Minority Dissertation Fellowship Program in Education Research
The AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research Online Application is available. The application deadline for the 2016-2017 competition is Monday, November 2, 2015.

Learn more about the 2014-2015 AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship and Travel Award Recipients!

About the AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is pleased to announce the AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research. The Council of the AERA established the fellowship program to provide support for doctoral dissertation research, to advance education research by outstanding minority graduate students, and to improve the quality and diversity of university faculties. 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 offers doctoral fellowships to enhance the competitiveness of outstanding minority scholars for academic appointments at major research universities. It supports fellows conducting education research and provides mentoring and guidance toward the completion of their doctoral studies.

Call for Proposals

Award Period
Each fellowship award is for 1 year, beginning July 1 or later, and is nonrenewable. This fellowship program is intended as a write-up fellowship. Fellowships are awarded for doctoral dissertation research conducted under faculty sponsorship in any accredited university in the United States.

Eligible graduate students for the AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research will be at the writing stage of their dissertation by the beginning of the fellowship. The dissertation study should focus on an education research topic such as high stakes testing; ethnic studies/curriculum; tracking; STEM development; measurement of achievement and opportunity gaps; English language learners; or bullying and restorative justice. Applicants can come from graduate programs and departments in education research, the humanities, or social or behavioral science disciplinary or interdisciplinary fields, such as economics, political science, psychology, or sociology.

Fellows are required to provide proof of advancement to candidacy at the beginning of the award period. Applicants must work full-time on their dissertations and course requirements and should be in the writing stage of their dissertation. This program is open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are 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).

AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research Award

Award Component 1, $19,000 Stipend. AERA awards each Fellow up to a $19,000 stipend to study education, teaching, learning, or other education research topic. The fellowship funds can be used for tuition and/or institution fees, books, living expenses, equipment, travel, supplies, software, and other expenses that are directly related to conducting this research. AERA encourages cost sharing from universities in the form of tuition assistance, office space, university fees, and other expenses. Institutions cannot charge overhead or indirect costs to administer the fellowship funds.

Award Component 2, $1,000 in Travel Support to Attend the AERA Annual Meeting. Each spring AERA holds its’ Annual Meeting which brings together over 15,000 researchers, scholars, and policy makers to present their research, share knowledge, and build research capacity through over 2,000 substantive sessions. Fellows participate in professional development and training activities during the 2017 AERA Annual Meeting (San Antonio, TX). The Fellowship provides up to $1,000 (reimbursable) for travel and lodging expenses to participate in the meeting.

Award Component 3, Present Research at Invited AERA Poster Session. Fellows present their research in an invited poster session during the 2017 AERA Annual Meeting (San Antonio, TX).  This poster session is a hallmark of the AERA professional development program and features promising research from graduate students who are supported by AERA funded programs. This is an excellent opportunity to showcase the developing research from the next generation of scholars and for the Fellows to receive feedback from senior scholars, education school deans, foundation officers, and others across the education research community.

Award Component 4, AERA Minority Fellows Mentoring and Career Development Workshop. During the 2017 AERA Annual Meeting, Fellows participate in a mentoring and career development workshop with current and former members of the AERA Minority Selection Committee and other senior scholars. The workshop focuses on topics such as making the transition from graduate school to a postdoctoral program, faculty position, or a career in applied research.

Application Requirements and Procedures

All applications for the AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research must be completed using the AERA online application portal by 11:59pm Pacific time on Monday, November 2, 2015. Late applications and supporting materials will not be accepted.

AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research Online Application is available.

In order to save your application you will need to create a username and password. Record your username and password because AERA cannot retrieve this information. Each application must include:

Contact information.
Each applicant must enter their name, address, phone number, e-mail address, and information about their doctoral institution into the online application form.

Curriculum vita
. Upload your current curriculum vita in PDF. Applicant's curriculum vitae, no longer than two (2) pages, to include the following:

  • Research and academic employment history
  • Relevant graduate courses in statistics and methodology
  • Relevant publications and presentations
  • Relevant professional affiliations and/or memberships

Dissertation research prospectus: Provide a general overview of your dissertation research with the following information:

    Dissertation abstract
  • Statement of the problem and how this research advances the current state of knowledge in the field
  • Theoretical and/or conceptual framework
  • Brief review of relevant literature
  • Key research questions or hypotheses to be tested
  • Overview of research design and description of methodology including any instrument(s); list of variables and rationale for using them; any video segments integral to the study; and specification and clarification of variables and analytic techniques
  • Anticipated or preliminary findings
  • Brief dissemination plan for this research including proposed conferences to present the findings and potential scholarly journals to publish the research
The dissertation research prospectus text is limited to eight (8) single spaced pages. Applicants are highly encouraged to include references and appendices (i.e. charts, tables, research protocol, survey instruments, etc.,). References and appendices do not count toward 8 page limit. You will need to upload this document in PDF.

