The Iowa Measurement Research Foundation (IMRF) is committed to support measurement-related research by the faculty of the College of Education. To the extent that the discretionary income of the Foundation permits, it has the goal of awarding six research grants per year.

“Measurement-related research” is defined as follows:

  • the development of new instruments or procedures to assess student characteristics at any educational level;
  • the investigation of the validity or reliability of scores obtained from new or existing measures; or
  • the derivation of normative data or other pertinent information  that contributes to the usefulness of educational measurements.    

A Brief Measurement Module

After many years of reviewing proposals from our college faculty for IMRF research grants, the IMRF Research Committee has concluded that there is some misunderstanding on the part of many proposal writers about the current use and meaning of two of the most fundamental measurement concepts that are used in the research process. These terms, validity and reliability, are at the core of research that includes the use of measurements obtained with a broad range of assessments, tests, and other measurement instruments. We have prepared a tutorial document that defines these terms, provides examples of how to use them, and identifies some of the common misuses and misunderstandings we have observed. The content of the tutorial is intended to be consistent with the understandings espoused by specialists in the measurement field, as reflected in the most current Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (AERA, APA, and NCME, 2014). For further consultation on these topics, please contact the Chair of the Research Committee to make arrangements. Download the tutorial (PDF).

A few examples of the types of projects that have been supported in the past:

  • Study of student portfolios as a descriptive measure of student reading activities and the use of portfolios as an alternative to standardized tests
  • Development of an instrument to measure the cultural adaptation of children in immigrant families
  • Research on the effectiveness and efficiency of computerized adaptive testing
  • Development of an inventory intended to identify students who may be seriously considering suicide

View policies as a PDF

  1. The research must originate with and be carried out under the direction of a COE faculty or staff member. Collaborative research with faculty of other University of Iowa colleges or other universities is permissible. However, the COE faculty or staff member must be the principal or co-principal investigator.
  2. The research must center on a) the development, refinement, or validation of procedures or instruments to measure student achievement or b) innovative methods to assess student characteristics relevant to the teaching/learning process. The research must focus on the measurement process per se, not on the routine use of existing measures to evaluate the effectiveness of instructional methods or materials or to describe the character of an educator or student population.
  3. For IMRF funding purposes, MA theses and PhD dissertations are NOT considered to be research by the faculty advisor.
  4. No formal limit is placed on the size of an IMRF research grant. However, the total for a grant will rarely exceed 1¼ times the academic year salary, fringe benefits, and tuition for a half-time research assistant. No grant will be awarded in an amount that jeopardizes the ability of the Foundation to fund six proposals in any given year.
  5. Expenses commonly covered by IMRF research grants include the following: one half-time or quarter-time research assistant for the academic year (stipend, fringe benefits, and tuition); purchase or scoring of commercially published test materials; printing of locally-constructed materials; hourly wages of a limited number of on-campus observers, raters, test scorers, or data-entry personnel; postage for distribution or return of materials from project participants; and special-purpose computer software that is potentially useful to other faculty members or graduate students.
  6. Support is NOT provided by IMRF for the following items that are often covered by external grants: University overhead; salary of faculty; honoraria for professional consultants; books; travel to professional or consultative conferences; preparation of materials for distribution at conferences; computers, printers, or scanners; and publication costs of articles and monographs. No funds will be provided to pay participants in a research project.
  7. There is no limit to the number of IMRF research grants a faculty or staff member may receive over time. However, an individual will not be awarded a new grant until the research projected under a previous grant has been completed.
  8. Projects that may require two or even three years for completion will be considered. However, funds will be committed to such projects one year at a time. Support for a second year will be considered only upon a) receipt of a satisfactory report on the activities and overall progress during the first year and b) submission of a proposal for the subsequent year.
  9. Proposals that lay the foundation for external grant applications will be given priority over those that appear to have little likelihood of receiving grant support from external agencies. The announced intention of the investigator to submit an external grant proposal could strengthen an IMRF proposal. A record of successful completion of previously supported research, including publication of the results in appropriate outlets, also could enhance the investigator’s chances of receiving IMRF support.
  10. Proposals for the subsequent academic year should be submitted as early as possible in the current academic year, but no later than May 15. Proposals are reviewed by the IMRF Research Committee as they are received. A proposal received after all grant funds have been allocated for a given academic year will not be considered for funding during that academic year.
  11. Completed proposals should follow the Outline for IMRF Research Proposals shown below and should be sent via email to H. Dee Hoover, Chair of the IMRF Research Committee, at Applicants will be notified about the Committee’s decision regarding their proposal by email, usually within four weeks.
  12. Recipients of IMRF grants are required to submit a summary report of activities and achievements by the end of the semester following the completion of the funding. This report should include an enumeration of any conference presentations and submitted publications based on data gathered in the study. The report must be submitted electronically (pdf file) to the Chair of the IMRF Research Committee at the email address given in 11 above. These reports will be accessible to others through IMRF’s web site. (See recent reports.)
  13. For more information about these policies, contact H. Dee Hoover at

Typically 10-12 pages. View document as a PDF.


  1. Describe the project in a way that is understandable to a colleague who needs at least a brief introduction to the area.
  2. Since the work will usually involve test development, test-score validation, or refinement of a measurement approach, make sure that this aspect of the project is given suitable emphasis.
  3. If this project is part of a continuing effort, indicate how the project fits in with your longer-range plans and the work that has preceded this project.

Literature Review

  1. Describe the important substantive work that constitutes the basis for this study.
  2. Include a reference list such as that expected in any scholarly publication.


  1. IMRF Board members who will review your proposal will want to know what the major activities will be, including data gathering procedures, data analysis methods, etc.
  2. Indicate the source of human subjects (college students? elementary students?).  Recognize that when subjects are to be used, the project will require review by the University’s Institutional Review Board.

Duties of Research Assistant

  1. If you request funds to provide support for a research assistant, indicate what activities will be performed by this assistant.
  2. Indicate the date at which the RA will be appointed.  Will the appointment be quarter-time or half-time?

Budget and Timetable

  1. Include a budget that indicates how the money will be spent.
  2. Indicate how long the project is expected to run by identifying key milestones in the research process.  Some IMRF projects extend for more than one year, but formal funding commitments are typically made for one year at a time.