To bolster broader impact statements, we have provided some boilerplate language about UC Merced programs that can be copied and pasted into your grant proposals or manuscripts:
Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) Assessment and Evaluation
Students Assessing Teaching and Learning (SATAL)
SATAL program description: At UC Merced Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning, the undergraduates from the Students Assessing Teaching and Learning (SATAL) program partner with faculty to conduct multiple assessment research projects. SATAL undergraduates work in teams with faculty focused on pedagogical and curricular exploration with the desire to have the students’ experiences and perspectives inform classroom practice to create more inclusive classrooms (Signorini & Pohan, 2019). SATAL implements a wide range of assessment tools for gathering student perspectives on their learning experience and engagement at different points throughout the term.
The undergraduates working for SATAL receive ongoing professional development on how to gather, analyze, and report findings related to classroom instructional data (e.g., use of instructional time, student engagement, learning activities and provide confidential feedback). Students utilize various instruments and protocols such as Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID), Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (COPUS), focus groups, interviews, and surveys to provide instructors with accurate and actionable feedback.
Reference: Signorini, A., & Pohan, C. (2019). Exploring the impact of The Students Assessing Teaching and Learning Program. International Journal for Students as Partners, 3(2), 139-148. https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v3i2.3683
Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC)
The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC) at UC Merced was established in Spring 2014 with a mission to encourage and facilitate faculty-mentored undergraduate research projects across all schools and academic disciplines. UC Merced has been designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) since its inception. The campus is also designated as a Minority Serving Institution with over 70% of students identifying as underrepresented minority groups.
Students in the UROC Programs participate in the nine-week Summer Undergraduate Research Institute (SURI) to conduct faculty-mentored research in their discipline and attend graduate school preparation and professional development workshops. The research experience is enhanced with professional development and graduate school preparation while also developing peer networking through program cohorts. This model provides a supportive environment for first-generation and/or underrepresented minority students to develop with peers in structured, intentional workshops to aid their academic and career paths. They explore and become more familiar with the research environment, career possibilities in academia and national labs, and develop application portfolios for graduate school admission.
The workshops improve self-efficacy, establish a learning community and social network, and promotes URM and first-generation college student retention in higher education. UROC SURI participants attend weekly workshops focused on:
- Graduate school admissions, CV/resume review, writing for publication, abstract development, communicating and presenting research, fellowship applications, and career planning
- Dissecting journal articles, research project management, and library research training
- Lab safety and fire safety training provided by Environment Health and Safety with certification upon completion
- Bootcamp options for skill development including Matlab, 3D modeling, Python, R, machine shop certification, data analysis, ArcGIS, and Wetlab skills where participation is based on research projects and student development needs
- Discussion about impostor syndrome and resilience specifically for overcoming challenges
- Research ethics and conducting responsible research with a presentation by the Office of Research Compliance
- Networking events and social activities including attendance at graduate admissions fairs at other institutions
- Reflective writing and application statement development with graduate student mentors
- Mentorship provided by current UC Merced graduate students hired as UROC SURI Mentors
- Full participation in the Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, including poster sessions and oral presentations
UROC’s outreach and recruitment efforts cross disciplines and all areas of campus through several avenues – promotion with student groups with a mission of graduate school and career preparation; collaboration with Office of Research and Economic Development series of events during UC Merced Research Week; and ongoing communication with faculty, both previous mentors and newly hired faculty during New Faculty Orientation.
Summer Undergraduate Research Institute (SURI)
UROC hosts a series of workshops to support students in research programs during the summer and faculty can register their students to participate in SURI from early June through early August. The cost of participation in UROC SURI includes:
- Full-day orientation with UROC participants and affiliated partner programs
- General lab safety training and fire safety training
- Workshops on graduate school, CV/resume, writing for publications, abstract development, communicating and presenting research, career planning, and professionalism
- Dissecting journal articles and library research training
- Networking events and social activities
- Recruitment events and outreach with graduate school recruiters
- Ethics in research presentation and certification
- Fieldtrip to UC Davis for Graduate Admissions Fair
- Reflective writing and developmental summary report guidance
- Full participation in the 2019 Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium, including poster sessions and/or oral presentations
Research Mentorship Training Badge
[Program Faculty, Graduate Students, or Postdocs] will be required to complete training in undergraduate research mentoring. Teaching Commons, a unit that supports instructional development and education research initiatives provides an online training module on mentoring undergraduate research. This training is also offered year-round through the campus learning management system and is partially based on Entering Mentoring: A Seminar to Train a New Generation of Scientists by Handelsman et.al. that was developed under support from Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professors Program. In this training, graduate students and postdocs receive reinforcement for best practices in communicating with mentees, goal-setting, providing mentoring for professional growth, resolving challenges, fostering independence, and progressing the research.
