Posts tagged ‘NSF’
Last month, I wrote about the new NSF program Improving Undergraduate Stem Education (see NSF page on IUSE here). I talked to Jane Prey about this program a couple weeks ago, and she was concerned. She said that lots of people are expressing doubt about applying for a program that only has a single page description–not the standard multi-page solicitation.
That’s exactly why this is the time to apply! IUSE doesn’t have a solicitation this year, but most likely will in future years. That means that anything goes this year! If you have any idea that you want to get funded, THIS is the year to apply.
The program description is wonderfully broad:
- Want to work on broadening participation in computing? It’s there: “broadening participation of individuals and institutions in STEM fields.”
- Want to work on after school programs, service learning, new ways of structuring your department, formal education research, new ways of measuring learning? It’s all there: “experiential learning, assessment/metrics of learning and practice, scholarships, foundational education research, professional development/institutional change, formal and informal learning environments.”
Want to work on teacher professional development, or even adult learners? It’s there: “educating a STEM-literate populace, improving K-12 STEM education, encouraging life-long learning, and building capacity in higher education.”
In short, the lack of a formal solicitation means that there are few barriers. You should go for it.
From here on, this is my advice based on talking with NSF program managers and having written (rejected mostly, but a bunch accepted) proposals. This is not coming from NSF:
- You need to demonstrate that your proposal has intellectual merit and broader impacts. That’s part of any NSF proposal.
- No, there’s nothing there that says you must have evaluation, but if you read phrases like “empirically validated teaching practices,” you have to believe that funded proposals will have good evaluation. You can probably be competitive without an external evaluator if you come up with a good evaluation plan in the proposal body itself. If you don’t know how to do this, bring in an external evaluator.
- The really tough part of applying to a program without a solicitation is deciding how much to budget. Here’s me just gazing into a crystal ball: Smaller but realistic budgets have the greatest chance of getting funded. If you can do your project in $100-200K/year for two to three years, you increase your odds of getting funded. I think there’s a psychological barrier for review committees at a $1M proposal, so stay below that or make your really proposal great.
The big message is: Apply on February 4, 2014. Take this rare opportunity to get your wildest and most exciting ideas on the table at NSF.
DUE funding is back! I wrote about TUES being closed down. This is the next iteration of a program in the NSF Division of Undergraduate Education to support STEM learning.
A well-prepared, innovative science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce is crucial to the Nation’s health and economy. Indeed, recent policy actions and reports have drawn attention to the opportunities and challenges inherent in increasing the number of highly qualified STEM graduates, including STEM teachers. Priorities include educating students to be leaders and innovators in emerging and rapidly changing STEM fields as well as educating a scientifically literate populace; both of these priorities depend on the nature and quality of the undergraduate education experience. In addressing these STEM challenges and priorities, the National Science Foundation invests in research-based and research-generating approaches to understanding STEM learning; to designing, testing, and studying curricular change; to wide dissemination and implementation of best practices; and to broadening participation of individuals and institutions in STEM fields. The goals of these investments include: increasing student retention in STEM, to prepare students well to participate in science for tomorrow, and to improve students’ STEM learning outcomes.
A bill approved yesterday by the House of Representatives science committee to reauthorize NASA programs, for example, rejects the two key elements of what the administration has proposed—stripping the agency of most of its STEM education agencies and putting the rest under one roof. “The administration may not implement any proposed STEM education and outreach-related changes proposed [for NASA] in the president’s 2014 budget request,” the bill flatly declares. “Funds devoted to education and public outreach should be maintained in the [science, aeronautics, exploration, and mission] directorates, and the consolidation of those activities within the Education Directorate is prohibited.”
Likewise, the House version of the CJS spending bill would restore money for STEM education activities at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and put the kibosh on a realignment of undergraduate STEM education programs at NSF. “The committee supports the concept of improving efficiency and effectiveness, through streamlining and better coordination, but does not believe that this particular restructuring proposal achieves that goal,” the legislators explain in a report this week accompanying the spending bill. The report also notes that “the ideas presented in the budget request lack any substantive implementation plan and have little support within the STEM education community.”
More from the Senate report on the STEM Consolidation:
“While the Committee maintains its support of greater efficiencies and consolidation – as evident by adopting some of the STEM consolidation recommendations made by the administration’s budget request – the Committee has concerns that the proposal as a whole has not been thoroughly vetted with the education community or congressional authorizing committees, and lacks thorough guidance and input from Federal agencies affected by this proposal, from both those that stand to lose education and outreach programs and from those that stand to gain them. The administration has yet to provide a viable plan ensuring that the new lead STEM institutions – the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, and the Smithsonian Institution – can support the unique fellowship, training, and outreach programs now managed by other agencies. Conversely, what is proposed as a consolidation of existing STEM programs from NOAA, NASA, and NIST into the new lead STEM agencies is really the elimination of many proven and successful programs with no evaluation on why they were deemed duplicative or ineffective.
