AERA-NSF Grants Program Holds Fall Conference
AERA-NSF Grants Program Holds Fall Conference

November 2021

On November 19–20, the AERA-NSF Grants Program held its annual Fall Research Conference virtually, after a year’s hiatus due to the COVID 19 pandemic. The conference brought together the new cohort of AERA dissertation and early career awardees and scholars who recently completed research funded by the program.

The attendees participated in professional development and training activities, and were introduced to the program’s Governing Board, federal agency representatives, journal editors, and other senior scholars in large-scale data analysis and education research. These distinguished faculty and research experts, along with former program grantees, presented on advancing research and analyzing data from large-scale federal and state data sets, STEM research and learning, funding opportunities, and other important research challenges and innovations.

Governing Board member Larry V. Hedges of Northwestern University kicked off the conference with an incisive talk on grappling with the best methods and statistics for analyzing large-scale data. His presentation touched on the analysis of administrative data taken up by Governing Board member Chandra Muller and David Yeager, both of the University of Texas at Austin. They focused on the richness and challenges of using statewide administrative data and drew on examples from the Texas Mindset initiative.

Top row from left to right: Margret Hjalmarson (National Science Foundation), George L. Wimberly (AERA), Allen Ruby (National Center for Education Research)

Bottom row from left to right: Megan Bang (Spencer Foundation), Jacqueline Simms (Boston University)

Representatives from three major research agencies discussed funding opportunities for forthcoming research. Megan Bang, senior vice president at the Spencer Foundation; Allen Ruby, associate commissioner at the Institute of Education Sciences; and Margret Hjalmarson, program director at the National Science Foundation (NSF), spoke about the funding initiatives of their respective federal research agencies. They emphasized funding scholars at early career stages and interest in supporting relevant, equitable, and innovative research.

This discussion about funding was complemented by an engaged presentation and discussion of the ins-and-outs of publishing in peer-reviewed journals and the questions that often go unasked. This session was led by AERA journal editors Ellen Goldring, American Educational Research Journal, and Joseph Cimpian, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, from Vanderbilt and New York Universities, respectively. Day one ended on a related research theme led by Governing Board member Kenneth Frank, Michigan State University, who discussed scholarly productivity and products beyond article publications. He also emphasized the benefits and value-added of collaborating with scholars across STEM disciplines—meshing expertise and knowledge.

A highlight of the conference was a paper presentation session with former dissertation grantees Jennifer Darling-Aduana from Georgia State University, JoonHo Lee from the University of Alabama, and Hana Kang from the University of California, Riverside. Each of these scholars presented research using large-scale data that focuses on STEM and STEM learning, a major emphasis of the grants program. Beyond their dissertations, these scholars have published this research in peer-reviewed journals. Governing Board member Laura Perna of the University of Pennsylvania chaired this session and provided feedback on these papers and led a discussion among the conference participants.  

On the second day of the conference, Peggy Carr, commissioner at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), delivered a keynote talk focusing on NCES data opportunities, innovations, and dedication to equity in research.  She provided an overview of the NCES surveys and programs as well as some of the data analysis tools available to researchers, policy makers, and the general public. Carr engaged the conference participants with exercises and presentations with an emphasis on the process data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). She noted that issues of educational equity across diverse populations are a priority of NCES and that data collection, including demographic data, and tools would make reflect that commitment.

Throughout the conference grantees had opportunities to network virtually with Governing Board members, presenters, and each other through formal and informal conversations. The grantees overwhelmingly reported that these interactions and candid conversations were among the highlights of the conference. These knowledge development sessions were further enhanced by Governing Board member Margaret Burchinal’s (University of Virginia) presentation and discussion on building a research agenda using large scale data. She gave the fellows “dos and don’ts” as they continue to develop their research around the multiple data sets available.

Among the conference participants were the newly named Dissertation and Research Grantees (see tables below). These scholars are launching studies that use advanced statistical techniques and methods to analyze large-scale data and address important questions in STEM and education research. Current grantees will present their research in poster sessions during the 2022 AERA Annual Meeting.

“We are pleased to offer this virtual conference with its training and networking opportunities to our grantees,” said Governing Board Chair Barbara Schneider of Michigan State University. “It is a delight to bring together these promising graduate students and early career researchers. We anticipate that their studies will enhance our understanding of students’ and teachers’ school experiences, schooling processes, and other education research and topics.”

NSF has funded the AERA Grants Program since 1990 through eight consecutive awards. This has led to the support of over 500 graduate students and early career scholars as they launch their careers and develop their research agendas in STEM education research. The AERA-NSF Grants Program supports studies that use large-scale federal and federally funded data sets such as those developed by NCES, NSF, and the U.S. Census. The program includes national and international data sets and administrative data such as those available through the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, made possible through federal support.

The Grants Program is currently accepting proposals for the next award cycle with a January 25 deadline. For more information, visit the AERA-NSF Grants Program website.

Research Grantees

Henry Braun, Boston College 

A New Strategy for TIMSS Quality Assurance: Design and Implementation

Cecilia Cheung, University of California, Riverside

Unpacking Females' Underrepresentation in STEM: Trends in Students' Identification with Math and Science throughout High School as a Mechanism

Angela  Henneberger, University of Maryland at Baltimore

Leveraging State Longitudinal Data in Maryland to Examine Longer-Term Effects of Multi-Tiered PBIS

Ran Liu, University of WisconsinMadison​  

Social Connectedness, Network Embedded Inequality, and Disparities in Education Outcomes

Emily Phillips Galloway, Vanderbilt University    

Exploring the Impact of Education in New Versus Established Immigrant Destination U.S. States on Multilingual Learners' Reading Achievement During Middle Childhood

Christopher Redding, University of Florida      

Assessing the Effectiveness of Elementary School Grade Skipping on Science and Mathematics Achievement

Anna Shapiro, University of Virginia

Unpacking the Effects of Early Childhood Program Participation on Special Education: Evidence From Michigan's Transitional Kindergarten Program on Placement Type, Duration, and Classification


Dissertation Grantees

Anna Bokun, University of Minnesota              

Follow the Yellow Brick Road: The Effects of Occupational Retraining on Economic Mobility

Alexandra Cooperstock, Cornell University           

Federal Place-Based Education Investment: Educational Triage and Student Academic Outcomes

Elizabeth Davis, George Mason University           

The National Emergence of Newcomer Schools: A Critical Examination of Newcomer Schools and Their Alignment to Immigration Trends and Accountability Outcomes

Taylor Odle, University of Pennsylvania         

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due: Causal Impacts of Reverse Transfer Associate Degrees on Education and Labor-Market Outcomes

Nicolo Pinchak, Ohio State University    

School Social Disorganization and Violence Across the Life Course