About the Center

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 Discovery Center Sign

The Discovery Center for Evaluation, Research, and Professional Learning has over 24 years of experience providing research, evaluation, and professional development services for P-20+ mathematics and science education reform initiatives.


The Discovery Center’s mission is to provide comprehensive, high-quality research, evaluation, assessment, and professional development services to improve teaching and learning and promote equity in opportunity, access, and outcomes for all learners.


The Discovery Center’s vision is to serve as Ohio’s only comprehensive Center for research, evaluation, and professional learning in science, mathematics, technology, computer science, and engineering education, dedicated to collaboration, advocacy, and strategic innovation.

Center Commitments

The Discovery Center focuses on three commitments related to improving teaching and learning for all.



Our commitment to collaboration enables broad outreach and impact across education stakeholder groups. We collaborate across many sectors by maintaining a virtual infrastructure that facilitates meaningful and productive partnerships and relationships with individuals and their organizations within Ohio and across the nation.



Our commitment to advocacy promotes equitable opportunity and outcomes for all learners. We advocate for schools, teachers, and students, as well as for critical state and federal education initiatives. Center research, evaluation, and professional development efforts and the wide dissemination of our work supports improvement of local and state education programs.

Strategic Innovation

Strategic Innovation

Our commitment to strategic innovation ensures the relevance and impact of our work on practice and policy. We continuously improve our collective knowledge and skills, strategically placing the Center among industry-leading providers of evaluation, research, and professional learning services.

Center Work

The Discovery Center’s efforts are disseminated across a variety of local, regional, and national educational settings. Center staff routinely provide evaluation, research, and professional learning services and support for over 20 programs and projects. Center activities include collaboration with and support for local school districts and educational institutions, implementation of math and science teacher professional development experiences, evaluation of state- and federally-funded STEM and other education projects and programs, and presentation and dissemination of findings at regional and national conferences, as well as through academic publications.

Center Projects

Evaluation of University of Cincinnati’s Leadership, Empowerment, and Advancement for STEM Women Faculty (LEAF), (2008 - 2017)

LEAF Program

Funding Agency and Program: National Science Foundation, Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Careers (ADVANCE) Program

Leadership, Empowerment, and Advancement for STEM Women Faculty is an institutional transformation project focused on the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) faculty at the University of Cincinnati. Using bottom-up initiatives targeted to support women faculty, top-down leadership reform, and advocacy and accountability initiatives, the project seeks to improve the climate for women faculty at UC. As the external evaluator of the project, the Discovery Center provides feedback to help gauge progress toward project goals; more importantly, however, the Center’s work also helps inform department-, college-, and institution-level initiatives and policy changes, particularly related to the work environment, and recruitment, promotion, review, and tenure processes for faculty and staff at UC.

To learn more about the LEAF project, visit https://www.uc.edu/orgs/ucleaf.html.

To learn more about the evaluation, please contact the Discovery Center’s Research and Evaluation Team, led by Ms. Yue Li.

Evaluation of University at Buffalo/Buffalo Public Schools Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership (ISEP), (2011 - 2016)


Funding Agency and Program: National Science Foundation, Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP) Program

The University at Buffalo’s ISEP MSP project utilizes an innovative approach to teacher professional development, including courses and interdisciplinary research experiences, development of science and technology classroom materials aligned with state science learning standards, and inquiry-based curricula to transform how science is taught in the Buffalo Public Schools. The ISEP project focuses on impacting students’ experiences in science and engineering, particularly as they transition from middle school to high school. The Discovery Center’s overarching evaluation efforts focus on assessing progress toward project goals, but also on providing feedback and insights that stimulate dialogue about sustainable science learning among Buffalo’s high-needs schools, local universities, informal science teaching/learning organizations, corporate partners, and the local community.

To learn more about the ISEP project, visit http://isep.buffalo.edu/.

To learn more about the evaluation, please contact the Discovery Center’s Research and Evaluation Team, led by Ms. Yue Li.

Evaluation of Biology with X-Ray Lasers (BioXFEL), Hauptman-Woodward Research Institute, University at Buffalo (2013 - 2018)

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Funding Agency and Program: National Science Foundation, Science and Technology Centers (STCs)

BioXFEL is an NSF Science and Technology Center (STC) dedicated to addressing the fundamentals of biology at the molecular level. The project involves scientific researchers across eight U.S. research universities and four laboratories, who are using a pulsed hard X-ray lasers to view biological molecules in atomic detail, watch their functional motions, and see how they interact in their native environments. The Discovery Center conducts the BioXFEL Center’s formative and summative evaluations for the NSF and monitors program implementation to provide opportunities for program and component activity intervention and improvement. The Discovery Center also provides support for BioXFEL Center strategic planning, benchmarking, and development of education and diversity initiatives.

To learn more about the BioXFEL project, visit http://www.bioxfel.org/.

To learn more about the evaluation, please contact the Discovery Center’s Executive Support Team, led by Dr. Sarah Woodruff.

Research and Grant Writing Assistance for the YWCA in Hamilton, OH (2015 - 2016)


Funding Agency: Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA)

The Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in Hamilton, OH is an equal opportunity organization supporting women’s empowerment through housing, educational, recreational, and health programming, as well as political and community activism. Their mission is to eliminate racism; empower women; and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. The Discovery Center provides funding research and grant development to assist the YWCA in carrying out its mission, as well as continuing its long-standing history of advocating for and providing locally-relevant support to girls and women throughout communities within Butler County and Ohio.

