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DRL 10-001

Dear Colleague Letter: Program Director, Division on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL) Directorate for Education and Human Resources

August 2, 2010

The Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL) announces a nationwide search for temporary Program Directors at the National Science Foundation (NSF). DRL invests in projects to improve the effectiveness of STEM learning for people of all ages. Its mission includes promoting innovative research, development, and evaluation of learning and teaching across all science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines by advancing cutting-edge knowledge and practices in both formal and informal learning settings. DRL also promotes the broadening and deepening of capacity and impact in the educational sciences by encouraging the participation of scientists, engineers, and educators from the range of disciplines represented at NSF. Therefore, DRL's role in the larger context of Federal support for education research and evaluation is to be a catalyst for change—advancing theory, method, measurement, development, and application in STEM education.

NSF Program Directors bear the primary responsibility for carrying out the Agency’s overall mission—to support innovative and merit-reviewed projects in the basic research and education that contribute to the nation’s technical strength, security, and welfare. To discharge this responsibility requires not only knowledge in the appropriate STEM and education fields, but also a commitment to high standards, a considerable breadth of interest in and receptivity to new ideas, a strong sense of fairness, good judgment, and a high degree of personal integrity.

Successful candidates will be expected to work with other staff in the division in managing some of the following funding programs:  Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering (REESE), Discovery Research K-12 (DRK-12), Informal Science Education (ISE), and Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST), in addition to Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER), Advanced Technological Education (ATE), and other programs. They will also be expected to work closely with staff across clusters, divisions, and directorates on cross-cutting programs of importance to the mission of the Agency.

Applicants interested in DRL's Knowledge Building Cluster should have a mastery of STEM education or a related field that includes a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of its scientific principles and theories. In addition, candidates should understand the broad range of issues involved in teaching and learning, as well as knowledge of appropriate education research (quantitative and/or qualitative methods) in their area of interest. Applicants should have a Ph.D. or equivalent and six or more years of successful experience in research or research management experience in a field relevant to the position such as STEM education research; evaluation; the learning sciences; behavioral, biological, cognitive, physical or social science; technology; engineering; mathematics, statistics, or measurement.

Applicants interested in DRL's Resources, Models, and Technologies Cluster should have a Ph.D. or equivalent in a field relevant to STEM education. They should have extensive knowledge and experience in education focused on improving STEM learning through the design, development, and study of innovative learning materials, instructional methods, strategies for assessing learning, or programs for teacher preparation and professional development. The cluster is particularly interested in applicants with expertise and experience in the application of information technologies to the tasks of STEM education preK-12.   

Applicants interested in DRL's Lifelong Learning Cluster should have expertise in STEM education outside of formal school environments or in informal education research, evaluation, and/or practice. Applicants should have a Ph.D. or equivalent experience and extensive knowledge of informal science education settings such as museum exhibits, large format film/radio/TV production, cyber learning, or community youth/family programming.

Program Directors hired under this announcement will be appointed under one of the following options:

  • Visiting Scientist Appointment. Appointment to this position will be made under the Excepted Authority of the NSF Act. Visiting Scientists are on non-paid leave status from their home institution and appointed to NSF’s payroll as Federal employees. NSF withholds Social Security taxes and pays the home institution’s contributions to maintain retirement and fringe benefits (i.e., health benefits and life insurance), either directly to the home institution or to the carrier. Appointments are usually made for up to one year and may be extended by mutual agreement.
  • Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Assignment. Individuals eligible for an IPA assignment with a Federal agency include employees of state and local government agencies or institutions of higher education, Indian tribal governments, and other eligible organizations in instances where such assignments would be of mutual benefit to the organizations involved. The individual remains an employee of the home institution, and NSF provides funding toward the assignee’s salary and benefits. Initial IPA assignments are made for a one-year period and may be extended by mutual agreement.
  • Temporary Excepted Service Appointment. Appointment to this position will be made under the Excepted Authority of the NSF Act. Candidates who do not have civil service status or reinstatement eligibility cannot obtain civil service status if selected. Candidates currently in the competitive service will be required to waive competitive civil service rights if selected. Usual civil service benefits (retirement, health benefits, life insurance) are applicable for appointments of more than one year. Temporary appointments may not exceed three years.

For additional information, please see “ROTATIONAL PROGRAMS FOR SCIENTISTS, ENGINEERS AND EDUCATORS” on the NSF website at

Individuals interested in applying for a temporary Program Director position in DRL should e-mail a current CV and statement of interest to