2021-2022 Catalyst Grant Winners Announced

RALEIGH, N.C. —Three Catalyst Grants were awarded this week by the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation and the NC State College of Education. The purpose of the Catalyst Grant program is to increase research collaborations between faculty and staff at both entities and seed collaborative, high-impact research that will lead to further inquiry and support. 

“It is wonderful to see how the Catalyst Grant program has fostered productive collaborations between researchers at the Friday Institute and the College of Education,” said Hiller Spires, executive director at the Friday Institute and associate dean in the NC State College of Education. “We are excited to support another year of educational research through the Catalyst Grant program, which we believe has the potential to profoundly impact education.”

The grant review team included Jose Picart, deputy director at the Friday Institute; Melissa Rasberry, director of the Professional Leading and Learning Collaborative at the Friday Institute; Dennis Davis, associate professor of literacy education in the College of Education; and Meghan Manfra, associate professor of social studies education in the College of Education.

“I look forward to seeing the data that will be discovered through these collaborative projects,” said Karen Hollebrands, associate dean for research and innovation in the College of Education. “These projects will inform our understanding of the needs and practices of special education teachers, how students interpret and make sense of data, and the ways teachers implement data-based lessons.”

See below for a list of winning proposals and researchers.

Machine Learning in the History Classroom: Using Artificial Intelligence for a Student-Led Inquiry into Redlining

This project takes the first step toward adopting AI as a teaching tool in high school history classrooms. Using AI software, students can investigate a large set of primary source texts—rather than an individual text—and pull out historical patterns that are normally impossible for students to access within the constraints of a social studies classroom. 

Awarded to: Amato Nocera, assistant professor in the College of Education, and Jennifer Houchins, director of technology programs at the Friday Institute

Changing the Tide: Supporting and Retaining Residency Licensed Special Educators 

This project focuses on the continuing education needs of special education teachers licensed through a residency program in North Carolina, especially the supports that are needed for them to effectively work with exceptional children. An assessment of needs allows for better programming, development and support of residency-licensed teachers.

Awarded to: Jessica Hunt, associate professor of mathematics education and special education in the College of Education and Friday Institute faculty fellow; Alex Dreier, associate director of online learning at the Friday Institute; Laura Albrecht, research associate at the Friday Institute; and Patricia Hilliard, research scholar at the Friday Institute.

Investigating How Teachers Implement Data Lessons and Support Equitable Student Participation

The goal of this study is to examine how 6-12 grade teachers implement data-intensive lessons in their classrooms after engaging in online professional learning. The project will build a knowledge base in which teachers support equitable student participation during data-intensive lessons, which could be used to refine online professional learning.

Awarded to: Gemma Mojica, research scholar at the Friday Institute; Sunghwan Byun, assistant professor of mathematics education in the College of Education; and Emily Thrasher, research associate at the Friday Institute