AERA 2019: “The Future of Education and Education Research” – A Conversation with Karen Marrongelle


It’s my pleasure to be here to chair this session it’s a great opportunity for us to have the opportunity to talk with Karen Marrongelle, Dr. Marrongelle is the new Assistant Director of the Education and Human Resources Directed at the National Science Foundation. I have had the great privilege and honor of serving on the National Science Board over the last five years and just barely overlapped her for about two months, so it is my great regret not to actually serve on the board while she is the new AD but one of the things I learned while on the board was the ways in which the vision of the Assistant Director can shape so many opportunities for research in our field for the kinds of things that are possible to do and because of what I know of Dr. Marrochelle work in the field and the kinds of things that she’s done across her career as a leader, as a researcher in mathematics education in the kinds of ideas that she’s pursued, it’s incredibly exciting for all of us to have the opportunity to hear from her today the vision that she has for what she’ll be doing at EHR and to invite all of us into a conversation with her. So the way we’ll structure this session is that Dr. Marrochelle will begin by sharing some of her thoughts as she assumes this role you’ve been in now for six months, so very long six months fully. I know that she’s done a lot of learning and thinking and we have a really rare opportunity to hear as the vision is emerging and then there’ll be an opportunity to have a conversation which I’ll help to moderate, so without any further ado thank you for being here and we please join me in welcoming Dr. Marrochelle to this representation. (audience clapping) Thank you so much Deborah and thank you all for being here this afternoon. I’m really pleased to join you here at AERA to share some of my initial thoughts. And though I’ve been in the job for six months I will point out that one of those months was on furlough. so I get one back. (laughing) I want to extend a special thanks to Felice Levine for inviting me here and providing an opportunity for me to speak with all of you and I am very interested in hearing the questions and the ideas that surfaced for you I am gonna go through some some remarks first. It’s been a whirlwind of a first five to six months at the National Science Foundation it’s an amazing place to work, an amazing place to immerse oneself in the cutting edge of research and development and so I’m hopefully gonna make some sense and talk to you coherently today about what I’ve been learning and what I’ve been thinking. For those of you who don’t know me I’m a Mathematics Education Researcher my line of work has typically studied, undergraduate mathematics learning and teaching, looking at in particular a student-centered approaches to teaching courses like calculus and for differential equations and proof and things of that at the undergraduate level. I’ve also done quite a bit of work in Mathematics Professional Development working with K-12 math teachers throughout the state of Oregon in particular but connecting with researchers on moving forward professional development learning agendas across the country. And most recently before coming to NSF, I was the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Portland State University in Oregon and so really had the opportunity to think carefully about how we integrate the STEM disciplines with the humanities and social sciences in preparing our students for their future outside of college. So first I want to applaud a RA on the great work that it does to advance educational research and promote the use of research to improve education and serve the public good, we that is NSF and AERA have a shared goal of ensuring that educational research makes those advances. As a Federal Science agency and a SEPs mission is to promote the progress of science to advance the national health and prosperity and Welfare and to secure the national defense. And as many of you know NSF has a Directorate for Education and Human Resources and the purpose of this Directorate is to support STEM Education and Education Research from P-K-12 through to workforce development. So, we work with and think about learners at all stages of their lives. We fund innovative teaching practices, instructional tools and programs that advance STEM education and prepare the next generation of STEM professionals. We further work to ensure that STEM education and career opportunities are available to all Americans. Particularly groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in STEM. Our goal is to develop a STEM literate public and a workforce that is diverse, innovative and prepared to advance the frontiers of science and engineering for society. So, I’ve been in the job for a short period of time and today I’ve been asked to speak with you about my initial reflections since my appointment as Assistant Director and my aspirations for the Directorate and also what I see as some of the most important opportunities for education research and priority areas meriting our attention and what education research scholars should be thinking about to produce the knowledge that is essential to education and learning trajectories present and future. So just a few things. (laughing) So let me start with some initial reflections. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the level of interdisciplinary collaboration taking place across the foundation, collaboration as you know is not easy it takes time, it’s often not the most efficient way to get things done and it involves learning new norms, expectations and ways of negotiating. However, the benefits of collaboration often outweigh the challenges. Collaboration opens up new ways of thinking, it leads to creative problem-solving and it allows for true engagement with big messy problems. In 2017 NSF launched the 10 Big Ideas. who here has heard about the 10 Big Ideas? Great, good we’ve got some hands, wonderful! I’m gonna tell you a little bit more about them if you wanna learn more please go to the NSF website @nsf.gov but these are 10 areas of research that focus on some of the most pressing problems today in science, engineering and education and by design these 10 areas require multidisciplinary teams and convergent approaches to working on these problems. I’ll list out what the 10 ideas are and I’m not using slides today which I’m sure my NSF colleagues are shocked by. (laughing) But I’m gonna go through the 10 ideas, I’ve just list them and then give you a couple of examples of some places that I see education research really intersecting with these Big Ideas. So the future of work at the human technology frontier, growing convergent research, harnessing the data revolution navigating the new Arctic, NSF Includes which I’m gonna say more about throughout my comments today midscale research infrastructure, quantum leap, understanding the rules of life NSF 2026, well what should NSF be focused on in the year 2026 and windows on the universe. So I went through those quickly but you can get a flavor of the types of ideas that NSF is hoping it’s taking out as the ideas that really need a lot of eyes and people working on those. And so the Education Directorate has a primary leadership role in NSF Includes but there are opportunities for education research in each of the 10 Big Ideas and I want to provide you some examples of how education researchers may interact with ideas like quantum leap or windows on the universe. Let me start with Midscale Research Infrastructure. So at the at the National Science Foundation we fund research infrastructure in big amounts like usually more than 70 million and smaller amounts so a few million and we realized that we were leaving in a gap, so projects roughly between 70 million and 60 million dollars, we weren’t we didn’t have a mechanism to fund those types of projects and people felt that what we leaving on the table, what work is not getting done because we’re not funding things in that range. Education Researchers typically don’t engage