Paper No. 0
Presentation Time: 8:50 AM
WRITING PROPOSALS TO NSF FOR UNDERGRAUDATE EDUCATION: MEETING DIFFERENT REQUIREMENTS THAN FOR RESEARCH PROPOSALS
There are fundamental differences between NSF proposals intended for improving undergraduate education (DUE) and those requesting support for research with graduate students. Success in research does little to prepare us for succeeding with DUE proposals where the motives differ and the yardstick of past success is more difficult to quantify. Successful proposals to DUE often have in a well-documented narrative describing the history of a particularly important academic need, a truly innovative solution, its relationship to the broader instructional program, its pedagogical advantages and potential impact. Supporting course and instructor evaluations showing long-term service to students and an abiding commitment to education lend credibility. Demonstration of knowledge of the field is critical too but rather than citing references to publications in journals, abstracts of recent symposia reveal an awareness of current issues. DUE proposals do have one similarity with research proposals: rejection of the first submittal is commonplace. If a P.I. is serious about improving education, they will have the tenacity to refine their initial proposal with the reviews and not be put off by rejection. Dialogue with the DUE program manager prior to and after submittal provides critical guidance and encouragement to proceed, especially through assistance by the manager in interpreting the reviews and meeting their challenges. Adherence to the guidelines in all respects is paramount. Development of new curricula is different than implementation of existing improvements. A dissemination plan is necessary as it pertains to the likelihood that other instructors will find the results worthy of adaptation and adoption. Expect criticism and consider its source. The more novel an educational idea, the more likely it may engender strong reaction, either positive or negative and its affordability will be scrutinized. Teachers consider themselves seasoned practitioners of a noble trade and may either appreciate a novel new approach or may level severe criticism if it can't be reconciled with their experience and understanding of student potential and limitation.