Writing a paper and need seminal references? Check out our curated bibliography of key papers.
What is Education Research?
We all have our own beliefs about our role as teachers and how to teach most effectively. But what is the basis of these beliefs? Are our beliefs rooted in past experiences or in evidence from scholars who have studied the inner workings of teaching and learning? The impact of our experiences can be quite powerful, but experiences can also mislead us. With the wealth of education research available to us today, we have an opportunity to make evidence-based decisions about teaching and learning. Also, we have opportunities to study our own classrooms and instructional interventions to add to the body of literature on effective teaching, especially in the various disciplines.
Education research uses the full range of scientific methods to examine various aspects of education and learning processes, as well as the human attributes, interactions, organizations, and institutions that shape educational outcomes. Sometimes this research examines a person’s life and how formal and informal contexts of education affect all forms of learning.
The purpose of education research is to expand the knowledge base about teaching and learning to improve educational practice. Educational research addresses a variety of variables, such as:
- Learning: How do students best learn various subjects? What strategies best support student mastery of core concepts and competencies?
- Instruction: What are the best teaching practices to foster student achievement?
- Motivation: What are the best practices to motivate students to achieve? What is the impact of targeted engagement strategies (e.g., Active Learning) on student motivation?
- Classroom Discourse: What is the nature of teacher-initiated discourse moves on student engagement and/or learning?
- Development: How do children and adults change over time, including their cognitive, social, and emotional competencies?
- Classroom Climate/Communities: What practices make the classroom optimal for student learning and best address issues of equity and inclusion?
Understanding current research in education and conducting high-quality educational research can have the following benefits:
- Provide instruction that maximizes students' learning.
- Understand and support the developmental needs of learners.
- Develop educational environments that support students' motivation.
- Provide solutions to educational problems.
- Gall, M. D., Gall, J. P., & Borg, W. R. (2003). Educational Research: An Introduction (7th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Discipline-based Education Research (DBER)
Discipline-based education research (DBER) is a term that has emerged in the last few decades to describe research that “investigates learning and teaching in a discipline using a range of methods with a deep grounding in the discipline’s priorities, worldview, knowledge, and practices. It is informed by and complementary to more general research on human learning and cognition” (National Research Council, 2012, 9). New knowledge developed through DBER has led to improvements in teaching and learning in a variety of disciplines, but significant opportunities for advancement remain (Henderson et al., 2017).
Interested in joining UC Merced's DBER group? Contact Jackie Shay at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Henderson, C., et al., (2017). Towards the STEM DBER alliance: Why we need a discipline-based STEM education research community. International Journal of STEM Education, 4 (14). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40594-017-0076-1
National Research Council. (2012). Discipline-based education research: understanding and improving learning in undergraduate science and engineering, S. R. Singer, N. R. Nielsen, & H. A. Schweingruber (Eds.), Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13362.
The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
The Scholarship of Teaching of Learning (SoTL) is another type of education research and happens when faculty bring their expertise and skills as researchers to their work as teachers. Felten (2013) has noted that SoTL is “inquiry focused on student learning… grounded in both scholarly and local contexts… methodologically sound… conducted in partnership with students… [and] involves ‘going public’” (pp. 122–123). Others have described SoTL as an ongoing, teacher-directed inquiry that leads to “useful and valid research relevant to teachers’ classroom experiences (Cross & Steadman, 1996, 2–4).
Cross, P., & Steadman, M. (1996). Classroom Research: Implementing the scholarship of teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
Felten, Peter. (2013). Principles of good practice in SoTL. Teaching & Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal, 1(1), 121–125. Retrieved from https://journalhosting.ucalgary.ca/index.php/TLI/article/view/57376/43149