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.

Ninth-grade biology students create cell models using clay.

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Rural Veteran Personality, Delay Discounting, and the Interference Preservation Hypothesis

Effective Years: 2023-2026

The transition from active-duty military service to civilian life is challenging. Securing a job following retirement from the military is important, not least because it is a major social determinant of health and wellbeing. Only 3% of military veterans in Illinois - compared to 7% nationally - are employed in science, engineering, technology, or mathematics (STEM) occupations. Furthermore, rural-dwelling veterans are nearly 50% less likely than urban-dwelling veterans to work in STEM. Because many veterans live in rural areas and lack representation in STEM fields, there is a considerable need to provide STEM training opportunities to rural-dwelling veterans. This project at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale will seek to recruit more than 180 college student veterans from the 16 southernmost counties in Illinois, a federally designated region of low socioeconomic status, for participation in a 17-week training program focused on computer programming, data science, and calculating machine learning classification models, as well as professional development in education research methods.

A novel experiment within the training program will test a heretofore unstated research hypothesis. Delayed performance feedback (> 7 days) facilitates superior training performance at "time 2" over immediate feedback with is consistent with Kulhavy and Anderson's interference preservation hypothesis. While people may exhibit bias for the present, which is a foundational behavioral economics principle typically operationalized by delay discounting measures (i.e., "I prefer what I can get now"), delayed rewards or feedback may render superior outcomes. In the context of learning and training task performance, delayed feedback may provide enough time for learners to forget incorrect processes. However, paralleling the forgoing discussion, personality has been shown to be intricately associated with learning processes and differential training task performance, yet no study has investigated whether personality type moderates the relationship between feedback timing and training task performance. Therefore, efforts at enhancing task performance at "time 2" may require a personalized approach. This project aims to test the hypothesis in a two-group randomized controlled trial. Importantly, delay discounting - a behavioral economic measure of impulsivity - and learning style will be controlled for so as to isolate the unique effect of personality. Results could lead to a watershed modification of the interference preservation hypothesis. The project is supported by NSF's EDU Core Research: Building Capacity for STEM Education Research (BCSER) program, which is designed to build investigators' capacity to carry out high-quality STEM education research.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.