with Infrastructure Projects at the National Science Foundation that’s been an observation of mine since being back at the NSF. I’m particularly taken by this idea of midscale Research Infrastructure and I think we should be thinking carefully about questions like what is the infrastructure that we as educational researchers need to do our work what have we not thought about in terms of infrastructure that could help us answer our questions more quickly and more effectively, is it cloud computing capabilities that would allow the sharing of datasets and analytical tools, what are these types of things is it some kind of physical presence that would help bring researchers together to really accelerate the progress on some of our most challenging problems. So I think that’s something that we need to think about collectively is the infrastructure that we need to do our research better. Let me pick out Quantum Leap and the Rules of Life. So these are two Big Ideas that are led by some of the scientific directorates obviously focused on the role of quantum mechanics and quantum computing and everyday life and then really coming to some understanding of the basic rules of biological life. How could Education Researchers interact with these? Well, I think there are really important questions about how might our curriculum change and stay the same to prepare students to engage in a Quantum World and I think we should be asking ourselves if we’re adequately preparing students to engage with the computational tools that now drive so much of the biological research, so what are we doing to prepare students to engage in these very far-reaching ideas that actually aren’t that far-reaching these days to scientists. We can push the boundaries of research on STEM learning by mining datasets, digital datasets to develop new models of learning integrating artificial intelligence into learning, teaching and research to maximize our efficiencies and meet today’s students where they’re at by harnessing the power of digital and cyber technologies. This clearly falls into some of the harnessing the data revolution Big Idea work. And then finally when we think about the future of work, certainly we’re thinking about the future of workers more generally but what about the work of teaching? What will the work of teaching look like in 10 years and are we prepared for these changes and are we engaging with those ideas now to prepare teachers of the future? So just a few of my thoughts as I think about these 10 Big Ideas and I think about the ways that everyone here can really connect in and plug in to those 10 Big Ideas. So those are some of my initial thoughts which are really wrapped up because a lot of the work that I do within the foundation is around thinking through these 10 Big Ideas. let me turn now to saying a little bit about my aspirations for the directory. So, very basically I intend and I hope that we will continue to fund research that makes progress on some of the most vexing challenges facing learners and teachers right now. So we have done a lot with our research but we still have a lot of questions out there and of course it’s natural for a research to surface additional questions that require further study. But I also hope that we’re increasingly going to take up future-oriented questions about how we educate students today to be the scientists, engineers, educators and citizens of tomorrow. So we need to continue to do fundamental research on STEM learning and teaching and by fundamental research I mean research that asks and answers questions about how people learn STEM concepts and processes, effective ways of teaching STEM concepts and processes and the ecosystems including culture and social context that support learning STEM concepts and processes. I was reminded actually just a couple days ago about the importance of continuing to pursue Fundamental Research. I had the opportunity to attend the PI meeting on the future of work at the Human Technology Frontier that was held at NSF and one of the projects funded under that big idea is exploring the use of intelligent cognitive assistance in middle school, mathematics classrooms. The work is incredibly exciting as its testing new methods for teachers to use information quickly gathered by technology and in real-time and with a student-centered approach to the technology. As several of us were discussing the project with the researcher someone noted well we need to be careful with this because an administrator might use this as justification to put more kids in the classroom. A reasonable reaction. To me this highlights that we need to continue to investigate questions about the impacts of class size on learning and teaching and be prepared with that research as new technologies come in and allow us to do more in our classrooms or do more complex work in our classrooms and we need to be prepared to respond to ideas like that. So not only do we need to continue to pursue the vexing problems of the present but we need to imagine what the future world will be like for our current students and how educating them for the future may be different than educating them for today. In particular we need to wrestle with the impacts of technology on our society, our ways of communicating and interacting and our work and the impacts of technology on cognition and cognitive processing. So we need to ask questions about how technology influences what people need to learn and how theories of learning and teaching evolve because of technological advances. For example how is our current thinking about cognitive load impacted if at all because now we all walk around with our smartphones that have calculators and dictionaries on them. These are the types of questions that we really need to be wrestling with us as a community of Educational Researchers. My observation of the Educational Research is that it’s taking up questions, the questions that we’re taking up around technology tend to fall into the curricular space, so they’re not actually getting into the learning and teaching Theory space. So for instance you know developing computer games to engage learners in math and science this isn’t to say that such projects aren’t advancing theories around motivation but the foregrounding of many of the technology projects is on the design of the interventions to be used not the evolution of theories as a result of the changing landscape of information access. So my point here is that as we’re engaging with new technologies in and really thinking about those technologies, they need to start seeping into how we’ve constructed theories of learning and teaching. Certainly in the STEM disciplines but clearly for all disciplines. At the post-secondary level we we often ask about the effectiveness of online versus face-to-face modalities and by asking these questions that are only focused on modality, we’re ignoring some of the very important questions about models of effective post-secondary teaching and the theories of lifelong learning and access to post-secondary learning opportunities for all learners. This is a particular passion of mine, how we’re engaging with ideas of teaching at the post-secondary level and how technology can and should be infused into our discussions, not only our discussions about teaching at the post-secondary level but how we’re constructing theories of teaching at the post-secondary level. So, pursuing both fundamental education research and future or frontier looking educational research all of this is consistent with the research recommendations in the National Academy of Sciences report how people learn too. This was released last year and I know that AERA was a sponsor of that research. I encourage you to take a look at this report if you haven’t already because the research recommendations are closely aligned with the the two areas that I was just speaking about continuing to do fundamental research in education and looking towards the future, so please have a chance to take a look at that. So aside from from the Big Ideas and thinking through a lot of this work around technology the other major initiative that I’ve spent