Miami’s College of Education, Health, & Society (CEHS) recently sponsored a professional development workshop for faculty. Titled “Winning Approaches for IES,” the workshop was facilitated by Burr Zimmerman and Dave Brownstein of Urban Ventures Group, Ltd. (UVG), and was attended by 12 faculty from CEHS and two faculty from the College of Arts & Science.
IES, or the Institute of Education Sciences, is a division of the U.S. Department of Education that funds education research, and is a frequent target for CEHS faculty research proposals. The workshop began with an overview of IES and the research it funds, during which the facilitators emphasized the following:
- Because IES is very sensitive to the return (i.e., publications) on their research investment, they prefer to fund applicants with a strong research track record and/or publication history. The agency tends to place more emphasis on the researcher than on the research project. Therefore, Zimmerman suggests that prospective applicants without strong research or publication records of their own might increase their likelihood of funding by partnering with a “known” researcher.
- IES is looking for rigorous, hypothesis-driven research, including fundamental studies that identify the factors that govern education outcomes, developing or improving interventions, assessing existing interventions in specific contexts, or broadly measuring the effectiveness of interventions.
- IES prefers projects that center on malleable factors under the control of – and able to be changed by – the educational system, including:
- Student behavior and skills;
- Teacher practices and credentials;
- School size, climate, and organization;
- Educational interventions in practice, curriculum, instructional approach, program, and policy.
Much of Zimmerman and Brownstein’s advice – including recommendations about contacting a program officer prior to submission, carefully reading program guidelines, and tailoring a proposal to a specific funding opportunity – was applicable to anyone seeking grant funding, not just those applying to IES.
In the last hour of the workshop, participants formed small groups to develop research ideas or do hands-on reviews of drafts of proposal sections.
The following Miami resources are relevant to points raised during the workshop:
- OARS’ Pinterest boards are valuable resource guides for researchers and scholars. Of particular interest to workshop participants – many of whom target NIH funding opportunities in addition to or instead of IES – is the “NIH Resources” board, which includes a link to some full proposals for funded projects.
- Pivot not only helps Miami’s researchers find funding opportunities, it can also help them locate potential collaborators – those “known” researchers Zimmerman and Brownstein say IES is looking for. For the best results, be sure to create an account and claim your profile. (Pivot is a subscription-based service available to Miami faculty, staff, and students while on campus or connected to Miami’s VPN.)
- Boilerplate descriptions of Miami and its institutional resources can be copied from the OARS website and tailored to fit a specific funding opportunity
- Data management plans can be developed using the data management tool provided by University Libraries. Numeric/Spatial Librarian Eric Johnson, in the Libraries’ Center for Digital Scholarship, is also available for consultation.
- Neal Sullivan and Jennifer Sutton in Research Compliance can answer questions about human subjects research and the IRB.