On-Going Projects

Sample of On-going Projects

Evaluation of the East Texas STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) Project

Funded by: The Simons Foundation

Beginning in fall 2021, the TAMU ERC will evaluate the 18-month East Texas STEAM project, a near-peer mentoring project involving the former TAMU Colleges of Architecture and Liberal Arts, Prairie View University, and Longview ISD. Funded by the Simons Foundation, this project aims to develop and support undergraduate and graduate near-peer mentors who will take part in coursework at their respective institutions focused on developing cultural awareness, technical knowledge, and mentoring skills required to be successful as mentors to middle school students from groups underrepresented in the visual computing fields, the majority of whom will be Black and Latinx. The evaluation will examine program impacts on middle school and near peer mentor student outcomes.

Evaluation of the Collaborative for Children Program

Funded by: 

The ERC was contracted by Collaborative for Children (CC) in the spring of 2020 to evaluate the extent to which CC’s programs were successful in achieving the proposed goals and objectives. The ERC works with CC staff to design, implement, evaluate, and report on the success of CC programs. The evaluation team developed data collection instruments (rubrics, surveys, observation protocols, etc.) to collect context, process, implementation, and outcome data on CC’s early childhood program, “Centers of Excellence.”

Evaluation of Harmony Public Schools' Launching Elementary Academic Foundations to STEM (LEAF to STEM) Education Innovation and Research Project

Funded by: U.S. Department of Education

The TAMU ERC was contracted to evaluate the Harmony Public Schools Education Innovation and Research intervention, Launching Elementary Academic Foundations to STEM” (LEAF to STEM) intervention. The four-year LEAF to STEM program is designed to support K-5 teachers’ STEM instruction with three components: (1) adapting a currently existing secondary STEM curriculum focused on STEM-centered, interdisciplinary project-based learning (PBL) for use with elementary students, (2) providing online and face-to-face professional development for teachers on the use of the curriculum and related STEM instructional topics, and (3) implementing a teacher peer-to-peer mentoring program that pairs secondary STEM teachers within the HPS system with K-5 teachers. In school years 2019-20 through 2023-24, the ERC is examining program impacts on teacher and student outcomes.

The primary teacher outcomes being examined include: (1) increases in teacher effectiveness in STEM instruction, (2) increases in teacher self-reported competence in STEM and PBL, (3) increases in teacher self-reported confidence in STEM and PBL, and (4) increased teacher retention.

Primary student outcomes being examined include: (1) increases in academic proficiency in STEM subjects across subgroups, and (2) increases in upper elementary students’ (grades four and five) self-reported interest in STEM across subgroups.

The evaluation is utilizing multiple data sources, including an online teacher survey, observations and interviews with a sample of teachers from treatment and control schools, an online student survey for upper elementary students, and examination of de-identified secondary data for teachers and students.

Evaluation of the Enhancing Livestock Production on Rangelands in the Great Plains Project (Prairie Project)

Funded by: USDA

The ERC was contracted to evaluate this USDA NIFA project in 2019. Focusing on the key strands of Extension, Education, and Research, the Prairie Project’s overall goal is to encourage widespread adoption of pyric herbivory and mixed-species grazing to make rangeland production systems in the Great Plains more profitable, productive, sustainable, and beneficial to society at large. The purpose of the evaluation is to document the development of the Prairie Project over the five years of its duration and determine the extent to which the project is implemented as planned and whether project goals and related outcomes are met, as well as investigate the processes and contexts that support the project’s work and final products.

Evaluation of United Way of Greater Houston Education Initiative

Funded by: United Way Greater Houston

The ERC was contracted by United Way of Greater Houston (UWGH) to evaluate UWGH’s Education Initiative since the spring of 2012. The ERC has developed data collection instruments (rubrics, surveys, observation protocols, etc.) and has collected context, process, implementation, and outcome data on several of the UWGH’s mathematics and reading programs that have been implemented within local schools. Additionally, the ERC has analyzed academic achievement and socio-emotional data for students involved in UWGH programs at schools and community agencies involved in the UWGH Education Collaborative. Currently, the evaluation is focused on examining UWGH’s summer grant programs that focus on summer learning loss as well as UWGH’s summer math camp program.

Evaluation of the Aggie Teacher Education Residency Model Project (aggieTERM)

Funded by: U.S. Department of Education

The ERC was tapped to evaluate this 5-year, U.S. Department of Education Teacher Quality Partnership Grant in 2021. The aggieTERM project is dedicated to advancing teacher quality and retention through a partnership among Texas A&M University and four partner school districts with high-need schools designed to provide high-quality residency experiences for prospective teachers. The purpose of the evaluation is to determine the efficacy of aggieTERM in regard to USDoE-specified performance measures: Certification/Licensure, STEM graduation, persistence in the program, and teacher retention in high need schools over a 3-year and 5-year period.

