In summer 2009, the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) recently awarded the University of Washington $4.8 million over 5 years to implement a new doctoral research training program for students to strengthen the ranks of educational scientists and to investigate critical issues in P-20 education policy and practice. CREST, otherwise known as the Collaborative Researchers for Education Sciences Training program at the University of Washington, is a collaboration between the UW College of Education and the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs. CREST is administered by the Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy (CTP) in the College of Education.
CREST co-directors include Professors Robert Abbott, Michael Knapp, and William Zumeta. This interdisciplinary graduate program includes participation of faculty from several departments, including sociology, economics and social work, in addition to education and public affairs.
CREST welcomed its second cohort of pre-doctoral students this fall and will admit another group for fall 2011. Over five years, CREST will train 25 doctoral students.
CREST’s mission? "To prepare scholars who are fully equipped for interdisciplinary research and evaluation of P-20 policy and programmatic interventions and their theoretical and scientific underpinnings, using sophisticated mixed-methods designs built upon cutting edge quantitative and qualitative methodology."
It is this latter point, the synthesis of quantitative and qualitative methodology, that sets this opportunity apart. As Mike Knapp, CREST co-chair and professor in the area of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, explains, “CREST students are very serious about becoming policy analysts, scholars, academics. They are doing research on policy and may come from policy jobs, analytic work, or the field of education service delivery. We are offering a mixed-methods program that will teach students how to merge quantitative and qualitative research training.”
The ultimate goal of this and the dozen other predoctoral training programs supported by IES is to produce a new generation of educational scholars, prepared and committed to apply rigorous science to pressing problems of educational reform.
In addition to work on quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research, the CREST program provides students with specialized coursework in educational policy across the P-20 continuum. Indeed, from this research perspective, CREST is unique since it focuses on educational policies from preschool through higher education. While most research focuses on early learning, high school, or higher education exclusively, this project specifically looks at policies across the P-20 spectrum.
“Many of our research efforts in this program highlight the transitions between the elementary-secondary system, and higher education,” explains Bill Zumeta, CREST co-chair and professor of public affairs and higher education at the University of Washington. “This is really a P-20 system, so policy needs to be more attentive to the linkages–including the ones that are now too weak–across the educational system.” CREST students research how educational issues in elementary and secondary schools affect post-secondary education and vice versa, with particular reference to the transition points between these two levels.
“A lot of policy discussion recently has been around college readiness and college preparation,” Zumeta continues. “So the focus now is increasingly on continuation as the contemporary economy and society demands higher levels of education.”
CREST provides critical financial (stipend) and academic support to its students. Their research apprenticeships include intensive mentoring and an advising system that monitors and supports student progress. There is also an integrative proseminar for participating faculty and students each quarter to discuss educational policy issues in-depth, including how to research them using scientifically sophisticated mixed-method designs.
Mentored by CREST faculty, CREST students will complete an education-focused dissertation that in most cases will include mixed method research designs on policy-relevant questions. Throughout their academic development, students will have multiple opportunities to hone their writing and presentation skills, through at least three funded annual conference travel opportunities. With generous stipend support, a strong curriculum base, intensive mentoring, as well as conference participation and journal reviewing opportunities, this research training opportunity will continue to help attract to the College and the UW outstanding students with high potential to affect education research and its policy impact for the better.
"This is sophisticated research training," Knapp posits. "That's the name of the game."
If you have questions about CREST, please contact program administrative staff Angie Windus at 206-221-4114 or email@example.com.
College of Education, University of Washington
Box 353600 Seattle, WA 98195-3600