Interdisciplinary Training Program in the Education Sciences
Across the nation, educators and policymakers make daily decisions about educational programs and policies without really knowing if those decisions are likely to improve student achievement. Although the No Child Left Behind Act provides new incentives to choose policies and programs that work, traditional educational research has rarely been designed with the goal of providing scientific evidence of “what works” and few educational researchers are trained in how to do that kind of rigorous quantitatively sound research. Thus, at the same time that there is a need for solid evidence about what programs will most benefit students, there is a dearth of skilled researchers who can carry out that research.
Since 2005, The Interdisciplinary Training Program in the Education Sciences at the University of Wisconsin–Madison has been helping address that need by preparing a new generation of outstanding education science scholars to provide solid evidence of “what works” in education. By drawing on the talents and research interests of over 25 outstanding campus scholars and providing specialized academic, professional, and financial supports and field research opportunities, a select group of doctoral students in sociology, economics, psychology, political science, or social welfare are learning how to design, carry out, and analyze specialized research in education issues. In 2015, we opened participation to students from the School of Education in educational leadership and policy analysis, educational policy studies, and educational psychology. The Program focuses on three themes: 1) design and implementation of field-based randomized studies in schools and other complex, real-world settings; 2) the statistical analysis of quantitative survey, observational, and assessment data on education, with special attention to questions of causal inference; and 3) the impact of policy innovations at the federal, state, and local levels. Our students will be prepared to undertake field-based randomized trials and rigorous quasi-experimental studies that permit estimates of causal effects of policy innovations. In addition, starting in 2015, we are strenghtening the relevance and utility of our work by requiring each student to demonstrate specific competencies in translational research.
This project is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences
(IES) in the U.S. Department of Education.