You are here: Institute for Innovation in Education (IIE)

Institute for Innovation in Education


The Institute for Innovation in Education is an interdisciplinary organization committed to conducting, administering, and disseminating educational research and research-informed professional development initiatives. Based at American University in Washington, DC, the institute's researchers undertake studies of education policy and education reform, learning technologies, and learning disabilities. Researchers and staff also provide independent research-based support and technical assistance to educators, policy makers, and journalists. The institute membership includes faculty from across the American University campus as well as invited researchers from local, national and international entities dedicated to quality research.

It is the mission of the Institute for Innovation in Education to bring together a wide-ranging set of methodological and analytical approaches to the study of educational policies and practices broadly. Cross-disciplinary research into the study of education and learning is necessitated by the complex contexts and characteristics of learners, schools, and communities. The institute researchers dedicate themselves to collaborative investigation bridging multiple fields, bringing together the expertise of a broad set of organizations interested in this nebulous concept of education. We envision an entity in which the individuals involved in the institute dedicate their efforts to scientific understanding of the processes, policies and practices of education.


American University partners with the following national organizations to offer Master's degree options to program participants and alumni. Affiliated participants are able to choose from various degrees in the School of Education. These programs are built on a cohort-based design, include discounted tuition, and are designed for those participants who want to continue to make a difference in the lives of children and transform schools here a abroad.

Institute for Innovation in Education partnership projects:

Each partnership is unique. If you would like to develop a partnership with the School of Education, please contact Danielle Sodani, Director, at

Current Research Projects

Dr. Sarah Irvine Belson , institute executive director, is the principal investigator for the project, From the Laboratory to the Classroom: Building Capacity for Math and Science Teaching in DC (Lab2Class) , funded by the National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Scholarship Program. Joining her is the research team of co-principal investigators, Drs. Kiho Kim, John Nolan, Michael Keynes (American University Departments of Environmental Science and Mathematics and Statistics) and Ms. Bianca Abrams (The Carnegie Institution of Washington).

Dr. Jennifer Steele , associate professor, is a co-principal investigator on the study, Partnership to Study Dual Language Immersion in Utah , funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. She joins the research team of Dr. Robert Slater (American Councils Research Center), principal investigator, and co-prinicipal investigators, Dr. Johanna Watzinger-Tharp (University of Utah) and Mr. Gregg Roberts (Utah State Board of Education).

Announcement of award by American Councils


  • James Albright
    Alice Deal Middle School
  • Ras Baraka
    Newark, New Jersey
  • Sarah Irvine Belson
    American University
    School of Education
    Executive Director, Institute for Innovation in Education
    Director, Master's in Special Education
    Associate Professor
  • Elizabeth Davis
    Washington Teachers' Union
  • Adele Fabrikant
    Teach For America
    Executive Director
  • Lynne Ganek
    Lancit Digital Media
    Content Consultant
  • Nancy Grasmick
    Kennedy Krieger Institute
  • Lois Hammond
    American University, School of Education
    Graduate Student
  • Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy
    American University, School of Education
    Dean and Professor
  • Tyrone Howard
    UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies
    Associate Dean for Equity & Inclusion, Professor
  • Yvette Jackson
    National Urban Alliance
    Senior Scholar
  • La'Shawndra Scroggins
    Office of the State Superintendent of Education, OSSE
    Director of Teaching and Learning
  • Seteney Shami
    Social Science Research Council
    Program Director, Middle East North Africa; Inter-Asia
  • James Waller
    Friendship Public Charter School
    Chief of School Operations
  • Seth Andrew Watring
    American University, School of Education
    Undergraduate Student

2017 Heritage Language Conference

The 4th annual Community-Based Heritage Language Conference was held on October 7, 2017. 

See Details