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College of Education

Frequently Asked Questions

We are excited to work with a new cohort for this year's IMMERSE. Below are answers to many of our most frequently asked questions. 

If the answer to your question is not provided below, please contact Angela Starrett, Ph.D. at starrett@mailbox.sc.edu.

Eligibility

To be eligible for IMMERSE, you must be full-time faculty, researcher, or a postdoctoral fellow at a U.S. academic institution within 10 years of earning a terminal degree and have a research focus related to rural STEM education. We encourage submissions from applicants who identify with traditionally underrepresented groups/backgrounds.

All U.S citizens and permanent residents (not employed by the University of South Carolina) are eligible to receive the stipend. If you are currently in the U.S. on an H1b visa (AND not employed by the University of South Carolina), then you are not eligible for the stipend, but we can award you all other Fellow benefits (i.e., travel, lodging, group meals, training materials, virtual workshop fees, and NREA conference fees).

Early or mid-career scholars are full-time faculty, researcher, or postdoctoral fellows at U.S. academic institutions who are within 10 years of earning a terminal degree.

No! IMMERSE is intended to serve early or mid-career scholars in academic institutions who engage in rural research. Applicants do not need to be tenure-track to apply. Postdoctoral fellows are eligible as are clinical faculty and research associates who received their doctoral degrees within the past 10 years. It will be the responsibility of the applicant to demonstrate an applicant's interest in and capacity for conducting rural STEM education research.

There are no citizenship requirements for acceptance into the program. Applicants must be employed by a U.S. academic institution to be eligible to participate. However, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (not employed by the University of South Carolina) to be eligible to receive the stipend.

Eligibility is restricted to individuals employed by a degree-granting institution in the United States that offers associate degrees or higher and participates in the Title IV federal financial aid programs.

Yes! Rural researchers in non-education fields like physical science and social science are encouraged to apply. You only need a proposed measurement project that is related to rural STEM education.

"I took one research methods course that covered basic statistics in my program but focused on qualitative inquiry methods. I have primarily used qualitative methods in my research but would like to learn mixed methods design."

Yes! You sound like a great fit. Fellows with the skills to conduct both qualitative and quantitative inquiry are needed to answer the important questions posed by the growing gap in STEM supply and demand.

"I did take a few quantitative classes in my doctoral program, such as multilevel modeling and factor analysis. However, I haven’t used these methods since I graduated, and I don’t really remember what I learned."

Yes! It sounds like you have the interest but just need a reminder! IMMERSE participation can help you get going again in measurement science!

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Application Materials

We are interested to learn about what YOU are interested to learn about. You can propose to work during the 2022-23 academic year on a specific research project or you can propose to work on a federal or foundation grant proposal for funding (e.g., perhaps an NSF proposal, due in 2023) that will involve development (or adaptation) of a survey. We are interested in identifying participants whose aim is to study and address rural STEM education.

More specifically, applicants should describe their background and personal goals in relation to their eligibility for IMMERSE. A description should be provided as to how the proposed project aligns with the goals of IMMERSE. In total, the Statement of Interest should be no more than 2 pages maximum (single-spaced).

With only 2 pages for the statement of interest, we are not expecting too much detail, just a general tentative description of your rural research questions and population of interest. If you already know the type of survey you would like to develop, feel free to share that. However, it is also important to note two things: 1) once you are at the Summer Training Institute, you might change your research focus or choose to collaborate with another scholar that you meet; 2) you can describe either a research project that you want to conduct or a proposal that you want to write to seek funding.

We are specialists in measure development and quantitative methods and are best suited to help mentor you in quantitative research, so your proposal should be quantitative (or mixed methods) in nature. That said, we don't expect you to come into the program with a vast wealth of experience using quantitative methods. Your proposed research will be tentative and should provide a general idea about the population of interest and the research questions to be addressed. You are not required to identify a specific scale to be developed in your proposal as your research plan will likely change after you have received some measurement training and mentorship.

NSF was seeking research methods institutes to "build capacity in STEM education research." And that is what we are aiming to do, but more specifically in rural STEM education research. We would be honored to train and collaborate with rural researchers who will make an impact! Specifically, we hope that you will exit IMMERSE with 1) measurement skills, 2) a psychometrically sound survey in your area of interest, 3) a team of fellow rural STEM education researchers with whom you can collaborate, and 4) completed research study or proposal. 

Yes. We ask you to do that for a couple of reasons. First, it increases your research profile (if you did not already have a Google Scholar profile set up). Second, as with any funded project, the funders are interested in the broader impact of the funded project. Following those applicants who participated in IMMERSE as compared to those who did not will provide us one piece of evidence regarding the efficacy of our training program.

For more information on setting up your Google Scholar profile, please read the setup instructions from Google or this step-by-step guide created by the University of Oklahoma University Libraries.

