Helping people learn to be education researchers since 2014


Eleanor C Sayre


January 1, 2020

How do people learn to do education research?

Research is a process of generating new knowledge; education research focuses on problems of teaching and learning. I am particularly interested in how people learn how to do education research, either as their primary research activity or as a scholarly activity focused on improving the learning of their students or the educational programs in their unit.

Generally, people learn how to do education research as students, postdocs, or faculty members. Most newcomers to the field start with a mentoring relationship with another researcher, though it’s also possible to get started by participating in a field school, workshop, or conference. Emerging education researchers need support as they develop their research programs and expand their theoretical and methodological expertise, and they benefit from the guidance of knowledgeable peers and near-peers.

What is the Professional development for Emerging Education Researchers (PEER) program?

The Professional development for Emerging Education Researchers (PEER) program helps faculty, postdocs, and graduate students learn how to do education research through intensive workshops, research projects, mentoring, and community involvement. The central activity for PEER is participation in a field school: an intense week of professional development workshops which jumpstart your research project. PEER participants learn to design research projects, collaborate ethically, conduct research, and write papers for peer-reviewed publication.

PEER Participants come from a variety of professional backgrounds:

  • discipline-based education researchers looking to expand their methodological repertoire
  • disciplinary faculty just getting started on the scholarship of teaching and learning
  • education faculty looking to join a research group and access video-based data
  • faculty development experts learning to mentor faculty through scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) projects
  • grad students and postdocs who need mentoring and community support for their research projects
  • undergraduate students who attend field schools with their advisors

After field school, some participants continue to work with us as part of a geographically-distributed research group, joining working groups, conducting research together, and submitting papers for publication. PEER working groups have published about 20 peer-reviewed papers since 2015. Our collaborators and hosts at the University of Cologne made a promotional video for their PEER field school.

Which workshops are available?

We have workshops available for these topics:

  • Getting started with research design: building research interests into robust research projects, planning your research project, common data sources in education research, theories in education research, iterative design.
  • Analysis methods: video-based qualitative research methods, emergent coding, survey design and analysis, autoethnography, conducting research interviews; design-based research projects.
  • Publishing and research communication: doing lit reviews, structuring and publishing papers, making beautiful posters, practicing your research elevator pitch, and talking about your research with skeptical audiences
  • Research life: principles for being an active, productive researcher; balancing research, teaching, and life; and our personal professional pathways
  • Research ethics: how to collaborate ethically, mentor students, author papers together, and work with human subjects/participants in research projects.
  • Teaching students: the challenge of listening to students, fostering inclusivity and equity in classrooms, mentoring undergraduates in research

Additionally, we can give colloquium-style talks to broader audiences at your institution. Want something else? Contact Eleanor Sayre for more ideas, or join the announcements list to hear about new opportunities.

Upcoming PEER field schools

If you’re lucky enough to live near a regional field school, we recommend you join it! Past regional field schools have been held in Chicago, Rochester, Mexico, Germany, Canada, Rwanda, and the UK. Upcoming regional schools will be held in the US as well as internationally (as travel permits).

Entrance requirements for regional schools vary; contact Eleanor Sayre or join the announcements list for details.

How can I host a field school?

We love to travel! A regional field school is usually one week (sometimes shorter or longer). Regional field schools tend to have themes that are appropriate to their participants: Rukara 2018 (Rwanda) focused on preparing research for publication, while Cologne 2017-2022 (Germany) focused on equity research and video data. Vancouver 2019 (Canada) centered around designing and planning SoTL research projects. We’ll work with you to make sure our workshops are well-tuned to the things your participants need.

A reasonable number of participants is 15-50. You should plan that most of your participants will attend every workshop in the field school. Some workshops are ok for many more participants, depending on the size of our facilitation team. We can also give colloquia, invited talks, or public lectures for larger audiences to help make the most of our visit. If a week is more time than you’re looking for, it may be possible to run a single-day workshop and/or colloquium; conversely, we’re also happy to stay longer and help your participants develop their projects further.

Costs are minimal (thanks, NSF!), but scheduling is complicated. Contact Eleanor Sayre or Scott Franklin for details.

I’m an education researcher, and I want to be involved!

Who runs PEER?

Scott V Franklin

Rochester Institute of Technology Director, CASTLE Professor, School of Physics and Astronomy

Mary Bridget Kustusch

DePaul University Associate Professor Department of Physics

Eleanor C Sayre

Kansas State University Professor, Department of Physics Rochester Institute of Technology, CASTLE Research Affiliate

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