To learn more about the YWCA Hamilton’s initiatives, visit http://ywcahamilton.com/.

To learn more about Discovery’s technical assistance and grant writing services, please contact the Discovery Center’s Executive Support Team, by emailing Ms. Emily Ryan.

iDiscovery: Professional Development through Web-based Learning Communities (2002-2016)

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Funding Agency and Program: Ohio Department of Higher Education, Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ), with in-kind support from Miami University

iDiscovery is a professional development program offering web-based learning communities that support Ohio mathematics and science educators. The program provides teachers the opportunity for sustained engagement in supportive, professional conversation as they critically examine their teaching practices and implement systemic reform-based curriculum and instruction aligned with Ohio’s Learning Standards for mathematics and science. Since its inception in 2002, iDiscovery has provided professional learning opportunities to over 16,000 teachers across 74 Ohio counties.

To learn more about iDiscovery, please visit http://www.idiscovery.org, or contact the Discovery Center’s Professional Learning Team, led by Ms. Jean Richardson.

State-wide Evaluation of the Ohio Resident Educator (RE) Program (2011 - 2016)

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Funding Agency and Program: Ohio Department of Education, Office of the Teaching Profession

The Ohio Resident Educator Program (REP) is a multi-year teacher-induction program designed to improve teacher retention, enhance teacher quality and effectiveness, and result in improved student achievement in Ohio. The Discovery Center’s state-wide, external evaluation involves high-level analyses of  program implementation at the State, local, and individual (Resident Educator and RE Mentor) levels, and includes four primary evaluation foci: (a) implementation fidelity and compliance, (b) implementation quality and effectiveness, (c) implementation influence and impact, and (d) implementation scale-up and sustainability. Since 2011, the Discovery Center, along with researchers from University of Cincinnati and Ohio University has led a state-wide evaluation of Ohio’s RE Program. Using findings from a concurrent nested, mixed-methods evaluation design, the Center has provided the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) with formative feedback to improve program implementation and effectively scale the program for 30,000+ Ohio teachers.

To learn more about this state initiative, please visit, http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Teaching/Resident-Educator-Program.

To learn more about the evaluation, contact the Discovery Center’s Research and Evaluation Team, led by Mr. Chris Cox.

Evaluation of Progress and Impact of Taking off to Success (TOTS) Education Programs for Montgomery County (2014 - 2015)

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Funding Agency and Program: Montgomery County Human Services Planning and Development Department (HSPD) 

The Taking Off to Success (TOTS) Program is an intensive intervention program offering parents in Montgomery County (Ohio) knowledge, skills, supportive relationships, and resources needed to enable their children to be kindergarten-ready and to meet Grade 3 literacy standards. The Program also assists parents in improving their care-giving practices, life skills, and knowledge in order to develop their child’s education as well as their families’ economic self-sufficiency. The Discovery Center’s summative evaluation efforts for the TOTS Program have been used to: validate prior program evaluation efforts; assess the nature of and extent to which the program has benefited participating parents and their children; and recommend future program and evaluation changes that will support the TOTS Program’s transformation to a two-generation model.

To learn more about Montgomery County’s HSPD initiatives, visit http://www.mcohio.org/departments/.

To learn more about the evaluation of TOTS, please contact the Discovery Center’s Research and Evaluation Team, led by Mr. Chris Cox.

Evaluation of Miami University’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Statewide Mental Health First Aid Capacity project (2014 - 2019)


Funding Agency and Program: U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (SAMSHA)

The Making Ohio AWARE project, is a collaboration between the Ohio Department of Education, the Center for School-Based Mental Health Programs (Miami University), the Ohio Mental Health Network for School Success, as well as several state education services centers and departments. The project focuses on raising awareness of mental health needs among school-aged youth, and increasing statewide and local capacity to develop, implement, and sustain the delivery of integrated, comprehensive, evidence-based mental health and behavioral health services for youth and families. The Discovery Center collects impact and process data for behavioral and mental health awareness resources, activities, and strategies addressing youth violence, and healthy child and youth development, implemented by the AWARE project throughout Ohio schools, particularly a Youth Mental Health First Aid training program offered to hundreds of adults who work with youth across Ohio. 

To learn more about Making Ohio AWARE project, visit http://www.units.miamioh.edu/csbmhp.

To learn more about the evaluation, please contact the Discovery Center’s Research and Evaluation Team, led by Ms. Kristen Morio.

Evaluation of Further Development and Testing of the Target Inquiry Model for Middle and High School Science Teacher Professional Development (2011 - 2016)


Funding Agency and Program: National Science Foundation, Discovery Research (DRK-12)

Target Inquiry at Miami University (TIMU) is a 2½-year program designed to meet the professional development needs of high school chemistry teachers. TIMU is designed to 1) provide teacher participants with an authentic chemistry laboratory research experience, and 2) facilitate the integration of their research experience into their classrooms through the design, implementation, and evaluation of inquiry-based curricula. The Target Inquiry PD model aims to meet the PD needs of teachers by improving the quality of inquiry instruction and subsequently producing gains in student achievement. The Discovery Center assesses the fidelity of TIMU project activities, specifically, impact on teachers in translating their PD experiences into their classrooms, following participation in real-life scientific inquiry in Miami University’s science labs.

To learn more about the TIMU project, visit http://www.targetinquirymu.org/.

To learn more about the evaluation, please contact the Discovery Center’s Research and Evaluation Team, led by Ms. Kristen Morio.