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Spencer Foundation: Small Research Grants

Deadline: November 1, 2017

The Small Research Grants program is intended to support education research projects with budgets of $50,000 or less. In keeping with the Spencer Foundation’s mission, this program aims to fund academic work that will contribute to the improvement of education, broadly conceived. Historically, the work funded through the Small Research Grants program has spanned a range of topics and disciplines, including education, psychology, sociology, economics, history, and anthropology, and they employ a wide range of research methods. The following examples of recently funded small grants illustrate the diversity of what is supported:

  • An experimental study of how college students use visual representations in solving math problems
  • A study exploring the process of racial and rural identity formation among African American high-school students who attend de facto segregated schools in the rural south
  • A mixed-methods study focusing on the different types of knowledge novice and experienced teachers draw on in teaching for reading comprehension

The Small Research Grants focus areas are broadly organized as follows:

  • Field-Initiated: Proposals in this area are those that fall under the Foundation’s general mission of funding research on education, but don’t appear to fit in one of the areas mentioned below.
  • The Relation between Education and Social Opportunity: This area would include projects that seek to shed light on the role education can play in reducing economic and social inequalities – as well as, sometimes, reinforcing them – and to find ways to more fully realize education’s potential to promote more equal opportunity. Proposals where the primary aim is to examine the ways in which differences in social and educational experiences (such as quality and character of schooling or the number of years in school) translate into differences including employment, earnings, and civic and academic outcomes would be included in this area.
  • Teaching, Learning, and Instructional Resources: Studies in this area would be those that will lead to better understanding and improvements in the intellectual, material, and organizational resources that contribute to successful teaching and learning. They may investigate questions that are grounded directly in teaching practice, as well as research about important aspects of child and adult learning processes and contexts that hold promise for guiding informed policy making.
  • The New Civics: This area represents the broader Foundation belief that cultivating knowledge and new ideas about civic education will ultimately improve students’ lives and enrich society. The designation “new” refers to an expanded understanding of civic education and its relationship to civic action. Thus, proposals with this focus would deepen our understanding of influences on civic action, attend to social inequalities in civic education, and have the potential to shape future research and practice in these fields.
  • Organizational Learning in Schools, School Systems, and Higher Education Systems: Research in this area would contribute to strengthening the capacity of schools and education systems to operate as learning organizations. Because the capacity and motivation for organizational learning depend as well on the larger institutional structures within which schools and systems operate, research on, among other things, the roles of school boards, governments and unions; the role of markets and competition in the funding of schools; and the perceptions, concerns, and opportunities for voice among parents and the broader public would fall under this area.
  • Purposes and Values of Education: Proposals in this area would be interested in advancing analytical, historical, and empirical work that probes effectively and creatively into deeply challenging and permanently important issues which can contribute toward social decision-making that moves education along constructive paths.

Amount: Grants of up to $50,000 are awarded.

Eligibility:

  • Principal Investigators (PIs) and Co-PIs applying for a research grant must have an earned doctorate in an academic discipline or professional field, or appropriate experience in an education research-related profession
    The PI must be affiliated with a college, university, school district, nonprofit research facility, or nonprofit cultural institution that is willing to serve as the fiscal agent if the grant is awarded
  • Proposals are accepted from the U.S. and internationally

Link: http://www.spencer.org/small-research-grants-program-statement

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