Student Experience Research Network Blog

The SERN Midcareer Fellows Program was launched last year to support researchers in bridging equity-centered scholarship on the practices, policies, and norms that shape students’ experience of feeling respected as valued people and thinkers in school with current topics in federal and state policy. Fifteen scholars were selected to participate – and inform the construction of the fellowship by providing input about their interests and aspirations.

SERN, along with partners Scholars Strategy Network and Education First, is facilitating programming through which fellows can make progress toward their goals, such as learning about policymaking and connecting with policy intermediaries, developing a network of close colleagues and potential collaborators, and gaining insight about the challenges, opportunities, and types of roles they can play in bridging research and policy.

As part of this programming, fellows developed accessible and actionable policy briefs that draw on equity-centered research. The briefs reflect feedback and thought partnership from across the fellowship community, including from other scholars in the cohort, who bring a diverse range of expertise in qualitative, quantitative, family- and community-engaged, and participatory research methods.

Several of the fellows’ policy briefs are publicly available. We invite you to read more about these timely and important topics in the education sector.

  • Nolan L. Cabrera demonstrates the importance of offering ethnic studies in Arizona public schools by summarizing evidence of its positive relationship with student learning.
  • Rebecca Covarrubias explains how postsecondary institutions can offer research opportunities and mentorship that support more racially and economically minoritized students to enter research careers.
  • Gina Ann Garcia considers how measurement of institutional success at Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) could be reimagined to provide students with liberatory experiences and outcomes.
  • Elan C. Hope describes the need to diversify the North Carolina educator workforce and the opportunity to create pathways into education careers for students who may otherwise leave college without a degree.
  • Uma M. Jayakumar synthesizes research showing that psychological discomfort is a developmentally appropriate part of learning about race and racism that enables students to grow their cross-racial understanding, empathy, and social responsibility.
  • Audrey Lucero discusses the support that educators will need as new ethnic studies standards are implemented in Oregon K-12 schools.
  • Xiaoxia Newton, whose brief was published in The Hechinger Report, describes shifts in elementary mathematics that can set up more Black, Latino, and Indigenous students to enter the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce.
  • Lara Perez-Felkner explains how STEM fields can broaden participation by providing curricular on-ramps and attending to students’ financial constraints.
  • Sophie Trawalter summarizes research showing that critical historical knowledge about race and racism can narrow racial and ideological divisions.
  • Chezare A. Warren describes the urgent need for and benefits of antiracist restorative justice approaches to school discipline.

Fellows Marcela G. Cuellar, Conra Gist, Tehia Starker Glass, Christopher C. Jett, and Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz are also connecting insights from research to current policy topics, including access and equity in postsecondary STEM education, educator preparation, racial literacy among educators, basic needs and mental well-being among postsecondary students, and state-level data collection related to student demographics and outcomes.

We look forward to continuing to work with this outstanding group of scholars, as well as the SERN Midcareer Fellows Program partners, advisors, and funders. The initiative is funded through grants from the Bezos Family Foundation and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

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