a great deal of time on since the Fall is the five-year strategic plan for STEM education. This is called Charting a Course for Success a federal strategy for STEM education and this is a plan that was written with all the federal agencies that fund Educational Research and Development Projects and it is a document that is going to help guide our work over the next five years. The plan has three goals for U.S STEM education and I find that these three goals do fall squarely within the mission of NSF. One is to build strong foundations for STEM literacy the second is to increase diversity equity and inclusion in STEM and the third is to prepare the STEM workforce of the future. So I wanna say a few words about each of these three goals. So first, building strong foundations for STEM literacy this really is the heart of what we fund at NSF. Our work in both formal school settings and in informal arenas, we’re in doing this work we pursue knowledge about how to support students so they can pursue advanced STEM education, STEM careers and acquire basic STEM understanding to be a productive citizen. We’ve learned a lot in pursuing some of this fundamental research for example,] preschool children’s knowledge of mathematics predicts there later school success into elementary and even high school, other research tells us that children who exhibit poor executive function are at elevated risk for repeated academic difficulties across elementary school including math and science. So we have some nice results there but we still have much to learn about the learning and teaching of pre K-12 mathematics and science to build those strong foundations of STEM literacy as conceived of in the STEM education strategic plan. We also need to think about how we prepare students to be data and computationally literate how do we develop sustainable models of teaching computational thinking, data analytics computing and coding to all pre-K through college students and the current workforce and I’m going to come back to the current workforce in just a bit. In this report in this strategic plan, access to high-quality life long STEM learning opportunities is part of the vision a building strong foundational STEM literacy and here I just wanna say a few words about work at the undergraduate level. So I hope that as we think about building these strong foundations of STEM Literacy that we really engage with the ideas of taking up the issues of teaching at the undergraduate level. How do we equip university faculty on how to teach and for instance how do we train our university faculty how to teach students coming from different demographics than what they may be used to. We need to develop models of learning and teaching at the post-secondary level that reflect the populations that most institutions of higher ED serve and really these these populations are more ethnically diverse they’re older students with families, with jobs that are returning to school, that are not in the in the 18 to 22 year range that we tend to think of as the typical college student and we need to think about new models for providing ongoing educational opportunities for the current STEM workforce and universities can and should be a big part of this. There’s much that we can learn from Minority Serving Institutions and in fact another recent National Academy of Sciences report on and on MSI’s, Minority Serving Institutions reported that MS’s currently produce one-fifth of the Nation’s STEM Bachelor’s degrees and this is in spite of their very limited resources. So one strategy is to figure out how to replicate what MSI’s are doing and how to make those widespread successes of those best practices. So MSI’s have a strategies for recruiting and retaining underrepresented groups in STEM we need to understand what it would take to scale those types of practices and processes. The National Academies report cites the NSF Lewis Stokes Alliance for Minority participation in science or LSAM some of you may be familiar with that program as an example of a successful effort that could be scaled LSAM has has helped more than 650,000 students from historically underrepresented groups in STEM fields attain a bachelor’s degree which is great but we wanna make sure that we’re fully researching these types of activities and understanding the essential elements of programs such as LSAM and it’s incumbent upon us as educators general researchers to figure out what those essential elements are and how to scale them to even more broader populations. I finally point out that many organizations have focused on undergraduate teaching in the last several years the American Association of Universities, the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities, American Academies of Arts and Sciences have all taken up initiatives around looking at in examining, teaching at post-secondary institutions including but certainly not limited to minority serving institutions. I think it’s incumbent upon EARA and the Education Research communities to connect with those efforts and ensure a strong research foundation in those efforts that are looking at improving post-secondary teaching. I don’t have time today to talk about graduate education but someone might ask a question during the Q&A about that, but another observation in my short time at NSF is that there is a quite a bit of energy around thinking carefully about graduate education and bringing our perspectives from educational research to bear on some of the pressing questions around granted. So happy to take some questions about that later. The next part of the STEM of strategic plan focuses on increasing diversity equity and inclusion and STEM and again this is a place that NSF has done a lot of work for a long time. So we have funded work on broadening participation of groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM for decades this good work and these successful practices and outcomes have been happening albeit in pockets and we are concerns that we’re not reaching all learners, we still have a large untapped group of people women and minority groups who either don’t have access to or don’t receive encouragement to pursue degrees and careers in STEM and this is one of the reasons why we launched NSF includes and I mentioned that’s one of our Big Ideas. NSF includes will enable us to share more broadly what has been proven to work and scale up to a national level those initiatives that have shown promise in bringing underrepresented groups into the STEM fields. For example the algebra project led by Bob Moses has demonstrated success in ensuring high levels of improvement in K-12 math achievement of students who are in the lowest quartile of the state test of mathematics, modeling, adapting and scaling this approach could impact many more students. Research must play a central role in NSF Includes. We need a diversity of research perspectives to help ask and address questions about what works for whom and under what conditions as we connect the communities who have been dedicated to broadening participation in STEM. And this is a place where we need the perspective, the multi perspectives of educational researchers to help us understand and scale the work that’s going on in NSF Includes. And finally the last part of the strategic plan focuses on preparing the STEM workforce for the future. I’ve already touched on the importance of understanding how constantly evolving technologies are actively shaping the lives of workers and how people in turn can shape those technologies especially in the world of work. I wanna point out that in this focus on the STEM workforce of the future is a departure in this strategic plan from the previous strategic plan so there is quite a bit more emphasis and focus in this strategic plan on thinking about getting students to work and thinking about the current workforce and how we may continue to educate our current workforce. So not only must we attend then to how we educate students for work in life in a future that will be different from the present but we’ve also been called on in the strategic plan to grapple with questions about how we re-educate