Narratives and Evaluation: How to Write Competitive NSF CS Education Proposals

Workshop 104 at SIGCSE 2019

Please submit proposal summaries by January 25th. (extended from Jan 15th)

Organizers / Event Chairs

Stephanie E. August and Mark Pauley
Program Officers
Division of Undergraduate Education
Directorate of Education and Human Resources
National Science Foundation
2415 Eisenhower Ave.
Alexandria, VA 22314
+1 703-292-5128,

S. Megan Che
Department of Teaching and Learning
College of Education
Clemson University
Clemson, SC 29634-0705

Eileen T. Kraemer and Murali Sitaraman
School of Computing
Clemson University
Clemson, SC 29634-0974
+1 864-656-5874,


You develop the prototype for a new learning strategy, and want to test it in class or across institutions. You identify an NSF program that supports proposals for the idea, and then what? What goes through the minds of reviewers once a proposal is submitted? What prompts one proposal to be recommended for funding while another is declined? Close examination of the panel review process can inform proposal writing and ensure that reviewers will understand a PI's idea, identify its merit, and value a PI's vision of how the work will broaden participation in STEM education.

This workshop steps through the NSF proposal review process from submission of proposal to award or decline, touching on elements of a good review, NSF intellectual merit and broader impact criteria, elements of a good proposal, assessment and evaluation, and volunteering to review proposals. Participants gain insight into writing a good review and improving one's own proposal writing. The interactive workshop leads participants through each topic by introducing related issues, engaging participants in group exercises designed to explore and share their understanding of the issues, and providing "expert" opinion on these issues. Examples include funded and non-­‐funded projects and a Top Ten List of Dos and Don'ts.

Organizers and Panelists

Presenters are current NSF Division of Undergraduate Education program officers and previous NSF grant awardees. August (PhD Computer Science, UCLA, 1991) is also a Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. She has previously led versions of this workshop at several conferences and institutions of higher education.

Pauley (PhD Physical Chemistry, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1998) is also a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Interdisciplinary Informatics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and is a former Associate Director of the Bioinformatics Core, Nebraska INBRE (IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence).

Che (PhD, 1995, Oklahoma) is an Associate Professor in the College of Education at Clemson. She has been involved in mathematics education teaching and research for over 20 years.

Kraemer (PhD, 1995, Georgia Tech) and Sitaraman (PhD, 1990, Ohio State) are Professors in the School of Computing at Clemson. They have been involved in CS education research and proposal writing in various capacities for over 20 years.

How to apply

Potential PIs and those whose proposals have recently been declined are invited to apply. One night of lodging at the SIGCSE rate at the conference hotel and workshop registration fees will be covered by an NSF grant for the first 20 participants who submit their own one-page proposal summary to the organizers one month prior to the workshop and participate fully in the workshop.


One page proposal summaries should be submitted to: Aubrey M. Lawson (


NSF receives approximately 50,000 proposals each year for research, education and training projects, of which approximately 12,000 are funded. Identifying a transformative project, writing a proposal that addresses a solicitation, and convincing reviewers of the merit and feasibility of the project are challenging tasks. This workshop will actively engage participants in the review process with the goal of enabling them to write strong computer science education proposals.

Agenda for the Event

Elapsed Time Minutes Topic Presenter / Sub-topic
10 10 NSF  
35 25 Overview of Selected Solicitations  
65 30 Review of Criteria and Panel Review Process  
8 Intellectual Merit
7 Broader Impact
5 Project Management Plan
5 Budget
5 Ratings
145 80 Mock Review (+15 min. break)  
5 Introduction & role assignments
10 Read project summaries (Think )
15 Discuss Intellectual Merit in small groups (pair)
10 Report out (Share)
15 Discuss Broader Impacts in small groups (Pair)
10 Report out (Share)
165 20 Helpful Hints / Fatal Flaws  
180 15 Q&A/Wrap-up  

NSF Support for this Event

This event is funded through NSF grant IUSE-1646691.

Clemson University School of Computing | 100 McAdams Hall, Clemson, SC 29634