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

November 2023

From left to right: Felice J. Levine & Barbara Schneider

On November 17–18, the AERA-NSF Grants Program held its annual Fall Research Conference at the AERA Convening Center in Washington, D.C. The conference brought together the cohorts of AERA dissertation and research grant awardees and scholars who recently completed research that was 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, and senior scholars in large-scale data analysis and education research. The distinguished faculty and research experts presented on topics such as building a STEM research agenda, possibilities for securing funding, and opportunities for large-scale research and data use.

“This year’s conference was another excellent opportunity for training and networking, both formal and informal, between the talented grants awardees and senior scholars,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine, principal investigator of the Grants Program. “It was wonderful to come together for two days of stimulating conversations and learning.”

Along with Levine, George L. Wimberly, AERA director of professional development and diversity officer, serves as co-principal investigator of the Grants Program.

From left to right: George L. Wimberly, Barbara Schneider, George W. Bohrnstedt, Steven Andrew Culpepper, & Kenneth Frank

The conference was kicked off by Grants Program Governing Board Members George W. Bohrnstedt (American Institutes for Research), Steven Andrew Culpepper (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Kenneth Frank (Michigan State University), and Chair Barbara Schneider (Michigan State University), who led a session on opportunities for innovative research on STEM learning and learning environments, including the role of student self-identity, how the use of AI could exacerbate inequities, and the power of using personal stories to convey and reinforce quantitative findings.

Throughout the conference, former grantees presented their research, sparking engaging conversation and constructive feedback from the senior scholars in the room. These included papers on school student-body characteristics and STEM learning outcomes, paths to higher education, school equity and funding, and policy relationships to educational outcomes.

Highlights of the conference were three keynotes given by James L. Moore, III, National Science Foundation (NSF) Assistant Director for the Directorate for STEM Education (EDU); Peggy Carr, Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES); and Finbarr (Barry) Sloane, NSF Program Director.

Finbarr (Barry) Sloane
James L. Moore, III

Moore focused his talk on research priorities in EDU as well as early career research opportunities that are offered. He stressed the need for cutting-edge research on artificial intelligence and encouraged meeting attendees to incorporate STEM-related topics and perspectives into their research even if they do not consider themselves STEM researchers. In her talk, Carr gave an overview of new opportunities at NCES and developments in data collection initiatives. Sloane talked about the role of large-scale research and data in advancing STEM knowledge, providing insight into issues being addressed by NSF.

Peggy Carr

Another a major plenary session included a conversation with Matthew Chingos (Urban Institute) on data linkages through the Urban Institute’s innovative and user-friendly Education Data Portal, which was created as one-stop shop for researchers and other users looking for data from major national data sets on schools, districts, and colleges. Program officers from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Allen Ruby, Christina Chhin, and Katherine Taylor, also discussed funding opportunities and research possibilities at IES, providing an insider’s perspective on how to prepare proposals and work with IES officials.

Matthew Chingos From left to right: Katherine Taylor, Christina Chhin, & Allen Ruby

Among the conference participants were the newly named dissertation and research grantees (see related Highlights story). 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. Throughout the conference, grantees had the invaluable opportunity to network with Governing Board members, presenters, and each other through formal and informal conversations. Current grantees will present their research in poster sessions during the 2024 AERA Annual Meeting.

NSF has funded the AERA Grants Program since 1990 through eight consecutive awards. This has led to support for over 600 graduate students and early career scholars as they have launched their careers and developed their research agendas. The current NSF award (DRL 1749275) has a specific emphasis in STEM learning and 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 SLDS, made possible through federal support.

Dissertation and Research Grant Awardees and the Program's Governing Board Members

The deadline for the next award cycle will be announced in February 2024. For more information about the Grants Program, visit the AERA-NSF Grants Program website.