Research Spotlight: Wei Li

Q & A with Wei Li, Ph.D., 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 quantitative researcher. My research centers on the development and application of experimental and quasi-experimental methods to address issues in education and policy studies. Currently, my methodological work focuses on the design and analysis of longitudinal interventions and multilevel cost-effectiveness studies. My substantive work encompasses research on class size effects, teacher effects, and the effectiveness of online learning and teaching. I am also interested in the evaluation of education and policy issues in China.

What makes your work interesting?

My methodological work helps applied researchers design rigorous educational interventions. For example, when educational researchers plan their experimental studies, they need to decide what the minimum required sample sizes (e.g., numbers of students, classroom, schools, etc.) are needed to identify the treatment effects with confidence. My work provides methods and free, user-friendly tools for applied researchers to compute the sample sizes when they design longitudinal experiments and multilevel cost-effectiveness studies. In particular, my work on cost-effectiveness analysis might be of interest to some researchers who are working on Institute of Education Sciences grant applications, which now require cost or cost-effectiveness analysis in the proposals.

I also serve as a quantitative methodologist on several intervention/evaluation studies. Working with my collaborators, we are using advanced quantitative methods (e.g., multilevel models, mediation and moderation analyses, experimental and quasi-experimental methods, etc.) to evaluate the causal effects of educational interventions, programs, and policies on student achievement and non-cognitive skills.

What are you currently working on?

Currently, I have several methodological and applied projects in progress. Read more

Biden’s American Jobs Plan Targets $180 Billion Investment in R&D

In his American Jobs Plan, President Biden is calling on Congress to invest $180 billion in R&D and the technologies of the future. Two of the initiatives in particular may impact upcoming funding opportunities for the college:

  • In the initiative to advance U.S. leadership in critical technologies and upgrade America’s research infrastructure, President Biden is calling on Congress to invest $50 billion in the National Science Foundation (NSF), creating a technology directorate that will collaborate with and build on existing programs across the government.
  • In the initiative to eliminate racial and gender inequities in R&D and STEM, President Biden is calling on Congress to make a $10 billion R&D investment in historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs). He also is calling on Congress to invest $15 billion in creating up to 200 centers of excellence that serve as research incubators at HBCUs and other MSIs to provide graduate fellowships and other opportunities for underserved populations, including through pre-college programs.

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NSF Enables Three New Proposal Types in Research.gov

Effective March 22, 2021, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has enabled three new proposal types in the Research.gov Proposal Submission System and in the recently launched Research.gov Proposal Preparation Demo Site. These are the Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED), Equipment, and Travel proposal types.

Research.gov is being developed incrementally, and features are expanding to support the transition of all proposal preparation and submission functionality from FastLane to Research.gov in accordance with NSF Important Notice 147: Research.gov Implementation Update issued September 22, 2020. Please refer to Research.gov Proposal Submission Capabilities to see what is in development.

New training resources have also been added to the Research.gov About Proposal Preparation and Submission page.

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New Framework Provides Guidance for Broader Impacts in Research Proposals

A new framework for articulating broader impacts in research proposals is now available from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences.

NSF’s existing criteria for evaluating research proposals through both intellectual merit and broader impacts remain unchanged. The new framework offers guidance on how researchers can better articulate the potential impacts of their proposed research and how those impacts can lead to benefits for society, including improved quality of life. The framework includes questions for researchers to consider when developing the broader impacts of their research and suggestions on how to explain them.

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From the IES Director: The Road to Learning Recovery

Institute of Education Sciences Director Mark Schneider announced that IES has been awarded $100 million from the American Rescue Plan to conduct research related to learning losses caused by COVID-19. IES will use these funds to help support learning recovery. Dr. Schneider believes these investments stand to help the nation recover as quickly as possible—and will help build the foundation of a more modern IES as IES approaches its 20th anniversary in 2022.