The STEM-C program was recommended by one committee, but not CAUSE (the program created instead of TUES). Said the House report, “Consistent with the Committee’s position on the proposed STEM education restructuring, the recommendation does not support the establishment of the new CAUSE program or the transition of the GRF program into the interagency National GRF.”
Congratulations to Owen Astrachan and Amy Briggs for achieving the goal of CS:Principles being declared “AP.” This is going to be important for attracting teachers to take CS:Principles professional development.
To help ensure that more high school students are prepared to pursue postsecondary education in computer science, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is making a four-year, $5.2 million grant to the College Board’s Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) to fund the creation of AP Computer Science Principles (AP CSP).
Barbara Ericson just found out that several teachers have dropped out from a professional development workshop that we’re offering next week. This means that we have some (limited) funding for travel available, and hotel rooms already booked, so we’re trying to get the word out broadly to fill those (very last minute) slots. Below is the message that she sent to teachers in Georgia. We’ll take teachers from other states as well.
The workshop is on CS Principles Big Ideas from June 17-21st at Georgia Tech. Rebecca Dovi is leading this workshop. She is one of the CS:Principles pilot teachers. She has created many interesting activities for teaching CS Principles and will be sharing those activities. See http://supercomputerscience.blogspot.com for her blog.
We still have hotel rooms available for attendees. We pay for parking and lunch for all attendees. We have limited funds to reimburse for travel as well. You can register at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CSP2013-BigIdeas
For more information on the workshop, see http://coweb.cc.gatech.edu/ice-gt/2175
Having Congress trying to invent new criteria for judging NSF grants is concerning, but most especially because US Congressional representatives rarely have science or engineering backgrounds. Isn’t having Congress rethinking NSF reviewing criteria like having dancers reviewing farmer’s seeding practices, or having scientists working on water polo rules?
This idea was particularly well said in this letter from Eddie Bernice Johnson (thanks to Brian Dorn for pointing it out to me): “Interventions in grant awards by political figures with agenda, biases, and no expertise is the antithesis of the peer review process.”
In effect, the proposed bill would force NSF to adopt three criteria in judging every grant. Specifically, the draft would require the NSF director to post on NSF’s Web site, prior to any award, a declaration that certifies the research is:
1) “… in the interests of the United States to advance the national health, prosperity, or welfare, and to secure the national defense by promoting the progress of science;
2) “… the finest quality, is groundbreaking, and answers questions or solves problems that are of utmost importance to society at large; and
3) “… not duplicative of other research projects being funded by the Foundation or other Federal science agencies.”
Congratulations to Juan Gilbert and his colleagues (see list) who have just launched a new NSF Broadening Participation in Computing Alliance, Institute for African-American Mentoring in Computing Sciences. This new alliance extends the work of multiple NSF BPC Alliances (A4RC, ARTSI, EL Alliance) and Demonstration Projects (AARCS) that utilized different strategies toward broadening the participation of African-Americans in computing sciences.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Clemson University a $5 million grant to launch the Institute for African-American Mentoring in Computing Sciences.
The institute will serve as a national resource and emphasize mentoring as the primary strategy for increasing African-American participation in computing under the direction of Juan Gilbert, Presidential Endowed Professor and chairman of the Human-Centered Computing Division at Clemson, and Shaundra Daily, assistant professor in the School of Computing.
“African-Americans represent about 1 percent of the computer science faculty and researchers in the U.S.,” Gilbert said. “We formed this institute to increase the number of underrepresented groups earning computing science doctoral degrees and researchers in the academy, government and private sector.”
Farnam Jahanian visited Georgia Tech last month. Farnam is the Assistant Director at the US National Science Foundation, in charge of all computing related funding (CISE Division). He spoke to issues about computing education funding, and I got to ask some of my questions, too.
He said that the Office of Management and Budget has really been driving the effort to consolidate STEM education funding programs. OMB was unhappy that Biology, Engineering, and CISE all had their own STEM education programs. However, CISE got to keep their education research program (as the new STEM-C program) because it was already a collaboration with the education division in NSF (EHR). All the rest (including TUES) is being collapsed into the new EHR programs.
In his talk, he made an explicit argument which I’ve heard Jan Cuny make, but hadn’t heard an NSF AD make previously:
- We have a dramatic underproduction of computing degrees, around 40K per year.
