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What We Fund

We believe that educational approaches that support authentic, challenging, active and relevant learning experiences can only happen via teachers and students. Our design-based research approach centers on teachers’ needs and their involvement as essential partners in a variety of classroom and community settings. We aim to conduct research on programs that may be adapted to meet the needs of the local, national and global context in order to empower student voices and support the wealth of diversity in the classroom as a resource for learning.

By combining qualitative and quantitative research methods in a carefully structured, three-phased research approach, we are committed to giving educators the confidence and guidance for taking innovative instructional practices to scale.

LER’s Grant Types

Development Grants

Development grants are awarded to educational researchers who propose a compelling and innovative approach to teaching and learning (authenticity, disciplinary rigor, active and relevant learning experiences, clearly articulated adult learning theory, etc.). Such proposals require time in the field to implement early prototypes with expert practitioners who assist in the codesign and redesign of the programs and practices based on the field research trials. These evidence based improvements allow for the development of a minimal viable program. It is expected that these awards will require 2-4 years of implementation.

Replication Grants

Replication grants are awarded to educational researchers who have established an evidence base of promising programs and/or practices with a clearly defined minimal viable program that is ready for further study in new contexts. The primary objectives of the replication grant are to evaluate the implementation of the programs and practices with a broad array of students and in various school settings. Such research may result in further refinements to the program and practices, including the professional learning for teachers. In this way, the replication grant is designed to prepare the program for a rigorous large-scale study. In addition, the replication study may attend to system-level enablers of and barriers to the successful implementation of the innovation. It is expected that replication awards will require 1-3 years of field research.

Validation Grants

Validation grants are awarded to educational researchers who have a demonstrated history of conducting large-scale research trials, with cutting-edge technical knowledge related to the most current research methodology and extensive experience with school recruitment, including incentives for active and sustained participation. Such awards are typically granted for three years.

View all Grant Awards (14)

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Research

The Impact of Project-Based Learning on AP Exam Performance

Harnessing a cluster randomized controlled trial, we estimated the impact on students’ advanced placement (AP) examination performance of a project-based learning (PBL) approach to AP compared with a lecture-based AP approach.

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Research

Fostering meaningful conversations about equity grounded in teacher practice

Miller, E.A., Reigh, E.V., & Simani, M.C. (2022). STEM Teaching Tools Practice Brief 88: Equity Implementation. Meaningful conversations about equity in science education can be hard to start and even more difficult to sustain. Many teachers lack opportunities to deeply and openly discuss equitable instruction. Researchers or administrators often share equitable instructional practices with teachers […]

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Research Award

Equity-Centered Learning Environments (ECLEs) 

LER funded four research teams who are engaged in ongoing research addressing equity and student-centered learning in educational contexts across the country.

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Research Award

Democratic Knowledge Project

The Democratic Knowledge Project is a project-based learning civics initiative that includes a year-long 8th-grade civics curriculum, Civic Engagement in Our Democracy.

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Research

Mapping Enabling Conditions for High-Quality PBL: A Collaboratory Approach

This paper explores enabling conditions for scaling high-quality project-based learning (PBL) to understand factors that influence how PBL spreads, whether and how it can be sustained and the extent to which it informs meaningful change in schools.

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Research

Designing Project-Based Learning Curricula

This paper provides instructional designers with guidance on how to design high-quality PBL curricula, drawing on the LER research base, the learning science literature, and best practices from the field. To provide developers with guideposts that can inform design decisions, the paper describes a set of design principles that can support the creation of content-rich, student-centered experiences.

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Research

Interdisciplinary Education: Literature Review and Landscape Analysis  

Related to project-based learning, interdisciplinary education can create more relevant learning experiences for all students. This report, produced by RTI International for Lucas Education Research, explores the field of interdisciplinary education through an extensive literature review and landscape analysis. In both parts of the report, RTI examines the definitions of interdisciplinary education; how, where, and why the approach is practiced; and finally the existing research, resources, and structures for interdisciplinary education.

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Research

Motivating Teaching, Sustaining Change in Practice

Miller, E.C., Severance, S., and Krajcik, J. (2021). Motivating Teaching, Sustaining Change in Practice: Design Principles for Teacher Learning in Project-Based Learning Contexts, Journal of Science Teacher Education, 32:7, 757-779 In A Framework for K-12 Science Education, researchers call for teachers to make dramatic shifts in practice – and sustain in these changes in practice […]

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Research Award

Enabling Conditions Collaboratory

The Enabling Conditions Collaboratory brought together four research teams to work towards understanding the conditions that support high-quality PBL.

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Research

Project-Based Learning in San Francisco: Research Study Sparks Middle School Science Curriculum

When the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) was looking for a new middle school science curriculum in 2016, it sought a program that would align with the new Next Generation Science Standards and the district’s equity goals.

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