The Lyle Spencer Research Awards Program supports intellectually ambitious research projects that aspire to transform education with budgets between $525,000 and $1 million and project durations of up to five years. We accept applications for this signature program once per year.
A clearly articulated commitment to lasting improvement distinguishes the Lyle Spencer Awards from our other research award programs. We hope to engage the research community in thinking big: to do work that is thoughtful, critical of prevailing assumptions, self-critical about the work and its limitations, and relevant to the aim of building knowledge for the “lasting improvement in education” that our founder Lyle Spencer challenged his foundation to promote.
This program is “field-initiated” in that proposal submissions are not in response to a specific request for a particular research topic, discipline, design, or method. We recognize that learning occurs across the life course as well as across settings—from the classroom to the workplace, to family and community contexts and even onto the playing field—any of which may, in the right circumstance, provide the basis for rewarding study that makes significant contributions to the field. We value work that fosters creative and open-minded scholarship, engages in deep inquiry, and examines robust questions related to education. To this end, this program supports proposals from multiple disciplinary and methodological perspectives, both domestically and internationally. We anticipate that proposals will span a wide range of topics and disciplines that innovatively investigate questions central to education, including for example education, anthropology, philosophy, psychology, sociology, law, economics, history, or neuroscience, amongst others.
Moreover, we expect and welcome methodological diversity in answering pressing questions; thus, we are open to projects that utilize a wide array of research methods including quantitative, qualitative, mixed-methods, ethnographies, design-based research, participatory methods, historical research, to name a few. We also welcome projects that incorporate data from multiple and varied sources, span a sufficient length of time as to achieve a depth of understanding, and work closely with practitioners or community members over the life of the project. In addition, we expect proposals will be submitted by multidisciplinary and multigenerational teams who are positioned to contribute to the project as well as contribute to the teaching and learning of fellow team members.
Finally, we expect teams to thoughtfully consider and describe plans regarding the trajectories of their project’s findings, implications, and potential effects, especially how the knowledge may be shared and utilized across the field in practice, policy making, or with broader publics.