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Institute for Rural Education and Development

IMMERSE Research Collaborative

Collaborations between researchers and proper research measurement methods are paramount to expanding national rural STEM education research activities. To further this effort, the institute has created an intensive summer training institute and year-long mentoring program for these researchers across the U.S.

Enabling Rural Researchers to Undertake STEM Studies

The Institute for Measurement MEthodology in Rural STEM Education (IMMERSE) increases the capacity of researchers and postdoctoral scholars to measure and study concepts central to rural STEM education research. IMMERSE training is grounded in measurement science and enables rural researchers from across the U.S. to undertake their own rural STEM studies.

IMMERSE involves two cohorts of 20 Fellows, 40 Fellows total, to participate in an intensive summer training institute and year-long mentoring, with efforts to recruit researchers from underrepresented groups and minority-serving institutions in rural areas. These Fellows obtain the skills needed to advance the field of rural STEM education research towards more consistent definitions and sound measurement of research. 


Project Significance

  • IMMERSE expands and grows our national rural STEM education research activities and collaborations, furthering the research being done in this field.

  • The Fellows in the IMMERSE cohorts learn how to quantify the results of their research with sound measurements, which ensures quality data points are obtained.

Research Innovation 

IMMERSE is collaborating with numerous other rural STEM education researchers and projects involving measurement science across the U.S., which allows for fresh approaches to research like parallel studies, virtual reality activities and using large-scale national data.

The research collaborative also focuses on the importance of gathering sound measurement, a crucial component of research that is lacking in rural literature. By teaching cohort Fellows proper measurement skills, IMMERSE is building a generation of rural STEM education researchers who can provide clear insights into how their research is delivering impactful results.

SC Impact

While this research improves many aspects of the rural education system in South Carolinaa high percentage of the state's schoolscertain areas will benefit greatly from this focus area and the institute's work at large. 

STEM Career Exposure

Through this research, rural teachers receive the insight and lesson plan ideas they need to carry out STEM content and career development programs. With more exposure to STEM education and career paths, South Carolina's large population of rural students will develop the skills needed to pursue successful STEM careers.

Workforce Development

The institute's project for middle and high school students will involve developing health science content and immersive virtual reality activities. Introducing rural students to health science career opportunities through virtual reality experiences will help develop a strong STEM workforce in South Carolina.

Developmental Skill Building

According to the 2020 Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, fewer than 1 in 4 students in South Carolina are ready for kindergarten. The institute's program for preschool students will create an integrated curriculum that promotes the development of the gross motor skills required with coding and robotics.

Teacher Support

The institute's creation of holistic educational programs and procedures that work effectively in rural school settings alleviates some of the burden on school teachers. Supporting rural teachers will help improve educational outcomes for the many rural students in South Carolina.


Notable Awards, Outcomes and Practical Uses for this Research 

  • Identify and replicate key features of high quality robotics programs in rural schools in Texas
  • Adapt rural STEM professional development across Idaho by examining social validity 
  • Utilizing national databases to take advantage of larger sample sizes of rural students from across the U.S.

Institute for Rural Education and Development

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