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Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER) Project

Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER) Project

The POGIL Project is pleased to announce an opportunity for POGIL educators to build their expertise in Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER). This National Science Foundation sponsored project (pending final approval) will allow participants to contribute to deepening the understanding of how POGIL pedagogy supports student learning. The centerpiece of this project is a four-day working conference in June 2020 that encompasses DBER research methods and literature foundation, research question development, and design of a specific research project. The conference is preceded by preparatory virtual meetings. The research project is engaged during the following academic year, culminating in presentation at the 2021 National Conference for Advanced POGIL Practitioners (NCAPP).  

Conference Description

Sixteen faculty will be selected to participate in the conference and subsequent research projects. Participants will be organized into teams of four who share common research interests and who will continue to collaborate on a research project through the next year. Each team will have a research mentor from among the grant leadership. The summer conference will consist of four plenary sessions that all participants attend:

  • Research Question Development
  • Measurability
  • Research Design
  • Ethics of Educational Research

Teams will then split up among extended parallel sessions to explore in detail:

  • Quantitative research methods
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Engagement and discourse methods
  • Survey design and validation

The conference meeting will be held Wednesday June 3, 2020 (noon start) through Sunday June 7, 2020 (post-lunch departure) at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Participants must be present for the entire agenda.

Pre-Conference Activities

Virtual sessions during the spring of 2020 will allow participants to meet each other, begin to engage with their teams, participate in directed readings in preparation for the summer study, and initiate thinking about research questions. Two 1.5 hour virtual meetings will occur in April and May 2020, the first about theoretical frameworks for guiding research and the second an introduction to specific methodologies. The virtual meetings will be led by grant leadership. Participants must also complete their campus training process for Human Subjects in Research prior to the summer conference.

Post-Conference Activities

During the year following the face-to-face conference, participants will work in virtual teams engaging in related research activities. These teams will function like graduate research groups, meeting virtually six times over the year to report their research activities, and obtain feedback from one of the project leaders. All participants will maintain a personal reflective journal throughout the project to inform themselves and the project leadership about the progress and effectiveness of their research.

Participants will attend a Follow-Up Meeting immediately before the 2021 National Conference for Advanced POGIL Practitioners (NCAPP) on June 25-26, 2021, followed by presentations at NCAPP on June 27-30, 2021.

Application Process


  • Applicants must be experienced POGIL practitioners who have used POGIL in their classrooms for at least two years.
  • Applicants must be early or mid-career faculty engaged in undergraduate teaching, who have little formal training in Disciplinary-Based Education Research.
  • Applicants must have a desire to position themselves to contribute now and in the future to building our research understanding of how student-centered pedagogies like POGIL improve student outcomes.


The application process consists of two parts:

(1) A preliminary application completed as an online survey, due December 12, 2019. This preliminary application will allow the research team to check for prerequisite requirements of all applicants. All qualified applicants will be invited to complete the second part of the application.  Click here to access Part 1 of the application.

(2) A free-response section that outlines research interests and motivation to participate in the program. An academic CV will also be included with the free-response part of the application. This part of the application will be due in mid January.

Applications will be reviewed by The POGIL Project leadership and applicants will be informed of the decisions by the end of January 2020.

For questions about the conference or details, please contact Julie Boldizar at julie.boldizar@pogil.org.