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Title: Impacts of the National Science Foundation-funded Mentor-Connect Project on Two-Year Colleges
Applying for grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) requires a paradigm shift at many community and technical colleges, because the primary emphasis at two-year colleges is on teaching. This shift is necessary because of the NSF expectation that a STEM faculty member will lead the project as Principal Investigator. Preparing successful NSF grant proposals also requires knowledge, skills, and strategies that differ from other sources from which two-year colleges seek grant funding. Since 2012, the Mentor-Connect project has been working to build capacity among two-year colleges and leadership skills among their STEM faculty to help them prepare competitive grant proposals for the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (NSF-ATE) program. NSF-ATE focuses on improving the education of technicians for advanced technology fields that drive the nation’s economy. As an NSF-ATE-funded initiative, Mentor-Connect has developed a three-pronged approach of mentoring, technical assistance, and digital resources to help potential grantees with the complexities of the proposal submission process. Grant funding makes it possible to provide this help at no cost to eligible, two-year college educators. Mentor-Connect support services for prospective grantees are available for those who are new to ATE (community or technical colleges that have not received an NSF ATE award in more » 7 or more years), those seeking a larger second grant from the ATE Program after completing a small, new-to-ATE project, and for those whose first or second grant proposal submission to the NSF ATE Program was declined (not funded). The Mentor-Connect project has succeeded in raising interest in the NSF-ATE program. Over a seven-year period more than 80% of the 143 participating colleges have submitted proposals. Overall, the funding rate among colleges that participated in the Mentor-Connect project is exceptionally high. Of the 97 New-to-ATE proposals submitted from Cohorts 1 through 6, 71 have been funded, for a funding rate of 73%. Mentor-Connect is also contributing to a more geographically and demographically diverse NSF-ATE program. To analyze longer-term impacts, the project’s evaluator is conducting campus site visits at the new-to-ATE grantee institutions as their initial ATE projects are being completed. A third-party researcher has contributed to the site-visit protocol being used by evaluators. The researcher is also analyzing the site-visit reports to harvest outcomes from this work. This paper shares findings from seven cohorts that have completed a grant cycle with funding results known, as well as qualitative data from site visits with the first two cohorts of grantees. Recommendations for further research are also included. « less
Authors:
; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1840856
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10147750
Journal Name:
ASEE annual conference
ISSN:
0190-1052
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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