Our Four Pillars

The Research Network consists of four pillars that work together to make school-based research fast, frictionless, and fruitful. Our schools provide a representative sample of students in the country. We recruit researchers and facilitate research at scale. We operate a legal and technological infrastructure that is tailored, simple, and safe for our school partners.

Your Commitment

Our partners engage in three research activity windows each year: fall, winter, and spring. During the summer, you provide input that helps guide research topics for the upcoming school year, sharing information about your district's climate and research needs. Your input is an important factor as we review proposed research activities and accept studies to run in our network.

How It Works

  • Character Lab runs research three times a year—during the fall, winter, and spring. For each round, Character Lab designates a 2-week Research Activity Window. School Research Leads (SRLs) choose a specific date in the window and develop plans that are convenient for each school while allowing as many students as possible to participate.

  • Districts are matched to studies that align with their interests and context. Your district officials review each study for compliance with policies regarding Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA). (Prior to this review, Character Lab helps by screening studies for PII and PPRA compliance internally.) Student representatives (CLIPsters) review studies to ensure that they are relevant, applicable, and interesting to students at your school.

  • Students are randomly assigned to one of the studies running at their school. They spend a total of 30 minutes engaging in research activities, starting by logging in using a Single Sign-On (SSO). Before students start, they watch a brief video before opting in or out of the study. Many students choose to participate once they realize the activities are relevant to their experiences and want to share their voice.

  • After each round of research, school partners can share their feedback with Character Lab, which helps us adjust our processes and be better partners to ensure your school community has a positive experience.

  • After each research activity window, you will receive a Thriving Index dashboard that displays representative self-reported data about students’ social, emotional, academic, and physical well-being. You can use this data to support decision-making at a district and school level. Data can be filtered by variables like school, grade, gender, and learning environments.