Combine your Dissertation Research Prospectus and Curriculum Vita into one PDF document (include your full name and institution in header) and upload to online application portal.

. Official or unofficial graduate school transcripts must be received in hard copy by the deadline. No exceptions.

Letter of recommendation
. Two (2) letters of recommendation are required. References should come from your dissertation advisor and/or other major professors who are familiar with your work. In the letter of recommendation from your advisor, the dissertation advisor will attest to your proposal constituting research for the doctoral degree. AERA will only accept two letters of recommendation. Letters may be sent electronically (fellowships@aera.net) or in hard copy to AERA, but must be received by the deadline. No exceptions.

Hardcopies of transcripts and letters of recommendation may be sent by U.S. mail to:

AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship Program in Education Research
1430 K Street NW, Suite 1200
Washington, DC 20005

All application materials and supporting documents must be received by the deadline. Remember to combine your Dissertation Research Prospectus and Curriculum Vita into one PDF document.

Resources and Questions

AERA encourages potential applicants to consult ‘Answers to Frequently Asked Questions’ (PDF) for further details about the fellowship and application requirements.

Examples of previously funded projects are listed below (but many other topics of research are equally appropriate to study): 

Learning to Notice: Supporting Students’ Meaningful Engagement in Scientific Practices
Abraham S. Lo (2014-2015 Cohort)

The reform vision articulated in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is to involve students in meaningful science and engineering practices to develop explanatory core ideas (National Research Council, 2012; NGSS Lead States, 2013). Key to these efforts is for students to develop explanatory models of phenomena using evidence and use argument to evaluate, compare, and reach consensus on revised models (Lehrer & Schauble, 2006; Passmore & Svoboda, 2011; Schwarz et al., 2009). Meaningful practice, rather than rote activity, requires that students understand what they are doing, how it will help them to achieve their scientific goals, and what counts as successful engagement. Existing classroom practices pose challenges for students taking up modeling as a meaningful scientific practice, as many students and teachers have little experience using scientific practices in authentic or meaningful ways (Banilower et al., 2013; Windschitl, Thompson, & Braaten, 2008). Researchers have acknowledged that the proposed shifts in classroom practice are difficult to implement without adequate professional support (Alozie, Moje, & Krajcik, 2010), yet the steps required to promote and support these classroom shifts have not been fully developed (Windschitl, Thompson, Braaten, & Stroupe, 2012). Much research has involved helping students engage in scientific practices by emphasizing the nature of the steps or what the products should contain, such as stating that claims need to be supported by evidence (e.g. McNeill, Lizotte, Krajcik, & Marx, 2006). While this can support the characteristics or components of the desired knowledge product, it does not necessarily support understanding why these aspects are important for achieving one’s goals. Consequently, students might learn what to do at the rote level without connecting the epistemic questions guiding scientists’ work to their own knowledge building. Thus, more work is needed to 1) develop an understanding of the meaning that students and teachers apply to their use of modeling to explain phenomena, 2) understand the successes and challenges involved in students’ and teachers’ attempts to interpret and implement these new classroom practices, and 3) develop methods to help teachers support students’ meaningful use of scientific practices to construct knowledge. To contribute to our understanding of how to facilitate these shifts for students and teachers, I conducted two studies that examine how supporting the epistemic dimensions of scientific practice can be used to prevent the role use of these practices. These aspects are 1) the epistemic considerations (ECs), which are the epistemic understandings or questions that implicitly or explicitly guide students’ scientific decisions (Berland et al., under review); 2) participants' perceived epistemic aims, which are the goals for acquiring some type of knowledge or understanding (Chinn, Buckland, & Samarapungavan, 2011); 3) the extent to which participants have epistemic agency or “responsibility of shaping the knowledge and practices of a community” (Stroupe, 2014, p. 488); and 4) the students’ interpretation for why they are engaged in modeling and the role of modeling on their learning

