American University School of Education (SOE) Assistant Professor Robert Shand has been awarded a Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE) Early Career Award. The award recognizes early career scholars whose work has advanced research as it relates to educational practice.
SREE is a Rockville, Maryland-based interdisciplinary professional association “dedicated to advancing research relevant to practice from early childhood through post-secondary education” and strives to “generate knowledge and facilitate applications in new contexts and across fields,” per the organization’s website. Shand is one of three 2023 recipients, joining Dr. Anajai Adukia of the University of Chicago and Dr. Zuchao “William” Shen of the University of Georgia.
“I am quite honored to be a recipient of this award based on my esteem for SREE, and I greatly respect the work of this year’s other recipients, Drs. Adukia and Shen,” he said. “SREE has a long history of supporting rigorous scholarship and, in recent years, it has increased its emphasis on antiracist research that advances equity. Therefore, it is a particularly meaningful moment in the history of the organization at a time when I think this award aligns well with a lot of the work we are doing at SOE.”
He received a doctorate in economics and education from Teachers College at Columbia University and joined SOE in 2018 as a full-time faculty member for the school’s Education Policy and Leadership (EPL) MEd unit, where he is highly regarded by his peers.
“Rob’s research is shedding new light on how school districts can make better decisions about resource allocation,” said EPL Professor Dr. Jennifer Steele. “His work on cost analysis helps researchers attend not only to outcomes but to their cost-effectiveness. If researchers overlook costs, in terms of human effort and other resources, then their recommendations are missing a big piece of the puzzle. Rob’s work helps them fill in that missing piece.”
A former high school economics and government teacher, his interests lie at the intersection of research, policy, and practice. His current research focuses on teacher improvement through collaboration and professional development and how schools and teachers use data from economic evaluation and accountability systems to make decisions. He has been a member of teams who have been awarded grants for various projects, and the SREE award is a significant recognition of his work.
“This is my first prestigious award. Research can feel like a solitary activity that is so long-term in its orientation, and it can be easy to get lost in the day-to-day weeds,” he said. “This award is an affirmation of my being a part of the research community, a boost to keep the work going, even amidst occasional setbacks and challenges.”
Recipients of the award receive $1000, recognition - and an opportunity to organize a panel or symposium session - at the next SREE Conference, and a plaque. He stated, “Right now, I am in the process of considering how to best use this opportunity to highlight and synthesize important work across my research areas—economic evaluation, community schools, teacher development, and use of research evidence—in a way that pushes these conversations forward and hopefully highlights some underrepresented points of view.”
He is in good company at SOE this year in being honored by prestigious organizations for scholarly achievements. SOE Dean Dr. Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy was recently selected to be an Aspen Institute Ascend Fellow, and alum Dr. Francesca Smith, EdD ’23, won the Carnegie Project on the Educational Doctorate (CPED) Dissertation in Practice Award. Earlier, Assistant Professor Dr. Emily Peterson was awarded a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award.
“This is an award that is really shared with colleagues and partners because it highlights collaborative, practitioner, and community-engaged research, in alignment with SOE’s and the American University’s strategic priorities,” said Shand. “I hope my work enhances the feasibility and usefulness of economic evaluation to better direct resources to how they will most benefit kids, as well as my partnership work with my SOE colleagues and students working to study and enhance community schools in DC and elsewhere.”