Research and Science Policy Forum Features Key Federal Agency Leaders, Recent Research Publications
Research and Science Policy Forum Features Key Federal Agency Leaders, Recent Research Publications

April 2021

The 2021 AERA Virtual Annual Meeting featured 18 invited sessions in a Research and Science Policy Forum that included conversations with leaders of federal education research agencies and discussion on research directions in recent reports from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) and on the development of education research infrastructure. The forum was intended to engage meeting attendees in important issues at the intersection of education research and science policy.

Karen Marrongelle
National Science Foundation,
Education and Human Resources Directorate

Karen Marrongelle, assistant director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate, engaged in discussion on research directions and priorities in EHR. The topics she covered included research in leveraging artificial intelligence in ethical and responsible ways, the EHR and NSF's role in fostering equity in STEM, and how EHR has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. Marrongelle also highlighted the current landscape of diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM.

“Forty-one percent of the science and engineering research doctorates were awarded to women in 2017, while women make up 51.5 percent of the U.S. population and 47 percent of the labor force,” said Marrongelle. “Only 11 percent of the science and engineering research doctorates were awarded to people who are historically underrepresented in STEM, compared to much a higher proportion of these people in the population (27 percent) and in the labor force (30 percent).”

Mark Schneider
Institute of Education Sciences

Mark Schneider, director of the Institute of Education Sciences, provided remarks on priorities and forthcoming initiatives for education research and statistics at IES. He discussed his accomplishments during the first three years of his terms as director. He also highlighted future directions, including some preliminary plans for how IES will direct funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to address the impact of lost instructional time during the pandemic, and ongoing studies being conducted by NASEM to guide research, statistical, and assessment activities within IES. A summary of his remarks were included in two blog posts published in April.

Attendees also had the opportunity to hear from key staff at IES, NSF, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and from representatives of foundations on federal and nonfederal funding opportunities.

The forum highlighted four recent consensus reports released by the National Academies charting the current state of research and future directions:

Sessions on these reports convened members of the report committees to provide overviews of their key findings and recommendations, with invited commentators who reflected on the reports and provided their perspectives.

Another session featured a new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Yidan Prize Foundation on growth mindset findings from the Programme for International Student Assessment. Participants included several researchers, including Larry V. Hedges (Northwestern University), Carol Dweck (Stanford University), Pierre Gouëdard (OECD), David Yeager (University of Texas at Austin), Barbara Schneider (Michigan State University), and Frank C. Worrell (University of California, Berkeley).

“Students with a fixed mindset on intelligence and learning fear challenges and mistakes greatly, while students with a growth mindset think of challenges and respond to them differently,” said Dweck. “Our research shows that students from lower income backgrounds are less likely to have a growth mindset, but when they have this mindset, it helps them succeed.”

Participants noted that future research should investigate further the causal relationship between student outcomes and growth mindset and cultural variations.

Two sessions were also devoted to two upcoming AERA handbooks: Handbook of Research on Teachers of Color (edited by Conra D. Gist and Travis J. Bristol) and the Handbook of Education Policy Research, 2nd edition (edited by Lora Cohen-Vogel, Janelle Scott, and Peter Youngs). In both sessions, the editors began with an introduction to the volume and session, which was followed by roundtables where authors had the opportunity to interact with and receive feedback from meeting attendees.

Other spotlighted forum sessions focused on the recent AERA volume Condition or Process? Researching Race in Education, and a new report from the National Academy of Education on civic reasoning and discourse. AERA members also were invited to participate in roundtable breakouts to inform the next edition of Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing.

The full schedule of sessions in the Research and Science Policy Forum includes session participants and the scope of sessions.

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