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College of Ed Researchers Receive Grant to Increase K-12 Academic Achievement

Three people smile on a bridge
From left: Brian Flay, Stefanie Shebley and Carl Siebert. Photo by Carrie Quinney.

College of Education faculty have been awarded a three-year, $700,000 grant by the Institute for Educational Science (IES) to improve educational programs and increase academic achievement for pre-kindergarten to eighth grade students.

Research Professor Brian Flay and Carl Siebert, an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Foundational Studies, will analyze data collected from students in 14 Chicago public schools from 2004-2010, as students progressed from grades three through eight. The students were part of a social and emotional development program called Positive Action, which was developed in 1977 to enhance students’ self-esteem in learning, and has demonstrated positive effects on both reducing harmful behaviors and improving academic achievement. Flay and Siebert’s study will help determine how the Positive Action program achieves its effects, for which students it is most effective, and how variations in the implementation of the program relate to student outcomes.

“The importance of social and emotional learning continues to increase, as teachers rise to the challenge of educating the whole child,” said Rich Osguthorpe, College of Education dean. “This research project, with prestigious funding, will help identify effective strategies for engaging in this significant work.

“Knowing these outcomes will provide invaluable information on how to improve educational programs for pre-kindergarten to eighth grade students,” said Seibert, the principal investigator on the project. “Additionally, the information will help us know how to improve the development of lifelong skills that lead to success and happiness in school and in life.”

Stefanie Shebley, a doctoral candidate in the College of Education, is assisting with the project and has designed the structure of a website where teachers, researchers and others interested in student behavior and well-being can read about how Boise State is helping K-8 teachers and students. Grants like those awarded by EIS allow students to collaborate with professors in important academic research.

“Stefanie’s creativity, organizational skills, interest in K-12 education and desire to learn more about this research has already helped get the project off on a great start,” said Siebert.