Doebel, Schrum Awarded 4-VA Collaborative Research Grants for 2020-21

by Anne Reynolds

In early October, George Mason University announced that nine faculty members had received 2020-21 4-VA Collaborative Research Grants. Two of these grants were awarded to researchers in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The 4-VA program fosters collaboration between eight universities in the Commonwealth: Mason, James Madison, Old Dominion, the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Military Institute, Virginia Tech, and the College of William & Mary. Relying on the strengths of each of these institutions, 4-VA promotes collaborative research, course redesign, course sharing, and degree completion. Originally created at the recommendation of the Governor’s Higher Education Commission and the Governor’s Commission on Economic Development and Job Creation, the program has fostered collaboration and cooperation for ten years.

Sabine Doebel

Sabine Doebel, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology (applied developmental psychology) has received a grant for her project, Does Social Understanding Support the Development of Executive Function in Early Childhood? She will be working with faculty from the University of Virginia.

The project will consider children’s 'executive function,' examining their ability to regulate thoughts and actions in the service of various goals. The researchers will explore how young children's emerging self-awareness might influence how they use and develop executive control in various situations. The team plans to identify promising ways to support executive function in preschoolers.

Kelly Schrum

Kelly Schrum, an associate professor in the Higher Education Program, will work with faculty at Virginia Tech on the project, Reimagining the History of Higher Education in the Digital Age, which will redesign a core course on the history of higher education in the United States to include a focus on historical thinking, digital literacy, and research skills. The team will also create an open educational resource (OER) on the history of higher education.

Janette Muir, Associate Provost for Academic Initiatives and Services and Mason’s 4-VA Campus Coordinator, appreciates the promise of this inter-institution cooperation. “These grants capitalize on the importance of partnerships and avoids researching in ‘silos’,” she said. “What’s more, 4-VA collaborative efforts offer the ability to leverage the strengths of each partner university in order to accomplish more than any individual university could achieve alone.”