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From the IES Director: Compete to Win the XPRIZE Digital Learning Challenge

On March 22, 2021 the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) announced its first sponsorship of an XPRIZE. The Digital Learning Challenge is designed to incentivize developers of digital learning platforms to build, modify, and then test an infrastructure to run rigorous experiments that can be implemented and replicated faster than traditional on-ground randomized control trials. The long-term goal of the competition is to modernize, accelerate, and improve the ways in which we identify effective learning tools and processes that improve learning outcomes.

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SRCD Hosts 2021 Virtual Biennial Meeting

The Foundation for Child Development is pleased to announce featured sessions at the upcoming Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) 2021 Virtual Biennial Meeting April 7–9, 2021. The Foundation’s sessions highlight the work of grantees, Young Scholars Program, and the New York City Early Childhood Research Network.

Register here for an April session beginning today.

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Reminder: AERA Holds 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting

Register now and join thousands of scholars from education research and aligned fields and disciplines in the 2021 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Virtual Meeting April 8–12, 2021. Select from over 2,200 sessions featuring high quality and timely education research.

Click here to view registration information, program information, meeting services, exhibits and sponsorship, facts at a glance, and training videos.

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NEH Offers Virtual Grant Workshops

Join a live virtual workshop with National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) program staff to hear about NEH grant opportunities, deadlines, and application information.

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Reminder UF COE: College Research Incentive Fund 2021-22 Applications Due April 19

All tenured and tenure-track faculty who are not, at the time of the CRIF submission, serving as principal investigator (PI) or Co-PI of a federally funded project are eligible to apply. Each eligible faculty may be an applicant on only one CRIF application. Please submit an application electronically in a single-file PDF to research@coe.ufl.edu by 5 pm on April 19, 2021.

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UF Artificial Intelligence Town Hall

Please save the date for the next AI Town Hall May 13, 2021 from 9am–noon. The agenda will include updates in AI research, courses & programs, faculty and student training, and the upcoming NVIDIA AI Technology Center.

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UF IRB Best Practices: Documents and Changes

The UF Institutional Review Board (IRB) receives approximately 3,000 new submissions and 5,000 revisions annually. The UF IRB staff and reviewers work hard to make sure that each submission is carefully and efficiently evaluated, but there are things you can do to help.

  1. Be sure documents are in Word (.doc or .docx) format.
  2. Use Track Changes when making updates to documents.

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UF IRB Best Practices: The Revision Smart Form

Submitting revisions in myIRB is more than just modifying your study. The UF IRB offers tips from IRB staff for filling out the out the myIRB Revision Smart Form. The first two Smart Form questions are about getting the reviewer(s) the information needed to quickly process your submission. Typically, providing more details here means a more efficient review.

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UF IRB QA/QI Program Team Offers New Tool

Researchers and study staff, please be on the lookout for a new tool from the UF Institutional Review Board (IRB) Quality Assurance/Quality Improvement Program team (UF IRB QA/QI). UF IRB QA/QI will soon be rolling out its Post-Approval Monitoring (PAM) self-assessment survey tool.

While the initial roll-out of the PAM self-assessment survey tool will target greater-than-minimal-risk studies, the tool can be used for any study type and requests from the QA/QI team to conduct self-assessments may extend beyond greater-than-minimal-risk studies.

In addition to QA/QI-requested PAM assessments, the PAM survey tool (Word document) is also available on the IRB website so that study teams may download and use the tool to conduct self-assessments of any of their studies anytime. The UF IRB encourages researchers to conduct self-assessments at least annually.

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Updates to Qualtrics Environment

On March 31, 2021 Qualtrics deployed updates to several areas of the survey tool, improving both the ease of use and accessibility of its features.

There is now a simplified question builder navigation that aligns with the overall Qualtrics user experience. Another significant change: The Survey Editor tool is now called Survey Builder. Some functions were moved during the upgrade but all former capabilities remain. Additionally, the new layout created for Survey Builder is accessibility compliant. A Survey Builder video preview and support page are available from Qualtrics.

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