March 2018 Awards


Principal Investigator: Michael Betz
Project Dates: 4/1/2018-3/31/2022
Anticipated Total Award Amount: $499,987
Project Sponsor: USDA/AFRI

Wells and wellbeing: How the shale energy revolution is changing rural families and communities

The recent shale boom has flooded rural communities across America with money and people, leading one energy executive in 2011 to boldly proclaim that “It will be the biggest thing…since the plow ”, yet little is known about how it is changing families in drilling communities. Communities that have begun developing their shale resources have experienced influxes of mostly young, male oil and gas workers. For instance, Williams county North Dakota, the epicenter of the highly lucrative Bakken Shale Play, saw total employment rise from 12,000 to over 43,000 between 2007-2014 . Money flows into these communities have been equally extraordinary, with lottery-winner type wealth coming to many landowners. Most research has focused shale development’s economic impact on communities, but evidence of how such dramatic changes in wealth and demographics impact things like marriage, divorce, fertility, and other family changes is scant. Yet, understanding shale development’s impact on family formation, dissolution, and composition is critical because strong families are central to rural community vitality and resilience. When families thrive, communities thrive. When family relationships deteriorate, social ills like addiction, abuse, and despair follow (Wilson 2015). A primary innovation of our project is that it focuses on family outcomes impacted by shale development, whereas most research to this point has focused on economic outcomes.

Our central hypothesis is that the flood of money and people flowing into shale drilling communities during the boom—and the subsequent reversal of resource flows during the bust—substantially alters family outcomes in those communities and differently than economic shocks from other industries. We are combining two high-quality restricted-access data sets which have yet to be used to answer questions regarding shale energy development and families. Publically available data on family outcomes and oil and gas activity is censored for many smaller, rural areas where the majority of shale activity is taking place and has precluded researchers from investigating a potential link between shale development and family outcomes. We overcome this challenge by accessing and analyzing geographically-restricted marriage and family data at the U.S. Census Bureau’s Kentucky Research Data Center (KRDC) in combination with detailed proprietary oil and gas employment data from Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI).

Goals and Objectives
The shale energy revolution is dramatically and rapidly transforming rural communities across the United States. Our Research Project contains three primary goals:

1. Advance the understanding of how the boom/bust cycle of shale energy development impacts rural family outcomes.
2. Assess how these impacts differ across the vastly different contexts in which shale energy development occurs nationally.
3. Provide community leaders with key insights about how shale energy development affects family outcomes in drilling communities, so as to improve the lives of those living there.

Principal Investigator: Laura Justice
Project Dates: 8/1/2017-07/31/2018
Anticipated Total Award Amount: $40,050
Project Sponsor: University of Delaware

Connect and collaborate summer success: A kindergarten readiness camp for low-income children in Columbus



Principal Investigator: Anne-Marie Nunez
Project Dates: 6/1/18-5/31/2019
Anticipated Total Award Amount: $141,295
Project Sponsor: Spencer Foundation

Using expansive theories of learning and development to broaden how higher education understands and structures postsecondary opportunities

Research has shown that pre-college academic preparation is the most important predictor of postsecondary attainment, yet limited research exists on how P-12 and postsecondary systems can work together to strengthen students’ college preparation. Such analyses should be supported by a framework of expansive learning that accounts both for the learning of individuals and the learning of organizations to develop activity systems that enhance college preparation. One promising avenue for this is applying cultural and historical activity theoretical views of learning and development (collectively called CHAT), which center upon how actors within particular institutions interact with one another and draw on symbolic and material resources to construct educational environments that facilitate sustained, more equitable outcomes (Gutiérrez, Morales, & Martínez, 2009). With the Spencer Mid-Career Grant, Anne-Marie Nuñez is working with mentor Kris Gutiérrez to develop expertise in CHAT. Participation in conferences, courses, and a virtual community of scholars offers additional engagement with current scholarship in this area. Building on her research about college access and success for students from non-dominant communities, Dr. Nuñez is applying CHAT to develop a new theoretical model for studying the activity systems of higher education, particularly in relation to P-12 activity systems. In addition, she is applying CHAT perspectives to extend her research on postsecondary organizational learning and leadership toward constructing more inclusive learning environments in the science fields, particularly geosciences.

Principal Investigator: Kelly Purtell
Project Dates: 5/1/18-8/31/2020
Anticipated Total Award Amount: $180,000
Project Sponsor: Foundation for Child Development Young Scholars Program

The role of center directors in producing high-quality preschool experiences for young children

Despite the established literature on the role of educational leadership at the K-12 level, very little work has considered how leadership from center directors shape the experiences of preschool teachers and students. To this end, the goal of this proposal is to push the early childhood field forward by comprehensively examining the different ways in which center level factors: 1) are associated with one another; 2) influence teachers and their interactions with children; and 3) are associated with children’s early learning and development. To address these objectives, I will use three data sources, each of which is well-positioned to test parts, but not all, of this model. Together, these data will provide a comprehensive understanding of the role of center-level processes in shaping the quality of children’s classroom experiences and learning.
This project is poised to provide critical information on what are the necessary center characteristics to produce high quality developmental contexts for children during preschool. In particular, results from this project will have implications for guidelines regarding center director education, recommendations regarding which challenges are most detrimental to center- and classroom-level processes and how center director characteristics, including qualifications and leadership, impact preschool children’s learning and development.

Principle Investigator: Patricia Scharer
Project Dates: 8/1/2017-7/31/2018
Anticipated Total Award Amount: $40,050
Project Sponsor: University of Delaware

An efficacy follow-up study of the long-term effects of reading recovery under the i3 scale-up: OSU IDEC data collection

The purpose of the Efficacy Follow-up Study of the Long-Term Effects of Reading Recovery is to test the sustained efficacy of Reading Recovery (RR), an intensive one-on-one reading instruction program for the lowest-achieving first grade students, on state test scores in third and fourth grade. Many first grade students struggle with reading and for some of these students, low literacy achievement in first grade can set them up for continued difficulty in literacy throughout elementary school and beyond. The Reading Recovery program is based on the idea that individualized, short-term, and highly-responsive instruction delivered by an expert teacher can disrupt this trajectory and allow the lowest achieving students to catch up to their peers. This study is a follow-up study to an i3-funded scale-up study of the Reading Recovery program.
Intervention: Reading Recovery is a fully-developed program that uses intensive one-on-one reading instruction for the lowest-achieving first grade students in a school. These students receive 12- to 20-week cycles of daily, 30-minute, one-on-one lessons from specially trained Reading Recovery expert teachers. Lessons target phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. Reading Recovery teachers receive specialized training that prepares them to tailor lessons to an individual student’s strengths and needs. Each lesson begins with re-reading familiar books, followed by word and letter work, story composition, assembling a cut-up sentence, and previewing and reading a new book. Reading Recovery also relies on continuous collection of data to gauge student progress.

Study Activities: In this study, the researchers will obtain state test scores for students who participated in the original i3 study as well as students from non-i3 schools to see if the impact of Reading Recovery is sustained through third and fourth grades. In addition to collecting students’ third and fourth grade reading or English language arts state test scores, we will administer an online survey through which RR Teacher Leaders or Teachers will research and document the experience of individual Reading Recovery and comparison group students in terms of continued performance monitoring to detect a recurrence of reading problems and participation in supplemental reading programs and interventions. Data from approximately 40,000 students from up to 2,400 schools will be collected for this study.