NSF EDU Advisory Committee Holds First Meeting with New Assistant Director and New Name
NSF EDU Advisory Committee Holds First Meeting with New Assistant Director and New Name

November 2022

On November 9–10, members of the National Science Foundation STEM Education Advisory Committee (EDU) met under the theme “Building and Strengthening Pathways to a STEM Literate Citizenry and Workforce.” The meeting marked a couple of milestones, being the first meeting since the change in the NSF directorate name on October 26 from “Education and Human Resources” to “STEM Education,” and the first meeting that included the new assistant director, James L. Moore III.

In his opening comments, Moore highlighted the directorate’s new name, noting how it better reflects the work of the directorate. He also discussed the opportunity that he has in leading the EDU Directorate to impact tens of millions of people by developing workforce talent that reflects the nation and making STEM more inclusive.

Advisory Committee members heard from EDU grantees on two focal areas for the directorate: spatial cognition as a way to develop a STEM-literate citizenry and workforce, and improving racial equity in STEM. The racial equity conversation featured grantees for several projects: Understanding Persistence through the Lens of Interruption; Addressing historic and systemic racial inequities: Coeur d’Alene land-based STEM education; Measuring the Social Networks and Community Cultural Wealth of Latina/o STEM Undergraduates;  and From Black Boys to Men.

Advisory Committee member Lorelle Espinosa (Alfred P. Sloan Foundation) discussed her experience in developing and implementing partnerships in a conversation with Jolene Jesse, NSF senior advisor for partnerships. Espinosa detailed some of the nimbleness that can result from partnerships with the private sector, including filling gaps on the timeframe and co-funding or aligned funding on projects that can support different phases or hand-offs. The discussion also included determining metrics and assessment for success and how to define success.

NSF officials also discussed efforts to evaluate NSF investments, aligned with federal-wide efforts such as the federal STEM education strategic plan, the NSF evaluation policy, and the development of the NSF learning agenda. The conversation also highlighted NSF investments in evaluative research. Advisory Committee members suggested that evaluations cover the EDU investment in racial equity, include systems-level change, consider whether new institutions are being supported under broadening participation efforts, and build capacity for different types of evaluators.

The meeting also included discussion on two Committee of Visitors reports on the activities of the EDU Division of Undergraduate Education and the Division of Graduate Education. EDU Advisory Committee chair Marilyn Strutchens (Auburn University), Ada Monzón (EcoExploratorio: Museo de Ciencias de Puerto Rico), and Juan Gilbert (University of Florida), described a variety of initiatives to develop on- and off-ramps to the STEM workforce and literacy. These included partnerships and resources to improve mindsets in math education, the role of museums and informal learning, and the role of mentoring.