the current workforce. We’ve been thinking about these questions in teacher professional development for many years as I reflected on this it became obvious to me but what about software engineers or medical lab technicians what do lifelong learning experiences for broader sectors of workers of course particularly interested in STEM workers, what would those look like and are there elements about what we’ve studied and know about teacher professional development that could be translated as we think about the continual education of other STEM workers. So these are questions that we also need to really think about and grapple with. How do we provide meaningful lifelong learning opportunities to folks given the constraints of work and family and again for many from any undergraduate students they’re already confronted with those constraints. So employers nationwide as you probably know have been saying that they are having trouble filling jobs and occupations that depend on technical workers and according to the most recent edition of the National Science Board Science and Engineering indicators report, jobs requiring substantial STEM expertise have grown nearly 34% over the past decade. And these jobs are not for people with titles like Scientist or Engineer, they include positions from administrative work to contracting where people need to have an in-depth understanding of STEM fields. So coming back to where I began I think that the Big Ideas can point us in areas that require our focus because in order to think about what our future workforce needs, those needs in the STEM fields are going to align really well with the places that we’ve scoped out our Big Ideas. So these are just some reflections on my own learning as I work with a great staff at NSF to make sense of what we’ve been funding and the major challenges ahead of us in STEM Education. If you take away only one message from my comments today it’s my request to think about the future. Dream about what educational spaces and places might look like in 10 years 15 years and what we as Educational Researchers need to do now to ensure that we are prepared. The last thought I’ll leave you with for there’s a lot of NSFers in the room can you all just wave your hands, so these are an incredible staff and I can tell you that I just continue to be impressed by the dedication insight and hard work that everyone at NSF exhibits and so if you ever think that you might like to work at NSF talk to me or talk to anyone who raised their hand because we’d love to have you join our team thank you. (audience clapping) So thank you so much Karen that really appreciate it’s a really great opportunity for us. I wanna invite people to ask questions and if you wouldn’t mind coming up and using the mic so that everyone can hear your question that would be great. I’ll start by asking you a question one of the things that I heard you say that I think is very interesting is the degree to which interdisciplinarity is so you impressed by it at NSF and I found the same thing when I had the opportunity on the NSB but one of the things that is challenging for those of us in education is that interdisciplinarity may range into fields that aren’t ones that NSF typically funds and some of the really vexing problems in education require collaborations into fields that aren’t so clearly even if you include the Social Science and Behavioral Sciences Directorate and for example, you could think about things like the Intersections of Literacy Development of young people and what bearing that has on the development of STEM but you don’t actually fund work and literacy or you mentioned learning about class size and how that might intersect with instructional innovations but that’s a field of research on teaching the more general field or research on effects of teaching is a somewhat different field, do you see new opportunities for designing proposals or projects that might allow researchers who interested in the kinds of problems that you mentioned, that I’ve just mentioned to design a way to be strategic about gaining funding to be able to Center the questions inside the actual spaces of Education research or do you think people have to continue to kind of find workarounds to make sure it always sounds science and math? (laughing) That’s a great question Deborah. Yeah, so we do need we do need to fund things that are science and math related, STEM related but I can think of a couple of opportunities so we have been doing also a lot of collaborative work with other federal agencies, so IES is one of them Department of ED and I think there could be interesting ways there to think about collaboration, we have collaborated with other agencies in the past on work that can help broaden the scope where we’re both collaborating on funding a common goal, where we each kind of funds behind the scenes the piece that is most appropriate for our agency. It’s also important to talk with program officers about the ideas because they can help shape the the work in a way, so yes, it is important that it is science and STEM related but there are, for these good ideas for to really keep moving along the work that is going to impact all of us not just STEM Education, we can figure out ways to make that work happen. And I’ll just ask one more question and then it’s your turn, so I hope you’re incubating questions out there. I was very struck with your comment about Midscale Infrastructure and I don’t know whether people might actually I have a question for you about it, but do you mind just saying a little more about what NSF means by Infrastructure because that word is used in a variety of ways in the field and I have some sense about what you mean but would you mind saying a little more than have one more question for you about that? Sure yes, so great! So, I mentioned kind of there’s two historic bins that NSF funds Infrastructure Projects. So one is major research instrumentation, so this could be a high-definition microscope on a particular campus that a lot of people are going to use, that cost a lot of money and an individual institution might not be able to afford on its own and those are typically in 100,000 to like to into like the millions of dollars and then there are you know very large projects so we NSF has a whole infrastructure in the Antarctic that we run, buildings people, we maintain all of the research centers in the Antarctic are NSF that’s like on the way other end of the extreme, that cost many million dollars a year to run. And then mid scale is stuff that falls in in between so it’s not super huge but it’s bigger than a microscope force that’s like for instance and yeah and I think that what I’ve noticed is that like we don’t really fund much of anything and program officers can correct me if I’m wrong, I’m pretty sure we don’t fund MRIs out of out of EHR. So we don’t fund really anything along the infrastructure spectrum and I think it’s worth asking, should we be? So let me ask you if this is a case of it, so one of the things that I was very struck with as an education researcher during my time on the board is the way in which other fields amass very significant and creative databases that researchers all over the world share, the first encounter I had with that was people in the field of ocean studies where instrumentation and data collection were being accomplished by researchers across many different field, different institutions around the world, creating data that researchers could share and we began to talk a bit on the board about what that could look like in education, given the kinds of collections that are possible to make now, not simply the kinds of data that have always existed and ZES, for example but data that would include video records, things that would be of different sorts of captures of Education. Can you picture that being the kind of thing you can imagine beginning to be possible in our field? Absolutely and I mentioned cloud computing because I think that a lot of the research we do is requires a lot of computation, it requires a lot of computer memory, it requires a lot of computational speed for analysis and to be