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Leslie Goodyear on Serving as a Reviewer for the National Science Foundation

I’m Leslie Goodyear, and I’m a Program Officer at the National Science Foundation, in the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL). The programs in DRL include: Informal Science Education (ISE), Discovery Research K-12 (DR K-12), Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering (REESE), and Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST). I have a hot tip about how to become a proposal reviewer for NSF/DRL.

NSF’s proposal merit review process generally includes review by outside experts. For DRL, experts in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, research methods, learning sciences, evaluation, and other areas are typically brought together in panels. They discuss the relative merits of the proposals and offer their best thinking to NSF programs officers based on two primary review criteria: intellectual merit and broader impacts. Advice by reviewers and panels is critical to informing program officers, who make the recommendations for awards.

As a panel reviewer, you’ll read about 15 to 20 proposals (each is about 15 pages long); write reviews for about six to eight proposals; join about ten to 12 colleagues in a two-day review panel in Arlington, Va., home to NSF; discuss the proposals and the reviews; and rate the proposals as a priority for funding. Reviewers who travel to NSF are paid a stipend for the days they serve on the panel and their travel is covered by NSF; ad hoc reviewers, who normally review just one or two proposals without serving on a panel, are not paid. In addition to providing a valuable service to the NSF and the field, you’ll learn a lot about what makes a good proposal and how the review process at NSF works. Most people who participate think it’s a great professional development opportunity.

Because DRL programs require project evaluation, the proposals submitted include evaluation plans. Thus, DRL always needs experienced, competent evaluation professionals to gauge the quality of these plans. We primarily look for evaluators who have experience conducting evaluations of STEM education programs. We also look for evaluators with strong methodological training, experience with formal or informal educational settings (in-school or out-of-school), expertise in evaluating research, and practical expertise in evaluating community programs.

Hot tip: If you’d like to be considered for serving as a proposal reviewer, first go to the NSF website (below) and learn about our programs by reading the program solicitations. Then send your CV and a cover letter with a bit about yourself, your expertise and experience, and the program(s) for which you’d like to serve as a reviewer to me, Leslie Goodyear, I will then forward them to the appropriate cluster within the division.

NSF DRL Website:

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