Institute of Education Sciences' Education Research Grants for Adult Education

The Institute of Education Sciences' Education Research Grants CFDA Number: 84.305A is now available online.  Below is the section of this document that pertains to funding for adult education.  This section begins on page 27 of the document.  Below are the dates for consideration.

Letter of Intent Due May 5, 2016 

Application Package Available May 5, 2016  - 

Application Due No later than 4:30pm Washington DC time on August 4, 2016  - 

Applicants Notified By July 1, 2017  - 

Possible Start Dates July 1, 2017 to September 1, 2017 

Program Officers:

Dr. James Benson (202-245-8333;

Dr. Meredith Larson (202-245-7037;

a) Purpose The Postsecondary and Adult Education topic supports research on the improvement of education outcomes for students in college and in adult education programs. Through this topic, the Institute is interested in understanding how to increase student access to, persistence in, progress through, and completion of postsecondary and adult education programs. The Institute is also interested in understanding how to improve specific student academic outcomes in developmental education, adult education, gateway science and math courses, and introductory composition courses. The long-term outcome of this program will be an array of tools and strategies (e.g., practices, assessments, programs, policies) that have been documented to be effective for improving education outcomes of postsecondary students at the college level and adult learners.

b) Requirements Applications under the Postsecondary and Adult Education topic must meet the Sample, Outcomes, and Setting requirements listed below in order to be responsive and sent forward for scientific peer review. (1) Sample  Your research must focus on individuals who are 16-years-old or older and are preparing for, transitioning into, or currently enrolled in postsecondary or adult education.  Your sample may include students with or without disabilities. If your focus is on students with disabilities, you should discuss the specific type(s) of disability to be examined and how you will determine that students have such a disability. (2) Outcomes  Your research must include at least one student education outcome measure from the following categories: o Access to, persistence in, progress through, or completion of a postsecondary or adult education program. o Academic outcomes for students enrolled in introductory English composition courses or in gateway courses for mathematics and science. o Reading, writing, English language proficiency, or mathematic skills for students in developmental or adult education programs.  Your research may also include labor market outcomes (e.g., employment, earnings) in addition to the required student education outcomes. (3) Setting  Your research must be conducted in authentic postsecondary and adult education settings or on data collected from such settings. These settings may provide in-person or virtual instruction.

c) Gaps in Postsecondary and Adult Education Research Through this funding mechanism, the Institute supports field-generated research that meets the requirements for the Postsecondary and Adult Education topic and the requirements for one of the Institute’s research goals (see Part III Goal Requirements). For awards beginning in FY 2017 Education Research, 28 Posted March 28, 2016 While the Institute supports field-generated research, the Institute has also identified critical research gaps in the Postsecondary and Adult Education domain (described below) and encourages applications that address these issues. The Institute’s peer-review process is not designed to give preferential treatment to applications that address these issues; rather, the Institute encourages such applications because, if found to have scientific merit by the Institute’s independent peer reviewers, they have the potential to lead to important advances in the field.

 In 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was signed into law, potentially changing the way agencies at the federal, state, and local level are coordinating services for outof-school youth, adults with low skills, dislocated workers, incarcerated adults, and individuals with disabilities. Research is needed to understand the types of changes states and programs are adopting (e.g., greater use of career pathways, integrating education into one-stop career centers) and their impacts on practitioners and students.

 Professional development for postsecondary and adult education instructors has the potential to improve the quality of instruction in ways that support student learning and persistence (Weimer and Lenz, 1997, NRC, 2012), yet the research base on improving postsecondary and adult education instruction is small. Research is needed to determine effective professional development and support strategies for instructors in a variety of settings, from adult education and developmental classrooms to STEM undergraduate courses.

 Research is needed to assess promising curriculum reform strategies, at both the postsecondary and adult education levels, such as re-designing postsecondary gateway and general education courses to adapt to individual students’ learning needs, incorporating competency-based approaches, and streamlining programs of study (Barker et al. 2004; Bell and Federman, 2013; Reddy et al. 2013).

 The proportion of nontraditional postsecondary students (e.g., veterans, returning, and older students) is increasing at a faster rate than that of traditional postsecondary students (e.g., those coming directly from the secondary system). By 2022, a projected 10.1 million postsecondary students will be over 24 years old as compared to the projected 13.6 million that will be of traditional age (Hussar and Bailey, 2013). Research is needed to understand nontraditional students’ postsecondary trajectories and challenges so that appropriate interventions can be developed and evaluated.

 On the path from postsecondary enrollment to completion, students interact with multiple divisions within their college and often with multiple institutions. Complex institutional rules regarding course selection, sequencing, and transfer of credits can create unnecessary bottlenecks and pose barriers that impede students’ degree completion. Research is needed into institutional reforms including improvements in information delivered to students about their credential and course options, simplification of course selection and scheduling procedures, use of administrative data to address bottlenecks for students as they move through the postsecondary pipeline, and systemic policies and procedures that facilitate credit accumulation and degree completion (Rosenbaum et al., 2015).

 Research on the impact of student advising and support services on postsecondary persistence has found mixed results (Bettinger, Boatman and Long, 2013). There is a need for exploration into the specific conditions for and components of effective advising and support interventions. Given the cost of face-to-face advising, research is also needed to develop and evaluate alternative approaches that utilize technology or other modes of delivering advising and support. For more information on this topic and to view the abstracts of previously funded projects, please visit

Please contact the Program Officers for this topic to discuss your choice of topic and goal and to address other questions you may have.