IES Grants Top $100 Million for Array of Education Research

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

The Institute of Education Sciences has awarded more than $100 million in grants in order to increase education research being conducted on a wide variety of topics and subjects.

In all, 57 grants were awarded for Fiscal Year 2016 through IES’ National Center for Education Research (NCER) under the Education Research Grants program.  More than three dozen universities and research institutions were awarded the grants, given in 11 specific topics including cognition and student learning; early learning programs and policies; education leadership; education technology; effective teachers and effective teaching; English learners; improving education systems; math and science education; postsecondary and adult education; reading and writing; and social and behavioral context for academic learning.

Other FY 2016 awards have already been announced by IES, including over $70 million in grants for special education research awarded through the National Center for Special Education Research.  This includes research on autism spectrum disorders; cognition and student learning in special education; early intervention and early learning in special education; math and science education; professional development for teachers; reading, writing and language development; social and behavioral outcomes to support learning; special education policy, finance, and systems; technology for special education; and transition outcomes for secondary students with disabilities.

Additional IES grants have been handed out in an effort to create new training programs that will diversify the education research field, build a new research and development center to focus on virtual learning, and increase collaboration between researchers and practitioners in both states and school districts.

The new center will be at the forefront of an emerging field called “precision education” that uses data from prior students to increase learning opportunities for future students.

The Research and Development Center, being called Precision Education: The Virtual Learning Lab, will work to improve Algebra scores for low-performing students using the free online platform “Algebra Nation.”  The platform will be individualized for students through data available from previous users.  In addition, indicators of engagement during learning will be developed, and professional development programs will be created to offer teachers help in learning the program to differentiate instruction.

“Precision education offers the potential to create online teaching tools that become ‘smarter’ as students use them,” said Thomas Brock, Commissioner for the National Center for Education Research. “When students work on their computers, they generate data that reveal their thought processes – what steps they take to try to answer a problem, how long they work at deriving a solution, and where they are struggling. The Virtual Learning Lab will help us understand how such data may be used to make online instruction more personalized and effective.”

The Virtual Learning Lab will also become the national hub for sharing findings and creating guidelines concerning the personalization of virtual learning systems.

With the help of NCER and NCSER, IES has awarded close to $230 million in grants for education research, training, and statistical and research methodology for FY 2016.

Applications are currently being accepted by IES for FY 2017 education and special education research grants.  The deadline for those applications is August 4.