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DRL 14-001

Dear Colleague Letter: Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL) Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) Employment Opportunity (Open Until Filled)

November 1, 2013

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. Formal consideration of applications will begin at two times: November 1, 2013 and March 1, 2014 and will continue until selections are made.

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 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.

We are interested in a variety of experts that span the Division's programs; we anticipate 8 specific areas of need within the next year timeframe:

  • Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)
  • Discovery Research K-12 (DR K-12)
  • Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST)
  • Math and Science Partnerships (MPS)/STEM-C Partnerships
  • Promoting Research and Innovation in Methodologies for Evaluation (PRIME)
  • Research on Education and Learning (REAL)
  • EHR Core Research (ECR)
  • Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER)

Candidates must have a Ph.D. or equivalent experience in an appropriate field plus after award of the Ph.D., six or more years of successful research, research administration, and/or managerial experience in one of the following areas:

  • Research in a field relevant to the position, such as education or learning research in any STEM field, evaluation, statistics or measurement, or any of the behavioral, cognitive, or social sciences bases of STEM learning.  Ideal candidates bring strong methodological or measurement expertise.

  • Formal education focused on improving STEM learning through the design, development, and study of innovative learning materials, instructional methods, learning assessment, teacher preparation and professional development programs, or STEM education methodologies.

  • STEM education outside of formal school environments or in informal education research, evaluation, or practice requiring extensive knowledge of settings such as museum exhibits, large format film/radio/TV production, cyberlearning, or community youth/family programming.

The position may be filled with one of the following appointment options:

Intergovernmental Personnel Assignment (IPA) Act: 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. Initial assignments under IPA provisions may be made for a period up to two years, with a possible extension for up to an additional two-year period. The individual remains an employee of the home institution and NSF provides the negotiated 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.

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 placed on the NSF payroll. 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 a one-year period and may be extended for an additional year 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 or reinstatement eligibility will not 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, and life insurance) are applicable for appointments of more than one year. Temporary appointments may not exceed three years.

For additional information on NSF's rotational programs, please visit:

Applications will be accepted from US Citizens. Recent changes in Federal Appropriations Law require Non-Citizens to meet certain eligibility criteria to be considered. Therefore, Non-Citizens must certify eligibility by signing and attaching this Citizenship Affidavit to their application to be considered for Federal appointments (i.e., Visiting Scientists, Engineers and Educators (VSEE) program, Temporary Excepted Service. Non-citizens will be considered only for the IPA program.


Applicants should indicate which program they are applying to within the cover letter and subject line of the email. Please submit a current CV and statement of interest to For more information about these openings, you may send an inquiry to or contact Celestine Pea at