Commemorating 20 Years of IES: Michael Gottfried
Commemorating 20 Years of IES: Michael Gottfried

Commemorating 20 Years of IES
Michael Gottfried, University of Pennsylvania

Michael GottfriedIt is a great privilege to be among the group of scholars honoring the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) during this 20-year anniversary. IES has certainly been impactful on numerous educational research and training grants, and I appreciate the institution for providing resources to engage in numerous projects and tasks. I, along with my team of researchers and students, have been fortunate enough to be funded for my research, and I am grateful for the opportunities that the funding provided, including both support for full-time researchers as well as for graduate students. I feel very lucky, especially because I have met such wonderful and thoughtful IES program officers across IES. My first grant, awarded in 2018, was funded by the National Center for Education Research; my second research grant was funded by the National Center for Special Education Research. Overall, being part of this larger IES community has been a rewarding and memorable experience.

Both of my IES grants focused on better understanding why we see disparities in educational pathways for under-represented students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and specifically within the area of career and technical education (CTE). My first grant used national data of thousands of high school students to examine STEM-CTE course taking patterns for students from low-income backgrounds. My team and I were curious about whether taking these courses could improve STEM outcomes by the end of high school (i.e., higher levels of STEM self-efficacy), into college (i.e., STEM courses, STEM major), and into employment (i.e., having a STEM-focused job). We found connections between high school STEM-CTE course taking and stronger outcomes for low-income students. This motivated me to apply for a second grant, which was awarded a year after the first, to continue exploring how STEM-CTE courses in high school might carve out STEM pathways for other under-represented student groups. My second grant focused on the pathways of students with learning disabilities in these high school STEM-CTE courses. My team and I also found that taking STEM-CTE courses was an important support for students with learning disabilities in high school and college.

IES understands the importance of closing gaps for under-represented student groups, particularly in STEM. Being a national organization, IES also understands the importance of national policy implications. For instance, my IES-funded projects can help policymakers consider how new or revised curricular policies, programs, or requirements could help to support the pursuance and persistence of under-represented youth into STEM fields. Based on having had IES funding, I believe policymakers can use this work to better understand (a) the landscape of which students are over- or under-represented in STEM-CTE courses; (b) the effects that these courses have on students’ pathways; and (c) how these pathways are carved out for different groups.

These projects have been an exciting endeavor, and I am thankful that IES funded them and has been supportive throughout the years. I am certain others feel similar, and I look forward to continuing to work under IES leadership and in the IES community.