IES Training Grants

Posted on December 10, 2007

David Klahr (bio) discusses an education research grant.

 

Our training grant — the one that we have from the Institute of Education Sciences — is called PIER, which stands for Program in Interdisciplinary Education Research, and Office of Education, and IES as their research arm, are very interested in increasing the quality of education research, and there are lots of ways that they’re doing this, one of which is through normal grants to PI’s, but they also felt that they needed a new workforce flow.

They needed a new set of people who would do really rigorous educational research. There’s been a lot of criticism in the field in recent years that there isn’t a lot of rigor there.

So they asked for institutions to submit proposals that would either infuse more hardcore disciplinary knowledge into schools of education or take places that hadn’t traditionally done educational research that had very strong disciplines and get them to somehow focus on education, and that’s the kind of proposal we submitted, and that’s the kind of grant that we have.

What we hope is that this will really change their career path. The program is very lavishly funded, so it has a very nice stipend, and it supports students for five years, and it pays a large part of their tuition.

The deal we strike with their advisors is the following: we’ll support your student for these five years, but we want them to do something different than they would do if you didn’t have this funding. This is not just money in your pocket.

This is really trying to influence the kind of work they do, and the measure of our success is the extent to which your students in this program are discrepant from your normal students.

Your students are not unwilling to look at education schools as a possible research area, not unwilling to publish in education research journals, view that applied work — that kind of Pasteur's Quadrant thing that everybody talks about — who view that as really quite legitimate and quite intellectually challenging and stimulating.

And the advisors sign onto this and say, “Okay. We know you’re going to support them for five years instead of the four years they usually get here. We know they have a certain course requirement. We know they have to work in interdisciplinary teams with people from other departments, and in fact, we’re not going to insist that their dissertation be in the premier journal in my narrow field, but maybe an article that will appear in Cognition and Instruction or in Journal of Research in Science and Teaching or something like that."

And that’s the program we’re trying to run.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2007 SRCD Biennial Meeting in Boston, MA.

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