Participant Support Costs for An RCT Institute for Established Researchers

Project: Research project

Project Details


The specific methodological focus of this training program is the design, execution, and interpretation of randomized filed experiments in education. Well executed randomized experiments provide the strongest evidence about causal effects of educational interventions, products, and services. Consequently, they have a crucial role to play in establishing a base of knowledge for the improvement and reform of American education. Yet the number of individuals with the knowledge and experience necessary to design, implement, analyze, and interpret randomized field experiments in education is still surprisingly small. Moreover, as experiments are called upon to provide more evidence about mechanism, knowledge of how to design experiments that can begin to “get inside the black box,” is even scarcer. Thus it is possible that, even with increased funding for research, the national capacity to carry out high quality educational research may be restricted by the limited availability of skilled researchers with training in the current state of the art in experimental methods. In the longer term, the lack of capacity to create new ways to solve methodological problems that arise as educational research becomes increasingly sophisticated may be even more troubling. IES has recognized the problem of limited capacity to carry out educational research involving randomized field experiments. They have addressed the problem by introducing their grant programs to support pre-doctoral and postdoctoral training in educational research (including experimental methods). While these programs are an important step to build capacity for the future, they cannot in themselves solve the problem of capacity to carry out educational research for three reasons. First, the pre-doctoral (and to a lesser extent, the post-doctoral) training programs require years to produce trainees with the capacity to carry out randomized trials. Second, because they provide intensive, long term training, these training programs produce a relatively small number of trainees. Moreover, these trainees will be engaged in the full spectrum of educational research activity. Thus it is not yet known how many of them will actually receive extensive training in the design and execution of randomized field trials, and of these it is not known how many will actually pursue randomized field trials in their subsequent careers. This should not be seen as a criticism of the training programs—educational research is a diverse field with inadequate capacity in many areas—randomized field trials, while obviously very important, are not the only area of need in educational research. Third, these training programs necessarily do not address the relatively large number of educational researchers who are already employed in the field.
Effective start/end date9/1/178/31/21


  • Institute of Education Sciences (R305B170016)


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