CEPA Undergraduate Research Program 2013
We are not currently accepting applications, please check back in December.
The Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA) is seeking undergraduate research assistants (RAs) to work directly with CEPA faculty on active research projects during the 2013 Summer quarter funded by a VPUE Department Grant. Applications will be reviewed as received and the interview process will begin immediately. Once decisions have been made, applicants will be notified and work will begin soon thereafter.
Eligibility: The CEPA URP program is open to all Stanford University undergraduates (unfortunately, we cannot consider coterms). Selection of RAs will be based on the student’s expressed interest in education policy and the fit between faculty needs and student skill sets. Experience working with quantitative data using STATA statistical software is preferred but not required.
Financial Support: RAs will earn $15/hour. Students will work up to 20-30 hours per week for 10 weeks during the summer (depending on project).
Application Process: Students should provide a resume, an unofficial Stanford transcript, and a one-page cover letter describing the applicant’s interest in education policy, previous research experience including any experience with quantitative analyses, and indicate the particular research project/s the student is interested in working on.
Project 1: The Overlooked Leaders: Increasing the research-based decision-making capacity of school board members
Faculty Mentor: Michelle Reininger
Project Description: Local school boards in the U.S. have primary authority over selecting school district leaders and establishing local policies, yet they have received relatively little attention from education researchers and reformers. For all of their influence, many school board members have not been trained to incorporate good, current evidence from rigorous studies in their governing decisions. Furthermore, the research on local school boards itself is limited – we know surprisingly little about how these organizations work and what enables them to work well.
This project will bring together Stanford professors and graduate students with school board members from around the country to improve the research on school boards and the ability of school board members to utilize relevant research in their decision-making.
This research assistant (RA) will play a key role in helping us build a training program for school board members. Under the direction of Professor Reininger, the RA will help design, plan, and coordinate training sessions that bring together Stanford researchers, school board members, and other school leaders. Specific responsibilities could include reading and compiling information about school boards, communicating with board members, brainstorming the design of these training sessions with Professor Reininger and others, and designing and assembling materials for the sessions. An ideal candidate is interested in education policymaking, organized, creative, personable, and eager to do respond to whatever challenges arise in the development of a new program. Knowledge of excel is required.
Project 2: Evaluating the Effects of a Text Messaging Program
Faculty Mentor: Susanna Loeb
Project Description: This study is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a text messaging program designed to enhance the book-sharing practices of parents with their preschool-aged children. It will examine the effects of the “texting” program on parental behavior and student outcomes. This project is currently under development and will be implemented in a large urban school district during the 2013-14 school year.
Experimental evidence demonstrates that parent-child book sharing can positively impact preschoolers’ early literacy development. Unfortunately, there are substantial differences in book-sharing practices by socioeconomic status, and existing programs have done little close this gap. One particularly promising innovation for enhancing parents’ book-sharing practices is texting. A number of RCTs in healthcare show that sending encouraging and action-oriented text messages to individuals can promote positive behavior changes. Given the similarities between parent-child book sharing and other healthy behaviors (both can be accomplished through small actions that build on existing routines), the potential to positively impact parents’ behaviors through texts is high.
To maximize the impact of texts, it is important that they come from a trusted source, such as a school. Therefore, our partner school district and their trusted partners will conduct brief consultations with consenting parents during the summer. In these meetings, they will enroll parents in the program and gather background information. Once parents are enrolled, we will randomly assign them to either receive the texts related to book sharing (the “treatment” group) or texts on another topic (the “control” group). At the end of the school year, we will compare the reading practices of parents in both groups, as well as the scores of their children on an early literacy assessment.
The RA will participate in planning meetings that include Susanna Loeb as well as CEPA doctoral students and staff. He or she also will participate in meetings with our partners (school district and partnering nonprofits). As a part of these meetings, the RA will contribute to the development of text messages. The RA also will assist with data collection (from the district’s central office and pre-k sites), data organization, and implementation of the program. The RA should be highly organized, skilled in Excel, and interested in both the implementation of a randomized experiment and using text messages as a tool in education.
Contact Information: If you have questions please contact Michelle Reininger, Executive Director of CEPA at email@example.com or Caprie Davenport, Program Administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 650-723-6255.