CEPA Undergraduate Research Program

CEPA Undergraduate Research Program
Now accepting applications!

The Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA) is seeking undergraduate research assistants (RAs) to work directly with CEPA faculty on active research projects. 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 immediately.

Eligibility: The CEPA URP program is open to all Stanford University undergraduates. 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. During academic quarters students will work up to 10 hours per week for 10 weeks and during the summer students will work up to 40 hours per week for 10 weeks.

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.

Specific Projects:

Project 1: 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 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 Professor 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.

Project 2: Field Experiments in Online Education Faculty Mentor

Faculty Mentor: Tom Dee
Project Description: We are looking for one or two undergraduate RAs to work on two field experiments that examine policy relevant topics in online education. Both projects are time-intensive and involve careful data collection and both projects have the potential to have important implications for online education. The RAs will be involved with project management, data collection and data coding and will work closely with a team that includes undergraduates, graduate students and a faculty mentor.

The RAs for these projects need to have a basic knowledge of Excel and Word and pay serious attention to detail. RAs will be required to attend bi-weekly team meetings and work a regular schedule of 8-10 hours/week.

Contact Information: If you have questions please contact Ieshia Edgerton, Program Administrator at or 650-723-6255.