Eric Camburn, Ph.D.
The mission of the Urban Education Research Center (UERC) is to create reliable, usable knowledge about education in urban areas with the goal of promoting excellent schooling and improving the lives, opportunities, and communities of urban residents in the Greater Kansas City community and the nation.
The center accomplishes this mission through collaborative, data rich approaches including technical assistance and consultation and rigorous research using range methodological tools.
The UERC is a research arm of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Education (SOE). The Center works collaboratively within the SOE, across the university and in conjunction with local partners and communities. Collaborators and partners include education leaders, educators, researchers, community leaders, advocacy groups and service organizations throughout the Kansas City metro area.
Our vision is to serve the Greater Kansas City Community, and by so doing, to better understand urban challenges across the nation. The center intends to accomplish this vision through cutting-edge research that
- Identifies, analyzes, and diagnoses problems
- Determines which policies and programs work best for which groups and under what circumstances, and
- Uses this knowledge to create reliably excellent educational opportunities for urban residents.
We believe that a diversity of perspectives and involvement of diverse constituents are key to understanding and solving urban education issues that have national applicability. We believe that working collaboratively, academics, practitioners, community organizations, not-for-profit organizations, and the general public will facilitate our understanding to solve critical urban issues.
Sherman Family Foundation Endowed Chair, UMKC
For three decades, Camburn has conducted research on school improvement, school leadership, and inequalities in educational opportunity. His research has contributed to the field’s understanding of social inequalities in the secondary and postsecondary outcomes of urban students, and of factors that promote and impede the progress of urban students at key junctures. Early research investigated factors associated with social inequalities in high school course failure and access to postsecondary education. A second thread of his research has examined factors that promote the improvement of literacy instruction in high poverty urban elementary schools. Camburn has worked collaboratively with multiple urban districts to advance improvement initiatives through research evidence. Most recently he served as a founding Co-Director of the Madison Education Partnership, a partnership between the Wisconsin Center for Education Research and the Madison Metropolitan School District. He earned his Ph.D. in Education from the University of Chicago.
Karin Chang has over 30 years of experience in the Kansas City region managing local, state and national evaluations, including 30 multi-site evaluations in the area of early childhood, K–12 education, and post-secondary attainment. Most of her research work utilizes experimental or quasi-experimental research designs. Dr. Chang is a member of the American Evaluation Association and presents nationally on such topics as systems evaluation, college readiness, afterschool evaluation, instrument development, and statistical modeling techniques. She earned her Ph.D. in Education Research and Psychology from the University of Kansas. She holds a B.A. in History from Amherst College and a M.A. in Education Policy and Administration from Stanford University.
Senior Research Assistant
Jenny Frenzel has over fourteen years of experience in educational and nonprofit program evaluation and grant outcomes measurement. Her experience includes the design and implementation of comprehensive evaluations for educational, youth development, and health promotion programs. Ms. Frenzel is highly skilled in the areas of both quantitative and qualitative data collection, analysis, and reporting. Ms. Frenzel holds a B.A. in Psychology from Emory University and Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Senior Grants Coordinator, UMKC School of Education
The majority of Karen’s professional experience has been in the higher education environment, with the most recent fifteen years devoted to grantsmanship. Her academic background is in business, having earned her undergraduate degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economic Development from the University of Kansas, and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Baker University. Among her responsibilities as Senior Grants Coordinator, Karen provides support for faculty by researching external funding sources, assisting with preparation and submission of grant proposals, managing pre- and post- award administration, and conducting grant-related professional development.
Program Evaluation for Lead to Read KC
This evaluation investigates the impact that weekly reading time with a trusted adult can have on the achievement, attitudes toward reading, and social skills of emerging readers.
The UERC’s partner in this project is Lead to Read KC, a Kansas City-based program designed to help children in grades 1 through 3 improve their basic reading skills and attitudes toward education. The program uses adult community volunteers to provide one-on-one reading once a week with students in under-resourced elementary schools. The Lead to Read KC program involves more than 1,100 volunteers and serves more than 15 schools through the greater Kansas City area.
Working closely with the program developer, the UERC is evaluating program outcomes of reading achievement, attitudes about reading, and development of social skills, as well as the perceptions of volunteer Reading Mentors and participating teachers and school administrators. Data-based conversations with program staff about evaluation evidence will help Lead to Read KC and its school partners refine practice to ensure effective and efficient use of resources and maximum benefit for students.
Program Evaluation for Johnson County Community College S-STEM
This evaluation examines the impact of monetary (scholarship) and non-monetary (mentoring, tutoring, and STEM enrichment activities) on the academic engagement postsecondary success of STEM aspirational students who have strong financial need.
The UERC’s partner for this project is Johnson County Community College (JCCC) which received a five-year from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish Scholarships for STEM Students (S-STEM). S-STEM supports academically talented students with financial need and an interest in pursuing a bachelor’s degree in a STEM discipline. The long-term goal of the program is to increase the number of JCCC students who complete an Associate of Science degree and transfer to a four-year university in a STEM field. Four-year university partners work with the S-STEM program to provide experiences that introduce students to research and academic life at their institutions.
In this project, the UERC’s role is to provide annual formative and progress monitoring data to JCCC as well as a five-year summative report. Evaluation findings will provide S-STEM program leaders with insights that inform program planning for future years. The final summative report will offer program leaders and stakeholders a multi-faceted view of the overall impact and efficacy of the S-STEM program at JCCC.
