The Institute for Research on Learning and Instruction (IRLI) launched in Fall, 2018 thanks to a generous gift from the James S. McDonnell Family Foundation. The goal of IRLI is to establish a community of scholars dedicated to education research and integrated into the teaching and learning that takes place across Tufts’ schools, departments, and programs.
This community includes faculty whose research focuses entirely in STEM education, and who serve as faculty in STEM departments. Several faculty at Tufts University hold such positions now and serve as the IRLI steering committee: David Hammer, Director, Julia Gouvea, Andrew Izsák, and Kristen Wendell. The James S. McDonnell Family Foundation’s gift supports searches for three more faculty members. First, for a senior scholar to hold the McDonnell Family Endowed Bridge Professorship, across the Schools of Engineering and Arts & Sciences, followed by searches for assistant professors, one in each school.
IRLI will also include faculty whose primary roles are as instructors in their disciplines, but who are interested in education research. IRLI will provide institutional structure and resources to support their efforts. Other faculty will participate as collaborating instructors, allowing research to take place in their classes, attending talks, hearing about findings, and drawing ideas for their teaching. Finally, the community will include students: doctoral and masters students doing research on learning and instruction at college levels, graduate students in STEM disciplines interested to be aware of this research, as well as undergraduate students with scholarly interest in education.
Ultimately, we will support a continuum of practices of inquiry into learning and instruction: the inquiry of researchers, the inquiry of instructors, and everything in between. In this, the Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT), the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO) and other existing groups will be essential IRLI collaborators who together will strengthen the learning community for all students, faculty and staff at Tufts.
IRLI is beginning with STEM, but in years to come we will be working to raise funds for IRLI to expand to arts and humanities, social sciences and professional schools. More information about IRLI can be found through the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.