100 STORIES OF IMPACT

Students at the Forefront of the Research-Practice Conversation

Student Research Conference

Photo: Jill Anderson

HGSE students participate in the 2016 Student Research Conference

Learning to become an educational researcher is one thing (and a big thing), but how you share your research with the world is another. 

Over its 25 years, the Student Research Conference (SRC) — a unique student-led research conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Education — has paved the way for graduate student researchers to hone their presentation skills, receive valuable feedback, and discover their peers’ work. The conference has also become an important venue for graduate students to lead conversations about bridging the worlds of research, policy, and practice — conversations that have helped make that topic more prominent in faculty circles, too.


HGSE’s Student Research Conference became a venue for graduate researchers on our campus and across the field to share new work, bridge gaps in the field, and build a professional portfolio.


The idea for the student-run conference grew from a group of HGSE doctoral students, including Project Zero researcher Veronica Boix Mansilla, Ed.M.’92, Ed.D.’01, who had earned Spencer Fellowships and were interested in offering a professionalized education experience to share research. “We were early in our careers but thought we needed to learn to present our work, organize, and collaborate with people,” she said.

With the support of key faculty like Professor Susan Moore Johnson and Senior Lecturer Katherine Boles, the SRC provided a much-needed trial run for blossoming educational researchers by confirming the value of their ideas. It also elevated the work of these researchers, adding validity to their ideas and bolstering their early professional growth.

"It was important to have something going on where the students would have a fair amount of control, where they would be doing with their peers the kind of thing that is valued by faculty,” says Professor Jerry Murphy, dean at the time of SRC’s launch. “To say that it’s not just … the research of the faculty, but it’s [also] the research of the students, can be really important.”

Since its inception, the SRC has only continued to grow in size, magnitude, and impact, now regularly attracting more than 300 participants from colleges and universities around the world. SRC provides master’s and doctoral students — both at HGSE and beyond — an opportunity to receive necessary feedback in an environment that’s comforting and supportive. 

In 2020, the SRC was due for a slight rebrand to reflect its growing aspirations — organizers had decided to change the name to the Student Research Symposium, and the event was planned as an opportunity to invite and strengthen collaborative relationships between researchers and educators in the field. Adapted to a virtual model due to the coronavirus outbreak, the symposium was held over Zoom in April 2020 but will resume its regular place on the HGSE academic calendar next year. – Jill Anderson

Learn More and Connect

Read about the 20th anniversary of the Student Research Conference and watch a video of a student preparing.

Learn more about this year's Student Research Symposium, and read a Q&A with a student organizer.