federal research funding available for civics

US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES): FUNDING OPPORTUNITY FOR R&D and EVALUATION in SOCIAL STUDIES

IES has released its 2019 Request for Applications (RFA) through its Research Grants Program. See: https://ies.ed.gov/funding/pdf/2019_84305A.pdf. The RFA includes a new Special Topic for Social Studies in K-12 Education, with a focus on history, civics, economics, and geography.  The application submission deadline is August 23, 2018.

Program Officer:  Dr. Edward Metz (202-904-8972, Edward.Metz@ed.gov)


Social studies education is intended to prepare students with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to understand complex social and economic issues. Recently, the Every Student Succeeds Act (2015) expanded the curricular focus of U.S. education to encourage states to include social studies and its core disciplines of civics, geography, economics, and history as part of 17 subjects that make up a well-rounded education. Such an expansion will have to address the current level of student knowledge in social studies. For example, the 2014 NAEP found that only 18 percent of eighth graders performed at or above Proficient in U.S. History, 27 percent performed at or above Proficient in Geography, and 23 percent performed at or above Proficient in Civics. Students from lower-income and minority backgrounds performed lower than those in other groups.

Through this special topic, the Institute seeks to strengthen the research base for teaching and learning social studies and its core disciplines. The Institute is interested a wide range of research including but not limited to:

  • Exploration of the relationship between social studies and civic skills, attitudes, and participation, particularly for students from low-income and minority backgrounds (e.g., Kawashima-Ginsberg, 2013).
  • Exploration of the relationship between social studies and core academic content (e.g., STEM, reading, writing) and social and behavioral competencies, such as socio-emotional development and interpersonal skills (e.g., Swanson et al., 2016; Lawless et al., 2015).
  • Development and testing of social studies interventions that actively engage students through forms of experiential and collaborative activities, such as through roleplaying, debates, inquiry and investigation, real-world problem solving, and service learning (e.g., Dack et al., 2016; Furco, 2013).
  • Development and testing of interventions designed to support students in becoming digitally literate citizens in the 21st century, including those which integrate new forms of technology within social studies programs, such as social media, multi-user virtual environments, virtual and augmented reality, and wearables (e.g., Curry and Cherner, 2016).
  • Studies of the efficacy or effectiveness of state and district policies designed to engage students in disciplinary and cross-disciplinary social studies programs (e.g., Campbell and Niemi, 2017).
  • Validation of existing and development and validation of new assessment tools for use in social studies programs (e.g., Sklarwitz, 2017).

Applications under the Social Studies topic must meet the Sample, Outcomes, and Setting requirements listed below in order to be responsive and sent forward for scientific peer review.


Your research must focus on students at any level from kindergarten through high school.


Your research must include measures of student academic outcomes. At least one academic outcome should be in social studies (e.g., an assessment of student learning in history, civics, or geography).

Your research may also include measures of student social and behavioral competencies (i.e., social skills, attitudes, or behaviors).

If your research focuses on teachers you must include measures of their knowledge, skills, beliefs, behaviors, and/or practices that are the focus of your research in addition to the required measures of student education outcomes.


The research must be conducted in authentic K-12 education settings or on data collected from such settings.

About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.
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