Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) applications sought

December 22, 2007

By Flinn Foundation

What does it take to effectively interest and prepare students as participants in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce of the future? What are the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that students need in order to participate productively in the changing workforce in STEM, particularly in STEM-related information and communication technology (ICT) areas? How do they acquire them? What will ensure that the nation has the capacity it needs to participate in transformative, innovative STEM advances? How can we assess and predict inclination to participate in the STEM fields and how can we measure and study impact of various models to encourage that participation?

The program responds to current concerns and projections about shortages of STEM professionals and information technology workers in the United States and seeks solutions to help ensure the breadth and depth of the STEM workforce. ITEST supports the development, implementation, testing and scale-up of models, as well as research studies to address these questions and to find solutions. There are a variety of possible approaches to improving the STEM workforce and to building students’ capacity to participate in it. NSF seeks to expand the existing ITEST portfolio by addressing students at any age for grades kindergarten through high school and by including all areas of the STEM workforce, while retaining an emphasis on technology-related areas.

This ITEST announcement extends the previous ITEST announcement by placing greater emphasis on capturing and establishing a reliable knowledge base about the dispositions toward and knowledge about STEM workforce skills among U.S. students. The previous awards by the ITEST program have established a strong foundation upon which to enlarge a scientific basis for educational programs in STEM education.

Three types of projects are invited. Strategies projects will include the design, implementation, and evaluation of models for classroom, after-school, summer, virtual, and/or year-round learning experiences for students and/or teachers to encourage students’ readiness for, and their interest and participation in, the STEM workforce. Scale-up projects would implement and test models about preparing students for information technology or the STEM workforce in a large-scale setting such as a state or national level based on evidence of demonstrated success. Studies projects are research projects to enrich understanding of issues related to enlarging the STEM workforce, including efficacy and effectiveness studies of intervention models, longitudinal studies of efforts to engage students in the STEM areas, development of instruments to reliably and validly assess engagement, persistence, and other relevant constructs, or studies to identify predictors of student inclination to pursue STEM career trajectories. NSF is especially interested in projects that target students who are underserved and underrepresented in STEM ICT-intensive careers, including those residing in rural and economically disadvantaged communities.

Innovation through Institutional Integration (I3) projects enable institutions to think and act strategically about the creative integration of NSF-funded awards, with particular emphasis on awards managed through programs in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR), but not limited to those awards. For Fiscal Year 2008, proposals are being solicited in six HER programs that advance I3 goals: CREST, ITEST, MSP, Noyce, RDE, and TCUP.

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