Four School of Education Faculty Receive Pitt Momentum Funds

Four faculty members from the University of Pittsburgh School of Education were involved in projects that received 2022 Pitt Momentum Fund awards to support their research.

The Pitt Momentum Funds support innovative projects that contribute meaningful insight, understanding, or solutions to societal challenges. The grants received by Pitt Education faculty will examine a range of areas including social and racial justice, workforce development, and statistical method development for program evaluation.

Funding is organized into three tiers:

  • Scaling grants (up to $400,000 for two years) “support the detailed project planning, gathering of proof-of-concept results, and reduction of technical risk so that teams can competitively pursue large, complex extramural funding.”

  • Teaming grants (up to $60,000 for one year) “support the early-stage planning and capacity building of large multidisciplinary projects.”

  • Seeding grants (up to $25,000 for one year) “support significant and innovative scholarship by individuals or small groups of faculty.”

Gina Garcia, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Foundations, Organizations, and Policy

Project title: Beyond Graduation Rates: Conceptualizing Liberatory Educational Outcomes for Colleges and Universities

Award type: Seeding grant

This project aims to assess liberatory educational outcomes, which include concepts such as critical consciousness, racial-ethnic-identity development, political engagement, and social agency.

“This project is exciting as there is growing momentum among higher education policy intermediaries about the need to assess social justice and racial justice outcomes for college students,” says Garcia. “With this project, I will be able to explore the concept of ‘liberatory outcomes’ and begin making sense of it for higher education researchers, practitioners, and policy actors.”

Garcia is also involved in another project that received a 2022 Pitt Momentum Fund award:

Project title: Pittsburgh Transformations Project: Race, Migration, Education, and Healthcare

Award type: Teaming grant

This project is a multidisciplinary, collaborative study that addresses the historical and contemporary struggles of Black and Brown communities in Pittsburgh.

“I’m excited to be a part of this collaborative project that will allow me to work with my colleagues across campus in different disciplines to advance knowledge of the history of Black, Latinx, Asian American, and Native American communities in Pittsburgh,” says Garcia. “We will also learn about the contemporary needs of these growing communities in the Pittsburgh region.”

Xu Qin, Assistant Professor in Research Methodology, Department of Health & Human Development

Award type: Seeding grant

Project title: Causal Moderation and Mediation Analyses in Multisite Randomized Trials

Evaluation research tends to focus on the average impact of an intervention, which is not necessarily generalizable across individuals and contexts. The importance of investigating the heterogeneity of intervention impacts has become increasingly valued, but this line of research has been underdeveloped due to the lack of statistical tools. This project will fill the important gap.

“This project will equip researchers with an easy-to-implement statistical tool to better understand for whom and under what contexts an intervention is effective and why. Such evidence will be important for enriching theoretical understanding and for informing the design and implementation of an intervention,” says Qin.

Ming-Te Wang, Professor, Department of Health and Human Development

Award type: Seeding grant

Project title: Developing a Holistic Measurement Plan for Transition to Adulthood

A collaboration between the Pitt Schools of Medicine, Law, Education, and Social Work, this project will develop an innovative measurement plan for evaluating the quality of care received during the transition from pediatric to adult services. 

“The proposed project is significant because it engages youth, families, and multidisciplinary experts in comprehensive mapping exercises focused on understanding the elements of a holistic transition to adulthood,” says Wang. “My role in this project is to work with young adults who have recently transitioned to adulthood and their caregivers to explore and map their experiences, and identify key barriers and potential facilitators.”

M. Najeeb Shafiq, Professor, Department of Educational Foundations, Organization, and Policy

Award type: Teaming grant

Project title: From Titusville to Tuver with a Stop in Lagos: Digitizing and Internationalizing Pitt’s Manufacturing Assistance Center Model

This project intends to examine research questions related to plans to adapt the Pitt Manufacturing Assistance Center (MAC) model to Pitt Titusville’s Education and Training Hub and two different international environments: an urban site in Lagos, Nigeria, and a rural site in Tuver, India.

“A central theme in the economics of education is that investments in education lead to higher earnings and lower poverty,” says Shafiq. “My involvement in this project allows us to analytically explore this central theme, particularly how low-cost investments in ‘frugal engineering’ education can improve the livelihoods of the poor in three continents.”