Exploring the Investment: Four Universities’ Experiences With the Spencer Foundation’s Research Training Grant Program: A Retrospective
by Anna Neumann, Aaron Pallas & Penelope Peterson — 2008
Background: This article serves as a conclusion to a TCR special issue devoted to understanding the impact of the Spencer Foundation’s Research Training Grant (RTG) initiative. We examine four case reports prepared by scholars at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and Michigan State University, as well as the introductory article prepared by Lauren Jones Young of the Spencer Foundation.
Objective: To identify a set of principles that might guide the construction and ongoing operation of researcher preparation programs in graduate schools of education, both in the four institutions that generously scrutinized the successes and failures of their own efforts, and in other institutions concerned with preparing education researchers.
Research Design: Analytic essay
Conclusions: First we recommend that academic leaders not count on researcher preparation programs to drive broader efforts to change their organizations. Second, we place more stock in initiatives that allow students to construct a “personal core” of curricular knowledge that draws on institutional resources rather than a “common core” of knowledge that will carry all students throughout their doctoral studies. Third, we caution that providing some students with differential financial, intellectual, and social resources poses risks for many faculty and students around questions of status and autonomy. And finally, because organizational (bureaucratic) boundaries may not be isomorphic with the boundaries that define meaningful communities of research practice, academic leaders should recognize the strengths and limitations of such boundaries.
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