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Interdisciplinary Training in Methodological Innovation

Improving Evaluations of R&D in STEM Education Institute

The Improving Evaluations of Research and Development in STEM Education Institute introduced 29 education researchers to rigorous methods for evaluation in educational development programs from July 19–23, 2021. The workshop was held online by the STEPP Center and funded by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Research on Learning. Led by IPR statistician and education researcher Larry Hedges and IPR statistician Elizabeth Tipton, the institute taught researchers studying STEM education about feasible small-study designs when large randomized experiments are impossible. Topics included an introduction to causal inference methods, internal validity, practical considerations, and the sensitivity and statistical power of various designs. The workshop comprised lectures, group projects, individual homework, and an online community. As a final project, the workshop participants designed a study to test an education intervention with typical constraints, such as the number of schools, teachers, and students they could recruit. Eric Hedberg of Abt Associates was also an instructor at the workshop. Researchers’ home institutions included Boston College, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The STEPP Center expects to offer the workshop again in summer 2022. Hedges is Board of Trustees Professor of Statistics and Education and Social Policy. Tipton is associate professor of statistics. Hedges and Tipton co-direct the STEPP Center.