National Science Foundation’s SBE and EHR Advisory Committees Meet on Key Issues
November 2014

The advisory committees of the National Science Foundation’s Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) and Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorates recently held their biannual meetings, undertaking several issues of importance to the education research field. Both meetings were attended by NSF Director France Córdova.

SBE Advisory Committee

Two key topics at the meeting of the SBE Advisory Committee, held October 30–31, were reproducibility and data sharing, and privacy and confidentiality.

“I applaud the NSF for keeping these important issues at the forefront of this key gathering, and for continuing its leadership role in these areas,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine, who attended the meeting.

Also of significance to education researchers was the announcement that the Census Bureau is considering removing a question on degree attainment from the American Community Survey (ACS).

John Gawalt, director of the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), explained that the question on degree field on the ACS saves NSF $17 million in survey expenses. NCSES uses the variable for its National Survey of College Graduates, College Graduates in Science and Engineering. (See related AERA Highlights story, “Census Bureau Considers Removing Bachelor Degree Field From ACS Data Collection.")

This SBE advisory committee meeting was the first for Fay Lomax Cook in her new role as assistant director of NSF and head of SBE, which she began on September 1.

EHR Advisory Committee

The EHR Advisory Committee meeting, held November 5–6, presented an opportunity for the committee to discuss the recently completed report “Strategic Re-Envisioning for the Education and Human Resources Directorate” and to consider how to act on its recommendations.

The conversation focused on four main themes: partnerships, approaches to scaling, broadening participation and evaluation, and research using data analytics. The meeting was highly interactive, with a lot of opportunity for dialogue.

At the end of the first day, Assistant Director Joan Ferrini-Mundy, who leads EHR, identified six ideas to consider for the directorate’s future work:

  • Look for ways to roll research findings into models or carry into practice.

  • Ensure that calls and planning are needs-driven. For example, what do we know about the workforce needs of industry?

  • Stress the importance of broader impacts and work with other directorates across the NSF in this vein.

  • Identify obstacles to learning.

  • Build the scaffolding to support scaling. For example, what are the supports that teachers need to adopt new technologies?

  • Improve translation of research and increase dissemination of findings.

The advisory committee heard a panel presentation about replication and reproducibility in science, a subject that is under discussion across the NSF directorates. 

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