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Interdisciplinary Training in Methodological Innovation

Cluster-Randomized Trials Institute 

The Cluster-Randomized Trials, or CRT, Institute offered 30 education researchers a deep dive into how to design, analyze, and conduct such education studies from July 8–18, 2019, in Evanston, Illinois. The National Center for Education Research (NCER) in the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences provided workshop funding as part of their mission to find “what works” in education research and disseminate that knowledge. Led by IPR statistician and education researcher Larry Hedges, the 13th edition of the workshop aimed to inform participants in how best to design and conduct a CRT. A CRT randomly assigns clusters, or groups such as classes or schools, to a treatment rather than randomizing individuals to a treatment. In addition to studying CRT methodology, the participants work in small teams to propose possible education research studies as the final part of the workshop. A key goal of the workshop is to enable participants to bring their new skills to bear on educational research in their own organizations. In addition to Hedges, participating faculty included IPR statistician Elizabeth Tipton (WCAS PhD 2011), Spyros Konstantopoulos of Michigan State University, Jessaca Spybrook of Western Michigan, Mark Lipsey of Vanderbilt, Chris Rhoads (WCAS PhD 2008) of the University of Connecticut, Laura Stapleton of the University of Maryland, Carol Connor of UC-Irvine, as well as IPR graduate postdoctoral fellows and research assistants. Larry Hedges is Board of Trustees Professor of Statistics and Education and Social Policy. Elizabeth Tipton is associate professor of statistics. Hedges and Tipton co-direct the STEPP Center.

Summer Institute in Biological and Social Sciences 

The Summer Institute in Biological and Social Sciences, or SIBASS, took place from June 10–14, 2019, at Northwestern University. Supported by the Russell Sage Foundation, the JBP Foundation, the School for Education and Social Policy, and IPR, the workshop welcomed more than 35 postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty in the social sciences from across the nation. The unique weeklong program included interdisciplinary lectures and hands-on exercises in how to integrate measures of human biology into studies of just a few dozen participants up to nationally representative studies with thousands of participants. The objective of such measures is to permit more in-depth understanding of the complex interplay between social contexts, biology, and inequalities in health outcomes and human capital. IPR health psychologist Greg Miller co-led the workshop with IPR psychologists Edith Chen and Robin Nusslock; developmental psychologist and IPR associate Claudia Haase; IPR psychobiologist Emma Adam; and IPR biological anthropologists Thomas McDade and Christopher Kuzawa. Participants practiced a variety of field-friendly techniques from gathering and analyzing saliva and dried blood spots for markers of stress, immune function, and others. They discussed how to frame biosocial research questions most effectively, and learned about the basic biology of bodily systems involved in stress and disease. There were also sessions with practical information on navigating institutional review boards and engaging diverse communities. They also engaged in reflective discussions of ethical concerns in this area of research. The SIBASS workshop expanded upon a previous training program, the Summer Biomarker Institute, which Adam, Kuzawa, and McDade ran from 2006–11 at Northwestern University. It was one of the pioneering trainings for biomarkers at the time. Miller is the Louis W. Menk Professor of Psychology. Chen is John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Chair and Professor of Psychology. Adam is Edwina S. Tarry Professor of Human Development and Social Policy. McDade is the Carlos Montezuma Professor of Anthropology.