Dear Colleague Letter: Principles for the Design of Digital Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Learning Environments

October 24th, 2017

With this Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Directorates for Education and Human Resources (EHR) and Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) wish to notify the community of their intention to fund research to support the design of the next generation of digital learning environments for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) content, and in support of STEM education research more broadly. As an important first step in this direction, this DCL encourages a series of synthesis, integration, and design workshops.

With this DCL, NSF anticipates funding up to 9 synthesis and design workshops for up to $100,000 each for one year of support. Proposals submitted in response to this DCL must be prepared and submitted in accordance with the guidance for Conference proposals contained in Chapter II.E.7 of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) The “Conference” type of proposal should be selected in the proposal preparation module in FastLane and proposals should be directed to the EHR Core Research and Development (R&D) Program. Proposal titles should begin with the phrase, “DCL: Synthesis and design workshop:”. Each workshop proposal should budget support for its personnel, including organizing committee members, its workshop meetings and activities, and its travel costs for selected project personnel to attend a two-day summit meeting near NSF. Meaningful involvement of graduate student(s) and/or postdoctoral researcher(s) in all projects is strongly encouraged.

A competitive workshop proposal should evidence a deep understanding of the theme of the proposed workshop (sample themes are provided below). The PI should propose a diverse interdisciplinary team with clear potential to: (a) describe the proposed perspective(s); (b) engage innovative design thinking to outline blueprint designs for a future learning environment; and (c) describe any potential theoretical, methodological or programming obstacles that are likely to require further research and development. PIs should submit project timelines for open workshops meetings (i.e., not invitation-only). The times and locations of the workshops should be posted on the project websites.

Specific questions pertaining to this DCL can be directed to the following program directors:

  • Amy Baylor, Program Director, EHR Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL), (703) 292-5126,; and
  • Tanya Korelsky, Program Director, CISE Division of Information and Intelligent Systems (IIS), (703) 292-8930,

Workshop proposals must be submitted by January 22, 2018.

To read the complete Dear Colleague Letter, visit the NSF website.