- We have a dramatic under-representation of certain demographic groups (e.g., women, African-Americans, Hispanics), and we can’t solve #1 without solving that under-representation. He says that the basic arithmetic won’t work. We can’t get enough graduates unless we broaden participation in computing.
- We have a lack of presence in primary and secondary school in the United States (K-12). He claims that we can’t solve #2 without fixing #3. We have to have a presence so that women and under-represented minority groups will discover computing and pursue degrees (and careers) in it.
On May 17, I am going to be attending a summit for computing education in Maryland at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Rick Adrion and I are going to talk about the efforts in Massachusetts and Georgia, and elsewhere through ECEP. I’m looking forward to it (but observant readers will note that I’m traveling to Maryland the day after returning from Denmark!).
On Friday, May 17, 2013, CE21-Maryland will host a Summit for Computing Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) campus in Catonsville, Maryland. We invite teachers, administrators, legislators, industry leaders, and others who have an interest in expanding computer science in high school or middle school to attend. Space is limited to 150 people.
At this summit, the attendees will:
Learn more about computer science high school education across the state of Maryland.
Network with others with an interest in computer science education.
Exchange strategies with other education professionals.
Plan with others to help expand student interest and to increase the number and diversity of students studying computer science in Maryland.
This is a pretty exciting center. EDC does very good work, and Jeremy Roschelle is an excellent researcher in learning sciences (author of the JLS article on economic benefits of STEM education that I blogged on last year).
The new center aims to maximize the potential of NSF-funded projects focused on learning with technology, with the goal of addressing pressing needs in STEM education. Of particular interest are technological advances that allow more personalized learning experiences, that draw in and promote learning among those in populations not currently well-served, and that allow access to learning resources. EDC’s role will be to assess the needs of NSF grantees, foster the development of partnerships, and facilitate and lead events that bring together grantees and stakeholders from the national cyberlearning community.
“This initiative brings another NSF program resource center to EDC and allows us to harness our collective experience and knowledge in this area,” said EDC’s Sarita Pillai, who will lead the EDC team. “Through this work, we expect to accelerate progress in the field of cyberlearning and to improve student learning in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math.”
“This is a timely, important opportunity to connect high-quality research with the rapidly growing market for digital learning, an area of intense need and investment in Silicon Valley and throughout the country,” said SRI’s Jeremy Roschelle, director of CIRCL.
The report on the requested NSF budget for 2014 has a pretty dramatic list of programs that have been cancelled as part of the administration’s desire to reorganize and “consolidate” federal STEM education programs.
CAUSE is an NSF-wide investment that incorporates funding from established programs in the EHR directorate and other NSF directorates funded though the Research and Related Activities (R&RA) account. It is created by consolidating three Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) programs: STEM Talent Expansion Program (STEP), Widening Implementation and Demonstration of Evidence- based Reforms (WIDER), and Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM (TUES); several R&RA programs: BIO’s Transforming Undergraduate Biology Education (TUBE); ENG’s Research in Engineering Education and Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education (NUE); GEO’s Geosciences Education and Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences (OEDG); and the cross-NSF program, Climate Change Education (CCE).
TUES used to be the Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) program. TUES and CCLI have funded most of the federally-funded efforts presented at SIGCSE. Earlier, CE21 was cancelled, and its replacement isn’t announced.
An article in the latest Science magazine describes the new programs (and how surprised everyone in the STEM education community has been). K-12 belongs in the Department of Education (what does this mean for CS10K?), undergrad and grad in NSF, and informal ed in the Smithsonian (the Smithsonian?!?).
As far as I can tell, the NSF budget document is the only reference to the new NSF CAUSE (Catalyzing Advances in Undergraduate STEM Education). There is no solicitation, and no date for submitting proposals. Bottomline: the programs that have funded most of CS curriculum support are now gone, and the replacements do not yet exist. I hope that this all works out well, but it’s a little scary right now.
From Farnham Jahanian’s email to the CISE-Announce list on the new NSF budget request from the President:
CISE continues its focus on STEM-C Partnerships (formerly, the Computing Education for the 21st Century (CE21) program) in order to increase the pool of students and teachers who develop and practice computational and data competencies in a variety of contexts and to prepare more students to pursue degrees in computing, computation, and data-intensive fields of study.
It might be that STEM-C will fund everything that CE21 funded (can’t find an announcement yet to see), but the departure of a program explicitly named “Computing Education” is a loss for those of us who are trying to grow the field of Computing Education Research. If it’s not named, it’s easier to ignore.
