Professional development for Emerging Education Researchers

Image: from Diamond Head, Honolulu, Hawaii

How do people learn to do education research?

Research is a process of generating new knowledge; education research focuses on problems of teaching and learning. I am particularly interested in how people learn how to do education research, either as their primary research activity or as a scholarly activity focused on improving the learning of their students or the educational programs in their unit.

Generally, people learn how to do education research as students, postdocs, or faculty members. Most newcomers to the field start with a mentoring relationship with another researcher, though it's also possible to get started by participating in a field school, workshop, or conference. Emerging education researchers need support as they develop their research programs and expand their theoretical and methodological expertise, and they benefit from the guidance of knowledgeable peers and near-peers.

What is the Professional development for Emerging Education Researchers (PEER) program?

The Professional development for Emerging Education Researchers (PEER) program helps faculty, postdocs, and graduate students learn how to do education research through intensive workshops, research projects, mentoring, and community involvement. The central activity for PEER is participation in a field school: an intense week of professional development workshops which jumpstart your research project. PEER participants learn to design research projects, collaborate ethically, conduct research, and write papers for peer-reviewed publication.

PEER Participants come from a variety of professional backgrounds:

  • discipline-based education researchers looking to expand their methodological repertoire

  • disciplinary faculty just getting started on the scholarship of teaching and learning

  • education faculty looking to join a research group and access video-based data

  • faculty development experts learning to mentor faculty through scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) projects

  • grad students and postdocs who need mentoring and community support for their research projects

  • undergraduate students who attend field schools with their advisors

After field school, some participants continue to work with us as part of a geographically-distributed research group, joining working groups, conducting research together, and submitting papers for publication. PEER working groups have published about 20 peer-reviewed papers since 2015.

Our collaborators and hosts at the University of Cologne made a promotional video for their PEER field school.

Which workshops are available?

We have workshops available for these topics:

  • Publishing peer-reviewed papers in English.

  • Research life: principles for being an active, productive researcher; balancing research, teaching, and life; and our personal professional pathways

  • Research ethics: how to collaborate ethically, mentor students, author papers together, and work with human subjects/participants in research projects.

  • Getting started with research design: building research interests into robust research projects

  • Analysis methods: video-based qualitative research methods, emergent coding, basic quantitative methods

  • Research communication: doing lit reviews, structuring and publishing papers, making beautiful posters, and talking about your research with skeptical audiences

  • Teaching students: the challenge of listening to students, fostering inclusivity and equity in classrooms, mentoring undergraduates in research

Additionally, we can give colloquium-style talks to broader audiences at your institution. Want something else? Contact Eleanor Sayre for more ideas, or join the announcements list to hear about new opportunities.

See a full list of extant workshops here

Upcoming PEER field schools

If you're lucky enough to live near a regional field school, we recommend you join it! Past regional field schools have been held in Mexico, Germany, Canada, and Rwanda. Upcoming regional schools will be held in the US as well as internationally (as travel permits). Entrance requirements for regional schools vary; contact Eleanor Sayre or join the announcements list for details.


Support for designing research projects in education, hosted by ZuS at the University of Cologne (March 2021, virtual)

Mentorship in Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER) for faculty and graduate students in physics and mathematics, funded by the NSF BCSER conference program (Spring 2021, virtual)


Facilitation and training for groups of biology faculty developing their first publishable education research projects, sponsored by the Genomics Education Partnership. (June 2021, virtual)


Developing skills in pedagogy in English, education research projects, and writing for peer-reviewed publication among West Kazakhstan faculty. Funded by American Councils for International Education in partnership with Zhangir Khan University and Kansas State University. (July 2021, in-person).


Professional development for faculty at the University of the Virgin Islands via the Virgin Islands Institute for STEM Education Research and Practice, funded by the NSF BCSER program. (August and December 2021, in-person).

How can I host a field school?

We love to travel! A regional field school is usually one week (sometimes shorter or longer). Regional field schools tend to have themes that are appropriate to their participants: Rukara 2018 (Rwanda) focused on preparing research for publication, while Cologne 2017 (Germany) focused on equity research and video data. Vancouver 2019 (Canada) centered around designing and planning SoTL research projects. We'll work with you to make sure our workshops are well-tuned to the things your participants need.

A reasonable number of participants is 15-25. You should plan that most of your participants will attend every workshop in the field school. Some workshops are ok for many more participants, depending on the size of our facilitation team. We can also give colloquia, invited talks, or public lectures for larger audiences to help make the most of our visit. If a week is more time than you're looking for, it may be possible to run a single-day workshop and/or colloquium; conversely, we're also happy to stay longer and help your participants develop their projects further.

Costs are minimal (thanks, NSF!), but scheduling is complicated. Contact Eleanor Sayre or Scott Franklin for details.

I'm an education researcher, and I want to be involved!

Who runs PEER?

Rochester Institute of Technology

Director, CASTLE

Professor, School of Physics and Astronomy

DePaul University

Associate Professor

Department of Physics

Kansas State University

Professor, Department of Physics

Alder Science Education Association, Partner

Last update: 2021 February