Priorities for the Student Experience Field

Leading up to and throughout SERN’s strategic sunset, which concluded in May 2023, we had the opportunity to systematically gather input from our community about how to enable continued progress toward an education system that consistently and equitably supports students’ experience of respect as valued people and thinkers. We heard that our partners are eager to continue and expand work that SERN started, as well as pursue new directions for the field.

SERN surfaced a set of forward-looking priorities for the student experience field from nearly 90 conversations, more than 125 survey responses, and other insights from our projects – including a review of more than 50 proposals for funding under SERN’s Sunset Grant Portfolio. This input came from a diverse group of researchers, practice and policy leaders, and funders. For each field-generated priority, we developed calls to action, which are designed to help our partners advance these priorities immediately and in the future.

We provide multiple, interconnected entry points for different individuals and organizations and acknowledge that not every call to action will feel relevant to every reader. The calls to action place an emphasis on research and research use given the nature of SERN’s work. They take into consideration the state of the field and the social, economic, and political context faced by students and educators in the United States. We also recognize that many readers and their colleagues are already committed to acting on these priorities – and some are serving as leaders and models for the field. We are sharing the information we have gathered about energy and needs in the field not to minimize existing efforts, but to contribute to alignment and shared progress.

We encourage you to read the full memo on priorities for the student experience field and use it as a resource to maintain and build momentum behind work that supports student experience. You may also choose to view key takeaways for research, practice, policy, and funder audiences, or click on a specific section below to learn more.

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