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CEDaR Reaching for New Heights

Bridges Magazine words

CEDaR Reaching for New Heights

A document listing activities for CEDaR in December 2023

The Center for Educational Development and Research in the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education at the University of Oklahoma is entering a new era with new leadership and plans for the future.


Associate Dean for Educational Research Ben Heddy took over the center's leadership in summer 2023 and works with CEDaR Associate Director Patrick Tadlock and graduate research assistants Huiting Zhou and Vaughn Zrain-Negley. The purpose of CEDaR is to provide support for the research and scholarship of faculty and graduate students in the College of Education, including data services, academic editing, survey design and administration, and grant-writing support. In addition, CEDaR regularly sponsors workshops on research-related software.


In recent years, with multiple leadership changes, the center became viewed as a place to print large posters and not much else. Heddy and Tadlock are working to change that reputation.


“My vision for CEDaR is to be a part of our research foundation for the college,” Heddy said. “While we will continue with our poster work, as that is a rare and useful service that most colleges and universities don’t offer, we are much bigger than just posters.”


One of Heddy’s first goals in the role was to move CEDaR into a position to become a resource for pre- and post-award grant execution. For faculty who are new to writing grants, there is a lot to learn and numerous steps to complete, such as designing the study, creating an info sheet, working with the Institutional Research Board, creating a budget, and putting together a team.

Picture of bald man with beard wearing black suit coat and white shirt
Associate Dean for Educational Research Ben Heddy

Once a grant is awarded, a new set of tasks and regulations are born. How do you spend the money? How do you pay the people on your team? How do you set up insurance and liability? For many, especially new faculty, the work can be overwhelming.


“Being an educational and informational resource center for the college was my first goal,” Heddy said. “We have created a Canvas page that all JRCoE faculty are invited to join that has educational information and resources on all pre- and post-award tasks. We are also working on a website with all this information.”


Faculty development and graduate student experience and growth is also a major part of CEDaR’s existence and, as assistant director, Tadlock is excited to continue to expand in this area. With a majority of JRCoE graduate students also working full time, creating community and social events to bring them together can be a challenge. Coffee meetups are one way to bring students together, but so are workshops on degree completion, time management, library usage, poster design, research methodologies, and writing retreats.


“We want to give them that sense of place and community in the college through student groups and programming that reaches them in places in and out of the academic setting,” Tadlock said. “We want to be a home for them outside of the classroom and are trying to meet them where they are at in different spaces, whether that means offering social events on a Sunday afternoon or offering a training at lunch or in the late afternoon to reach our working teachers’ audience. We really want to let them know that CEDaR is here for you.”


Recent faculty development workshops included discussions on motivating students, mentoring, and writing. Eventually, they hope to create a digitally focused faculty development series leading to a certificate. This micro-credential could be more incentivizing to faculty participation. CEDaR also offers a space for faculty and students to present their research through lunch and learn and symposium events.

Man wearing a gray shirt standing in front of a brick wall with art work
Assistant Director Patrick Tadlock

Heddy is also working on CEDaR taking a more active role in graduate student recruitment. This includes supporting JRCoE departments in making recruitment materials and creating marketing plans to reach out to students in Oklahoma and surrounding states who come from universities that only offer bachelor’s or master’s degrees as a terminal degree.


While a majority of funding comes from the college, CEDaR also owns several grant contracts to run evaluations that support the graduate research associate staff and offer them real-world research experience. The center serves as the external evaluator of the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s Art Tech program. CEDaR, in conjunction with Art Tech staff, has developed and implemented the program evaluation plan, providing year-round research and evaluation support. The center is also an external evaluator for the Rural Educators Engaged in Bioanalytical Engineering Research and Teaching III Project. Funded by the National Science Foundation, this program recruits rural Oklahoma educators as participants with the goal of increasing teacher self-efficacy in teaching STEM concepts to rural students.


With all these big ideas come big needs. The center’s growth and ability to offer services is limited by staffing, which right now is one full-time staff person (Tadlock) and two graduate research assistants.


“To grow the center, we are going to need to serve on more grants,” Heddy said. “When faculty submit grants, we could serve as an evaluator for them on the grant or be a grant manager. Many grants don’t require a full-time manager, but on smaller grants when they need someone five to 10 hours a week, CEDaR could be useful.”


To learn more about CEDaR or for information on how to include them in a grant, email or call (405) 325-3655.