Program Evaluation for Donnelly College MSEIP
This evaluation investigates the impact of a comprehensive initiative designed to improve the recruitment, retention, and graduation of undergraduate STEM majors. The multi-pronged, comprehensive initiative involved faculty professional development, intensive student advising, and pre-emptive STEM education for high school graduates. Because the initiative targeted faculty as well as students, the evaluation examines impact on faculty members.
The UERC’s partner for this project is Donnelly College which received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to improve the recruitment, retention, and graduation of their STEM majors. Staff designed a four-pronged intervention to promote these outcomes: 1) professional development for faculty to build pedagogical skills and capacity to serve STEM students, 2) intrusive advising, mentoring, and tutoring for students, 3) a Summer Academy for high school graduates to prepare them for rigorous STEM college coursework, and 4) coordinated activities in partnership with four-year institutions to help students successfully transfer after completion of their Associate Degree at Donnelly.
Donnelly College is using the evidence from the evaluation improve its programming for STEM students. The evidence is also helping the college understand how well it is meeting its objectives for minority students under the guidelines of the federal Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program.
Teachers and Students for Community-Oriented Research and Education (TSCORE)
The purpose of this project is to test the effectiveness of a new teacher professional development program. TSCORE is a training program designed for Career and Technical Education (CTE) health science teachers. Teachers receive 85 hours of professional development on health disparities, project-based learning, and curriculum development. Pedagogical support is provided during the year by KUMC researchers as teachers use newly created curricular units to guide students in inquiry and engage them in developing community-based interventions to improve health outcomes for their people.
The UERC is examining the impact of the program on teachers and students. Changes in teacher pedagogical practices, engagement, and retention as well as student academic performance, self-efficacy, and interest in pursuing health science careers are being tracked. Preliminary results have been published in the CTE Journal and the Journal of STEM Outreach.
The collaborative project is funded by NIGMS SEPA and includes faculty from KUMC, KU and UMKC as well as teachers and students from USD 500 (Kansas City), USD 259 (Wichita), and USD501 (Topeka).
Young Professionals Study
The purpose of this study is to better understand the essential skills that young professionals need to enter and thrive in the workplace. The evaluation study expands on research completed by the KC Rising Common Sectors Competencies (CSC) Work Group that found 24 essential skills common across multiple STEM industry sectors. The study focuses on two key questions: 1) Which skills do organizational newcomers find most valuable to their current work and 2) What high school and college experiences were influential in building those essential skills? The project is funded by the DeBruce Foundation and is conducted in partnership with the KC STEM Alliance, PrepKC, KC Rising, KC Social Innovations, MARC, numerous intermediaries and industry partners in the Kansas City metro area.
Chronic Absenteeism Study
The objective of this study is to reveal reasons why students are chronically absent from school. We are examining a full spectrum of possible reasons including, health, transportation, family responsibilities, work responsibilities, and stressors in students’ school and home environments. The UERC is gathering evidence about the reasons for absenteeism through surveys of students and parents and interviews with parents and school administrators. Our partners for this project are SchoolSmartKC and the Kansas City Public Schools. In addition to provide descriptive evidence about the relative importance of reasons for school absence, the results of this study will also inform programming for reducing absenteeism.
School Choice and Access Project
The purpose of this project is to understand patterns in school access and school choice in Kansas City. The project uses data from the online application SchoolAppKC which is currently being used by nearly every Kansas City charter school. The partner for this project is ShowmeKCSchools, an organization that advances parental school choice in Kansas City through an informative, easily navigable online directory of local schools. Working with SchoolSmartKC and participating schools, this study is intended to help educators serve families better by helping them understand patterns in how families are choosing and accessing schools.
School Suspension Project
The purpose of the School Suspension Project is to describe patterns in school suspensions in Kansas City, MO elementary and middle schools. We examined citywide trends in school suspensions between 2014-2015 and 2017-2018, focusing particularly on disproportionality in school suspension rates by gender and race. As in many U.S. cities, we found that schools in Kansas City suspend males and African American students at much higher rates than other groups of students. UERC partners for this project are TurnthePageKC and the Kansas City, MO Mayor’s office. Working with these partners we have contributed to conversations among educators and policymakers about disproportionality in school suspensions by convening a citywide “Suspension Summit” and by disseminating custom reports of suspension data to more than 50 schools.
Teacher Instructional Time Use Study (TITUS)
The purpose of TITUS is to develop a measurement tool that provides a detailed portrait of teachers’ work. Team members believe that data from the tool will be useful to researchers and educators. The tool, called the Day Reconstruction Method (DRM), has been used to measure the daily life experience of adults in the general population but to date, has not been used with teachers. The novel measurement tool, in which teachers report on the episodes of their day, has been shown to be more accurate than standard surveys. The DRM survey developed for this study will provide a fine-grained portrait of teachers’ work, how they feel about their work, and how their work context affects what they do and how they feel. UERC partners for this study include researchers at Boston University, University of Cincinnati, and the Albert Shanker Institute. The study is funded by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education.
Authentic Intellectual Work Initiative Study
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of the Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW) initiative on student engagement, student achievement, and teaching practice. Results from this study will provide insight into the impact of rigorous and relevant learning experiences on students. AIW considers student work to be “authentic” if it involves: construction of knowledge, disciplined inquiry, and value beyond school. Work that is authentically connected to students’ lives and cultures can provide students with culturally relevant learning experiences. The study takes an in depth look at the impact of the program on student engagement and students’ engagement in authentic intellectual work in a sample of 44 Iowa high schools. The study also looks at the impact of the program on student achievement statewide using in depth longitudinal administrative records. UERC partners for this study include Peter Steiner at the University of Maryland, AIW leadership, and staff at the Iowa Department of Education. The study is funded by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education.