Research Profile – Education Research, Dr. Chad Rose

About Research Profiles

Interested in research but don’t know where to begin? Overwhelmed and turned away from research by the sheer volume of opportunitiesConfused and intimidated by all the scientific jargon found in faculty research descriptions? You’re not alone, many students searching for a new lab have to search through hundreds of faculty pages and lengthy research descriptions before they find lab they’re interested in that has space for an undergraduate. Luckily, OUR Research Profiles is here to help. OUR Research Profiles hopes to help demystify research for undergraduates and help break down the initial barrier between interested undergraduates and potential labs.  

Education Research

The dinging of school bells and chatter of elementary students is often not the first thing people imagine when they think of research. A school classroom is far from the pictures of technicians in lab coats most people associate with scientific investigation, yet the world of education research is broad and complex. Experimental lessons called interventions range in topics from math acquisition to social awareness and educational gaming, and just about every other topic in learning and child development in between. In this OUR Research Profile, Dr. Chad Rose, director of the University of Missouri Bullying Prevention Lab, discusses his experiences in education to help undergraduates better understand world education research. 

Most education research is usually conducted by going into schools and providing some sort of academic or behavioral intervention. The outcomes of these interventions are evaluated by pre/post-intervention assessments. Surveys may also be used to collect results from a larger group of educators. In the Rose lab, these interventions are administered by undergraduates in elementary or middle schools, who then come together at the end of the week to discuss their results.  

Although most participants in undergraduate education research are education majors, the communications skills taught here are beneficial to anyone with a passion for helping children learn. Some labs do require specific skill sets, particularly for curriculum-based research, but other projects like an upcoming inquiry by the Bullying Prevention lab into if physical activity helps students improve social wellbeing are well-suited to a variety of majors. 

Regardless, passion is the most important quality for any aspiring education researcher. When asked why he got into bullying research, Dr. Rose says, “I believe that we all have this right to live our lives without somebody victimizing us or making us feel less than, and I want anyone who works for me… to believe that we all have this fundamental right to exist without somebody making us feel less than.” Rose also notes that punctuality and commitment are especially important for education research. “We can’t be there too early because we’d get in the way, we can’t show up late because they’ve already scheduled us to be there, we have to be prompt and considerate that schools run a certain way,” he says. The role of mentor acquired by giving an intervention makes a full commitment to the intervention essential. If an intervention is poorly executed, not only may the results be confounded, but the kids will miss out on the important lessons the intervention carries, or worse, the intervention could impact their future interactions with adults and negatively influence their outcomes in the future. Education researchers must manage that responsibility and approach their work with great care to avoid such an occurrence.  

Since Dr. Rose began the MU Bullying Prevention Lab, education research has become much more complex. Much more attention is being paid to bullying research, and educational priorities have shifted over time as administrations have changed and curriculums have been adjusted. Many of the core questions about how bullying happens to remain the same, though. Dr. Rose recounts a question posed to him at the presentation of his first publication as a doctoral student. He had found kids in self-contained special education settings experienced more bullying than those in an integrated classroom setting. After finishing the presentation, the father of a student who was part of the bullying research asked him if their results were really due to the environment or were they due to the severity of the disability of those in the environment, which to this day Dr. Rose says he cannot answer.  

The world of education research is complex. Many factors can affect the outcomes of the kids participating. There is too much about education research to be covered in one short story. Rose’s passion for education is palpable, concluding “we impact the lives of kids, that’s the bottom line.” For the full interview, where Dr. Rose goes more in-depth about the benefits of being an ed researcher, and how the normally classroom-based research process has been impacted by COVID-19, visit the Office of Undergraduate Research website.