ECR Projects

Explore past and current fundamental STEM education research projects across the three research areas that NSF's EDU Core Research (ECR) program funds, as well as across ECR funding types. Other search filters draw from both NSF's data and the ECR Hub's hand coding of award abstracts.

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STEM Workforce Development STEM Workforce Development  Broadening Participation in STEM Broadening Participation in STEM

Variation in the awarding and effectiveness of STEM graduate student funding across teaching and research assistantships, fellowships, and traineeships

Effective Years: 2015-2021

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University will conduct a mixed methods research project to better understand how various mechanisms of funding - fellowships, research assistantships, teaching assistantships, etc. - influence students' pursuit of doctorates in STEM and subsequent employment. The project will produce empirical evidence and a conceptual framework to inform the improvement of graduate student funding policies and interventions by addressing the differences in the types of funding that are offered to diverse student populations. The researchers will investigate the qualitative questions using national data from the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) and then use that data to inform questions for further investigation within the study sites for data collection via interviews with graduate students, administrators and faculty members across eight STEM disciplines and seven NSF-funded centers at eight institutions.

The researchers will use socialization theory to guide the research. Hypothesizing that funding mechanisms are important drivers of socialization, the researchers will investigate the following research questions:(1) How do graduate students? funding mechanisms vary across their incoming characteristics (i.e. demographics and bachelor's or master's institutional type, location, or affiliation) and STEM discipline? (2) What is the relationship between graduate students' funding mechanisms and their post-doctoral outcomes? (3) How does the relationship between graduate students' funding mechanisms and their post-doctoral outcomes vary across their incoming characteristic and STEM discipline? (4) What do STEM graduate students, faculty members, and administrators perceive to be the benefits and drawbacks of various graduate student funding mechanisms? How does each group make decisions about offering or accepting offers of different funding mechanisms?(5) How does funding mechanism impact STEM graduate students? experiences, socialization, identity formation, and other factors previously shown to contribute to overall success? The analysis will provide insight about the difference socialization opportunities may have for certain groups of students but not others. In addition, the research results will inform interventions for broadening participation in STEM.

The project is supported by the ECR program that emphasizes fundamental STEM education research that generates foundational knowledge in the field. Investments are made in critical areas that are essential, broad and enduring: STEM learning and STEM learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM workforce development. ECR supports the accumulation of robust evidence to inform efforts to understand, build theory to explain, and suggest intervention and innovations to address persistent challenges in STEM interest, education, learning and participation.