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New N.S.F. Grant Rules May List Science Education

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WASHINGTON--The National Science Foundation is considering amending its graduate-student fellowship guidelines to make it clear that students pursuing advanced degrees in science education are eligible for the $18,300 annual awards.

"We have always been willing to look at any advanced-degree program, if there is significant science content, and call it eligible,'' said Douglas S. Chapin, program manager in the division of research career development of the N.S.F.'s science- and engineering-education directorate.

But, he explained, foundation officials have been reluctant to include science education on the list of eligible fields in the fellowship-application guidelines because of "fear that it would be misunderstood.''

"People would try to apply with very minimal science involved, and they would be turned down,'' he said.

This year, however, in response to lobbying by groups such as the National Science Teachers Association, the foundation agreed to consider making science-education students' eligibility explicit in the rules scheduled to be issued in September. The proposal is still awaiting the approval of top N.S.F. officials, Mr. Chapin said last week.

In the past, few graduate students in science education have applied for the awards. Although relatively few additional students are likely to do so if the rules are revised, said Bill G. Aldridge, the executive director of the N.S.T.A., the change would still represent a "big breakthrough'' in helping to "bring together science and education.''

"This will help us establish some leaders in science education,'' he said. "It is crucial to build a cadre of talent.''

"There are people with a solid subject-matter background who want a degree in education,'' Mr. Aldridge continued. "They need support, but cannot find it. This will help them get that support.''

The N.S.F. awards three-year fellowships to students pursuing advanced degrees in science, engineering, and mathematics. Fellows receive stipends worth $1,025 a month, or $12,300 a year, plus a cost-of-education allowance of $6,000, paid directly to the institutions they attend.

In the past two years, the N.S.F. has awarded 560 fellowships annually.--R.R.

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