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IES Grant

Title: University of Virginia Education Science (VEST) Interdisciplinary Post-Doctoral Training Program
Center: NCER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Bassok, Daphna Awardee: University of Virginia
Program: Postdoctoral Research Training Program in the Education Sciences      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (09/01/2017–08/31/2021) Award Amount: $695,425
Type: Training Award Number: R305B170002

Co-Principal Investigators: Wyckoff, Jim; Pianta, Robert C.; Rimm-Kaufman, Sara

The Virginia Education Science (VEST) Interdisciplinary Post-Doctoral Training Program engaged five promising researchers in opportunities to develop skills to conduct rigorous research in education science. The training program focused on research in topics related to effective teachers and effective teaching, early learning, and social and behavioral contexts for learning to conduct exploratory, development, and evaluation research.

The program trained 5 fellows for approximately 2 years each. Most of the fellows were members of groups that tend to be under-represented in education science consistent with the VEST goals to improve the diversity in the field. Each fellow was paired with a senior mentor who worked closely with the fellow on existing funded projects to support the fellows' development of skills as a researcher, scholar, and communicator.

Training included four main components: (1) individualized work with a senior investigator, (2) experience learning and using rigorous methods and statistics, (3) immersion in a scientifically rigorous community of scholarship, and (4) mentored experiences in consultation with educational stakeholders (e.g., state/federal agencies, district policymakers, and practitioner groups). The goal of these experiences was to provide fellows with a rich array of experiences to hone their research expertise (e.g., theory, experimental design, methods, and writing) and prepare them to work with education policymakers and practitioners. Each fellow pursued two to three distinct lines of research, engaged in grant-writing opportunities, and learned skills such as writing for lay audiences that are crucial for the advancement of education science.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Bellows, Laura – ORCID
El Mallah, Shereen
Nguyen, Tutrang – ORCID
Shapiro, Anna – ORCID
Thomas, Krystal


Upon the completion of this project, all fellows are fully engaged in careers in education research. Four have launched into new positions while one will stay at the University of Virginia (UVA) for an additional year of post-doctoral work. Laura Bellows has accepted a research position at RAND that began in Summer 2022. Shereen El Mallah is a Research Assistant Professor at the Youth Nex and Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning at UVA School of Education and Human Development (SEHD). Tutrang Nguyen is a Human Services Researcher at Mathematica. Anna Shapiro will work as a Research Scientist at the UVA Study of Early Education through Partnerships. Krystal Thomas is an Education Researcher at SRI International.

Related IES Projects: Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Training Program in Education Sciences (R305B060009), Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Research Training Program in Education Sciences (R305B100009), University of Virginia Post-Doctoral Interdisciplinary Training Program in Education Science (R305B130013), University of Virginia Education Science Training Program in English Language Learning (EL-VEST) (R305B210008)


ERIC Citations:Find available citations in ERIC for this award here.

Select Publications by the Fellows:

Inside IES Research Blog Post

Larson, M., Gil, E., Bellows, L. (June, 2022). LGBTQ+ Education Research: Why I'm proud of the potential.

Journal Articles

Bassok, D., Markowitz, A. J., Bellows, L., & Sadowski, K. (2021). New evidence on teacher turnover in early childhood. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 43(1), 172–180. Full text

Bellows, L.(2019). Immigration enforcement and student achievement in the wake of secure communities. AERA Open, v5 n4. Full text

Bellows, L. (2021). The effect of immigration enforcement on school engagement: Evidence from 287(g) programs in North Carolina. AERA Open 7 (1), 1–20. doi:10.1177/23328584211039467 Full text

Bellows, L.,Bassok, D. & Markowitz, A. J. (in press). Teacher turnover in early childhood education: Longitudinal evidence from the universe of publicly funded programs in Louisiana." Educational Researcher.

El Mallah, S. (2020). Conceptualization and measurement of adolescent prosocial behavior: Looking back and moving forward. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 30, 15–38.

El Mallah, S. (2020). Toward equity-oriented assessment of social and emotional learning: examining equivalence of concepts and measures. Urban Education, 57(2), 289–317.

Doromal, J. B., Bassok, D., Bellows, L., & Markowitz, A. J. (2022). Hard-to-staff centers: Exploring center-level variation in the persistence of childcare teacher turnover. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 61, 170–178.

Jenkins, J.M., Whitaker, A.A., Nguyen, T., & Yu, W. (2019). Distinctions without a difference? Preschool curricula and children's development. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 12(3), 514–549. Full Text

Leyva, D., Shapiro, A., Yeomans-Maldonado, G., Weiland, C., & Leech, K. (2022). Positive impacts of a strengths-based family program on Latino kindergarteners' narrative language abilities.  Developmental Psychology,58(5): 835–847

Leyva, D., Weiland, C., Shapiro, A., Yeomans-Maldonado, G., & Febles, A. (2022). A strengths-based, culturally responsive family intervention improves Latino kindergarteners' vocabulary and approaches to learning. Child Development, 93(2), 451–467.

Leyva, D., Yeomans-Maldonado, G., Weiland, C., & Shapiro, A. (2022) Latino kindergarteners' math growth, approaches to learning, and home numeracy practices. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology,80: 101417

Nguyen, T., Ansari, A., Pianta, R. C., Whittaker, J. V., Vitiello, V. E., & Ruzek, E. (2020). The classroom relational environment and children's early development in preschool. Social Development, 29(4), 1071–1091. Full text

Nguyen, T., Duncan, R.J., and Bailey, D.H. (2019). Theoretical and methodological implications of associations between executive function and mathematics in early childhood. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 59(3), 276–287. Full Text

Nguyen, T., Hofkens, T., Pianta, R. C., Whittaker, J. V., Vitiello, V. E., & Ruzek, E. A. (2020). Cumulative experience of educational assets from preschool through first grade and the social-emotional well-being of English- and Spanish-speaking children. Perspectives, 5(1), 103–138.

Nguyen, T., Reich, S. M., Jenkins, J. M., & Abedi, J. (2020). Psychometric validation and reorganization of the Desired Results Developmental Profile. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 38(3), 369–388.Full Text

Shapiro, A. (2022). Over diagnosed or over looked? The effect of age at time of school entry on students receiving special education services. Exceptional Children.

Thomas, K. & Serpell, Z.N. (2022). Ethnic-racial identity, social transactions in the classroom and academic outcomes: Gender matters. Journal of Genetic Psychology,1–16.

Tome, R., Rangel, M. A., Gibson-Davis, C. M., & Bellows, L. (2021). Heightened immigration enforcement impacts US citizens' birth outcomes: Evidence from early ICE interventions in North Carolina. PloS one, 16(2), e0245020. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0245020

Vitiello, V. E., Nguyen, T.,Ruzek, E., Pianta, R. C., & Whittaker, J. V. (2022). Differences between Pre-K and Kindergarten classroom experiences: do they predict children's social-emotional skills and self-regulation across the transition to kindergarten? Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 59, 287–299.

Vitiello, V. E., Nguyen, T.,Ruzek, E., Pianta, R. C., & Whittaker, J. V. (2022). Differences between pre-k and kindergarten contexts and achievement across the kindergarten transition. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 80, 101396.