IES Blog

Institute of Education Sciences

IES Grantees Receive SRCD Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award

Two Institute of Education Sciences (IES) grantees were recently recognized by the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) for their lifetime contributions to the knowledge and understanding of child development.

Roberta Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek received SRCD’s Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Child Development Award in April. It is the first time a team received the award. Dr. Golinkoff (pictured, right) is the Unidel H. Rodney Sharp Chair in the School of Education at University of Delaware and Dr. Hirsh-Pasek (pictured, left) is the Stanley and Debra Lefkowitz Faculty Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Temple University and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The duo has been collaborating on research in a variety of areas of young children’s development and education for several decades, including pioneering work in language, spatial development, and learning through play. They have also dedicated themselves to the widespread dissemination of research findings to the public.

Dr. Golinkoff and Dr. Hirsh-Pasek have received a number of grants from IES, spanning three topic areas across the two research centers.  In 2011, their research team, led by Dr. Golinkoff, received an award to systematically develop a computerized language assessment for preschool children, which has resulted in a reliable and valid product, the Quick Interactive Language Screener (QUILS).  The research team recently published the QUILS, which is now available online.  Based on the success of the assessment for preschoolers, they received a grant from the National Center for Special Education Research in 2016 to expand the QUILS program to assess 2-year-old children, creating an instrument that can be used for early screening of children at risk for language disabilities.

In another area, their research team (led by David Dickinson) received a 2011 National Center for Education Research (NCER) grant to develop and pilot test an intervention designed to foster vocabulary development in preschool children from low-income homes through shared book reading and guided play. The same team, led by Hirsh-Pasek, received a subsequent award in 2015 to extend this work to create a toolkit of shared reading combined with teacher-led playful learning experiences, such as large group games, board games, digital games, songs, and socio-dramatic play.

In addition, Golinkoff led a research team on a 2014 NCER grant to explore how modeling and feedback, gesture, and spatial language affect children’s spatial skills measured through both concrete and digital delivery. 

Written by Amy Sussman (NCSER), Caroline Ebanks (NCER), and Erin Higgins (NCER)

ED/IES SBIR Awards: Funding the Next Generation of Education Technology

Images of SBIR Phase II ProjectsFor more than a decade, the Department of Education’s Small Business Innovation Research program, operated out of the Institute of Education Sciences, has funded projects to develop education technology designed to support students, teachers, and administrators in general or special education. The program, known as ED/IES SBIR, also focuses on the commercialization after development is complete so that the products can reach schools and be sustained over time. It’s research, with a start-up mentality.

In recent years, millions of students in schools around the country have used technologies developed through ED/IES SBIR funding, such as products by Filament Games, Sokikom, Agile Mind, and Mindset Works, to name a few.

This week, IES announced 18 ED/IES SBIR program awards for 2017. Of these awards, 11 are Phase I awards to develop and test a prototype, and seven are Phase II awards to fully develop and evaluate an education technology product in classrooms and schools. (See a video playlist of Phase II projects below)  

The new awards cover topics across math, science, engineering, reading, support social and behavioral development, and several are building platforms to inform decision-making by teachers and administrators. Several projects are pairing software with hardware-based technologies, such as Virtual Reality, 3D-printing, and Wearables.

The new awards also continue to fund projects in two major categories – learning games and dashboards for teachers and administrators.

Learning Games

For the past seven years, about half of ED/IES SBIR awards have focused on the development and evaluation of learning games (click here for a playlist). Continuing that trend, more than half of the 2017 ED/IES SBIR awards are for game-based technologies. Examples include:

  • Phase II awardee Schell Games and Phase I awardee Electric Funstuff are building games for use with Virtual Reality headsets so that students can engage with academic content in immersive 360-degree environments;

  • Phase II awardee Parametric Studios is creating a “makerspace” engineering simulated environment with a 3D-printer;

  • Phase II awardee Fablevision is developing a fractions game with an adaptive component that auto-adjusts in difficulty to meet the competency level of individual students;

  • Phase II awardee Spry Fox is building in-game supports and using rewards and competition to drive game play in teaching vocabulary to struggling middle school students and English Learners; and

  • Phase I awardees MidSchoolMath and Happy People Games are using story-based narrative to engage students and apply learning, while Fokus Labs and Safe Toddles are creating prototypes employing wearable devices paired with a game component to improve performance.

Dashboards for Teachers and Administrators

Many of the newly funded projects are developing a dashboard component populated with data and information to generate reports that teachers and administrators can use to guide instruction and decision making. Examples include:

  • Phase II awardee Analytic Measures is developing an automated speech recognition technology to assess students’ oral fluency in real-time with a dashboard to provide reports to inform teacher instruction;

  • Phase II awardee Future Engineers is developing an open online platform that generates lists of engineering and maker-based projects for students in K-12 classrooms.

  • Phase I projects by Story World, Strange Loop Games, TutorGen, Simbulus, and Myriad Sensors are creating prototypes of dashboards to provide teachers formative assessment results on student performance with reports to guide instruction; and 

  • Two projects focus on platforms for schools administrators – a Phase II project by EdSurge to inform the selection process for technology for school improvement and a Phase I project by LiveSchool to generate reports on student behavior across classes and school.

Stay tuned for updates on Twitter and Facebook as IES continues to support innovative forms of technology.

