Faculty Grant Awards and Achievements: May 2022

Kendall Payne
May 3, 2022

The College of Education is home to world-class faculty members conducting high-impact research year-round. Our faculty members are awarded grants and fellowships on a regular basis, and this monthly list of awards is designed to collectively share these achievements.

Department of Educational Leadership and Policy

Photo of David DeMatthews
David DeMatthews

David DeMatthews

DeMatthews' proposal, “Examining Effective and Sustainable Community-Based Approaches to Improving Educational Outcomes in Marginalized Communities in Mexico: A Collaboration between Enseña por Mexico and The University of Texas at Austin”, was selected to receive a Texas Global Faculty Research Seed Grant.

The Texas Global Faculty Research Seed Grant program is open to all UT Austin tenured and tenure-track faculty members, and support faculty with peer collaborators at institutions abroad to conduct research that addresses global challenges.

Photo of Denisa Gandara
Denisa Gandara

Denisa Gandara

Gandara along with Tammy Kolbe, from University of Vermont, will co-PI the grant titled “Fiscal Equity and California's Community Colleges” funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The project, which will run from October 1, 2021 to February 29, 2024, aims to assess fiscal equity and resource needs at California's community colleges. Specifically, the study will contribute to the research and evidence base that describes and quantifies the different funding levels for community colleges serving students with diverse needs. This information is necessary to build an equitable postsecondary finance system based on student need. To accomplish these goals, they propose to apply and extend methods that have been successfully used in K12 education finance to evaluate differences in funding among community colleges in one state (California) and, using state-of-the-field empirical methods, develop the first-available estimates for what it costs to provide adequate and equitable funding for public two-year colleges.

Denisa Gandara

Gandara will serve as co-PI on a new Institute of Education Sciences (IES) National Center for Education Research (NCES) Early Career Award—"Fair Prediction of College-Student Success Using Multivariate Adaptive Regression Splines.” Hadis Anahideh, from the University of Illinois at Chicago, will serve as PI.

Through this 2-year award ($299,461) they plan to develop fair and explainable statistical models to predict college student success. Their study is motivated by growing concerns that predictive models (or predictive algorithms) can perpetuate or exacerbate inequities in society. Using existing student-level data, they will develop fair and interpretable models for predicting college student success in the college admissions and student-success intervention domains. In addition to their technical contribution, they plan to develop and disseminate a toolkit for various higher education stakeholders working with predictive analytics in college and university settings.

Department of Special Education

Photo of Sarah Powell
Sarah Powell

Sarah Powell

Powell will serve as PI on “Math SPIRAL: Specialized Intervention to Reach All Learners” – a nearly $3 million grant awarded by the Institute of Education Sciences through the National Center for Special Education Research. The goal of the project is to conduct an initial evaluation of Math SPIRAL, an educator-provided mathematics intervention for students in grade 4 and 5. Support will be provided to educators in a large urban school district to teach math to small groups of students identified as needing intervention through state achievement testing.

Additionally, Powell will also serve as the co-PI on “Scalability, Capacity, and Learning Engagement (SCALE) for Fraction Face-Off” – an $8 million grant that is part of the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program through the U.S. Department of Education. The research team will be implementing a fraction intervention with students in Grades 4-8. The program was originally designed at Grade 4, but they are interested in learning whether the results replicate in Grade 4, and whether the program can be used at Grades 5-8 when students have difficulty with fractions. Southern Methodist University is the lead organization, and American Institutes for Research is the external evaluator. UT Austin and University of Missouri will serve as implementation partners to reach regional scale. UT will receive approximately $1.5 million over five years.

Photo of Jessica Toste
Jessica Toste

Jessica Toste

Toste was accepted as a two-year fellow with The University of Washington Research Institute for Implementation Science in Education (RIISE). The fellowship will begin with the RIISE Summer Institute in Seattle, Washington in June. Toste will build on her current, ongoing program of research and the RIISE fellowship will support preparation of implementation research grants for submission to federal sponsors. Dean Charles Martinez will serve as her home mentor.

RIISE is the first of its kind and reflects a collaborative, innovative effort to develop the implementation research workforce in education and improve educational and related outcomes. RIISE provides training and mentorship to established education scholars (Fellows) to increase their expertise in conceptualizing, designing and executing implementation research studies.

If you have a grant or fellowship announcement you would like reflected in our next monthly email, or receive a future award that you would like to include, please share it by submitting your information or emailing coecommunications@austin.utexas.edu. Congratulations!