able to share those types of data that take up a lot of space, video data, audio data, transcription data, that absolutely is a place that I could imagine that we could be thinking about oh, if we were able to link data sets in a central place what is what is in the research that could come out of that, what what opportunities are we missing as researchers by not being able to easily and readily connect our our larger datasets together or any of our datasets together. So let me open it up now to see questions that people here might like to ask. (audience member mumbling) Can you wait for the mic please? Sorry, thank you. Can you mind saying who you are as well? Robert Reso the Associate Dean for Research at Florida State. You had a lot of ideas about new initiatives and other than the NSF Includes, what new programs do you see NSF offering to support the research that you want to a see taking place? Great question, so I think that the ideas that I was kind of ruminating on can take place within our existing programs, so I use for instance out of the division of undergraduate education, supports projects, innovative projects at the post-secondary level that kinda should be taking up some of these essential questions about pedagogy, post-secondary pedagogy. Certainly NSF includes was one of our most major new programs, I would also say take a look out for Dear Colleague letters because those will point to not new programs but new emphases in our existing programs. Our ECR, our educational core research program which spans all of the divisions within EHR and has calls for foundational research, we just this year have issued a few Dear Colleague letters pointing to specific areas of research that we’d like to see, one of those happens to be around retraining and workforce retraining, so pay attention to the DCLLs when they come out because those are the places that you will see some of the the new research emphases that we have and get really the latest thinking about where we’d like to see some proposals coming into our existing programs. Because there may be some new scholars in the room who aren’t familiar with what a Dear Colleague letter is, do you mind just saying briefly why they’re called that and what they are and where one would look for them? Right, I don’t know why they’re called that. (laughing) So this is, we actually were just having, I was having a conversation about Dear Colleague letters with someone recently, a new program officer to NSF who said I never knew about Dear Colleague until I was a program officer at NSF. The bet and if they are a little hidden, so thank you this is a great question. The best way to learn about them is to subscribe to the NSF daily update that will deliver information to you, right to your inbox and that’s a place where we list Dear Colleague letters, they don’t show up in other places, I think there’s some technical rules about that, I’m trying to learn all the ins and outs of why they don’t but that is the place to find out about Dear Colleague letters, really the best thing to do is subscribe to the NSF news service that will deliver information to your inbox and you can specify the particular sub-fields that you’re interested in and you will see the Dear Colleague letter announcements come through that. And again these are these are documents, they’re very short and they specify within our discovery research K-12 program. We are interested in funding these particular things so in addition to the program solicitation which is very easy to find or easier to find on our website the Dear Colleague letter specifies these particular areas that we’d like to generate some more proposal ideas around. Please say who you are. Irena White can you hear that? Yeah.
Good I’m from Flinders University in South Australia. I wondering what room you have in your vision for engaging with the Citizen Science Movement around the world and I’m asking that question on behalf of Dr. Linda Orwen who runs a Citizen Science Project in Rainbow Beach Queensland, I know the place if wanna go to Queensland. (laughing) Thank you for that great question, thank you for traveling all the way here. Yes, so I didn’t talk a lot about informal science education or citizen science but it is a very big part of what we do at NSF and what I anticipate and expect that we will continue to do through our Advancing Informal Science Learning Program. We fund a variety of out of formal schooling type activities museums, television shows, movies, really kind of creative ways of thinking about engaging citizens in general with science and scientific principles and so that work has thrived we have made quite a few very significant investments that we believe have really had some impact certainly, we’re always thinking about ways to partner with our international colleagues and I don’t see the informal science work that we do as being any exception to that, so I think that you know we’re always looking to pursue ways of partnering with folks outside of the U.S boundaries. So what’s the next acton? Yes, so they hit so the action would be getting in touch with a program officer to start we have an office of International Science Education at NSF and they help us negotiate you know, memorandums of understanding and ways that we can more formally partner with other agencies really around the globe. so reaching out to a program officer and any of us can get you a name afterward would be a concrete next step. Kindly bring mic there. Hello, I’m Yanghee Kim, Morgridge Endowed Chair from Northern Illinois University, my question is relatively simple. I’m excited very interested in listening to you, your interest about a Midscale, Research Infrastructure who would be the contact if I wanna initiate this project and so typically programs that have assigned the colonies and officers but you know the project like Midscale Infrastructure, so where can I start with? Yeah, that’s a great great question, it’s not always obvious to the outside. Lezeia in the division of undergraduate education, L-E-Z-E-I-A, Lezeia can help guide you and as an answer the questions that you have he’s our EHR liaison to that to the midscale work. Do you have a mic? (audience member mumbling) Thank you, Well I’m not a scientist I am not from the sciences, I’m Director of the ED Leadership Program in a college in Israel and what I find out that there is a missing link when we look at the administration school leaders and we ask ourselves how do they change and the change is very small and we really ask ourselves, who are the new leaders and who are the new teachers and what kind of research can we do because in a way except for bringing, let’s say smart boards and things that nobody uses, schools are behind nothing I mean they use some technology but altogether we feel that education in the one sector just stands behind it’s not moving forward enough, what can you suggest in that? So specifically around working with administrators and leaders, that’s a great question. I mentioned the need I think to integrate technology with our theories of of learning and teaching and more just in more deep ways than we have been, that research needs to happen so that we can make policy recommendations that could help school leaders. I know that many of the projects that we funded at NSF that focus on teacher leadership and teacher professional development also recognize the need to bring school leaders and administrators into the work, so as we’re thinking about the future of Education, the future of what classrooms of the future are going to look like and working with and I would hope and expect that projects would work with teachers around taking up some of these fundamental questions, administrators need to be part of that conversation as well. I think that’s something that we’ve learned from our decades of research and working on teachers and with teacher change that we need to involve the administrators in some of the research fundamentally but then also think about as we’re finding getting search results how do we translate that to policy and how do we communicate that to leaders in on a broader level. Hello, can you hear me?