Evaluation of Project Calculation, Hi-tech, Imagination, Systems, Procedural, Art (CHISPA)

Funded by: TAMU College of Architecture Department of Visualization Innovation X Grant

The Education Research Center is currently evaluating the impact of Project CHISPA (Project Calculation, Hi-tech, Imagination, Systems, Procedural, Art), a near-peer mentoring program that pairs TAMU undergraduate students with local middle school students to build student interest in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics). Project CHISPA aims to empower middle school youth at the Brazos School for Inquiry and Creativity with greater confidence in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) skills, resulting in an increasing number of underrepresented students successfully pursuing higher education and career opportunities. This program proposes to boost this number in future years through early intervention in personal identification as STEAM learners. The purpose of the evaluation is to examine Project CHISPA activities through surveys of grades 5-8 students and undergraduate peer mentors. The Brazos School for Inquiry and Creativity is a public charter school serving grades K-8 students in Bryan, Texas.

The study is examining program impacts on middle school and undergraduate student outcomes, including: (1) changes in upper elementary/middle grades students’ (grades five through eight) self-reported interest in STEAM and perceptions of program activities, and (2) changes in undergraduate students’ understanding of procedural modeling and perceptions of program activities.

Sample of Completed Projects

State of Texas Transition to Online Assessments Feasibility Study

Funded by: Texas Education Agency

The Texas A& M University Education Research Center (TAMU ERC) was contracted by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) in the spring of 2020 to conduct a study assessing the readiness of Texas school districts and campuses for 100% online STAAR testing, beginning in the 2022—23 school year, as legislated by House Bill 3906. Hersh Waxman was the project PI, and Jackie Stillisano, Kim Wright, Karen Rambo-Hernandez, and Kayla Rollins were project co-PIs. Additional researchers included Cheryl Craig, Jeffrey Keese, Miguel Burgess, Lobat Asadi, and Michele Norton.

The study was comprised of four major tasks:
• A statewide needs assessment survey to be completed by all Texas public school districts and campuses.
• Case studies with individual districts and campuses, examining their previous experiences with, and readiness for, online state testing.
• A benchmarking study of other states’ assessment programs and transitions to online testing, including related challenges and lessons learned.
• An operational definition of “100% electronic testing” for the state of Texas, as well as a financial model, estimating and illustrating the cost of achieving needed capacity at campus, district, and state levels.

Results from this study were included in a comprehensive report to the 87th Texas Legislature to provide a better understanding of the state’s readiness for online testing and identify key actions necessary to assist schools in achieving readiness for 100% online STAAR testing.

Evaluation of the Discover, Explore, and Enjoy Physics (DEEP) Program

Funded by: Texas A&M Department of Physics and Astronomy

During the fall of 2014, the ERC conducted an external evaluation of the Discover, Explore, and Enjoy Physics (DEEP) program at Texas A&M University. DEEP was established in 2012 by the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Texas A&M. The goal of the program is to enhance undergraduate and graduate students’ learning and research experience by incorporating active/service learning and teamwork. A key component of DEEP is to encourage undergraduate student participation in high-profile outreach activities, such as:

  • The annual Texas A&M Physics and Engineering Festival.
  • Fall and spring DEEP Showcases, and
  • TAMU Physics Shows

under the guidance of DEEP graduate mentors from the Departments of Physics and Astronomy and Aerospace Engineering.

The evaluation addressed the following DEEP objectives:

  • Increase undergraduate participants’ knowledge of physics and engineering concepts,
  • Positively impact undergraduate student participants’ analytics and hands-on skills in conducting research,
  • Enhance undergraduate student participants’ communication skills,
  • Encourage undergraduate student participants’ teamwork skills,
  • Improve graduate student participants’ leadership skills, and
  • Increase graduate student participants’ team building skills.

Surveys and interviews were utilized with undergraduate students as well as graduate mentors to examine the impact of program activities on participants’ communication and teamwork skills.

Student Collaborative Practices in International Baccalaureate Programmes

Funded by: International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO)

The Education Research Center (ERC) at Texas A&M conducted a literature review and curriculum document analysis of student collaborative practices in International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. Collaboration is identified as an integrated part of learning components and assessment models across IB programmes. Provided to well over a million students and 3500 schools in 145 countries, the highly-regarded International Baccalaureate (IB) Program supports student attainment of a range of 10 academic and non-academic attributes, described as the Learner Profile.

For this study, ERC researchers:

  • Conducted a best evidence synthesis of research on teaching and assessing student collaboration In K-12 settings,
  • Analyzed IB curriculum documents for essential elements of collaborative practice, and
  • Made recommendations for the enhancement of student collaboration in IB programmes.

