From its inception, DRDC was designed as both a technical support and a research center. The research DRDC conducted was designed not only to fulfill the objectives of the IERI program, but also to help establish the legitimacy and authenticity of the Center and its activities within the IERI community. Substantively, DRDC’s research program addressed two major issues at the heart of the IERI mission: advancing the theory and practice of scaling up educational interventions, and advancing the science of knowledge accumulation, particularly how education research itself is taken to scale.
Advancing the theory and practice of scale-up
Much of DRDC’s research agenda was directed to advancing the theory and practice of taking exemplary interventions to scale. In terms of the theory of scale-up, topics addressed by DRDC investigators, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate research assistants included refining conceptualizations of scale-up in education, understanding the impacts of context on efforts to scale-up, and estimating causal effects in education using large-scale datasets. DRDC investigators also focused on methods to study scale-up empirically such as designing better experiments for measuring scale-up, and understanding the variance structure of academic achievement in America.
Advancing the science of knowledge accumulation
Issues of knowledge accumulation and utilization are increasingly important both in educational research generally and to the IERI program specifically as its project portfolio matured. DRDC PI Schneider directed the Center’s program of research activities in this area. Of particular relevance was a major evaluation of the Center for Education at the National Academies. DRDC also supported Schneider in her work as a member of the National Research Council’s Committee on Research in Education (CORE). There Schneider joined other Committee members in addressing issues critical to the ability of the education research field to further strengthen the quality of its evidentiary base and support knowledge accumulation for utilization.