Postdoctoral Training Program on Human Capital Interventions in Development

Investigator: Greg Duncan

Funder: Institute of Education Sciences (IES)

Consistent with IES’s priority goal of answering questions of what works in education, for whom it works, and under what circumstances it works, researchers will establish an interdisciplinary postdoctoral training program in rigorous conceptual and methodological approaches to understanding the effects of education interventions across childhood and adolescence at the University of California, Irvine.

The program will be based in the School of Education and led by faculty with appointments in the School of Education, Department of Economics, and Paul Merage School of Business.

Research projects and other training opportunities are focused on a newly-awarded program project (P01) from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which has the five-year goal of conceptualizing the heterogeneous nature of the impacts of various educational interventions across developmental stages, using the latest experimental and quasi-experimental methods.

Researchers will train four postdoctoral fellows, each of whom will spend two years in the program. Fellows will receive close mentorship from program faculty, become deeply involved in one of four integrated research projects, attend seminars and follow-on fellow-focused meetings with seminar speakers, and participate in other P01 activities focused on extracting broader lessons across the four projects, attend classes on child and adolescent development and research methods as needed, and attend and present papers at national research conferences.

On their projects, fellows will collect, compile, and analyze data; participate in research planning; write papers; present results at seminars and professional meetings; and supervise research assistants. Fellows will learn a variety of specific methodological techniques, including randomized controlled trials, propensity score matching, instrumental variables, fixed effects, interrupted time series, regression discontinuity analysis, and quantile regression and other distributional estimators. Fellows will gain substantive knowledge of policy-relevant outcomes such as school readiness; behaviors that support learning in academic contexts; and achievement and higher order thinking in core academic content for K-12 students.

IES topic areas addressed by these projects include:

  • Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research
  • Cognition and Student Learning
  • Early Learning Programs and Policies
  • Education Policy, Finance, and Systems
  • Evaluation of State and Local Education Programs and Policies
  • Mathematics and Science Education
  • Middle and High School Reform
  • Social and Behavioral Context for Academic Learning
  • Social and Character Development
  • Statistical and Research Methodology in Education