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The FY 2003 Budget Request for the Research, Evaluation and Communication (REC) Subactivity is $67.20 million, a decrease of $900,000, or 1.3 percent, from the FY 2002 Current Plan of $68.10 million.

(Millions of Dollars)


FY 2001

FY 2002
Current Plan

FY 2003
















Total, REC






Research funding declines by $920,000 to $54.56 million in FY 2003 and includes:

  • The Research on Learning and Education (ROLE) program organizes existing efforts under a variety of program areas and seeks to build a stronger interdisciplinary approach to research on learning and education. A major focus of ROLE research is to discover how we learn. Cooperatively with other NSF activities in the biological, social, and behavioral science fields, ROLE will continue exploratory efforts in brain research and cognitive neuroscience in order to inform the design of learning environments of the future. Additionally, ROLE seeks to advance the nation's ability to apply important findings in the study of learning to complex systems of educational practice. ROLE and related research funding totals $39.56 million in FY 2003, a reduction of $810,000.

  • The Interagency Education Research Initiative (IERI) is unique among EHR programs in that its primary purpose is to support research on implementation and scalability of educational methods. The goal of IERI is to improve preK-12 student learning in reading, mathematics, and science by supporting interdisciplinary research on large-scale implementations of promising educational practices and technologies, identifying ways in which they can be implemented in real, complex, and varied educational settings to produce enhanced student learning. Research in IERI provides a knowledge based of sustainable improvements in education for diverse student populations in a wide range of learning environments. IERI supports research that reflects the context in which educators do their work, to ensure adaptability to classrooms in an array of complex settings. Research conducted on a scale that allows for a careful examination of how characteristics within a variety of education systems interact to facilitate learning - under differing conditions and for diverse students - will help accelerate their successful adoption in a wide range of schools. IERI will generate knowledge to address directly the challenge of how to bridge the gap between research and practice, to translate knowledge into tangible tools and practical procedures for education, and to improve educational practices and technologies. REC requests $15.0 million in FY 2003 for IERI. This investment from the EHR Appropriation is leveraged with annual contributions from the NSF Research and Related Activities Appropriation ($10.0 million). The Department of Education and the National Institutes of Health also participate in this interagency program.

Research on learning, teaching, and technology generates important discoveries, advancing our understanding of knowledge acquisition, instructional practice, and systemic reform. It establishes proofs-of-concept for developing and applying learning technologies to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning and teaching at all education levels. A primary goal is to increase the level of science and mathematics knowledge of all students, as well as to develop mechanisms for ensuring effective implementation of learning strategies and tools in classrooms, schools, and large-scale systems. National and international studies, indicator development, and analyses, such as the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the TIMSS-Repeat (TIMSS-R), provide invaluable descriptions of the status and progress made by U.S. education, as well as insights for meeting its challenges. For example, REC-supported international comparative research highlights the disturbing level of content preparation of U.S. middle school teachers compared to other countries, and suggests that high school teacher induction practices of other countries enable more productive and effective instruction in early teaching careers. This blend of results on research on learning, effective learning technology development, and insights from international comparisons can contribute to policy discourse and decision-making in improving U.S. mathematics and science education practice.

The unique span of REC investment, ranging from the cognitive neuroscientific to the scale of large educational systems, is generating insights into the learning process than can only be approached from a multidisciplinary perspective. A portfolio of nearly 200 projects that covers the span from early childhood through adult learning, including preK-16 education, is helping build a productive and forward-moving research community that is characterized by its multidisciplinary expertise in cognition, learning theory, technology, pedagogy, instructional workforce development, policy, and education system reform.

The research on learning portfolio continues to yield converging results that suggest that youngsters can learn science and mathematics sooner, more deeply and more effectively than traditional practice suggests. Projects in REC's educational technology portfolio have continued to build this body of evidence on improving STEM learning. REC supported tools are designed to amplify, highlight, and reveal mathematical or scientific ideas, principles, and processes, and enable the modeling, representation, manipulation and transformation of scientific or mathematical objects and processes. These tools will support significant pedagogical shifts that are appropriate for classrooms today and in the future.

Evaluation funding increases slightly to $12.64 million. Evaluation efforts that systematically assess the impact and results of all major EHR programs are supported in REC, contributing to improved program performance. Evaluation will continue to use a continuum of activities such as developing program indicators, producing databases, conducting impact studies, and carrying out program evaluations, to document accountability throughout NSF's portfolio of STEM education, training and human resource development programs. A special emphasis of Evaluation activities is measurement and data collection necessary to meet the reporting requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act. The Evaluation Research and Evaluation Capacity Building (EREC) program will receive its first round of full proposals in FY 2002. EREC seeks unique approaches to evaluation practice to generate new knowledge for the education community and to support broad policymaking within the research and education enterprise. FY 2003 funding will continue support for evaluations of multiple education programs or projects with similar objectives, to examine major STEM education themes.

REC also pursues an active program of Communication to disseminate the results of EHR-sponsored research and evaluations. These efforts broadly inform the STEM research and education community, provide vital information for policy-makers, and advance NSF's efforts to integrate research and practice. The interpretation and dissemination of research results to promote research-based approaches to education practice will be essential as the nation address its most critical educational challenges.

  Last Modified: Sep 17, 2004


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