Written by Edward Metz, program manager, ED/IES SBIR

 

IES at the AERA Annual Meeting

By Dana Tofig, Communications Director, IES

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) will hold its annual meeting April 27 through May 1 in San Antonio, Texas. This is one of the nation’s largest educational research conferences and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) will be well represented.

More than 100 sessions at the AERA meeting will feature IES staff or work supported by IES. Below is a brief overview, including links to lists of sessions. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook to read our #AERA17 posts. 

IES Staff at AERA

IES staff will participate in 20 different presentations, symposia, roundtables, and professional development sessions during the conference, providing information and insight about the wide range of work that we do.

One highlight will be on Sunday, April 30, 10:35 a.m. CT), during a session entitled Research Statistics, and Data: The Vital Role of the Institute of Education Sciences in Retrospect and Prospect. At the session, Thomas Brock, Commissioner of the National Center for Education Research (delegated the duties of IES director), and Peggy Carr, Acting Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, will be a part of a panel that will discuss the work IES has done over the past 15 years and what the work looks like going forward. They will be joined by other researchers and experts, including Northwestern University’s Larry Hedges, currently the Chair of the National Board for Education Sciences. This session will can be viewed for free via livestream, but you must register in advance.

Other presentations led by or featuring IES staff include sessions about funding opportunities and how to write an application for an IES grant; accessing and using data from NCES and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP); understanding and using international education data, including assessment results; and conversations about different data collections, including race and gender diversity, school-level finance, socioeconomic status and more.

Click here to see a full list of IES staff presentations at AERA.

IES-funded Work at AERA

More than 80 sessions at AERA will feature research and programs that were supported by IES grants and other funding sources. These presentations will cover a wide range of topics, from early childhood education to K-12 to postsecondary opportunities and beyond.

Many of our grantees will present findings from IES-funded research, including the results of IES Research and Development Centers, such as the National Center for Research on Gifted Education, the Center on Scaling Up Effective Schools, the Center for the Study of Adult Literacy, and the Center on Standards, Alignment, Instruction, and Learning.

IES-funded grants will be featured at several other sessions, including eight presentations that will present findings from our Cognition and Student Learning grant program, which builds understanding of how the mind works to inform and improve education practice in reading, writing, mathematics, science, and study skills.

In addition, researchers from several of the Regional Educational Laboratories will present findings on a variety of topics, including early education quality, English learners, teacher evaluations and mobility, college readiness, virtual learning, and much more. 

Also, the National Center for Research in Policy and Practice, an IES-funded Knowledge Utilization Center, will hold several sessions about what they have learned about how educators and policy makers access and use evidence in their decision making.

Click here to see a list of presentations on IES-funded research and programs. 

 

Get to Know NCES in Just Five Minutes!

By Lauren Musu-Gillette

Have you ever read one of our reports and wondered where the data came from? Are you familiar with NAEP, but have never heard of IPEDS? Are you curious about the history of NCES? If so, our new video is perfect for you!

The full scope of NCES activities can be daunting for those not familiar with the Center. Our data collections include samples from early childhood to postsecondary education, and cover such diverse topics as math and reading achievement, the experiences of teachers and principals, and school crime. In addition, the Center has a rich history both within the Department of Education and as a federal statistical agency. To make our data, reports, and tools more accessible to the public, we’ve created a new video to help introduce you to who we are and what we do.

To learn more about the Center’s work, watch the video below and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Using the WWC as a Teaching Tool

EDITOR'S NOTE:The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC), a program of the Institute of Education Sciences, is a trusted source of scientific evidence on education programs, products, practices, and policies. The WWC also has many tools and resources for education researchers and students.  In this guest blog post, Jessaca Spybrook (pictured, below right), Associate Professor of Evaluation, Measurement and Research at Western Michigan University, discusses how she uses WWC procedures and standards as a teaching tool.


By Jessaca Spybrook, Western Michigan University

TraiJessaca Spybrookning the next generation of researchers so they are prepared to enter the world of education research is a critical part of my role as a faculty member in the Evaluation, Measurement, and Research program. I want to ensure that my students have important technical skills in a host of subject areas including, but not limited to, research design, statistics, and measurement. At the same time, I want to be sure they know how to apply the skills to design and analyze real-world studies. I often struggle to find resources for my classes that help me meet both goals.

One resource that has emerged as an important tool in meeting both goals is the What Works Clearinghouse website. I frequently integrate materials from the WWC into the graduate research design and statistics courses I teach.

For example, in a recent class I taught, Design of Experiments and Quasi-Experiments, I used the WWC Procedures and Standards Handbook Version 3.0 throughout (an image from the publication is pictured below). The Handbook met four important criteria as I was selecting resources for my class:

  1. Inclusion of important technical detail on design and analysis;
  2. Up-to-date and current thinking and “best practice” in design and analysis;
  3. Clear writing that is accessible for graduate students; and
  4. It was free (always a bonus when searching for class materials).Image from the What Works Clearinghouse Standards & Practices Guide 3.0

By no means did the Handbook replace classic and well-regarded textbooks in the class. Rather, it helped connect classic texts on design to both recent advances related to design, as well as real-life considerations and standards that designs are judged against.

At the end of my class, students may have been tired of hearing the question, “what is the highest potential rating for this study?” But I feel confident that using the WWC Handbook helped me not only prepare graduates with the technical know-how they need to design a rigorous experiment or quasi-experiment, but also raised awareness of current best practice and how to design a study that meets important standards set for the field.