Investigating Barriers and Strategies to Increase HBCU Participation in STEM Education Research

This project will investigate the challenges, needs, and support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to succeed in applying for educational research support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), in particular the Division of Research on Learning in Informal and Formal Settings (DRL). The project will investigate what changes and/or supports would contribute to significantly increasing the number of applications and successful grant awards for STEM educational research project proposed by HBCUs.

Full Description: 

HBCUs are critical to producing a diverse and inclusive workforce as they graduate a disproportionate number of African American future STEM workers and STEM leaders. Although the National Science Foundation is fully committed to diversity and inclusion, there has been little research to determine why Historically Black Colleges and Universities are not fully participating in the NSF STEM educational research opportunities. The project will investigate the challenges, needs and support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to succeed in applying for educational research support from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Participants will be recruited from 96 HBCUs that are eligible to apply for such funding and will include the wide range of college and university administration and faculty that are involved in the preparation of research projects and related applications for research funding. The investigation will focus primarily on the Division of Research on Learning in Informal and Formal Settings (DRL) within NSF. The investigation will: 1) determine the submission rate and funding success rate of HBCUs within the DRL funding mechanisms; 2) determine why a greater proportion of HBCUs are not successful in their applications of research or do not apply; and 3) determine what factors, such as institutional support, research expertise, and professional development, could lead to a larger number of research proposals from HBCUs and greater success in obtaining funding. The project has the potential to have significant influence on the national educational and research agenda by providing empirical findings on the best approach to support and encourage HBCU participation in DRL educational research funding programs.

This exploratory research project will investigate what changes and/or supports would contribute to significantly increasing the number of applications and successful grant awards for STEM educational research project proposed by HBCUs. The project has the following research questions: (1) What factors discourage participation of HBCUs in the DRL funding mechanisms and what are the best practices to encourage participation? (2) What approaches have been successful for HBCUs to obtain DRL funding? (3) What dynamic capabilities are necessary for HBCU researchers to successfully submit STEM proposals to NSF? (4) What changes would be helpful to reduce or eliminate any barriers for HBCU applications for DRL educational research funding and what supports, such as professional development, would contribute to greater success in obtaining funding? Participants will be recruited from the 96 eligible HBCUs and will include both individuals from within the administration (e.g., Office Sponsored Programs, Deans, VP, etc.) as well as from within the faculty. The research will collect variety of quantitative and qualitative data designed to support a comprehensive analysis of factors addressing the research questions. The project will develop research findings and recommendations that are relevant to faculty, administrators, and policymakers for improving HBCU participation in research funding opportunities. Results of project research will be widely disseminated to HBCUs and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) through a project website, peer reviewed journals, newsletters, and conference presentations.

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