Multidisciplinary Program in Educational Sciences

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Northwestern University Multidisciplinary Program in Education Sciences (MPES) will train students to conduct and disseminate rigorous and relevant research on educational policy and student learning. Building on the success of our current program, we propose to expand our rigorous methodological training by offering students new opportunities to work closely with the Chicago Public Schools, one of the largest and most diverse districts in the nation. We prepare education researchers who are not only cutting-edge empiricists but also equipped to work on topics that directly affect our nation’s schools. Our program will bring together 22 doctoral students from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The home of the training program will be in the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP), an inherently interdisciplinary unit. SESP has made major improvements in the last few years, such as establishing well-funded, sustainable partnerships with local school districts (Evanston and Chicago). We will admit students from both PhD programs in SESP: Learning Sciences and Human Development and Social Policy. In addition, we will recruit from other disciplines whose students are interested in and would benefit from training in education research, such as economics, psychology, sociology, statistics, and communications. The program will augment fellows’ strong foundations in their home disciplines with the theoretical and methodological skills needed to read across the diverse kinds of literatures that are required to conduct effective educational research. We will also develop fellows’ ability to present their research to a variety of audiences, including practitioners and the broader public. To prepare students to conduct rigorous empirical research that is also usable and useful in the policy and practice worlds, we have four related goals. The first is to provide a unified multidisciplinary program of coursework on the linkages among educational policy and practice. Second is to ensure that our students receive training in rigorous causally focused research methods through taking an intensive set of methodological courses. The third goal is to foster research collaborations in education policy and learning among faculty and graduate students. The final goal is to ensure that students are grounded in policy and practice. Students may complete a Policy and Practice Apprenticeship in Chicago or Evanston, IL public schools. Students will ask and answer questions of interest to district and school practitioners. There will be three staggered cohorts of fellows; each cohort receives three years of training. The program will consist of the MPES coordinated curriculum, a two-year research apprenticeship, a one-year policy-oriented practice apprenticeship, a Proseminar, and a series of intensive workshops that offer training on topics of particular relevance, such as new statistical techniques or the open science movement. The program will be directed by David Uttal, a psychologist and learning scientist who studies cognition and student learning in both formal and informal education. A core group of 25 faculty members with active research agendas on education policy, design for education, and learning will teach, mentor, and collaborate with the doctoral fellows to prepare them for careers that connect their research with policy and practice.
Effective start/end date9/1/208/31/25


  • Institute of Education Sciences (R305B200037-3)


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