What is the most stategic approach for a federal funding agency in shaping investment programs to improve STEM teaching and learning? NSF's Directorate for Education and Human Resources is focused increasingly on its role within the Foundation and in coordination with other agencies in supporting a coherent research and development base for the improvement of STEM learning at all levels and for the dvelopment of the STEM workforce. I will disccuss what we are learning from the portfolios of several NSF funding programs, and offer suggestions about the most pressing challenges in STEM higher education that NSF principal investigators might choose to pursue. We need lines of research that accumulate to inform the role of STEM instructional practice and institutional context on student outcomes such as persistence and learning; deeper understanding of what it takes to move effective practices to scale; and increased focus learning from models and innovations in broadening participation in STEM at the undergraduate level. Finally, I will explore the possibilities of making emerging science and changing scientific practice central as a tool for engaging and inspiring more students in STEM.
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