Data from new research center at NORC to aid education reforms, improvementsBy William Harms
A new Data Research and Development Center being established at the National Opinion Research Center will help researchers understand how changes in the classroom improve education and promote the use of their findings in schools throughout the nation.
The center, funded by a $6 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation, will look specifically at projects that have been shown to be effective in improving reading, mathematics and science.
To benefit from the lessons of school reform, policymakers and researchers need a consistent way of measuring the effectiveness of teaching in widely different classroom environments. By finding ways to compare results from successful individual improvement projects, researchers hope to develop new approaches that can be generalized for schools across the country.
Often investigators are unaware of how their findings relate to work in other areas or whether their findings are consistent with results from more comprehensive samples, said Barbara Schneider, Professor in Sociology, Senior Research Scientist at NORC and a principal investigator for the project.
In an effort to improve preschool learning through integration of information technologies, the center will work with researchers who have received grants through the Interagency Educational Research Initiativea collaboration of NSF, the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
While providing new insights into learning, child and adolescent development, and instruction, the center will also research changes in the classroom over time, helping scholars learn how to extend effective approaches to larger and more diverse populations.
In addition, the centers researchers hope to share their knowledge about how to scale up effective programs through seminars, workshops and intensive courses for senior education professionals and policymakers, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty and other researchers.
Joining Schneider as co-principal investigators are Larry Hedges, the Stella M. Rowley Professor in Sociology; Colm OMuircheartaigh, Professor in the Harris School of Public Policy Studies; and David Sallach, Director of Social Science Research Computing. Sarah-Kay McDonald will serve as the centers Executive Director.