Yes. Wonderful, Christmas Chylus, I’m from Sacramento State and I teach in our graduate and research program. Well, my question is about data sets, you talked about data sets that might be in the cloud that might be useful for analysis EDTPA for example is something that’s in California now, we have another version there it’s all over the country or it’s in many many states, there’s probably a wealth of data in there that could be analyzed and thinking about not just video but transcription, computational linguistics is something that I would be interested in, it’s all proprietary, however and I don’t know how it’s very useful for Pearson for example and I’m not here to slam Pearson or anything like that, so let me get to the question what is it that NSF could do or advocate so that these data sets, so that the ownership could be determined so that maybe it’d be useful for others? It’s in the spirit of people knowing very different things in the room would you just mind briefly saying what EDTPA is or what kind of data you are talking about? Oh sorry, so in California for example if you wanna be a teacher in a K-12, at the end of your program you have to take and pass EDTPA. You will present video clips of your teaching in high school, you’ll be doing math lessons, selectively analyzing your teaching and so forth, you’ll have students who are doing activities, you’ll plan a lesson et cetera and you scored on a variety of rubrics and that is how it works, if you fail then you get a certain number of attempts, if you don’t pass those then you’re out. How does that do did that work, it’s also expensive does that also help, okay. Do you wanna add something? I just want to add can they. (mumbling) their rights to the information that they submit and then everything is followed through Pearson. Yeah.
Thank you. Yeah, thank you, thank you very much. So great question, so yeah, what can NSF do? Well, there is we can use our kind of our power of convening to help bring together people who are interested in think, yes I’m thinking about these issues particularly in working with proprietary companies like Pearson and trying to figure out ways that we can move ahead right because there’s a wealth of data there. We can also start to think about what’s been done in non proprietary data area, so the EDX more of the on the online learning platforms that have data that is more readily available how our researchers getting access to those data taking up questions around those data and can we get some best practices that we could then take to the proprietary company, Of course, I can’t say that we have a magic bullet or we’d be able to solve this problem and it may be intractable but through workshops and conferences and the power of convening, I think we can help open up this space to have conversations about why it’s important to do research around data sets like these and with data sets like these. It’s just like get not totally of it but at this point, NSF has really had an history of experience in investing in infrastructure at EDE, HR, NSF has operated with the benefit of an NSF investment something called the AERA, NSF Grants Program that has been dedicated to the analysis of large-scale data sets and in its last two incarnations of awards we’ve been looking at various forms of big data of administrative data, of establishing cultures of use and a collaboration on guidelines for you, so I just wanna say it’s not just expectetive and it may not yet be as large and robust as we might all hope but I do think this Midscale Initiative provides a new window for further investment in environments where resources are still scarce, so I think we should I’m just gonna say commend what has happened as far as it has been able to come and I think it’s not just, yes we could but that power of convening is already operative. Yeah I think.
When I’d be interested in discussing that with anybody in the room who would like to. Because of that history, I think that’s one of the reasons that some of us are interested given the possibility of collecting data that weren’t possible to collect before that are not administrative quantitative data sets but there are very different forms of collecting records of practice and things that would print us to study things we haven’t been able to study and that history of that may support it but they do that in other fields they think about what could be the data not just how to share them and so there may be new directions to go as well. I agree, think part of the process is to define goals information that is all research design data. Right.
Including video data. Troy Sadler, University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Thank you for your comments, my question relates to the work that was done several years ago between NSF and IES for the common guidelines and I’m curious to get your take on how the agents how the foundation now is kind of looking at those common guidelines are there continued efforts to collaborate with with IES and that in that space and part of this question is motivated by at least my perception as someone who’s been funded by IES and NSF that IES has with some of their guidelines you know a role in privilege in certain kinds of research based on the categories that they create and the kinds of expectations that they call out so I’m curious if you’d speak to that issue and where NSF is heading with respect to those kinds of issues. Sure a great question. So, we do continue to collaborate with IES and in fact we published the common guidelines supplement just it was probably late December or sometime right after the government lapse, so we do continue to work with IES on that. We NSF has always had a history of funding a variety of types of research and and especially as we push towards research that’s more on the frontier we have to be open to different types of research we just have to be, so we are not looking to prescribe the types of research that come in but we acknowledge that there is a variety of research and that different educational research questions will fall along the different types of research outline in the common guidelines in different ways depending on how further advanced the field is, around the particular questions. So we have not had a history of being prescriptive about research design type and I don’t anticipate that we will go in that direction, we do collaborate with IES we do work with them regularly and certainly aligned in terms of our thinking about some of these research expectations and ideas and think of manifest of that was the common guidelines and the and the supplement that was recently released. One of the problems in the field that is pervasive if you go across this meeting or the sort of range of ways in which researchers across fields are studying deep and persistent problems of racism and oppression inequities that pervade our educational system and beyond and I know this includes but one might also think that research that focuses on these questions it doesn’t continue to do relatively colorblind or class blind kinds of work would be important do you imagine that researchers can bring proposals across a range of categories or is includes really the only place to do that does NSF see itself moving beyond inclusion in the STEM workforce into things like what happens to people inside of classrooms, what does it mean that we define mathematics in particular