Friday, October 23, 2015

CEDER: Generating and supporting education designs, evaluations, and research on campus and beyond

Tags: ceder, faculty


When you have valuable expertise and resources, it's good to make them available to those who need them.

That's the idea behind SOE's new Center for Education Design, Evaluation, and Research (CEDER), which is the result of rethinking how to make the school's capabilities in research, evaluation, instructional design, and professional learning available to more people and organizations while simultaneously improving the SOE's research infrastructure.

CEDER describes itself as a center devoted exclusively to offering high-quality designs, evaluations, and research on teaching, learning, leadership, and policy at multiple levels of education. That goal has implications all across U-M and beyond, said Elizabeth Moje, associate dean for Research and Community Engagement and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Educational Studies. "We see ourselves as working in partnership with groups both on and off campus. Each strand within CEDER can provide something unique and, in the process, build new collaborations."

The goals, Moje said, are threefold: to facilitate partnerships that will leverage the resources of SOE with other units across the university and with the broader educational community on various projects; to offer high-quality, research-based services at a low cost; and to advance the practice of equitable and socially just education across multiple domains. In the process, CEDER will generate and support new research initiatives proposed by the SOE faculty.

How? Nate Phipps, CEDER's managing director, said each of the center's "strands" can be a go-to source for expertise to add value to different projects.

Associate Professor Chris Quintana leads the Design strand, which includes Instructional and Design Coordinator Darin Stockdill. They help develop and study the enactment of curricula, programs, and tools for research collaborators and for fee-for-service clients. Design team members also can also act as an educational resource within a larger project. "For example, the Taubman College has an architectural program for high-schoolers," Phipps said. "They have the technical curriculum down, but they need to be able to engage younger students. CEDER is helping them with the challenges of what it's like to teach a class of 11th-graders."

The evaluation group is headed by Professor Stephen DesJardins, and includes Evaluation Coordinator Vicki Bigelow. The group offers both evaluation services and research partnerships that employ education evaluation methods, Phipps explained. "CEDER can serve as a third-party evaluator for a faculty member who needs evaluation component for a grant, for example. In fact, CEDER can be written into grants as evaluators. We provide such services within the School of Education, across the university, and in school districts around the State of Michigan. We can also work as consultants for, say, a nonprofit company, to look at evaluation materials and offer suggestions to improve the grant process."

The research strand, led by Moje, conducts and collaborates on multiple forms of education research across campus and in the community, as well as providing grant support and oversight for SOE faculty grant proposals and projects. Moje said CEDER can help match the research expertise of SOE's faculty with other researchers who are doing work that touches on educational issues. In effect, CEDER has expanded the former research office by building infrastructure, collaborative capacity, and new services. Phipps adds, "We also want to add support for grant writing and to provide matching support for grant opportunities."

CEDER also provides support for professional learning for educators, offering various educational tools, workshops, and resources such as the Teaching and Learning Exploratory, which has extensive collections of classroom videos and other records of practice that can be used for professional development of veteran teachers; the education of new teachers; and, with the proper permissions, research on education practice. "We're working with various school districts to identify topics that teachers need support for," said Phipps.

Each of CEDER's functions can provide collaborators and clients with access to specific expertise of SOE faculty members, Phipps said. "CEDER can make available to teachers the expertise that is relevant to them; it can be a community resource. It just makes sense to have this kind of center for U-M faculty and staff colleagues, as well as school leaders, teachers, and other community educators to access. We want to be seen as a resource for SOE, the university at large, and the broader community."

For more about CEDER, visit its website. Or, stop in to the CEDER open house on November 6 from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. in the Tribute Room (room 1322), where you can meet CEDER staff, faculty, and fellows; learn about CEDER's mission and goals and current projects; and discuss potential for future partnerships. Light refreshments will be provided.

Elizabeth Birr Moje is George Herbert Mead Collegiate Professor of Education and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor; Dean of the School of Education

Victoria Bigelow is Evaluation Coordinator

Darin Stockdill is Instructional and Program Design Coordinator

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