The Dean's Research & Development Fund

Support early development research that has the potential for significant impact on the field of education and long-term economic return to Curry.

The Curry School is committed to improving children’s education based on expertise gained through rigorous research.

Our School has a track record of attracting large federal and private grants to fund major research projects. Yet, early stage education research—especially by newer “rising star” faculty members—is often stymied in its infancy because funding at that level is so elusive. Potentially significant educational innovations can lose traction without adequate financing or go off with faculty entrepreneurs to other universities with better resources.

The Dean’s R&D Fund is a flexible funding source for supporting the faculty’s early to mid-stage research efforts that have significant potential impact on the field of education. Promising results can then leverage the seed funding ten times or more in subsequent research grants.

Read about the enthusiastic donors who first championed this fund.

Faculty IDEA Grants funded by the Dean's R&D Fund

Each of four awards to be granted may cover up to $10,000 in total costs for pilot or small-scale formative studies that show clear promise to yield significant knowledge or that have potential for well-defined future research. The grants are intended for faculty interested in furthering a career path in research or to initiate a new line of programmatic research.

Applications will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • The extent to which the proposed research is pilot or formative in nature
  • Significance and potential for advancing the field of study
  • Potential for leveraging external funding to advance the research
  • Innovation in approach, methods and concept
  • Well-specified research problem
  • Feasibility of the conceptual framework, plan, and methodology
  • Experience and potential of the PI to conduct the proposed research
  • Dissemination plans for outcomes and findings


Doctoral Student Dissertation Grants funded by the Dean’s R&D Fund

Each award provides up to $1,000 to cover the direct costs associated with original data collection in support of dissertation research. Studies that show clear promise to yield significant knowledge will be selected for funding through a formal competitive review process. Doctoral Student Dissertation grants are intended for Curry doctoral students (PhD or EdD) interested in furthering a career path in research through original data collection directly related to their dissertation.

Summer 2016 Awards

The Dean’s R&D Fund supports early to mid-stage research efforts of Curry School faculty. It funds faculty projects with significant potential impact on the field of education and with a possibly longer-term economic value.


Congratulations to the following Curry faculty member principal investigators and their colleagues who were selected to receive $10,000 grant awards from the Dean’s R&D Fund in summer 2016:

Robert Berry and Michael Kennedy
Examining Mathematics Teaching Practices

Many leading classroom observation tools prioritize holistic portraits of instruction at the expense of precise accountings of teacher time spent using high quality practices. This project will create and pilot a hybrid observation tool for mathematics instruction that combines an existing holistic measure of mathematics instructional quality with an emerging measure designed to describe instruction with precision not currently available in observation tools. The hybrid tool will be used to re-score dozens of video recorded mathematics lessons to pilot and develop preliminary psychometric data for the new tool and better describe the topography of mathematics instruction when viewed through a new type of microscope.

Jennifer Chiu, Amanda Gonczi and Winx Lawrence
Exploring Engineering Self-efficacy, Mindset, and Career Interest with Global Design Challenges

Women are consistently under-represented in engineering fields despite academic ability. This study will extend design work previously conducted in formal classroom settings to target at-risk middle school girls in an after-school context. The investigation will explore whether global, human-centered design activities in after-school settings can promote young women’s confidence in their ability to do engineering tasks, their engineering mindset, and their interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) careers.

Julie Cohen and Vivian Wong
A Pilot Evaluation for Mitigating Racial Implicit Bias among Pre-Service Teachers

Recent psychological research suggests unconscious stereotypes and attitudes affect individuals’ behaviors and decision making and that implicit biases tend to manifest when individuals are under time pressure or in stressful or uncomfortable situations. Despite growing evidence that racial implicit biases affect individuals’ judgments and practices in a number of settings, the role of unconscious racial biases on teacher and student interactions have been underexplored in education settings. This study will examine racial implicit bias among teacher candidates at two teacher preparation programs and the ways in which these biases are linked to perceptions of and interactions with students of different backgrounds in both simulated and real classroom environments.

Tish Jennings, Catherine Bradshaw and Jessika Bottiani
A Brief Mindfulness Intervention for Reducing Pre-Service Teachers’ Stress Associated with Managing Challenging Student Behaviors

Teacher stress is an internationally recognized problem. This pilot study will examine the effectiveness of a brief mindfulness practice for reducing the stress experienced by teacher candidates when confronting challenging student behavior and for improving their behavior management skills. Prior to conducting a lesson in a classroom simulator—in which student avatars will present moderate to high degrees of off-task behavior—teacher candidates will engage in the mindfulness practice intervention. They will wear a biometric assessment wristband to monitor heart rate and galvanic skin response prior to conducting the lesson, during the lesson and throughout a five-minute recovery period.

Ben Castleman
Behavioral Insights for Scalable Solutions Lab Branding and Website

Grant funds will be used to develop branding materials and a public-facing website for the Behavioral Insights for Scalable Solutions (BISS) Lab at the Curry School. The BISS Lab brings together several ongoing large-scale interventions that apply behavioral and psychological insights to improve educational outcomes. The lab catalyzes the development of new innovative, low-cost strategies to improve a broad range of public policy outcomes, including educational attainment for economically disadvantaged and non-traditional populations, labor market outcomes for under- or unemployed individuals, and re-entry outcomes for incarcerated youth and adults.

Walt Heinecke
Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement at Public Universities

In 2012, the National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement called on higher education to “reclaim its civic mission and to make civic learning at the college level expected rather than optional.” This project examines how one university is addressing citizenship and civic engagement in its curricular offerings and through students’ extracurricular activities (e.g., student government, organizations, and leadership programs) on campus. It will serve as the foundation for a multiple case study of universities nationwide.

Luke Miller
Building a Collaboration with the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet

The Virginia Governor’s Children’s Cabinet brings together high-level representatives of various Virginia agencies and tasks them with jointly developing a policy agenda and fostering active collaboration among state and local agencies. The Children’s Cabinet lacks sufficient capacity to analyze available state data and realize its mission, however, so the Curry School is partnering on three data analytic projects, each of which explores a dimension of student school attendance—chronic absenteeism, the relationship between student health and absenteeism, and academic year transience. This grant will help support these projects as well as efforts to establish a longer term collaboration between the Children’s Cabinet and the Curry School.



We also congratulate the following students who received $1,000 Doctoral Student Dissertation IDEA Grants this spring:

Rebecca Bergey
Exploring the Use of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as a Source of Professional Development for Teachers of English Language Learners

Emily A. Barton
Factors Influencing Teacher Construction of a System of Practice for Professional Learning

Sarah Dillon
Developing Function-Based Interventions to Decrease Inappropriate Self-Touching in Children with Disabilities

John Fraser
Multisegmented Foot Motion in Patients With Lateral Ankle Sprains and Chronic Ankle Instability

Lora Henderson
Home-School Dissonance: Does It Exist and How Should It Be Measured?

Sarah Lupo
Investigating the Relationship of Text Complexity and Instructional Method to Adolescent Readers’ Comprehension Proficiency

Bart Ragon
Emerging Roles for Health Sciences Libraries Created Through Data Science Support: Exploring Stakeholder Perspectives

John Romig
Monitoring the Progress of Writers with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities

Lindsay Slater
Vertical Jump as an Indicator of Performance Deterioration in Individuals After ACL Reconstruction

Ashley Nicole Stern
Kinect-based Functional Feedback: Using Technology to Enhance Rehabilitation

Sarah E. Whitley
Exploring Academic Major Choice and Self-Efficacy in a Shifting Landscape: Low-Income Undergraduate Students and Pursuit of the Humanities Degree