Common Ground for Practice & Research:
Targeted Improvement Initiatives

The Fall 2014 conference focuses on the design, conduct, and use of research to improve practice in the complex settings in which it occurs, including schools, school systems, higher education institutions, and communities.  One goal of the meeting is to expand our understanding of how practitioners and researchers may work in partnership to address the concrete problems practitioners confront as they endeavor to improve student outcomes.

The conference is organized around four challenging arenas of current education policy and practice:

  • Supporting the social and emotional growth of children
  • Promoting student engagement and persistence for college and career readiness  
  • Improving teacher effectiveness
  • Addressing achievement gaps and persistently low-performing schools

 The fifth conference section will focus on research and evaluation methods related to improvement efforts.

Submissions appropriate for this meeting will present research, evaluation, or theoretical examinations related to improvement initiatives that employ robust design and data analysis to address concrete problems of practice in formal and informal educational contexts. Research methods and approaches may draw on frameworks from design studies, implementation science, improvement science, prevention science, evaluations and field trials, among others. In all cases, the direct connections to improvement activities in the field should be explicit. We particularly encourage presentations that incorporate collaborations between practitioners, researchers and other stakeholders.

Questions that motivate the conference theme:

  • How are practitioners and researchers collaborating to define problems in the context of practice?
  • How may research and evaluation effectively inform practitioners in their efforts to address these problems of practice?  What are useful methods toward this end?
  • What evidence exists that adoption and employment of continuous improvement strategies effects positive changes in organizational behavior and student outcomes?
  • How do improvement strategies within the complexities of school systems inform conceptions about research validity, standards of evidence, and causal inferences?


  • Supporting the Social & Emotional Growth of Children
  • Promoting Student Engagement & Persistence in College & Career Readiness
  • Improving Teacher Effectiveness
  • Addressing Achievement Gaps & Persistently Low-Performing Schools
  • Research Methods