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EHR Core Research

EHR Core Research (ECR)

The EHR Core Research program (ECR) supports fundamental STEM education research initiatives. This includes projects that undertake fundamental research on STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM fields, and STEM workforce development. It also includes projects that build capacity to conduct such research.


The EHR Core Research program (ECR) invites proposals for fundamental research (basic research or use-inspired basic research) that advances knowledge in one or more of the three Research Tracks: STEM Learning and Learning Environments, Broadening Participation in STEM fields, and STEM Workforce Development. ECR emphasizes the rigorous development of theory and accumulation of knowledge to inform efforts to address challenges in STEM interest, learning, and participation, for all groups and all ages in formal and informal settings. Consistent with this emphasis, ECR supports research to develop innovative research methods, metrics, and conceptual models to measure existing and emerging phenomena, to test theories that inform core scientific questions about STEM education and learning, and to advance evaluative methodologies in support of research efforts funded through ECR. Additional information on ECR support for fundamental research, webinars for prospective investigators, and projects funded to date is available here.


ECR’s Building Capacity for STEM Education Research (ECR: BCSER) solicitation supports projects that build individuals’ capacity to carry out high-quality, STEM education research that will enhance the nation’s STEM education enterprise and broaden the pool of researchers that can conduct fundamental research in STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM fields, and STEM workforce development. Specifically, ECR: BCSER supports activities that enable early and mid-career researchers to acquire the requisite expertise and skills to conduct rigorous fundamental research in STEM education. This career development may be accomplished through investigator-initiated projects or through professional development institutes that enable researchers to integrate methodological strategies with theoretical and practical substantive issues in STEM education. Early and mid-career faculty new to STEM education research, particularly underrepresented minority faculty and faculty at minority-serving and two-year institutions, are encouraged to submit proposals. Additional information on the ECR: BCSER competition, solicitation, and projects funded to date is available here.


The Directorate for Education and Human Resources issued the following Dear Colleague Letters notifying the community of its intention to support, through ECR, research in the following areas:

  • Dear Colleague Letter: Developing and Testing New Methodologies for STEM Learning Research, Research Syntheses, and Evaluation (NSF 19-036)
  • Dear Colleague Letter: Fundamental Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER) Focused on Undergraduate and Graduate STEM Education within the EHR Core Research (ECR) Program (NSF 19-044)
  • Dear Colleague Letter: Fundamental Research on Equity, Inclusion, and Ethics in Postsecondary Academic Workplaces and the Academic Profession within the EHR Core Research Program (NSF 19-035)
  • Dear Colleague Letter: Research to Improve STEM Teaching and Learning, and Workforce Development for Persons with Disabilities (NSF 19-033)
  • Dear Colleague Letter: STEM Workforce Development Utilizing Flexible Personal Learning Environments (NSF 19-025)
Additionally, in FY19, NSF and The Boeing Company supported an initiative, managed and administered by NSF through the ECR program, to accelerate training in critical skill areas for the Nation’s engineering and advanced manufacturing workforce. The EHR Core Research: Production Engineering and Education and Research (ECR: PEER) initiative supports foundational research arising from the design, development, and deployment of creative online curricula that provide learners at various levels with skills in five focal areas: model-based systems engineering, software engineering, mechatronics, data science, and artificial intelligence. ECR: PEER invited proposals to design, develop, deploy, and study the effectiveness of online courses in any one of these focal areas using the theories and tools of the learning sciences, and proposals to convene experts in the academic, for-profit, and non-profit sectors to imagine the future of production engineering education for one of the five focal areas. Additional information on the ECR: PEER initiative is available here.