ways when we try to find out the cultural resources that kids bring, do you see a growing possibility here at NSF? I do and I would love to see that research I think that all of our research programs in the Directorate can and should be funding this type of fundamental research I mean the the achievement gap, continues to be a persistent vexing sticky problem for us so we can’t just place it in one category and what we fund at NSF nor do I see that we’re doing that, I think there is a lot of room for looking across our programs for collaboration there’s great Educational Research work happening in the HB the historical black colleges and universities program within the Directorate. I’m not sure how well connected that work is to some of the other educational research that we fund and that’s something that from my view from my position as someone who oversees the Directorate, I need to figure out ways that we make those links stronger but absolutely, especially issues around a race, ethnicity any disparities that we’re facing in education and should and are welcome to be funded across any of our programs. That would include funding Brooke that doesn’t take an achievement gap framework perhaps but versus the way that we think about you’re open to. Exactly, exactly. I think I saw you and then, we’re I’m keeping track, okay. (clearing voice) And who you are. Oh, I’m an Ambassador University of Michigan. I’m gonna come back to the question about literacy I’m in math education, so I’m concerned with math literacy but perhaps STEM Literacy is a better way to frame it. Traditionally that was called mathematical literacy or quantitative literacy or quantitative reasoning and the premise was that these were fundamental quantitative skills that enable people to function responsibly as a citizen and a modern industrial democracy but there’s a movement in the field now to replace that with something like mathematics and social justice rather than mathematics and democracy or as it was framed say 10 or 20 years ago and it’s related to these other themes for example many of this policy and practice decisions in society today are governed by algorithms and the premises that algorithms are somehow objective and not value Laden which is far from the truth, for example redlining was based upon policies in lending institutions that evaluated credit risk but the credit risk is influenced by many contextual conditions that it had they’re the product of those policies and resulted in lowering credit risk by those criteria. Gerrymandering is another area where questions of civic responsibility place while the Constitution places responsibility for distance being and the hands of a state legislature and if that’s governed by one party, there are now very good qualitative methods for designing those districts to favor one party out of the courts, what instruments can you provide courts to judge that something is unconstitutionally partisan and outcome. How do you evaluate the credibility of public information those are a lot of places where science computation and other kinds of information come into play, if you brought to replace the Electoral College you’d like to know something about social choice theory. So, there’s a potentially a fundamental, new conception of what functionally we would mean by scam or quantitative literacy and so my question is is NSF responsive to supporting the development of curricula for at that time? I certainly hope so. (laughing) Yeah, yes I do think we are responsive in developing curricula like you described. Especially as we so you’ve given some great examples of places where we cannot assume that that number is somehow represent an objective truth that numbers are advantaging or disadvantaging different people in our society and have been historically so yeah, I do think that we have a variety of projects and program that support projects that do take up work in this area and that we are raising questions about that question kind of some of the fundamental basis and under just underlying principles of the science that’s been conducted. I think this is also another important reason why we need to wrestle with some of these questions around technology because humans, we have to think about the human interactions that technology will be supporting and enhancing and it is humans that are responsible for that technology, so we can, we should be looking back at some of the examples that you’ve provided as we think ahead to what some of the new advances in education can look like, so that we’re not repeating some of those mistakes of the past. Hi my name is Elsa Gonzales from the University of Houston, I do research on Latinas in the STEM fields and as retaken a little with your previous comments. You talked about retention, persistence, graduation of under represented students and also you talked about the workforce as a third strategy, as we see I mean we’re graduating more and more under represented students on the STEM fields thanks to the efforts, we are now at the point that we want about we are going to learn more because of demographics and because of the efforts but now they are moving to the workforce and while we also seeing, is there we are not retaining those in the academia, as a faculty and on the private sector as a leaders and thus is that something I mean is that ideas and I’m assuming yes but it’s just probably, I just wanna ratify the idea, it’s just something that NSF is supporting the retention of those because we get back to the same problems I mean as we interview students in undergraduate they don’t see somebody that looks like them as a faculty they don’t see that look like them as a leaders in the private company and when they get there, they get a scare and they leave, they don’t go to the promotion and tenure process, they don’t go to as leadership positions and they are leaving the the workforce, so there is a gap and there is a support that they need there and as we keep continuing supporting our students and in the STEM fields but we need to support our workforce too. Great great question, so yeah. So NSF is supporting this work and and let me give you a couple of examples, so one of our long-standing programs is advanced and this is a program designed to retain and promote women in the Academy in STEM fields. Over the last several years and really as a response to what we were seeing coming in and proposals, advanced projects now need to take an intersectionality lens so the projects are required to think not only about the advancement of women but women of color in the Academy and how these points of intersectionality can be built into the project, so that’s one place. We in the fall ventured into a partnership with Boeing and one of the first initiatives that we worked on with Boeing is part of our NSF includes Network but it is a special program to figure out how to get women particularly women veterans engaged in STEM field, so women who have had some break in their study of STEM either they left to raise a family they had to leave for other reasons but they’re coming back and want to pursue careers in STEM. So that’s another reason, that’s another, oh sorry. That’s another program that we engaged in with a private sector industry to help think about how we might find some great solutions to these problems that you point out are also very vexing important problems for all of us. Right, can you hear me?
