Research Action Clusters (RACs)

Apply to create a RAC »The purpose of the Research Actions Clusters is to seed work that has the potential to transform undergraduate STEM education by leveraging the unique capacities of centers or a network of centers. Each selected RAC can apply for up to $15,000 for the activities of the RAC for one year, and may apply for additional funding in following years.

Current and Previously Funded RACs

Collaborative Around Research Experiences for Teachers (CARET)

A number of NSEC institutions are engaged in providing research experiences for undergraduates and graduate students pursuing careers in K-12 teaching. Limited research exists to demonstrate the generalizable impacts of these teacher research experiences (TREs) on teacher recruitment, preparation, and retention, as well as direct learning outcomes for participants, in part because of limited cohort sizes of individual programs. Impacts/measures for TREs are likely to overlap to a large extent with those for undergraduate research experiences. Identifying shared metrics for demonstrating the impacts of these related programs will enhance our ability to strengthen the case for implementation of opportunities for undergraduates to engage in research as a component of teacher recruitment and preparation. In addition, opportunities do not widely exist to bring together coordinators of teacher-researcher programs for sharing of programmatic goals and structures and/or developing collaborative research investigations into the impacts of these types of programs.

National Collaborative for Research on Food, Energy, and Water Education (NC-FEW)

We seek to advance a National Collaborative for Research on Food, Energy, and Water Education (NC-FEW) of transdisciplinary collaborators who span traditional STEM departments, education, and agricultural and natural resource sciences. Building upon early investments in a national NC-FEW planning committee in 2016-2017, we propose to convene a 2-day invited workshop in spring, 2018 that draws upon expertise from an expanded group of faculty representing 7 NSEC-associated centers and institutions of higher education. The primary deliverable of the workshop is an elaborated blueprint for capacity-building around NC-FEW, including a) growing the participant network and b) enhancing its impact, reflecting both short- and long-term goals of NC-FEW.

Building a DBER Community

Discipline­-based Education Research (DBER) is a core mission of many STEM Education Centers. And, the programmatic and research activities of nearly all STEM Centers are informed by the large and growing body of DBER scholarship. To date, the individual disciplines have largely stayed separate, with separate conferences for physics, engineering, biology, chemistry, and mathematics education. We believe that there is tremendous advantage and synergy to be gained through the formation of a single, cohesive DBER community. The ultimate goal of this project is to set the foundation for the development of an interdisciplinary DBER community.

Inventory of Statewide or Regional STEM Networks

Across the United States, thousands of activities related to the advancement of STEM education, often in service to the development of a skilled STEM workforce and, ultimately, economic development, happen each and every day. While inventories of these enterprises have been conducted in the past, the focus of these inventories has been limited to specific audiences (e.g., university or industry driven networks), or a narrow set of variables. In short, the purpose of this effort is to develop a resource that analyzes the elements of existing networks, articulates the considerations for the development of a network, or summarizes the relative successes and challenges regarding development, maintenance, or sustainability, hence, avoiding inefficiencies in time, potential missed information, and missed opportunities to create potential effective partnerships.