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Supporting Interdisciplinary Research on Learning

IPR statistician Elizabeth Tipton is part of a network opening access to 34 datasets to improve education studies

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DAIRL provides a multidisciplinary repository for data on student learning, encouraging researchers to work across fields.”

Elizabeth Tipton
Associate professor of statistics and IPR fellow

Teacher in classroom

On October 14, the Mindset Scholars Network announced the launch of the Data Archive for Interdisciplinary Research on Learning, or DAIRL, a new data and paper repository, that has been designed to encourage innovative questions and insights based on existing data and measures.

“Research on student learning benefits from perspectives across a wide array of academic disciplines, yet structures in academia are such that researchers in one discipline may not be aware of data or resources in others,” said IPR statistician Elizabeth Tipton. “DAIRL provides a multidisciplinary repository for data on student learning, encouraging researchers to work across fields.”

Tipton is a member of the Mindset Scholars Network, an organization that works at the intersection of education research, practice, and policy, and she served on the advisory committee that led the effort to launch DAIRL. As a founding member of the network and the first statistician to join it, she has supported its activities by running workshops to help researchers improve their study designs.

DAIRL provides an infrastructure for sharing and using datasets from the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, an international consortium of nearly 800 institutions, housed at the University of Michigan.

The database aims to correct a missed opportunity in education studies, where not enough research on learning is directly relevant to or informed by education practice and policy. This research—particularly research published in high-profile journals—tends to understudy the full spectrum of students’ identities and lived experiences.

A summary of holdings outlines the 34 datasets in the archive, which include quantitative and qualitative data. The datasets can be used for a host of scholarly activities, such as conducting novel secondary research, replicating existing findings, and piloting tests of ideas in support of a funding application, teaching courses, and mentoring students.

DAIRL also features user resources and a series of working papers from Mindset Scholars Network initiatives that highlight pressing topics and emerging themes in scholarship on learning.

The Compendium of Studies that Measure Learning Mindsets is a complementary tool that compiles measures of belonging, growth mindset, and purpose and relevance from more than 70 empirical studies. The compendium illustrates how learning mindsets have been measured across multiple disciplines and frameworks. It contains contextualizing information about the study, sample, and measures to aid researchers to engage in practice- and policy-relevant scholarship that encompasses equity.

Together, the resources aim to support researchers in pursuing a more complete understanding of student learning and the structures that shape it.

Elizabeth Tipton is associate professor of statistics, co-director of the Center on Statistics for Evidence-Based Policy and Practice (STEPP), and an IPR fellow at Northwestern University, as well as a member of the Mindset Scholars Network.

Photo credit: Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Published: October 14, 2020.