Let's be honest, we cannot really evaluate your CV in terms of your content area preparation or regarding the significance of your research proposal. So, what are we looking for?

  • Do you have an established research line in rural research?
  • Do you have the passion to address issues in rural STEM education (PK through higher education)?
  • Do you have the desire to add to your measurement and quantitative toolkit?
  • And are you 10 years out from your terminal degree at an institution in the US? 

All files must be uploaded as PDFs. Follow these instructions for saving Microsoft Word files to PDF.

Applications must be uploaded and submitted via the application portal (see the "Interested in Participating?" page for the link and the application instructions documentation). The application portal requires that the main written components of the application be uploaded as a single PDF document. More information about process and procedures deadlines can be found on the Interested in Particpating? page.

The application portal is managed via SurveyMonkey (see the "Interested in Participating?" page for the link and the application instructions documentation). SurveyMonkey allows applicants to save their progress and continue at a later date. Only one application may be submitted by each applicant. Note that if you have not submitted a saved application by the deadline, your application will not be received by the review committee. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. The application can reasonably be uploaded in a single sitting taking no more than 20 minutes.

Applications must be submitted via the application portal. No submissions will be accepted over email. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.

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Travel Information

Yes! Fellows will need to be able to attend the 3-day Summer Training Institute. The upcoming Summer Training Institute will occur July 25-27, 2022. Once the Training Institute is completed, Fellows will attend seven online live-stream workshops throughout the first academic year from the comfort of their home institutions. To ensure that these online meetings can occur, applicants must attest that they have access to a reliable internet connection and webcam-enabled computer. 

Those selected for participation will receive a $1,500 stipend, as well as support covering travel, lodging, group meals (breakfast, lunch and two group dinners), and training materials. 

Fellows must bring their own computer with the statistical software of their choice. We recommend SPSS and/or R Studio as we will be using these through the year in various workshops.

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Time Commitment

Fellows will receive half of the stipend at the beginning of August after completion of the Summer Training Institute. Fellows will then receive the remaining half of the stipend at the beginning of December of the first year after completion of four online training workshops and four monthly check-in meetings with a faculty mentor. Failure to participate in the required IMMERSE activities will result in forfeiting the remaining stipend amount.

Fellows must commit to participating in the Summer Training Institute (July 2022) in Columbia, SC. The following seven workshops and trainings throughout the year will be provided online. Workshops last one to two days, and Fellows will be required to participate in workshops throughout the year. Fellows must commit to attending online monthly mentorship meetings with IMMERSE core faculty, as well as the measurement and rural research experts. In addition, Fellows will be asked to engage in peer discussions via the moderated social media group (via Slack). Finally, Fellows will need to dedicate sufficient "on-your-own" time to make satisfactory progress on their chosen research proposal throughout the year.

Following the first year, Fellows will serve as peer mentors for the incoming cohort following the successful completion of their program via the moderated social media group. Graduated Fellows will present their psychometrically sound measure at the 1-day Virtual Summit (July 2023) and will provide updates on their rural STEM education line of research (e.g., grant proposals, pilot studies) at the 1-day Virtual Summit (July 2024).

The Training Institute and online live-stream workshops are intended primarily as instructional time to help you learn advanced measurement skills that will help you develop your survey. There will be time for you to work on your individual research plan during the Summer Training Institute, and there will be social time to build relationships with your fellow IMMERSE participants, core faculty, and experts. However, the bulk of the work on your survey development and research project will be completed during the year from your home institution. We will have monthly mentorship calls with you to help check in with your progress. One of the goals of the program is for you to have completed developing your psychometrically sound survey by the end of your first year. We would recommend that you dedicate regular time to working on your project to ensure that you are able to reach this goal.      

Current Fellows will engage with their peers and faculty via a moderated group on social media (i.e., Slack). Core faculty will post weekly discussion topics and will answer questions. However, the goal of this interaction is to promote Fellow-to-Fellow interactions. There is no direct requirement for the maximum amount of time Fellows will dedicate to engaging with their peers over social media, but at minimum, Fellows should schedule time to regularly check in with the group and create and respond to posts as needed.

Following the first year, Fellows will serve as peer mentors for the incoming cohort following the successful completion of their program via the moderated social media group. Graduated Fellows will present their psychometrically sound measure at the 1-day Virtual Summit (July 2023) and will provide updates on their rural STEM education line of research (e.g., grant proposals, pilot studies) at the 1-day Virtual Summit (July 2024).

Fellows receive a year of training in measurement and quantitative research methods, a year of mentorship from experts in measurement and rural research, and a lifelong peer network of rural STEM education researchers. 

In order to maintain good standing within IMMERSE, Fellows must attend the Summer Training Institute, participate in live-streamed workshops throughout the year, participate in monthly check-ins with Core Faculty, engage in peer discussions via the moderated social media group, and make satisfactory progress on their chosen scale development and research project. 

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