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EDU Core Research

The EDU Core Research (ECR, formerly EHR Core Research) program supports fundamental science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education research as well as research initiatives and projects that build capacity to conduct such research. Currently, ECR supports proposals submitted through two main competitions.


Fundamental research generates knowledge and understanding with the potential for broad relevance. ECR:Core invites proposals for fundamental research (curiosity-driven and use-inspired basic research) that contributes to the general, explanatory knowledge that underlies STEM education in one or more of three broadly conceived research areas: Research on STEM Learning and Learning Environments, Research on Broadening Participation in STEM fields, and Research on STEM Workforce Development. Within this framework, ECR:Core supports a wide range of fundamental STEM education research activities aimed at learners of all groups and ages in formal and informal settings. The potential implications of ECR:Core research for improving STEM education practice may be indirect and long-term rather than direct and immediate. All successful ECR:Core proposals focus on the advancement or refinement of foundational knowledge for STEM education.

Additional information on ECR:Core support for fundamental research, webinars for prospective investigators, and projects funded to date is available here.


ECR:BCSER supports projects that build investigators' capacity to carry out high-quality STEM education research that will enhance the nation's STEM education enterprise. In addition, ECR: BCSER seeks to broaden the pool of researchers who can advance knowledge regarding STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM fields, and STEM workforce development. Researchers of races and ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, and abilities who are currently underrepresented in their participation in STEM education research and the STEM workforce, as well as faculty at minority-serving and two-year institutions, are particularly encouraged to submit proposals.

Specifically, ECR:BCSER supports activities that enable researchers to expand their areas of expertise and acquire the requisite knowledge and skills to conduct rigorous research in STEM education. Career development may be accomplished through investigator-initiated professional development and research projects or through institutes that enable researchers to integrate methodological strategies with theoretical and practical issues in STEM education. ECR:BCSER invites individual investigators - both experienced in and new to STEM education research - to submit Individual Investigator Development (IID) proposals. ECR:BCSER also invites proposals to design and deliver field-initiated Institutes for Methods and Practices in STEM Education Research (IMP). Institutes may employ a range of mechanisms (e.g., courses, online modules, summer workshop sessions, seminars, symposia, mentoring opportunities) to provide participants with training and support in the use of cutting-edge methodological techniques, and/or practices that advance their knowledge, skills, and competencies in STEM education research.

Additional information on the ECR:BCSER competition, webinars and virtual officers for prospective investigators, and projects funded to date is available here.


In September 2018, NSF and The Boeing Company announced a partnership through which Boeing invested $10 million to accelerate training in critical skill areas in STEM fields. As part of this partnership, the ECR:PEER initiative was launched in FY 2019 to support foundational research arising from the design, development, and deployment of creative online curricula that provide learners at various levels with skills in five focal areas: model-based systems engineering, software engineering, mechatronics, data science, and artificial intelligence. Managed and administered by NSF through the ECR program, this initiative invited proposals to design, develop, deploy, and study the effectiveness of online courses in any one of these focal areas using the theories and tools of the learning sciences. Additionally, ECR:PEER welcomed proposals to convene experts in the academic, for-profit, and non-profit sectors to imagine the future of production engineering education for one of the five focal areas.

Additional information on the ECR:PEER competition is included in the FY 2019 solicitation (NSF 19-557). No new proposals are being accepted at this time.


The Directorate for STEM Education (EDU) is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the EDU Core Research Program. Check out the ECR Insights page to learn more about events planned in connection with the year-long celebration and ECR awards and their accomplishments.