Yeah. I’m Fashio Lotus from the Academy of Hope Adult Public Charter School in DC where I help run and also research and evaluate adult literacy programs but we’re also going into the career pathway programs, so I’m wondering if you’re look what caught my attention is your reference to worker retraining programs are you working with the adult literacy field in that with we owe the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act and if not is there a place for us at the table? So I don’t know if we are. (laughing) I will be quite honest, I haven’t heard that acronym but that doesn’t mean anything. If we’re not I think some of the places that we can engage are in it well certainly in our a tier advanced technological education program which really is the center of a lot of the work that we’ve been doing around re-skilling but really in again in our core research program we need to be taking up and we have been taking up research around rescaling and working with adult populations and so I think there’s a couple of different places for collaboration that can take place. Thank you. Thank you. My name is Martin Peters from the Netherlands Institute for Curriculum Development, we have a discussion now in our country about the relation between disciplinary and interdisciplinary education training whatever. Does NSF has in the framework of STEM Literacy a certain view on the importance of interdisciplinary knowledge competencies and how to educate young people to become competent in that, what’s the relation between disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge or are you neutral? I think we’re probably neutral. (laughing) However, the STEM strategic plan places high emphasis on interdisciplinary work and so it acknowledges that we need to build foundations in the disciplines but that really again with taking a future-oriented look, points out and spells out that students need the opportunities to engage in interdisciplinary ways of thinking and yeah, basically interdisciplinary ways of thinking and those types of opportunities as students really K-12 and on. We support, we the NSF guys do say NSF is neutraless because we support a variety of this work, we understand that we still need to ask and answer questions that are discipline specific that there are a lot of outstanding questions within the disciplines but we also recognize that we need to also figure out how to train students to work through in a variety of disciplines, in multidisciplinary teams and of course with the 10 Big Ideas that further is a further articulation of the importance of interdisciplinary work just because we have the 10 Big Ideas though doesn’t mean that the disciplinary core research has gone away so we continue to do that core research and that really is the crux of what we do, we have started to move forward with more interdisciplinary research over the last few years which is acknowledging the importance of that work and the understanding that this really is where the STEM fields seem to be moving. Thank you. Have a question. A completely different question. In many European countries and I guess in the United States it will not be much different there is a tendency in political development, discrediting scientific research as there is a kind of hostility towards science the populist movement, is there any threat to NSF or its purposes from funds and a threat by the development of say people who want to promote fake news or want to deny the pursuit of truth or whatever? Well, in Fiscal Year 19, we were the Congress allocated our biggest budget to date 8.1 billion dollars, so no, I think given that I mean we’re certainly, we pursue fundamental science endeavors and certainly to we understand that it is part of our mission to ensure that we have a scientifically literate populous in our country and take that seriously so, I think if there is a rise of you know anti science that it’s really incumbent upon us to help ensure that we’re continually educating all people about science and ensuring the scientific literacy of the nation but no based on our budget no. Do you haven’t been attacked yet? No.
No. Congratulations! (audience laughing) Karen, when you think about the strategic thinking that you and others are doing right now, NSF had over certainly in the 90s and in the 2000s and likely before that, a big investment in things that had to do with systematic reform there were many different examples of that and initiatives there was also the heavy investment in curriculum and people are still bringing up curriculum it made me wonder whether you thought as the strategy develops whether this strategy would be informed by researchers in the sort of policy space who have produced new knowledge about what it really means to create educational interventions what it means to do that with consideration of communities and their effects what designs actually do work at what scaling even means or do you see because some of that has been a repeated effort to scale up or build curriculum most of which has either created some harm or hasn’t had the kind of extensive effect that the designers thought there is available work in other fields that could inform that do you imagine that being part of the strategy as it develops? Yes, I certainly hope so because yeah, we should be looking to and this is the beauty of interdisciplinary work and I think the beauty of really thinking carefully about how we work in interdisciplinary teams when we know that there we have knowledge in one sector that hasn’t translated or we think about how those results can inform the work that’s going on over here we need to be communicating together and so in any of the research that we fund especially if we’re looking to make institutional changes, systemic changes I hope, I would hope that we are that our researchers are making those connections to the types of research that aren’t necessarily squarely STEM education research but that have important findings and methods and tools that can be brought to bear on the problems that we’re trying to solve. I know we’re near the end of our time now I wondered if you wanted if you had either closing thoughts or some advice there are plenty of people in the room here that who I think may want to are excited by your vision and your openness I’ve every time I get to talk with you I’m so struck with how fast you’re learning things and how open you are to saying what you don’t know and what you are thinking about it’s very exciting that you’re there and we’re all very pleased about that but do you have any advice you would give any of us about how we might be thinking given your leadership there and what we might be trying to do or any other thing else you’d like to close with us for? Yeah, thank you. It’s really I’m just honored to be able to serve in this position at NSF and serve the country in this way. I actually I really love your last question, we do need to be thinking about how we partner with others who have expertise that are going to help us advance the problems that we’re trying to work on and so, don’t be afraid to bring very diverse teams to the problems that you wanna propose to NSF because we anyone STEM ED researcher is not going to have all of this knowledge and we know that we benefit from having a variety of outlooks and viewpoints on the on the problems that you know that were that we’re trying to solve so I think that’s really important. Please talk to folks at NSF, we’re a friendly bunch. (laughing) We really are, we all do like the day to day life for someone who works at NSF is very different because we do get a lot of ideas we have a view of the what’s going on in the field that’s had a very different level than any one individual researcher or even teams of researchers and so program officers and staff at NSF can help you shape your ideas, set you in directions and even connect you with people who may have the the knowledge that will be helpful as you’re trying to pursue a particular line of inquiry so please do reach out and and talk with us about your ideas also don’t, I know one of my answers to one of the questions was about the power of convening but you know we do need to bring people together to talk about and strategize on ways to move forward on some of these issues that we all care deeply about so don’t forget that NSF will fund that type of work and assist in that type of work and so please, look to us to help do that so, yeah and just keep coming to us with your great ideas. (laughing) Before we close and can’t thank Karen, I just want you to join me in thanking the people who’ve been running around with the mics and thank you so much I’m sorry that it’s probably busy again right now, thank you for bringing the mics around to us and helping us to have this conversation here you were amazingly subtle. (audience clapping) And most of all thank you for taking time out off must be an incredibly fast paced and busy schedule to make it up to Toronto to talk with us today we really appreciate it, please join me in thanking Dr. Marrongelle. (audience clapping)

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