Through No Fault of Their Own? A Comparative Critical Discourse Analysis of Undocumented Youth and the DREAM Act in Television News
Ruth María López (2014-2015 Cohort)

In my dissertation I examine the rise of one of the most publicized immigration policy issues of the last fourteen years: The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would create a path to legal residency for young undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Following the 1982 Plyler v. Doe Supreme Court decision, undocumented children gained the right to a free public K-12 education in the United States (Olivas, 2012), but their immigration status and their futures at institutions of higher education were left largely unaddressed (López, 2004; Yates, 2004). In response to the uncertain futures faced by thousands of undocumented students upon high school graduation in this country each year, the DREAM Act was first introduced to Congress in 2001 (Olivas, 2004). In this multi-method study, I examine the DREAM Act versions presented to Congress during President Barack Obama’s first term in office—a time when the DREAM Act was expected to pass for the first time since its inception in 2001. First, through a content analysis of DREAM Act policy documents, I demonstrate how this policy was framed and how DREAMers were socially constructed (Schneider & Ingram, 1993; Schneider & Ingram, 1997). Following this, I conduct a multimodal (Kress, 2011) Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) (Luke, 1996; van Dijk, 2002; van Dijk, 2003) of national television news coverage of the DREAM Act of 2010, the version that came closest to passing, and highlight the role news media play in communicating education policy issues. Considering Haas’ (2004) argument that news media play a large part in how education policy issues come to be understood by the public, I explore how framing (Hand, Penuel and Gutiérrez, 2012) has been used to portray the DREAM Act and DREAMers. My theoretical framework centers on understanding immigration in the United States as a racial issue (Pérez Huber, 2009) by using Omi and Winant’s (1994) theories of racial formation as well as Bonilla-Silva’s (2010) frames of color-blind racism.

Fantasies of Ballin’: The Educational and Occupational Aspirations of Homeless Youth of Color
Shanta Robinson (2014-2015 Cohort)

One of the most marginalized populations of students in the U.S. is homeless youth. The National Center for Homeless Education (2010) estimated that over 1 million school-aged youth were homeless in the 2009-2010 school year, a 41% increase from 2007-2008. While scholarship is clear about the substantial risks that face these young adults, we know little about how they plan to overcome the day-to-day challenges they face and make a successful transition to adulthood, and how education may or may not play a role. The purpose of this dissertation study is to explore how homeless youth of color make sense of their educational experiences (formal and informal) and occupational futures given their self-proclaimed intersecting identities (i.e. race, class, gender, homeless status). In particular, I investigate the youths’ past school experiences and present educational status, examine the supports and obstacles to the youths’ expectations and aspirations, and consider how their futures are influenced by their group affiliations and institutions. This year-long study set in the suburbs of a major metropolitan area employs ethnographic methods (i.e., semi-structured interviews and participant observations) to capture the complex, situated experiences of homeless youth. Data comprises 25 homeless youth, 12 nonprofit organizational staff, and over 150 hours of participant observation. My method of analysis involved an iterative process between data collection, coding, and memo generation as informed by grounded theory and constant comparative analysis. Several findings emerged from the analyses. The youths’ identities, particularly the intersections of race and gender, shaped their professed aspirations of “ballin”—or living extravagantly and aggressively—in distinct, albeit fantastical ways. The homeless youth formed three distinct subcultures based on their aspirations, social identities, and past experiences—the Homeboys, the Sistergirls, and the EmoCores. These subcultures provided (mostly unvalued) social capital and a sense of belonging. I also found that school members (via youth and staff renderings) and non-profit staff interacted with these three subcultures in significantly different ways, essentially shaping the educational and occupational goals of homeless youth through formal and informal means. These institutions encouraged the idealistic ambitions of Black boys; they tempered and diminished the realistic and economically viable ambitions of the Black girls. And they bolstered the pragmatic aspirations of the White youth. Because of the precarious social positioning and the intersection of the multiple marginalized identities of these homeless youth, the Black boys and Black girls are most positioned to obtain occupations that reproduce their ascribed social status, while the White youth are poised to improve their socioeconomic conditions. This research will be crucial in furthering scholarly understanding of how the intersection of race, class, and gender-based identities impact the educational outcomes and life chances of youth who are experiencing poverty or are marginalized along several different dimensions. It also has the potential to inform teaching practices and changes to public education policy, in particular, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

Direct any questions about the fellowship program, eligibility requirements, or submission process to fellowships@aera.net or 202-238-3200.
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