by Claire Miller
The William T. Grant Foundation is a private organization founded in 1936 that funds various kinds of research, all with the goal of gaining a better understanding of human behavior.
In particular, the foundation looks for research projects that study people ages 8 to 25 in the U.S. – a subset of the population that many faculty and students study in the College of Education at Georgia State University.
Vivian Tseng, the foundation’s vice president of programs, and Kim DuMont, program officer at the foundation, came to the COE’s Research Wednesdays Speaker Series on Oct. 12 to discuss their organization’s research interests, how they connect to the college and their funding mechanisms for supporting this research.
“We focus on youth’s social settings – particularly how social settings work, how they affect youth and how they can be improved,” Tseng said. “We’re also interested in how research is used in policy and practice that affect youth. We think that in order to understand youth development and to learn how to improve it, it’s important to understand youth’s immediate environments.”
The foundation also hopes to develop tools to accurately measure the quality of settings such as classroom instruction, family processes,and peer engagement, which can be difficult to quantify.
In addition, Tseng said the foundation wants to better understand how both policymakers and practitioners acquire, interpret and use research to make or implement policies.
“Most of us as researchers and members of the research community are interested in producing work that has relevance to both policymakers and practitioners – that they can take what we’re learning and use it to improve kids’ outcomes,” she said. “But we don’t always have a strong understanding of when and how that occurs. We want to systematically understand how policymakers and practitioners acquire research, make sense of it for the problems they’re trying to solve and apply it to their work.”
The foundation offers both research grants and fellowships to support research on youth in the U.S.
“We want to build the field’s capacity for this kind of research,” Tseng said.
The Research Wednesdays Speaker Series is designed to fulfill three goals: to provide a platform for explorations of new ways of conducting and disseminating educational research, to discuss new methods of mentoring doctoral students in an effort to enhance their development as researchers, and to fill a professional development need by providing access to cutting edge researchers at the state and national levels.
For more information about Tseng and the Research Wednesdays Speaker Series, visit http://education.gsu.edu/main/coe_events.htm.