2016/03/21 09:00 “National Science Foundation Panel”, T-Summit 2016

#tsummit2016 NSF panel chaired by Susan Singer, Director, Division of Undergraduate Education, NSF

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted by David Ing.

T-Summit 2016, Transformational Approaches to Creating T-Shaped Professionals, National Academy of Sciences Building, March 21-22, 2016


  • Susan Singer, Director, Division of Undergraduate Education, NSF
  • Dean Evasius, Director, Division of Graduate Education, NSF
  • Celeste Carter, Program Director, Division of Undergraduate Education, NSF
  • Richard Tankersley, Program Director, Division of Graduate Education, NSF

[Susan Singer, Director, Division of Undergraduate Education, NSF]

When was this NSF Strategic Plan published?

  • “…our National’s need for cutting edge research and world class education standards ….  ingegraiton of reearch ande ducation as one of its four core strategies”

Was published in 1995

  • So NSF has been working on T-shaped for over 20 years already

Report on Empowering Adults to Thrive at Work: Personal Success Skills for 21st Century Jobs,March 2016

  • From K-12, through to graduate students

Enhancing Team Science report

Improving efficacy


Teamwork and communcations

Challenge:  how to measure if an individual is acquiring these skills

  • Study now on assessment

Celeste will speak to work that has been going on in community colleges

[Celeste Carter, Program Director, Division of Undergraduate Education, NSF]

Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, published 1991-1992

21st Century Skills, Employability Skills

Hadn’t done this work on community college, now have a challenge with business and/or industry mentors

  • STEM-based solutions for real problems
  • This year: Food, energy and water systems
  • Working through June this year

ATP:  Advanced Technology Program

  • Developed in response to 1992 Science and Technology Act
  • Focused on community and technical colleges in the U.S., in response to entry-level technical workforce to keep U.S. competitive
  • Education, technical skills and competencies, entrepreneurial skills building

Basics:  bring us people who can be at work on time

Strong partnership with industry

Research is teaching:  supporting undergraduate research

  • A way to get T-shaped people started

[Richard Tankersley, Program Director, Division of Graduate Education, NSF]

Managed new NSF training program as T-shaped

Extends IGERT, around since late 1990s

  • Incentivize more T-shaped scientist, and train students to work in their fields
  • Science and engineering with broad skills
  • Communications training, entrepreneurship, innovation
  • Communicating across disciplines
  • Appreciate how other disciplines can contribute

Joined foundation in 2012, learned that IGERT was going to be sunset

  • In 2014, able to launch a new training program, successor NRT NSF Research Traineeship program
  • Cross-institution grants, $5M for 3 years, training in interdisciplinary
  • Changes in emphasis:  transferrable skills
  • Most grad students will probably not go into an academic career, but much of training is for academic career
  • NRT program to get broad, transferrable skills, in career pathways

NRT identified areas of emphasis

  • Data-enable science
  • Now Pi-shaped science, for computational and statistical analyses that can be used to scientific disciplines

Graduate Research Fellowship program:  10,000 students annually

Graduate Research Travel program

Graduate Research Internship Program: GRIP

[Dean Evasius, Director, Division of Graduate Education, NSF]

Themes important at summit

Last year, strategic review at NSF on graduate education

  • Workforce development skills

2016:  preparing graduate students for the workforce

Over half of graduate students work outside of the academy, need to work in the knowledge economy

Another strategic review on Grad Ed

  • Continuation from last year, as so much not understood
  • Will have a report in the coming weeks

Federal:  committed on STEM education

  • Charge:  design graduate education for tomorrow’s workforce
  • Collaborating with undergraduate working groups

Why focus?

  • Good for country, economy
  • Also good for science, which is becoming larger scale

Ligo science:  1000 scientists, over 15 countries

Human genome project, 1990-2003, involved 6000 scientists in many countries

  • Federal investment was $3.8 billion
  • Economic impact $800 billion


Impact in economy.  Innovation economics.  Can we prove that the money being spent would support this?

  • MIT Washington office:  retrospective on economic analysis, done in last 2 years; then another if we don’t invest in the future

Design Lab has been working on assessing 21st century skills.  How to assess the top part of the T?

  • Asking programs to look into that
  • Had designed into IGERT
  • Question as to whether instruments and tools are transferrable
  • Had focused on specific skills on T, but not on transferrability
  • Must have a rigourous assessment plan
  • One skill required is communication skills, have some good instruments
  • Looking for new innovative approaches for assessment work
  • NRT program has two tracks:  traineeship track, and innovation to graduate education track, targeted pilots, including assessment tools
  • Study now underway by Margaret Hilton, National Academies:  a lot has been developed in research settings, which may not be useful in a broader setting
  • Student motivation
  • Investments in engineering, to measure teamwork and communication
  • Rand group with Hewlett have white papers also pushing on issues of measurement
  • Talking past each other
  • Often conflicting conclusions, as language is different

All universities are trying to build T-shaped people, through the general education requirement.  Lacking not providing education, but skills and ability to access information from the other areas into the disciplines.  How do we train students so that they can synthesize, and take intellectual risk-taking.  Not about just giving them breadth, but sharing breadth.

  • Agree
  • Example:  biology, philosophy, psychology programs were all aligned, who all gen ed requirement fit together, did in first year of college
  • Then looked in fourth:  were better at how they fit together
  • Mellon funding at Rowland College:  neighbourhood, faculty spend time together to articulate
  • Career centers:  have students articulate what they’re learning, from campus experience into learning

Tools are there:  AA value for critical thinking.  Have tools, but few faculty use them.

