Joint Research Fund Awards Announced

Two projects with Chicago Public Schools focus on mitigating the impact of racism and on the effect of asthma policy on student outcomes

The University of Chicago and Chapin Hall have announced funding for two research projects: one that examines how critical consciousness development can disrupt the effects of racial discrimination among high-achieving students of color, and another that looks at the association between school asthma policy and student outcomes. In its seventh year, the University of Chicago-Chapin Hall Joint Research Fund awarded nearly $200,000 to two research teams. The 2020 awardees and their projects are:

Dr. Forrest Moore, Policy Fellow at Chapin Hall, and Dr. Christopher Bryan , University of Chicago Assistant Professor of Behavioral Science, will conduct a pilot study of critical consciousness development within Chicago Public Schools. Critical consciousness enables individuals to apply critical thinking skills to examine their social and other circumstances, develop understanding about these realities, and devise, implement, and evaluate solutions to pressing problems.

The study, Understanding Critical Consciousness Development through Youth Participatory Action Research, will explore the processes through which critical consciousness can disrupt the effects of racial discrimination that impede positive youth development among students of color in a selective Chicago high school. The study will use participatory action research, involving collective, reflective inquiry that results in student-generated research products. In addition to exploring the benefits of the critical consciousness intervention, the research will explore direct benefits to youth. This initial project has potential to inform empowerment strategies for students of color entering white dominated institutions and to stimulate additional development and study of critical consciousness as an intervention in educational settings.

Dr. Leah Gjertson, a researcher at Chapin Hall, and Dr. Anna Volerman, University of Chicago Assistant Professor of Medicine, will examine the association between Chicago Public Schools Asthma Management Policy and student health and academic outcomes.

Asthma is responsible for an estimated 300,000 missed school days per year in Illinois. Recent data suggest that nearly a quarter of Chicago high school students are diagnosed with asthma, including 15 percent of white students and 27 percent of African American students. Drs. Gjertson and Volerman will use a retrospective cohort study design to examine what happens when families are engaged to provide information about their child’s asthma and a management plan is developed. The team will look at of two groups (cohorts), comparing the health and academic outcomes of the cohorts who are in school before and after the policy’s adoption and implementation. This study has the potential to inform future efforts on school asthma management that may lead to improved student outcomes and reduced disparities.

Joint Research Fund awards foster long-term policy-relevant research collaborations between the University and Chapin Hall, which is an independent research center affiliated with the University. The funding supports research consistent with our shared commitment to rigorous inquiry and impact. Over the past six years, the Fund has made awards to 17 research teams.

The Joint Research Fund Steering Committee, made up of appointees from the University and Chapin Hall, reviewed a number of highly competitive proposals from partnerships of faculty across the University and Chapin Hall research and policy staff. Faculty and staff interested in participating in future years may visit the Joint Research Fund RFP webpage for more information and may also sign up for updates and reminders from the Fund.