Tuesday, March 28, 2023

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Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE): Directorate for STEM Education

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    Funder Type

    Federal Government

    IT Classification

    B - Readily funds technology as part of an award


    National Science Foundation (NSF)


    Through the NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) initiative, the NSF supports the highest caliber of undergraduate STEM education practice through a Foundation-wide framework of investments. The IUSE: EHR is a core NSF STEM education program that seeks to promote novel, creative, and transformative approaches to generating and using new knowledge about STEM teaching and learning to improve STEM education for undergraduate students. 

    The NSF places a high value on educating students to be leaders and innovators in emerging and rapidly changing STEM fields as well as educating a scientifically literate public. In pursuit of this goal, IUSE: EHR supports projects that seek to bring recent advances in STEM knowledge into undergraduate education, that adapt, improve, and incorporate evidence-based practices into STEM teaching and learning, and that lay the groundwork for institutional improvement in STEM education. In addition to innovative work at the frontier of STEM education, this program also encourages replication of research studies at different types of institutions and with different student bodies to produce deeper knowledge about the effectiveness and transferability of findings. IUSE: EHR also seeks to support projects that have high potential for broader societal impacts, including improved diversity of students and instructors participating in STEM education, professional development for instructors to ensure adoption of new and effective pedagogical techniques that meet the changing needs of students, and projects that promote institutional partnerships for collaborative research and development.

    IUSE: EHR especially welcomes proposals that will pair well with the efforts of NSF INCLUDES (https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/nsfincludes/index.jsp) to develop STEM talent from all sectors and groups in our society. 

    For all the above objectives, the National Science Foundation invests primarily in evidence-based and knowledge-generating approaches to understand and improve STEM learning and learning environments, improve the diversity of STEM students and majors, and prepare STEM majors for the workforce. In addition to contributing to STEM education in the host institution(s), proposals should have the promise of adding more broadly to our understanding of effective teaching and learning practices.

    All projects supported by IUSE: EHR must:

    • Demonstrate a strong rationale for project objectives or incorporate and build on educational practices that are demonstrably effective
    • Contribute to the development of exemplary undergraduate STEM education
    • Add to the body of knowledge about what works in undergraduate STEM education and the conditions that lead to improved STEM teaching and learning
    • Measure project progress and achievement of project goals

    To accomplish these goals, IUSE: EHR projects may focus their activities at any level, including the student, faculty, institutional or community levels. Development, propagation, adaptation, and transferability of evidence-based practices are also important considerations. Projects should consider designing materials and practices for use in a wide variety of institutions or institutional types. Topics of interest to the IUSE: EHR program include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Development and study of the efficacy of innovative teaching and learning practices and resources
    • Development, testing, and dissemination of instruments for measuring student outcomes
    • Efforts to increase the diversity of the STEM workforce including K-12 teachers and/or the faculty and institutions engaged in work to improve undergraduate STEM education
    • Faculty professional development to increase the use of evidence-based teaching practices
    • Implementation of and research on sustained change processes involved in adopting evidence-based and effective instruction within or across departments, disciplines, or institutions
    • Efforts to achieve STEM educational goals through innovative partnerships, for example with community organizations, local, regional, or national industries, centers for teaching and learning, professional societies, or libraries
    • Propagating and sustaining transformative and effective STEM teaching and learning through institutional practices or involvement of professional societies

    IUSE: EHR also welcomes proposals to conduct workshops and conferences aimed at improving undergraduate STEM education, developing implementation practices, and/or assembling research partnerships and agendas. All IUSE: EHR projects are expected to increase knowledge about effective STEM education. This may be achieved by posing one or more research questions that will be answered through the course of the study or through evaluation of project activities, impacts, or outcomes. 


    History of Funding

    Approximately $63,000,000 was available in FY 23. For information regarding previous recipients of this award, please see: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/advancedSearchResult?ProgEleCode=1998&BooleanElement=ANY&BooleanRef=ANY&ActiveAwards=true&#results

    Additional Information

    The IUSE: EHR program features two tracks: (1) Engaged Student Learning and (2) Institutional and Community Transformation. Several levels of scope, scale, and funding are available within each track.

    Track 1: Engaged Student Learning

    The Engaged Student Learning (ESL) track focuses on design, development, and research projects that involve the creation, exploration, or implementation of tools, resources, and models. Projects must show high potential to increase student engagement and learning in STEM. Projects may focus directly on students or indirectly serve students through faculty professional development or research on teaching and learning. Whatever the focus, all projects should be both evidence-based and knowledge-generating, with well-developed plans to study student experiences and evaluate student outcomes. NSF's investment in research and development for Engaged Student Learning in undergraduate STEM education encompasses a range of approaches including:

    • Development and implementation of novel instructional methods or adaptation of existing evidence-based pedagogies in STEM disciplines or in multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary courses or programs
    • Design and assessment of metrics aiming to measure STEM teaching and learning or student outcomes
    • Local, regional, or national efforts to develop and disseminate tools, resources, or models designed to improve STEM teaching and learning
    • Discipline-based educational research or research that spans multiple disciplinary domains
    • Faculty learning through professional development
    • Re-envisioning or adaptation of learning environments
    • Co-curricular activities that increase student motivation and persistence in STEM
    • Investigation of novel instructional tools or learning systems, including cyber-learning or learning technologies
    • Synthesis or meta-analysis of prior work to examine differences in findings across studies and variations in the types of interventions, for whom, and under what conditions
    • Collaborations between two-year and four-year institutions to develop innovative pathways for student transfers and success

