Expertise and sensitivity to research problems are strengthened when investigators offering technical assistance are actively pursuing closely-related research agendas. ARC’s research initiatives are designed both to advance the mission of the REESE program and to inform the technical assistance services we provide to the REESE community.
ARC’s research to-date highlights three themes of particular importance to the REESE program:
- Evidence generation and knowledge accumulation. The PI and Co-PIs are working to complete a volume tentatively titled Understanding What Works to Improve Educational Outcomes: Implications for Education Research, Policy, and Philanthropy (under contract to Oxford University Press). Against a backdrop of recent educational reform internationally to improve the effectiveness of public educational systems, the authors examine the development, impacts, and likely legacy of particular approaches to innovation and improvement, including a demand-driven, accountability-enhanced, evidence-based approach to reform. ARC also organized an interactive symposium for the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Assessing the Impacts of Disciplined Inquiry: Implications of Modeling Evidence Generation in Phases for Research, Policy, and Funding Priorities, to explore how such a model facilitates and can constrain educational investigations, with a particular emphasis on STEM research and education.
- Methods for generating high quality evidence on factors that affect STEM education and learning. Also ongoing is a program of research to develop additional methodological resources to address analytic issues and extend understandings of the implications of analyzing universe (rather than sample) data in evaluating educational interventions and conducting other educational research. ARC co-PI Hedges is leading an initiative to compile a demonstration state variance almanac using data from a state with universe longitudinal student achievement data. Another related activity will provide online access to resources for planning group-randomized experiments. Specifically, a publicly available interface to a national variance almanac of academic achievement will provide researchers with access to more finely-grained information on existing student achievement against which changes associated with interventions should be compared.
- Factors affecting the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM education and research careers. ARC post-doctoral research fellow Lara Perez-Felkner leads this aspect of ARC’s research agenda, working in close collaboration with PI Barbara Schneider on numerous research and writing projects, including a program of empirical research that utilizes ELS and NELS data to examine gendered differences in math and science coursework and postsecondary majors in these fields, and factors that influence underrepresented minority high school students’ interest and persistence in STEM education and careers. A chapter on the first, “What Happens to High-Achieving Females after High School? Gender and Persistence on the Postsecondary STEM Pipeline” is forthcoming in Gender Differences in Aspirations and Attainment (edited by Schoon and Eccles) and related work is under review and has been presented at the AERA 2011 Annual Meeting. A poster on the latter was presented at the 2010 REESE PI Meeting and an invited chapter (“The changing landscape for educational opportunity: Enhancing the public option for black youth”) addressing these issues will appear in Black Educational Choice in a Climate of School Reform: Consequences for K-12 Student Learning and Development (forthcoming from Praeger Press). ARC also organized symposia at AERA 2010 and AERA 2011 around REESE projects researching participation of underrepresented groups in STEM education and careers.
ARC also supports the REESE community in a variety of evaluation research initiatives.