May 13, 2011

Funding Opportunities: Learning in Formal and Informal Science

The Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings
DRL invests in projects to enhance STEM learning for people of all ages in both formal and informal learning settings. Its mission includes promoting innovative and transformative research and development, and evaluation of learning and teaching in all STEM disciplines. New and emerging areas of STEM must play prominent roles in efforts to improve STEM education. The integration of cutting-edge STEM content and the engagement of scientists, engineers, and educators from the range of disciplines represented at NSF is encouraged in all DRL initiatives. DRL's role is to be a catalyst for change by advancing theory, method, measurement, development, evaluation, and application in STEM education. The Division seeks to support both development of promising new ideas and large-scale implementation of proven educational innovations.

The Division's programs and activities offer a set of complementary approaches for advancing research, development, and improvement of practice.

  • The Informal Science Education (ISE) program supports innovation in anywhere, anytime, lifelong learning, through investments in research, development, infrastructure and capacity-building for STEM learning outside formal school settings.
  • The Discovery Research K-12 (DR K-12) program enables significant advances in preK-12 and teacher learning of the STEM disciplines through research and development on innovative resources, models, and technologies for use by students, teachers, administrators and policy makers.
  • The Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program invests in projects designed to address the growing demand for professional and information technology workers through the design, implementation, scale-up, and testing of technology-intensive educational experiences for students and teachers, and through related research studies.
  • The Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering (REESE) program advances research at the frontiers of STEM learning, education, and evaluation, in order to provide foundational knowledge for improving STEM teaching and learning at all educational levels and in all settings.
  • The Promoting Research and Innovation for Methodologies in Evaluation (PRIME) program emphasizes innovative approaches for determining the impacts of STEM education projects and programs, and expanding the theoretical foundations for evaluating STEM education and workforce development initiatives.
  • Transforming STEM Learning (TSL) explores the opportunities and challenges implied by radically innovative visions of the future for STEM learning.

Each of these programs and activities is also intended to improve their field's capacity to further STEM learning. They are central to NSF's strategic goals to: Transform the Frontiers, Innovate for Society, and Perform as a Model Organization. These goals emphasize "... the seamless integration of education and research..." and address the connections between NSF programs, societal needs, and the key role of new knowledge and creativity (NSF, 2011).

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