The American Educational Research Association (AERA), a COSSA governing member, and the Spencer Foundation have released a report, Voices from the Field: The Impact of COVID-19 on Early Career Scholars and Doctoral Students, as part of an ongoing effort to assess and address pressing needs facing scholars and doctoral students during the pandemic. The report’s findings are drawn from a series of focus groups conducted in spring 2020 and are organized into seven themes: (1) Research Impact: Disruptions, Delays, and Adaptations; (2) Impact on Teaching: The Need to Be Inventive, Inclusive, and Intentional; (3) Balancing Acts: Negotiating Family, Home, Community, and Professional Life; (4) The Emergence of a Dual Pandemic and Confronting Racism; (5) Employment Trajectories, Uncertainties, and Deferments; (6) Institutional (In)Capacity to Respond and Support; and (7) Emerging and Lost Connections, Communities, and Communication. The full report is available on the AERA website. AERA and the Spencer Foundation plan to release a second report later in 2021 that focuses on findings from a major national survey on the experiences and concerns of early career scholars and doctoral students in education research.
On December 16, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a Dear Colleague Letter, signed by the Assistant Directors for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) and the Education and Human Resources Directorate (EHR), to draw the attention of the social science community to funding opportunities in the two directorates related to research in graduate education. The letter (NSF 20-030) follows a workshop and report from the National Academies of Sciences on Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century and a workshop on Graduate Training in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Funding opportunities include research grants, traineeships, and capacity grants intended to identify innovative approaches to transform graduate education. More information can be found on the NSF website.
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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recently released a new consensus study report on Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century, which outlines ways to better to prepare students from all backgrounds for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The study was written by a committee chaired by Alan Leshner, CEO Emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Burroughs Welcome Fund, the Institute of Education Sciences, and the Spencer Foundation.
The report describes an ideal system of STEM graduate education and outlines core competencies for master’s and doctoral STEM degrees. The report makes a number of recommendations to achieve this vision, including funding for research on graduate STEM education; rewarding effective teaching and mentoring; collecting national and institutional data on students and graduates; ensuring diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning environments; career exploration and preparation for graduate students; changes to the structure of doctoral research activities; and stronger support for graduate student mental health services. The full report is available to download for free on the NASEM website.
On March 6, COSSA hosted a webinar to discuss a recent workshop on Graduate Training in the Social and Behavioral Sciences convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). The webinar featured Robert Kaplan (Workshop Planning Committee Chair) and Amy Stephens (NASEM), who discussed findings from the workshop (the workshop summary is available here) and potential next steps. Slides are posted on COSSA’s website. COSSA is collecting contact information for those who wish to stay involved in ongoing efforts in this area.
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