  • Liberal arts colleges using them college wide, and in departments
  • Washington State critical thinking assessment
  • With NSF funding, another critical thinking assessment, can use them in classes
  • AACMU presented at beginning of National Academies
  • Having a synthesis will be critical, want to do something now, just wait for a great tool

Assessment of skills, but is there work on assessment of methodologies?

  • Aware of this in the NRT program
  • Need to develop knowledge base of methods and approaches
  • Innovation needed

Experiential learning required

  • ATE program has been looking at different methodologies
  • Tenure and publications at community college isn’t tied to publishing
  • Problem-based learning, case-based learning
  • teachingtechnicians.org

Student journey:  teachers have to modify, personalize information frequently.  Using Watson to customize education.

  • Need to develop a flexible, adaptive work force
  • Up the ante on digital learning
  • Move not just to changing jobs, but have learning increasing disaggregated
  • One room schoolhouse has a person who would help you integrate
  • While new challenge in the disaggregated world for people using online learning
  • Florida ATE center, cognizant of these pathways, community colleges came together:  flight center
  • Many have adopted this Florida ATE curriculum, that includes industry validation
  • Student churn:  from universities, to colleges, and back — they’ve figured out benefits of this, we may have to catch upNee
  • From 15 years in IGERT program, what student learn is different from that in a rapidly-changing economy
  • Often the training was focused on the trainee, not integrated into research group or advisor
  • Have encouraged retraining faculty, so knowledge doesn’t leave when graduates leave the program
  • Need them to evolve and grow

On campus, publishing within field.  Reward system on campus isn’t compatible with what NSF is asking.

  • 5,000 institutions of higher ed, and there’s one foundation
  • Are funding some institutions, where see convergent changes
  • Meeting at academies:  some forward moment
  • Same in education
  • At some top research institutions, top people not focused on teaching
  • Some starting to talk about changing tenure requirements to include teaching
  • National Academy trying to drive change through funding
  • Huge challenge
  • Tension also within NSF, which is largely organization along disciplinary lines
  • Shift in thinking, a transition, moving at a deliberate pace
  • Bulk of NSF funding is in disciplines
  • IGERT programs now allowing interdisciplinary, encouraging faculty with dual appointments, some culture change

NSF-funded program, Art Science Learning: practices taught to artists in formal training (divergent thinking, convergent thinking, iterations, project-based learning).  Findings going towards resilience.  Measurement on prosocial behaviours, project groups solving wicked problems in water, food, environment.

  • Some funding on science and humanities

40% of students in community college.  Used to be the T-transfer in STEM.  Already practicising top of T.  Time-intensive.  Looking for ways to work in the mill.  Would like to be in incubator.  NSF help?

  • Can talk later

From perspective worker-bee, not academic.  Discussion with nephew, coming from postdoc in physics in NIST, then protein-folding.  It’s difficult to talk about this jobs:  like that, but don’t box me in.  Are there industries, where able to see some frameworks make into job descriptions in HR, so that people who are hiring aren’t doing one thing.

  • Depends on level of hiring
  • ATE looks at entry level
  • Depends on industry and company
  • A lot of companies don’t want to go to large enterprises, they go to startups that judge them for what they can do
  • Innovation is important
  • If can pitch skills, and think outside of box.  HR could be a problem.  Part of problem is getting past HR, having companies re-educate HR people, people that fit outside the box.

Assessments.  Same work?

  • ATE does work within career and technical education, starting with teachers.
  • For many years, only dismantled career and technical education.  Now growing.
  • California, has a lot of agriculture, but no career in agricultural information.
  • Noyce program, for developing teachers

Lots of different boxes that we’re trying to open up.  Box that students themselves are in.  Computer science, students ask why they need to communicate.  Why is it relevant?  What should I care?  Have limited amount of time, 4 years undergrad and 2 years in grad school.  Should start before we get the students.  We try to select carefully.  How to pull together?

  • What sort of credit do you give someone who has been working in Silicon Valley in a large company?  What credit do you give them for learning on the job?
  • ATE:  bring veterans into programs.  How to give credit for branch of military?
  • American Council on Education, on workplace skills
  • Badging:  equivalent, recognized by anyone?  What does a badge mean?
  • Conversation just beginning

Culture, international collaboration.  Report.  Another report, Creating Infrastructure for International Collaboration.  More people should be aware.  Not only identified problem (lack of cultural awareness).  Assessment.  Educational Testing Services is starting assessments, including on critical thinking.  Competency and engagement, not only with citizens, but also on workplace.

Breaking down the boundaries?  Christine (on panel tomorrow)

Christine:  Strategy for NSF.  Fragmented.  National framework for open educational resources?  Critical thinking, uses.  Thousands of flowers, can we make a garden.

  • Have been working through STEM education strategic plan.
  • Starting to develop resources
  • Knowledge exchanges
  • Hope will be in second strategic plan
  • A lot of discussion with OER
  • Complex problem
  • Should get to be more coherent, have a way to go.

Another NSF program:  conducting research on STEM workforce development.  Opportunity to submit proposals.  Economic impact?  Have a research article in Science magazine on STEM workforce development  ECR program in Educational and Human Development