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Education Research & Grant Support

Welcome to the Education Research Portal, here you will find resources that will help your success in receiving grant support, introduce you to education research, and browse through UC Merced research portfolio. As you move through these curated resources, materials, and examples, you may have questions or need further assistance. Please feel free to reach out to our pedagogical and technology consultants or email us directly

Grant Resources and Boilerplate Language

Education Research Bibliography

Getting Started with Education Research

Grant Resources and Boilerplate Language

There are several support resources in place to assist UC Merced instructors with grants for educational programs or with some education or outreach component:

Consultation on designing educational activities and broader impacts that align with your research activities

  • Ideas for leveraging existing UC Merced education and outreach efforts

  • Connections to potential campus partners

  • Sample budgets for various types of education activities

  • Suggestions for project management and logistics support for programs

  • Contact the Division of Undergraduate Education to request a consultation

  • For institutional information, agency-specific (e.g., NSF, NIH, etc.) templates, guidance, institutional language (e.g., HSI, San Joaquin Valley, etc.), and letters of support information and language for grant support see the Office of Research and Economic Development (ORED)'s Faculty Toolbox

  • 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:

UC Merced Assessment and Evaluation

  • Coming soon

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. 

  • For more information: Contact Adriana Signorini ( or check out SATAL FAQs

Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC)

UROC collaborates with faculty to support grant submissions and ensures professional development opportunities are available for their grant-supported students. Examples of support letter descriptions are listed below including SURI professional development workshops. These are copied to UC Merced letterhead and signed prior to submission.

If you have specific language or formatting, please forward documentation in your request for a letter of support.

Dear National Science Foundation Selection Committee,

If the proposal submitted by Dr. ________ entitled “Grant Proposal or Program Title” is selected for funding by NSF, it is my intent to collaborate and/or commit resources as detailed in the Project Description or the Facilities, Equipment or Other Resources section of the proposal.

Jorge L. Arroyo

Director, Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center
Division of Undergraduate Education
University of California, Merced


From: Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center at UC Merced

By signing below, I acknowledge that I am listed as a collaborator on the proposal titled “Grant Proposal or Program Title” with Professor ­­­­­­_____________ as the Principal Investigator.

Notably, with a 55% Hispanic undergraduate student enrollment, UC Merced has been designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) since its inception; UC Merced is also a Minority Serving Institution with over 50% of students being members of underrepresented minority groups. 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 and creative activities across all schools and academic disciplines.

As the Director of UROC, I commit to help PI ___________ to recruit underrepresented undergraduate students to participate in research. UROC will also support PI ___________ to evaluate the outcomes of participating undergraduate students with assessment surveys taken during SURI.


Jorge L. Arroyo

Director, Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center

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 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.

Getting Started with Education Research

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.


  1. 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 [NRC], 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 to learn more. 


  1. 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).

  2. 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.


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. Felton (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).


  1. Cross, P., & Steadman, M. (1996). Classroom Research: Implementing the scholarship of teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

  2. Felten, Peter. (2013). Principles of good practice in SoTL. Teaching & Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal, 1(1), 121-125. Retrieved from