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Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL)
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Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL)

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 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. The Division seeks to advance both early, promising innovations as well as larger-scale adoptions of proven educational innovations. In doing so, it challenges the field to create the ideas, resources, and human capacity to bring about the needed transformation of STEM education for the 21st century.

Because NSF is the premier Federal agency supporting basic research at the frontiers of discovery in the STEM fields, DRL takes as a central principle that new and emerging areas of STEM must figure prominently into efforts to improve STEM education at all levels and in all settings. Its programs should reflect this through the integration of cutting-edge STEM content and the engagement of STEM researchers in all DRL initiatives.

The Division’s programs offer a set of complementary approaches for advancing research, development, and field-based improvement strategies.

  • The Discovery Research K-12 (DR- K12) program seeks to enable significant advances in K-12 student and teacher learning of the STEM disciplines, through research and development of innovative resources, models, and technologies for use by students, teachers, administrators and policy makers.
  • The Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering (REESE) program aims at advancing research at the frontiers of STEM learning, education, and evaluation, and at providing the foundation knowledge necessary to improve STEM teaching and learning at all educational levels and in all settings.
  • The Informal Science Education (ISE) program builds on educational research and practice and seeks to increase interest in, engagement with, and understanding of STEM by individuals of all ages and backgrounds through self-directed STEM learning experiences.
  • The Information Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program seeks to engage students and teachers in the creative use of information technologies within the context of STEM learning experiences in school and other learning settings.

Each of these programs is intended to improve the capacity of their respective fields to further STEM learning. They are central to NSF’s strategic goals of Learning and Discovery, helping to cultivate a world-class, broadly inclusive STEM workforce, expanding the scientific literacy of all citizens, and promoting research that advances the frontiers of knowledge.

 

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