Education

NSF Commits $20 Million to ‘Science of Learning’ Projects

By David J. Hoff — May 28, 2003 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The National Science Foundation is planning a 10-year effort to underwrite research to unlock the secrets of how people learn and how to put those lessons into practice.

More information is available from the National Science Foundation.

The independent federal agency announced this month that it is seeking applications for up to 30 projects that will “extend the frontiers of knowledge on learning.” The NSF is committed to spending $20 million on the projects over the next two years, but is hoping to expand the endeavor in future years, according to one of the program officers heading the initiative.

“This is going to push the sciences of learning in a big way to bring to bear what they can tell us [about] how people learn,” said Steven J. Breckler, the agency’s program director for behavioral and cognitive sciences. That division is coordinating the enterprise along with seven other divisions of the Arlington, Va.-based NSF.

Cognitive scientists, neurologists, and education researchers have made significant headway in recent decades in understanding how people learn new information, form conceptual understanding of it, and begin to apply it in real-life situations. Four years ago, the National Research Council published an exhaustive summary of learning research with suggestions on how its findings could alter classroom practice. (“Reading-Achievement Program Is Off to a Quiet Start,” Jan. 13, 1999.)

Mr. Breckler said the science foundation expects this latest program to make strides in the research, as well as put current and new findings into use in schools and other real-life situations.

All Sizes

The foundation plans to make between three and five major grants and another 20 or so smaller ones.

The large grants will support efforts to form what the NSF calls Science of Learning Centers—or SLCs. Each center will receive between $3 million and $5 million a year to conduct multidisciplinary research that is expected to further the knowledge base on how people learn. The centers also will work to ensure the research has an impact. Those projects can receive funding for up to 10 years.

Mr. Breckler said the centers’ researchers, to win funding, will be required to work with practitioners in the field. For example, a group of researchers may work with a school district to test certain methods of teaching a particular subject, he said, or the group could help a textbook publisher write a new curriculum.

The smaller projects—called “catalysts"—will receive grants for a year or two to examine narrow topics in the learning sciences. Recipients will be expected to organize workshops and conferences where their research can be debated by others in the field.

Catalysts may be in a position to receive larger grants to become centers when the foundation adds new ones in future years, Mr. Breckler said.

Proposals under the catalyst program are due to the NSF Aug. 5, and for research centers Sept. 17.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education California Makes Ethnic Studies a High School Requirement
California is among the first in the nation to require students to take a course in ethnic studies to get a diploma starting in 2029-30.
4 min read
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, Democratic Assembly members, from left, James Ramos, Chris Holden Jose Medina, and Rudy Salas, Jr., right, huddle during an Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif. Medina's bill to make ethnic studies a high school requirement was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Education California Requires Free Menstrual Products in Public Schools
The move comes as women’s rights advocates push nationwide for affordable access to pads, tampons, and other items.
1 min read
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Education Florida to Dock School District Salaries for Requiring Masks
Florida is set to dock salaries and withhold funding from local school districts that defied Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on mask mandates.
2 min read
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Education More Than 120,000 U.S. Kids Had Caregivers Die During Pandemic
The toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests.
3 min read
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 file photo, a funeral director arranges flowers on a casket before a service in Tampa, Fla. According to a study published Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, by the medical journal Pediatrics, the number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)