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Florida Institute of Education

About the Florida Institute of Education

In 1982, the State University System of Florida, in conjunction with the Florida Legislature, established FIE as a state-wide research center designed to serve the entire state and operate under the auspices of the University of North Florida (UNF). First directed by Dr. Andrew Robinson, FIE is charged with strengthening the quality of education at all levels in Florida by planning and developing collaborative programs and activities among Florida’s universities, state and community colleges, public schools, the school readiness sector, and communities. 

Today FIE, hosted by the University of North Florida and led by Dr. Cheryl Fountain, continues its commitment to improving education at all levels (birth-to-postsecondary) by engaging in systems thinking, collaborative problem-solving, research-focused evaluation, instructional and leadership development, and practice-focused research and development. FIE's strategic plan for conducting research is rooted in the ongoing application of knowledge to address critical problems of practice and implementation of initiatives in ways that over time will build on each other and contribute to a deeper understanding of important problems while improving current practice.

As Florida enters the new millennium, FIE will continue to serve as a catalyst for improving the quality of education for all Florida children by translating research into practical curricular and instructional tools, validating effectiveness and resolving conflicting findings, transferring evidence-based and effective tools and strategies into widespread use, answering outcome questions, and informing policymaking and ongoing knowledge-building. The framework for creating usable and accessible knowledge pools is depicted in the Florida Institute of Education (FIE) Framework For Improving Research, Practice, and Policy.

framework diagram - text below

Enhanced Achievement for At-Risk Students

Design-Based Research and Program Evaluation: Translating Research Findings into Practical Tools and Strategies and Conducting Practice-Focused Research.

Early Care/Learning Practitioners and PreK–12 Practitioners: Transferring New Tools and Strategies into Widespread and Using Expanding Evidence-Based Practice.

Families and Communities: Answering Outcome Questions and Fueling Continuous Improvement.

Policy-Makers and Decision-Makers: Informing Policy Making and Ongoing Knowledge-Building.

Two basic approaches to systematic inquiry contribute to building an evidence-based knowledge pool and to solve problems: traditional research and collaborative practice-focused research. While there are differences between the two approaches, both use a wide array of rigorous research designs and statistical methods to analyze data.

A practice-focused research approach is carried out through ongoing researcher/practitioner collaboration that both recognizes and leverages the unique strengths each brings to the process. The overarching aim is to access and combine knowledge and action in ways that solve problems, build practitioner and researcher capacities, improve practice in ways that improve student outcomes, and contribute to the knowledge pool.

Consistent with our state-wide mission, FIE engages in collaborative practice-focused research projects with a wide variety of community partners in the school readiness, K-12, and postsecondary sectors along with formal and informal neighborhood, community, and governmental organizations and agencies.

The following diagram provides a “snapshot” of differences and similarities between the two approaches.

compare and contrast research approach - text description below

Traditional or Basic Research Approach

Researcher selects and defines area, questions and design
Researcher controls all decisions
Researcher Determined and Implemented

Practice-Focused Research Approach Embedded in Educational and Community Settings
Part 1
Practitioners and Researchers identify problem
Select target of project and questions to answer

Part 2
Researcher and Practitioner co-develop:
Research questions
Research design data collection and data analysis
Implementation Research
Design-Based Research
Co-Designed and Co-Implemented by Researcher with Practitioner

Possible Research Designs to Answer CBPR or Traditional/ Basic Research Questions
Possible Statistical Methods from which CBPR or Traditional or Basic Research May Draw to Answer Questions
Determine effectiveness
Outcomes (Based on answers to questions posed and answered)
Determine effectiveness plus Changes in Practice

University of North Florida: Host Institution

The University of North Florida is the host university for FIE, providing administrative and logistical support. Led by President Pamela S. Chally, UNF is dedicated to becoming a nationally-known, comprehensive university recognized for its high-quality undergraduate and graduate programs; a caring environment rich in intellectual, cultural, and social opportunities; and its strong and vigorous partnerships with Jacksonville and the surrounding communities of Florida's First Coast.