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IDEAL Research Lab Mission

To identify equity challenges in STEM pathways and co-construct equitable active learning environments with undergraduate instructors and students to address these challenges using learning and cognition theories

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IDEAL Research Lab

IDEAL is a university-wide initiative at Stanford to promote Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, Access in learning environments at Stanford and beyond. IDEAL Research Lab (IRL) is the research component of this initiative hosted at GSE. At IRL, we study what are the barriers of equity in different learning environments, and which evidence-based instructional and institutional practices can effectively address these barriers. In light of these overall goals, the projects of the lab can be divided into three main categories:

You can read about the three main categories of IDEAL research lab projects further:

Inequity and under-representation are notorious, ever-present characteristics of the US education.

IRL has employed various qualitative and quantitative research methods to identify different barriers of equity in college and graduate education. These body of work includes identifying equity challenges: in introductory STEM courses and the causes of these challenges, in pursuit of STEM pathways, in institutional academic resource usage, and graduate and undergraduate advising.

Equity-oriented Course Redesign

Based on insights gained on equity challenges as well as established cognition and learning principles, IRL team form close collaboration with instructional teams across different STEM, particularly introductory, courses to redesign course learning-goals; its corresponding learning-activities, assessments, and resulting feedback from the assessments. This course redesign process aims: 1) to improve effectiveness of instructional practices for all students regardless of their incoming preparation, and 2) to better support learning of effective problem-solving in STEM courses. The team has closely worked with instructors from introductory Physics, Chemistry, and Mechanical Engineering courses.

Developing Evidence-based Tools and Theories

Problem-solving is a crucial, yet elusive goal, for science and engineering education. While all agree on the need to train effective problem-solvers in STEM education, there is far less agreement about what the practices of effective problem-solving are, and how to teach and assess these practices. IRL has empirically and qualitatively identified the main practices of complex problem-solving, and the developmental levels for these practices. The team has also developed and tested instructional tools to support effective problem-solving that can be further implemented in course redesign projects.

Want to get involved? Contact us!

If you are:

1) An instructor looking for support in redesigning your course to improve its effectiveness and equity

2) Education researcher interested in getting involved in our research

3) Researcher interested in DEI research

More Information

We welcome collaborations with faculty, staff, students, and organizations who interested in co-constructing equitable active learning environments in STEM. Please contact Josie (Jocelyn E. Nardo) at 

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Graduate School of Education
520 Galvez Mall, CERAS 429
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305


Lab Admin
Linda Kim: please reach out for administrative and scheduling

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