In 2014-15, the ERC conducted a research study, commissioned by the IBO, focusing on the Learner Profile attribute, reflective. In this study ERC researchers examined the implementation of the attribute in six case study sites by exploring how reflective is interpreted, how it is integrated into instruction and activities, how it is assessed, and how it benefits DP students. The final analysis provided a rich description of the case study sites, with emphasis on site-specific outcomes identified as emerging from interpretations of reflective and strategies for integrating reflective thinking.

Bright Beginnings Curriculum Review

The Education Research Center (ERC) at Texas A&M University conducted a complete curriculum review of Bright Beginnings’ professional development (PD) for early childhood center directors and staff by:

  • Exploring PD offerings, teachers/directors PD perceptions and PD attendance,
  • Offering recommendations regarding how Bright Beginnings could effectively employ fewer third-party trainers while maintaining current program integrity and standards, and
  • Providing cost efficiency recommendations.

TAMU Educator Preparation Collaborative for Enhancing College and Career Readiness in Texas Schools (TAMU Collaborative)

Funded by: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

The Education Research Center (ERC) designed a project to work with multiple cohorts of preservice teachers participating in the Secondary Graduate Certification Program at Texas A&M to integrate the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) and provide opportunities for preservice teachers to create and teach CCRS-based lessons.

During the 2013-2014 academic year, the ERC worked with the project’s fourth cohort of preservice teachers.

Evaluation of the College Readiness Field Test Assignments (CRAFT)

Funded by: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

Conducted a statewide evaluation of the effectiveness of the College Readiness Assignments: project-based assignments based on the College and Career Readiness Standards, designed to assist students in achieving college readiness.

Systematic classroom observation, interviews and surveys will be used to examine three program components:

  • Planning, design, implementation and management of the field-testing for CRAs
  • Partnerships between public institutions of higher education and public schools
  • Implementation of professional development for CRAs

Evaluation of the College and Career Readiness Initiative (CCRI) Faculty Collaboratives

Funded by: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

Conducted studies to evaluate the effectiveness of four faculty collaboratives that were sponsored by four different institutions of higher education with the goal of the CCRI Faculty Collaboratives: to design activities to ensure preservice teachers received preparation closely aligned with the CCRS so future educators would be better able to prepare their pre-secondary students for college or career paths.

Evaluation of Mitchell Institute Physics Enhancement Project

Funded by: The George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy

Conducted the program evaluation for Texas A&M’s Mitchell Institute Physics Enhancement Program (MIPEP). The program sponsors 18 high school physics teachers for a two-week intensive physics summer institute.

The goal of MIPEP is to help teachers develop a deeper understanding of physics concepts, instructional strategies, and laboratory-based experiences.

Evaluation of the Mathematics, Science and Technology Teacher Preparation (MSTTP) Academies

Funded by: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

Conducted studies to evaluate the effectiveness of more than 15 teacher preparation academies focused on mathematics, science and technology located across Texas at institutions of higher education, including:

  • Texas A&M University,
  • Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi,
  • Texas A&M University – Commerce, and
  • Tarleton State University.

Academies were established with the goal of increasing the number of highly qualified mathematics, science and technology teachers while also improving the quality of certified teachers in these areas.

The ERC was contracted by THECB to evaluate the effectiveness of the MSTTP Academies from the fall of 2009 to the spring of 2013. The Academies were established at universities around the state of Texas to prepare more highly qualified mathematics and science teachers, as well as improve the quality of certified teachers. The seven academy goals set forth were (a) strengthening teacher subject matter and pedagogical knowledge; (b) utilizing methods based on research in the fields of teacher preparation and professional development; (c) integrating the areas of science, technology, and mathematics; (d) highlighting problem-based learning that offers a real-world context; (e) implementing a comprehensive mentoring/induction program; and (f) infusing technology into academy curriculum. The evaluation was a mixed-methods study and included site visits to all academies, interviews of participants and directors, and a participant survey.

Needs Assessment of Professional Development for Administrators and Teachers in Qatar Independent Schools

Funded by: Qatar University

In the fall of 2010 to the spring of 2011, ERC researchers worked in collaboration with faculty from the former College of Education and Human Development (now School of Education and Human Development) to conduct a needs assessment of professional development for administrators and teachers in Qatar Independent Schools. The needs assessment was funded by Qatar University. The research involved a two-week trip to Qatar to collect interview, survey, and systematic classroom observation data. The results provided a baseline for the creation of the National Center for Educator Development in Qatar.

Evaluation of Texas Charter Schools 2009-2010

Funded by: Texas Education Agency

Conducted an annual evaluation of public charter schools in Texas for the 2009-2010 academic year. This evaluation differed from the most recent prior study in that it focused on the classes of district (campus) charter schools and open-enrollment charter schools.

Evaluation of the Pathways Project

Funded by: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

Conducted an evaluation of a state “pathways to college” project; an initiative of a state’s higher education agency within one of the nation’s largest states that was established for the purpose of creating a partnership between local secondary and post secondary institutions and for improving curriculum alignment between high school and post-secondary institutions.