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Research Spotlight: Pengfei Zhao

Q & A with Pengfei Zhao, Assistant Professor in the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education

What basic questions does your research seek to answer?

I am a qualitative research methodologist with an interdisciplinary background in inquiry methodology, sociology, and cultural studies. My methodological writing addresses key issues in the field of qualitative inquiry such as validity, language and representation, qualitative data analysis software, and inference-making. In particular, I draw from critical theory, pragmatism, and feminism to formulate a praxis- and social justice- oriented research methodology.

What makes your work interesting?

I ground my methodology work in long-term, multi-method empirical studies conducted in China and in the United States. Long-term engagement with empirical work always allows me to find interesting and often neglected angles to connect theories with research practice. For instance, one of my research commitments examines the coming of age experience of rural Chinese youth during and right after the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). Years of fieldwork with ordinary Chinese people have led me to reconsider the researcher-participant relationship in an authoritarian state. Drawing on social theories about the state and state effect, I propose to move away from a static, western centric, and territory-based conceptualization of the state, and treat it as a culturally and historically specific structuration, in which researchers and participants are engaged.

My work is also characterized by the notable feature of interdisciplinarity. While research methodology is an inherent part in the training of many social science disciplines, in a recently published book, Making Sense of Social Research Methodology: A Student and Practitioner Centered Approach, my colleagues and I take a sociological lens to examine research practice itself. Instead of taking research as a set of procedures or the application of principles, our book conceptualizes research practice as social actions situated in a larger social, cultural, and political structure, performed through the coordination of social actors, and resulted in real-world consequences.

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UF COE Announces 2021-2022 CRIF Award

The UF College of Education has announced its 2021-2022 College Research Incentive Fund (CRIF) opportunity. This opportunity is solely provided by indirect costs (IDC) return from grants acquired by the college’s principal investigators. The primary purpose of the CRIF is to provide seed funding that will lead to a strong proposal for external funding.

Submit application electronically in a single-file PDF to research@coe.ufl.edu by 5pm on April 19, 2021.

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From the IES Director: A Year for Reflection and Continued Transformation

In anticipation of its 20th anniversary in 2022, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) has planned A Year for Reflection and Continued Transformation to identify opportunities for growth and change in education research. IES Director Mark Schneider summarizes a few such activities:

  • Transformative Research in the Education Sciences Grants Program: Due date February 25, 2021
  • IES contract with the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) to undertake three studies designed to be finished by the beginning of 2022
    • An exploration of how the National Center for Education Research (NCER) and the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) conduct business
    • A study focusing on the future of National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
    • A study focusing on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which, with an annual appropriation of over $160M, represents the single largest expenditure in the IES portfolio

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Awarded Projects for January 2021

Congratulations to Erica McCray, Latoya Haynes-Thoby, Nicole Jones, Taryrn Brown, and Kakali Bhattacharya for their award from UF Research; David Arnold, David Miller, Alina Glenn, Ian Small, Eric McLamore, and Diane Rowland for their subcontract award NSF Flow Through from the University of Pennsylvania; Justin Ortagus for his award from Arnold Ventures; Travis Smith, Jerri-Ann Danso, and Lane Washington for their award from UF Research; and Wanli Xing and Gul Basim for their award from UF Research.

For more details, see the Awarded Projects table.

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Submitted Projects for January 2021

Best wishes to Pasha Antonenko, Matthew Gitzendanner, Douglas Soltis, Pamela Soltis, and Benjamin Lok for their proposal to the National Science Foundation; Pasha Antonenko and Do Koh for their proposal to the National Science Foundation; Mary Bratsch-Hines for her subcontract proposal IES Flow Through from the University of North Carolina; Chonika Coleman-King, Taryrn Brown, Hyunyi Jung, and Jenee Duncan for their proposal to UF Research; Maureen Conroy for her subcontract proposal IES Flow Through from Baylor University; Kent Crippen, Lee-Su Huang, Daniel Maxwell, and Matthew Traum for their proposal to the National Science Foundation; Bruce MacFadden and Kent Crippen for their proposal to the National Science Foundation; Chris Curran for his proposal to the National Science Foundation; Chris Curran for his subcontract proposal Edmonton Public Schools Flow Through from the University of Louisville; Nicholas Gage, Ashley MacSuga-Gage, and Kristy Boyer for their proposal to UF Research; Megan Ennes, Swapna Kumar, Albert Ritzhaupt, and Porchia Moore for their proposal to the National Science Foundation; Walter Leite for his proposal to the National Science Foundation; Kathrin Maki, Pasha Antonenko, and Denis Ribeira Do Valle for their proposal to UF Research; Kathrin Maki for her proposal to the William T. Grant Foundation; Paige Pullen for her proposal to the Rhode Island Department of Education; Paige Pullen and Catherine Cavanaugh for their proposal to Sundance Newbridge Publishing; Albert Ritzhaupt, Angela Kohnen, Kara Dawson, Anne Corinne Manley, and Benjamin Lok for their proposal to UF Research; Travis Smith and Taryrn Brown for their proposal to the Spencer Foundation; Tina Smith-Bonahue for her subcontract proposal NSF Flow Through from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Patricia Snyder for her subcontract proposal IES Flow Through from the University of Minnesota; Jacqueline Swank, Sondra Smith, and Caronne Rush for their proposal to U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration; Sara Behdad, Wanli Xing, Boyi Hu, Wayne Giang, Xu Sun, and Sadasivan Vidyasagar for their proposal to the National Science Foundation; Wanli Xing for his proposal to the National Science Foundation; and Pengfei Zhao for her proposal to the Spencer Foundation.

For more details, see the Submitted Projects table.

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