Scientists Engaged in Education Research (SEER) Center

The SEER Center will lead educational research aimed at improving student learning across STEM disciplines by developing collaborations among faculty, postdocs, graduate students, undergrads, and administrators.

Owens Institute for Behavioral Research, University of Georgia
Established: 2016

Profile submitted by Paula Lemons

Vision and Goals


The Scientists Engaged in Educational Research (SEER) Center facilitates cutting-edge research in the field of STEM education through multidisciplinary interactions and research collaborations among a community of scientists from different colleges, departments and the medical partnership. Research areas include basic and applied research grounded within STEM disciplines and informed by evidence-based theory in educational and social sciences. Research generated by participants in the Center catalyzes the transformation of STEM teaching and learning locally and nationally.

The SEER Center will lead educational research aimed at improving student learning across STEM disciplines by developing collaborations among faculty, postdocs, graduate students, undergrads, and administrators.

Center/Program Structure

The SEER Center is housed within the Owens Institute for Behavioral Research at the University of Georgia. Owens Institute ( is a 50-year old, highly successful institute that promotes behavioral research and includes nearly 60 Distinguished Scholars from discipline-based education research, psychology, education, social work, sociology, communication studies, and related disciplines. SEER Center is administered by a Director and an Executive Committee made up of core faculty members and graduate students/postdocs. SEER receives no institutional funds. All funding comes from small portions of indirect cost returns on the SEER-related grants of core faculty members. We receive staff support for pre- and post-award through Owens Institute as well as limited support for events. We do not have paid faculty or staff. SEER reports to Owens Institute on an annual basis, and they in turn report to the UGA Office of Research.

Are there advantages of being structured this way?
The advantage of our structure is our affiliation with a well-supported, high-functioning research institute, Owens Institute.

Are there particular challenges that result from this structure?
We do not have challenges from our structure.


Grants from the National Science Foundation.
We originally received a small grant from the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning that had been awarded to UGA's CIRTL community.

How has this funding structure influenced the undergraduate STEM education programming the center offers?
Funding has supported events, grad student/postdoc travel awards, hosting speakers, etc.

What are the specific advantages of having a center funded in this way?
We currently do not pay for services, which makes participation widely accessible.

What are the challenges?
The challenge of our structure is that our budget is limited because indirect cost returns do not generate a tremendous amount of revenue.

Has this funding structure has changed over time?

Description of Programming


We provide research meetings, workshops, and symposia. These reach a local and regional audience. Our local audience is primarily SEER Center members and affiliates and is made up mostly of faculty, postdocs, and graduate students. We also reach some regional participants, including faculty from other institutions who conduct or are interested in STEM education research.

We promote cross-STEM collaboration on grants and STEM education research projects.

We provide professional development for scholars who are new to STEM education research. This includes video series, online, and in-person workshops. We also occasionally provide one-on-one or small-group project development for young scholars.

We provide travel awards for graduate students and postdocs.


Successes and Impacts


Our biggest success is our members. We have 25 core faculty; ~15 core grad students and postdocs, and ~40 affiliates. Our members are in disciplines including biological sciences, chemistry, physics, engineering, mathematics, mathematics and science education, educational psychology, and related disciplines.

We have also been successful in funding from the National Science Foundation. Our six current projects can be viewed here: This work is transforming education and educational systems at the University of Georgia, other institutions of higher education and GA K-12 schools. This work is also contributing to the knowledge base on STEM education.

Finally, one of our biggest successes is supporting the professional development of our junior scholars through workshops, mentorship, and travel awards.


Evaluation and Assessment

How does your center demonstrate its value, both in terms of assessing its own programming and responding to external evaluation?
SEER undergoes evaluation by Owens Institute and through an advisory board comprised of internal and external members.

Elements Contributing to Success

Administrative support from Owens Institute
National Science Foundation funding
A core of dedicated faculty who are committed to the vision and mission

Supplemental Materials