The Thomas N. Urban Research Award recognizes outstanding research or scholarly contributions to Iowa education.

The award is named for Thomas N. Urban, Chairman and former Chief Executive Officer, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. Throughout his tenure at Pioneer (spanning over thirty years), Mr. Urban demonstrated the importance of research not only to industrial progress but also to the advancement of society and education. Under his leadership as Chair of the Excellence in Education Task Force, research became a cornerstone of education in Iowa. With his vision and the support of numerous other Iowa leaders, the First In the Nation in Education (FINE) Foundation was established and charged with the mission of improving teaching and learning in Iowa classrooms through the use of educational inquiry.

The Thomas N. Urban Research Award is designed to:

  • Recognize outstanding educational research or scholarly efforts in Iowa
  • Perpetuate Mr. Urban's conviction that quality research and scholarship are the driving forces behind improved practice/results
  • Recognize Mr. Urban for his support for research and education

The Thomas N. Urban Research Award ($3,000) will be awarded each year in which there is a worthy recipient. Serving as the selection committee, the Iowa Academy of Education will critically review nominations and recommend a recipient.

To be eligible for the Thomas N. Urban Research Award, an individual must:

  • Be nominated by a member of the Iowa Academy of Education who is familiar with the general area of research or scholarship completed by the nominee
  • Have published the research or scholarship in a refereed publication within the past two calendar years prior to the nomination deadline
  • Live and work in Iowa at the time of the nomination
  • Not be a past or present member of the IAE

A three-person committee of the IAE will review each nomination. The Committee will recommend no more than one potential awardee to the IAE by August 1.

Criteria for the selection of the awardee will be:

  1. Published Research or Scholarship. To qualify, the work must be published in a professional/scholarly journal, scholarly book, volume of proceedings of a professional society meeting, or as a technical report series. Dissertations, unpublished manuscripts, and other non-referred works will not be considered.
  2. Compellingness. The work should deal with a research problem or scholarly issue that is manifestly important for education and whose findings, conclusions, or policy implications will be eagerly anticipated by the reader.
  3. Originality. The study should offer a fresh look at an educational problem or issue, offer an innovative analysis or interpretation of a phenomenon, and/or fill a significant gap in existing ideas or evidence on an important matter.
  4. Technical Quality. Whatever the form of the research or scholarship - be it a quantitative or qualitative analysis using social science methods, historical research, legal analysis, critical inquiry, or some other form of recognized scholarship – those who review the proposal will look for evidence that the investigator has mastered rigorous standards of methodology or appropriate techniques in the approach taken. The research or scholarship must be regarded as technically should by leaders in the respective field of inquiry.
  5. Likely Impact. If a research or scholarly work is compelling, original, and of high technical quality, it is likely to have a strong impact on education. Also considered will be its timeliness and likelihood of generalizing across educational contexts in the state.

Each nomination must include:

  • Nomination form
  • A letter from the nominator
  • A copy of the published research study
  • A copy of the nominee's curriculum vita or resume

All required materials must be combined in to one PDF or Word document in the order above and sent via email to Marlene Strathe at by July 1.

Past Award Recipients

Year Recipient Title
2021 Dr. Shawn Datchuk
University of Iowa
Accounting for Levels of Language in Narrative and Expository Writing: A Skills Analysis of Second Grade Writing
2019 Dr. Jeanne Dyches
Iowa State University
Foregrounding Equity in Teacher Education: Toward a Model of Social Justice Pedagogical and Content Knowledge
2018 Dr. Katie Broton
University of Iowa
Going Without: An Exploration of Food and Housing Insecurity among Undergraduates
2017 Dr. Ariel Aloe
University of Iowa
Inaccuracy of Regression Results in Replacing Bivariate Correlations


2012 Dr. Amy Hutchinson
Iowa State University
Teacher's perceptions of integrating information and communication technology into literacy instruction: A national survey in the United States
2010 Dr. William J. Therrien Effectiveness of a Test-Taking Strategy on Achievement in Essay Tests for Students with Learning Disabilities


2008 Dr. Andrew Ho
University of Iowa
Discrepancies between core trends from NAEP and state tests: A scale-invariant perspective


2005 Dr. Johnmarshall Reeve
University of Iowa
Enhancing Students' Engagement by Increasing Teachers' Autonomy Support
2003 Dr. Brian M. Hand
Iowa State University
Influences of Writing Tasks on Students' Answers to Recall and Higher-Level Test Questions
2002 Dr. Cynthia Lewis
University of Iowa
Literacy Practices as Social Acts: Power, Status, and Cultural Norms in the Classroom
2001 Dr. Sarah Theule Lubienski
Iowa State University
Problem Solving as a Means toward Mathematics for All: An Exploratory Look through a Class Lens
1999 Dr. Rose Mary Zbiek
University of Iowa
Prospective Teachers' Use of Computing Tools to Develop and Validate Functions as Mathematical Models
1998 Dr. Kristie K. Waltman
Using Performance Standards to Link Statewide Achievement Results to NAEP
1997 Dr. Jackie M. Blount
Iowa State University
Manly Men and Womanly Women: Deviance, Gender Role Polarization, and the Shift in Women's School Employment, 1900-1976