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Meet the PEAR Fellows: Reggie Gilliard

Meet the PEAR Fellows: Reggie Gilliard

Reggie Gilliard has serious research questions about research questions. The Postsecondary Education Applied Research (PEAR) fellow wants to understand why, despite having such a strong education research community, the American education system still has relatively weak outcomes. He’s also interested in exploring alternative pathways for generating research questions and ways to leverage research more meaningfully.

You can learn more about Gilliard, who joins CCRC and Teachers College from the Research Alliance for New York City Schools at NYU Steinhardt, below. Interviews with other members of the first PEAR cohort at Teachers College can be found at #PEAR.

These answers have been edited for length and clarity.

What were you doing before you became a PEAR fellow?

Before becoming a PEAR fellow, I was a research analyst at the Research Alliance for New York City Schools. Our research projects focused on social-emotional learning, college transfer, and teaching interventions. My role mostly consisted of data analysis, visualization, and cleaning, but I had several opportunities to contribute to the writing of reports and briefs.

What would you like to accomplish while you’re a PEAR fellow?

I want to take a critical look at the research landscape—to understand how well-defined problems persist and why the United States has a robust education research community but relatively weak educational outcomes. I’d hope that the projects I do, whether with CCRC or alone, are useful for folks beyond academia. I want my work to either impact policy or impact communities. Finally, I want to build my technical skills.

What does the PEAR fellowship mean for your career?

This is an opportunity to hone the technical skills I began to build at the Research Alliance and become an expert in data and statistical analysis. Also, if I hope to remain in education, I think that a PhD will be necessary, since I have little teaching experience.

What are your research interests?

My interests include the economic returns to postsecondary certifications (e.g., in HVAC, nursing, and automotive service), alternative models of K-12 schooling (e.g., charter, independent, religious, and home), and wraparound programs and school services (e.g., Say Yes to Education). I’m also interested in alternatives to college, including coding boot camps.

What would you like to do after your fellowship ends?

I’m interested in pursuing data analysis for a grassroots, governmental, or nonprofit organization; school leadership; and data science.

What initially attracted you to the field? What motivates you to stay in it?

Initially, I saw research as a way to impact students’ educational futures without the direct contact of the classroom. I have since realized that the path that research takes from academia to the classroom is much longer than I thought. Instead, I’m interested in how we can improve research and make it useful and applicable. I’m interested in interrogating current research systems and grassroots alternatives to traditional funding structures. I’m also interested in drawing on alternative sources of research ideas, including the communities where studies are conducted.

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