scale experiments.

Register or learn more

VRLC Course Trailer:
Improving Generalizations from Experiments

How to Get Published: Guidance from Emerging and Senior Scholars (2014)

Patricia A.
Instructors: Patricia A. Alexander, University of Maryland – College Park; Sandra Loughlin, University of Maryland – College Park; Emily Grossnickle, University of Maryland – College Park; Alexandra List, University of Maryland – College Park; Jeffery A. Greene, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Matthew McCrudden, Victoria, University of Wellington, New Zealand; Panayiota Kendeou, Neapolis University Pafos, Cyprus; Gregory Hancock, University of Maryland – College Park; Diane Schallert, University of Texas, Austin; Sofie Loyens, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands; DeLeon Gray, North Carolina State University

This course will provide graduate students and early career faculty with critical information about how to publish.

Register or learn more

VRLC Course Trailer:
How to Get Published (2014)



Mapping Your Educational Research: Putting Spatial Concepts into Practice with GIS
Instructors: Mark Hogrebe, Washington University in St. Louis; Doug Geverdt, U.S. Census Bureau

This course introduces geographic information systems technology (GIS) as a means to help researchers investigate the spatial context of education.

Register or learn more

VRLC Course Trailer:
Mapping Your Educational Research

How to Analyze Large-Scale Assessments Data from Matrix Booklet Sampling Design: Focus on Psychometrics behind and Hands-on Analysis Using Actual Sample Data 
The goal of this course is to provide researchers who are interested in large-scale assessments data from matrix booklet sampling design. 

Course Description/Registration | Course Trailer

How to Get Published: Guidance from Emerging and Senior Scholars (2013)
This course will provide graduate students and early career faculty and researchers with critical information about how to publish.

Course Description/Registration|Course Trailer
VRLC Course Trailer:
How to Get Published (2013)

International Education Research Made Easier: How to Use Several Free Online Data Tools 
This course will cover how to use three newly developed web tools applicable to education research at the national and international level. 

Course Description/Registration | Course Trailer

Introduction to the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) Longitudinal Database - OPEN ACCESS COURSE 
This course introduces researchers to data collected by the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) Project. Supported by a grant from the Gates Foundation. 

Course Description/Registration | AERA-MET Dissertation Fellowship Webinar | Course Trailer

VRLC Course Trailer:
Introduction to the MET Database

Using the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth for Education Research
This course will introduce new users, and reacquaint past users with the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79), the NLSY79 Child and Young Adult, and the NLSY97 data sets. 

Course Description/Registration | Course Trailer