Developing a Competitive ITEST Proposal: Tips from the STELAR Center
As the resource center for the NSF ITEST Program, STELAR assists both ITEST grantees and those interested in submitting a proposal. Each year we host solicitation webinars on behalf of NSF, which allow program officers to provide direct information and answer questions from participants. While the archived webinar materials are crucial to understanding the requirements of the program, we would like to highlight additional tools, resources, and information that are freely available to assist proposal writers.
ITEST Proposal Development Resources
STELAR's page on proposal development resources is designed to help those interested in developing a submission. The resources under each heading provide valuable information to help you develop a competitive proposal in response to the 2020 ITEST Solicitation. These include:
- Get to know ITEST - View presentations provided by NSF Program Officers highlighting aspects of the current solicitation (19-583), requirements, and additional guidance for those submitting a proposal.
- Prepare your proposal for submission - A read of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), specifically Chapter II, is a crucial step in ensuring your proposal meets all NSF requirements. This section also includes a FastLane Proposal Submission - Quickstart Guide; produced by STELAR to assist proposers in navigating the proposal submission process.
- Develop a robust research design - All ITEST projects are required to include a significant research component, as outlined in the solicitation (Section B1. High-Quality Research Design). Resources in this section support the development of a strong research design.
- Create an effective evaluation strategy - ITEST projects should also include an external evaluation of the work, which is outlined in outlined in the solicitation (Section B2. Project Evaluation) Resources in this section support planning for project evaluation.
- Connect with partners – Looking for an evaluator? Interested in connecting with a learning site? Enter your information into our People Connector, or browse entries from others interested in building a partnership.
- Reach underserved populations – View Data Briefs, publications, and resources on ITEST project's engagement with and support of youth traditionally underrepresented in STEM subjects.
- Develop the workforce of the future – ITEST projects are workforce development projects, focused on increasing students’ knowledge and interest in STEM careers. Read publications on preparing youth for the workforce of the future.
Specific Resources on Research
- Common Guidelines for Education Research and Development, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation
- Workbook for an Evaluation Plan - Northwest Center for Public Health
- NSF FAQs for the Common Guidelines for Education Research and Development
- NSF Slideshow - Common Standards for Education Research and Development Proposals: NSF and the U.S. Department of Education
- Principal Investigator’s Guide: Managing Evaluation in Informal STEM Education Project, Chapter 3 (starts on page 23) "Choosing an Evaluator: Matching Project Needs with Evaluator Skills and Competencies"
- Logic Model Conceptualization: Office hours were held on February 27, 2018 from 2:30-3:30 ET. Archived video & Presentation slides
Specific Resources on Evaluation
- Evaluation Handbook, W.K. Kellogg Foundation. This handbook provides a framework for thinking about evaluation as a relevant and useful program tool. It was written primarily for project directors who have direct responsibility for the ongoing evaluation of W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded projects.
- Designing Evaluations, United States Government Accountability Office.
- Guiding Principles For Evaluators, American Evaluation Association. From 2011-2013 the Guiding Principles Review Task Force worked to determine: 1) To what extent are the ethical standards of the evaluation profession, referring to the Guiding Principles, reflected throughout AEA's governance documents? And 2) What are member perceptions regarding the value and use of the Guiding Principles?
- The 2010 User-Friendly Handbook for Project Evaluation, CAISE Informal Science.
- CAISE Design Evaluation page gives a comprehensive overview of evaluation
- Evaluation Design presentation by the Corporation for National and Community Service
ITEST Project Resources
STELAR maintains a rich library of more than 650 resources; publications, research and evaluation instruments, and curricular materials that have been either utilized in ITEST project work or were written and developed by ITEST projects. Each section is organized into a searchable database, and all entries are highly relevant to the work of the NSF ITEST Program. Each resource includes a list of the ITEST projects that have developed or used these resources in their project work, with links to more information about each project.
Examples of funded ITEST Projects
Our website houses an archive of current and past ITEST project descriptions, which can be filtered by discipline, project participants, project grade spans, project settings, states where work occurs, and project status. Within each page, you can read the project’s description, leadership and project staff, and view related resources uploaded by the project.
We encourage you to browse the project profiles to see what projects have already been funded; read ITEST Program Findings to discover what the previously funded ITEST projects have learned from their research and implementation efforts; and search within resources to find instruments and curricular materials used and developed by ITEST projects.
STELAR is a Resource
We hope that the resources highlighted above are useful in your proposal development efforts. If you need assistance locating something not covered above, or have other questions about the proposal development process, please reach out to us by email. Additionally, STELAR is available to help with the following:
Draft Proposal Feedback - Once you have a draft of your proposal, the STELAR team is available to review and provide suggestions on your strengthening your submission. We ask that you contact STELAR with your questions as soon as possible to ensure adequate time for response.
First-time Submitter Support - As part of our effort to broaden participation in the ITEST program, STELAR is available to provide support first-time proposal writers as they navigate the development process. If you are interested in receiving this support, sign up here: ITEST Proposal Support for First-Time Applicants. [Note: application deadline 8/1/2020]
We look forward to supporting your development efforts!