California Chapter Uses AACTE Grant to Boost Research

Last spring, the California Council on Teacher Education (CCTE) received an AACTE State Chapter Support Grant to fund a “Quest for Research on Teacher Education” to engage local scholars and broaden the knowledge base in California and nationally. I am delighted to report that the Quest program is achieving its goals, as well as unanticipated benefits, which will pay dividends for years to come.

Before the Quest program, CCTE’s commitment to encourage and support research on teacher education already took many forms. We sponsor two high-quality scholarly journals devoted to publication of quantitative and qualitative studies; hold semiannual conferences that include numerous concurrent research presentations and poster sessions; offer support programs for new faculty and graduate students, which include participation in the research and poster sessions at our conferences; and collaborate with Division K of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) on a national committee focusing on research in teacher education policy, which schedules a special open session on research topics at the annual AERA meetings.

While these ongoing CCTE efforts are significant, there was also reason to believe that they were not enough. Even though they have grown in national rankings among teacher education journals, both of the CCTE journals, Issues in Teacher Education and Teacher Education Quarterly, have reported a gradual decline in recent years in the number of submissions from scholars in California. While there has been a steady flow of proposals for presentations at CCTE semiannual conferences, the focus of those proposals has been more on good practice in the field than on new research. And when Etta Hollins of the University of Missouri at Kansas City spoke at a CCTE Board of Directors meeting a few years ago and asked for an inventory of research in our state related to teacher education, we were not able to reply in a cogent manner.

Thus, CCTE sought support from AACTE for funds to develop, announce, and implement a 1-year program to encourage research related to teacher education by scholars in our state. We felt that such a project would be significant in enhancing the capacity of our state chapter and its member scholars to meet our mission in the area of teacher education research. Further, the support program for research that we proposed had the potential to be of significant assistance to teacher education scholars in our state, and most particularly to assist junior faculty who need to respond to research requirements related to promotion and tenure.

Indeed, the venture has turned out to be remarkably successful. CCTE supported 37 studies during the 2014-2015 academic year, well above our original plans for including 16 studies in the program. Open equally to experienced and emerging scholars and graduate students, the request for proposals attracted applications from more than 80 researchers at 20 different college and university campuses across the state as well as a few participants from PK-12 schools, county offices of education, and government agencies. In addition to mentoring as needed, each team received a modest stipend of $250 to support their studies.

Each of the project teams prepared a research paper for presentation at a special institute at the March 2015 CCTE Conference in San Jose. Following the event, researchers finalized their studies and submitted reports to be published in future issues of CCNews, the CCTE quarterly online newsletter. All 37 research teams are also being encouraged to develop manuscripts to submit to either or both of the CCTE-sponsored journals or to other appropriate scholarly journals.

While the final results of the first Quest year are still being collected, it seems clear that the 37 studies have far exceeded our initial expectations and that the goals of the program are being achieved. In addition to building research on teacher education, the program is also affording an opportunity to increase the pool of reviewers to work with the two CCTE journals as well as to increase the pool of veteran teacher education leaders in the state to offer mentoring to newer members of the field.

CCTE is currently seeking support to expand the program into the 2015-2016 academic year and beyond. While many of the initial 37 studies will continue into a second year, CCTE will also be inviting new projects for 2015-2016 and beyond, with the goal of having at least 30 studies participating in the program each year. Mentoring from experienced CCTE leaders and members will continue to be provided, and as each study is completed reports will be gathered and analyzed for implications for teacher education practice and policy in the state and more broadly. A catalog of research will be created, with specific attention to publication of the participating studies in scholarly journals.

Note: AACTE will announce the recipients of its 2015-2016 State Chapter Support Grants at a reception this evening during the State Leaders Institute in Washington, DC.

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Alan H. Jones

Executive Secretary, California Council on Teacher Education