Ian raises a really important issue that I don’t think is being discussed enough. I predict that computer science MOOC completers are even more white and male than in existing computing education. Replacing more face-to-face CS courses with MOOCs may be reversing the hard-fought gains we’ve made through NCWIT and NSF BPC efforts. I’ve asked both Udacity and Coursera about the demographics of their completers. Coursera said that they don’t know yet because they simply haven’t looked. Udacity said that it’s “about the same” as in existing face-to-face CS classes.
To address issues of inequality, we will have to do something different than what we are doing now, but we want to do something different that has better results. We need to be careful that we don’t make choices that lead us to a worse place than we are now.
Here’s a concrete proposal: Any institution that belongs to NCWIT (or more significantly, the NCWIT Pacesetters program) that runs a MOOC for computer science and does not check demographics should have its membership revoked. (See Note.) We should not be promoting computer science education that is even more exclusive. We need new forms of computer science education that broaden participation. At the very least, we ought to be checking — are we doing no harm? Are we advancing our agenda of broadening participation, or making it more exclusionary?
I wonder if the responsibility to check is even greater for public institutions. Public institutions have a responsibility to the citizens of their state to be inclusive. Readers of this blog have argued that Title IX does not apply to academic programs, suggesting that there is no legal requirement for CS departments to try to draw in more women and minorities. We in public universities still have a moral responsibility to make our courses and programs accessible. If we choose to offer instruction via MOOCs, particularly as a replacement for face-to-face courses, don’t we have a responsibility to make sure that we are not driving away women and minorities?
The SJSU test will be run on “remedial” courses at one of the country’s most ethnically diverse universities, of which only 25 percent of the student population is white, and which is primarily comprised of minorities, first-generation college students, and commuting students. This is a population that has more likely been subject to underfunded primary and secondary schools and, generally speaking, a whole regime of distress, neglect, and bias compared to California residents who would attend Berkeley or UCLA. Put differently, the conditions that produced the situation that the Udacity deal is meant to solve, at least in part, was first caused by a lack of sufficient investment in and attention to early- and mid-childhood education.
In response, California could reinvest in public schools and the profession of secondary teaching. But instead, the state has decided to go the private paved surface and illumination services route — siphoning California taxpayer receipts and student tuition directly into a for-profit startup created, like all startups, with the purpose of producing rapid financial value for its investors. Just how much of those proceeds Udacity will hold onto is unclear. While the company has reportedly paid instructors in the past, it’s unclear if its new institutional relationships will support paid teaching or not. Coursera, Udacity’s primary competitor in the private MOOC marketplace, has managed to get faculty from prestigious institutions to provide courses for free, in exchange for the glory of a large audience and the marketing benefit of the host institution.
Note: While I sit on the NCWIT Leadership Team, the opinions in this blog are my own. They do not represent NCWIT’s policy. I shared this blog post with Lucy Sanders, CEO of NCWIT, and she made an interesting suggestion. Some NCWIT Pacesetters are departments who may have little control over what their college, school, or university does. If they must use MOOCs, because of decisions made higher in the administrative chain, then perhaps measuring the demographics of the completers might be a way of being a Pacesetter.
I just learned this fact at the NSF BPC/CE21 meeting from Jane Margolis’s talk. This last Fall 2012, the first female African-American CS PhD graduated from the University of Michigan. Michigan is 14% African-American. University of Michigan is a state institution. Really? 2012? I guess it’s not too surprising, when we know from the AP CS data that I talked about last year that few African-Americans get access to computer science in Michigan.
Dr. Kyla McMullen is the first African American woman to graduate with a PhD in computer science at the University of Michigan. When asked how she feels about her new title, the scholar replied “Bittersweet.” She explained that it’s gratifying to have the distinction of being the university’s first African American female to acquire a PhD in computer science, it reminds her of a sad reality: There aren’t enough men and women of color pursuing advanced degrees in computer science.
What is the current state of high school computer science professional development? The results of the UChicago Landscape Study
I am at the meeting in Portland of all the awardees from the NSF programs in Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC-A, like ECEP), Computing Education in the 21st Century (CE21, like our CSLearning4U project), and all the funded projects related to CS10K, sponsored by NCWIT.
You may recall that I invited people to participate in the Landscape Study on the capacity of our computing community’s professional development efforts. The results of that survey are being presented here at this meeting, and a summary is available at the URL below.
I find the results a little depressing. The folks at UChicago who do the study compare us to professional development in Science or Mathematics, and we don’t much look like that. We have such a long way to go.
What is the current state of high school computer science professional development?
THIS STRAND OF WORK FOCUSED ON DESCRIBING THE CURRENT PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
that are available for high school computer science (CS) teachers. The primary data collection for this strand took place through a survey administered to providers of high school computer science teacher professional development (PD).