    In keeping with the mission of the NSF's Directorate for Education and Human Resources Directorate, ESL projects can contribute to developing the STEM and STEM-related workforce, advancing a disciplinary STEM field, broadening participation in STEM, educating a STEM-literate public, improving K-12 STEM education through undergraduate pre-service STEM teacher preparation, encouraging life-long learning, and/or building STEM capacity in higher education. There are 3 levels of funding within the ESL track.

    Track 2: Institutional and Community Transformation

    The Institutional and Community Transformation (ICT) track funds innovative work applying evidence-based practices that improve undergraduate STEM education and research on the organizational change processes involved in implementing evidence-based practices. The emphasis of this track is on systemic change that may be measured at the departmental, institutional, or multi-institutional level, or across communities of STEM educators and/or educational researchers.

    Institutional and Community Transformation projects are expected to include one or more theories of change to guide the proposed work. A theory of change functions to identify and organize the dimensions of the proposed work and is a critical component of ICT projects. Competitive proposals will examine the impact of deliberate interventions in undergraduate STEM education. While proposed projects will vary in approach and the underlying theory/theories of change identified, promising proposals will recognize that STEM higher education is a complex system and that achieving goals involves analyzing and addressing organizational factors, such as institutional policies and practices or opportunities for professional growth.

    ICT projects may focus on departments or colleges within institutions, entire institutions, on groups of institutions, or on STEM communities of educators, practitioners, and/or educational researchers. NSF's investment in research and development in institutional and community transformation encompasses a range of approaches, such as:

    • Transformation of high-enrollment, lower-division courses within a discipline or across disciplines to include evidence-based teaching practices
    • Developing disciplinary or interdisciplinary teaching evaluation rubrics that are rooted in a common research-based framework
    • Development and propagation of faculty communities of practice to support efforts to improve accessibility or sustainability of evidence-based educational approaches
    • Examination of change processes in colleges, universities, or academic communities and developing metrics and identifying best practices to guide the process of institutional transformation
    • Re-envisioning of learning environments or support networks for faculty and students
    • Inclusion of non-tenure-track faculty or instructors through policy or professional development
    • Identification of common elements across disciplines, programs, institutions, or systems that support students from underrepresented groups to be successful in STEM.

    There are 3 levels of funding with the ICT track.


    Ellen Carpenter

    Ellen Carpenter
    4201 Wilson Boulevard
    Arlington, VA 22230
    (703) 292-5104

    Keith Sverdrup

    Keith Sverdrup
    4201 Wilson Boulevard
    Arlington, VA 22230
    (703) 292-4671

    John Jackman

    John Jackman
    Division of Undergraduate Education
    4201 Wilson Boulevard
    Arlington, VA 22230
    (703) 292-4816

    IUSE general inquiries

    IUSE general inquiries
    4201 Wilson Boulevard
    Arlington, VA 22230

  • Eligibility Details

    The program is open to application from all institutions of higher education and associated organizations.

    Deadline Details

    Deadlines vary based on the category to which you apply:

    • For ESL Level 2 and 3, and ICT Level 2 Proposals
      • Full applications are due July 19, 2023 
      • And then the Third Wednesday in July, Annually
    • For ESL Level 1 and ICT Capacity-Building and Level 1 Proposals
      • Full applications are due January 17, 2024
      • Third Wednesday in January, Annually Thereafter 

    Proposals for conferences addressing important challenges in undergraduate STEM education may be submitted at any time following consultation with a program officer.

    Award Details

    The program estimates that approximately $61,000,000 will be available to fund 135 awards. Grants will be awarded in a variety of sizes and durations based on the funding track and level to which you apply. The program estimates making awards for 50 Level 1 projects across both tracks, 30 Level 2 and 3 projects across both tracks, 15 Capacity-Building projects, and 40 conferences and workshops. Cost-sharing is not required.

    Engaged Student Learning

    • Level 1: up to $400,000 for projects lasting 3 years.
    • Level 2: from $400,001 to $750,000 for projects lasting 3 years.
    • Level 3: $750,001 to $2,000,000 for projects lasting 5 years.

    Institutional and Community Transformation

    • Capacity-Building: $200,000 for single institution projects lasting 2 years; or $400,000 for multiple institution projects lasting up to 2 years.
    • Level 1: up to $400,000 for projects lasting 3 years.
    • Level 2: $400,001 to $2,000,000 for single institution projects lasting 5 years.

    Related Webcasts Use the links below to view the recorded playback of these webcasts

    • Funding Classroom Technology to Empower Students and Teachers - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available
    • Maximizing Technology-friendly Workforce Development Grants - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available
    • Funding Data-driven Workforce Development Projects - Sponsored by NetApp - Playback Available


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