Research Overview

Part of the UW–Madison School of Education, the WIsconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) supports the grant-funded research of nearly 500 faculty, graduate students and academic staff, who collaborate with educators at the local, state and national levels.

The center is committed to providing an optimal environment to conceive, conduct and distribute world-class education research to:

  • improve educational outcomes for diverse student populations,
  • advance education practice positively and
  • create collaborations among academic disciplines and practitioners.

WCER provides expertise and essential infrastructure services, including a physical home, to scholars and their research teams to enable them to do their best work. The center’s principal investigators lead projects that directly affect education policy and practice locally and around the world.  The center focuses on supporting initiatives that investigate, develop and promote evidence-based programs to improve teaching and learning. 

WCER comprises approximately 140 projects in areas of research such as:

  • English language learners
  • Teacher/school effectiveness and student attainment
  • Science education
  • Mathematics education
  • Educational equity
  • Higher education
  • Teaching, learning and professional development
  • Assessment and intervention in special education

WCER's projects address pressing educational issues such as:

  • STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning and degree persistence
  • Educational mentorship
  • College affordability’s effect on learning outcomes
  • Teaching gestures in the classroom
  • Inclusive learning for diverse students
  • New learning technologies, such as e-textbooks and virtual internships
  • Preschool and afterschool education

From exploring how people learn, to measuring educational outcomes, broadening equitable learning and integrating technologies into teaching, WCER’s efforts have grown and evolved over the past 50 years to make learning as effective as possible for all ages and all people.

Examples of current WCER projects include the:

Minority Student Achievement Network and Wisconsin Equity and Inclusion Laboratory, which work with educators to establish equitable outcomes and inclusion in education.

WIDA Consortium, which provides English language learning services and materials for educators, students and their families in 40 states as well as 400 international schools in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, India and Latin America.

Epistemic Analytics is a laboratory that creates novel approaches and statistical tools to improve the assessment of complex thinking. 

Center for Research on Early Childhood Education, which conducts cross-disciplinary research through direct engagement with the early childhood community to promote equal opportunity for all young children, ages birth through eight years.

Madison Education Partnership, a research-practice partnerships between the Madison Metropolitan School District and Wisconsin Center for Education Research, engages in mutually defined, high-quality, problem-based studies that contribute to policy, build capacity and strengthen practice. 

Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions, which conducts and supports research, critical policy analysis and public dialogue on student experiences with the transition from college to the workforce, seeks to inform policies, programs and practices that promote academic and career success for all learners.

Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning, which is a network of  37 North American universities, works to improve how college faculty teach diverse science, technology, engineering and mathematics learners.

Wisconsin Evaluation Collaborative is a community of evaluators that conducts and supports program evaluations within the preK-12 education system through partnerships with school districts, professional associations, state agencies, education-based community organizations and Cooperative Educational Service Agencies (CESAs).