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News Release 95-54

Review to Explore How Current Innovations Can Reinforce Undergraduate Science Education

August 14, 1995

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has begun a year-long review of undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering and technology education in the United States. According to Dr. Luther S. Williams, NSF's Assistant Director for Education and Human Resources, the review is expected to provide guidance as to how large-scale changes in undergraduate education could be designed to improve quality and how NSF can most effectively capitalize on recent investments made in undergraduate science education. "NSF undergraduate programs have supported innovative projects to improve instruction at many two-year and four year colleges and universities. We hope to find out how the results of these and of similar projects funded by others can be used as the basis for larger-scale systemic change," Williams said.

The review, to be carried out by the Advisory Committee of NSF's Directorate for Education and Human Resources, will consult widely with educators, students and employers to provide analysis on the condition and support of undergraduate faculty, curriculum, and capabilities for teaching and scholarship in undergraduate institutions. It will be headed by Dr. Melvin D. George, Vice President of Institutional Relations at the University of Minnesota.

The review will consist of three phases.

  • First, there will be direct contact with individuals and organizations who are the "customers" of the varied programs and institutions that deliver undergraduate education plus intensive study of existing reports and data.
  • Second, preliminary findings from the first phase will be presented for comment to individuals and organizations experienced in undergraduate SME&T education and the employment of its graduates: regional hearings will be held, and there will be discussions with faculty, administrators, and employers attending key professional society meetings.
  • Third, NSF will seek to publicize and encourage implementation of those practices that will achieve improved science and technology literacy, a technically more capable workforce, better prepared teachers and scientists and engineers, and broader participation in SME&T careers.

According to Robert Watson, Director of NSF's Division of Undergraduate Education, projects supported by the NSF may focus on a single discipline, engineering or chemistry, for example; reach across disciplines, joining physics and biology for example; or be targeted on a special group of students, such as future elementary and secondary school teachers. "The ultimate goals of improved undergraduate SME&T education include citizens who are empowered to be full participants in a scientific and technological society, and a technically well-prepared workforce that can both participate and lead in a high performance workplace employing advanced technologies," said Watson.


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The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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