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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

What does research reveal about how people learn and which educational methods and policies are most effective? An evidence-based approach can provide valuable input into often-controversial debates about educational methods and policy. Our reports have examined and synthesized the evidence on a broad range of questions, from how to accurately measure high-school dropout rates, to the effects of incentives on student learning, to how adults learn to read. Given our affiliation with the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering, one area of emphasis is studying how children most effectively learn about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  See also:

Current Projects

Attracting and Retaining Students to Complete 2- and 4-Year Degrees in STEM

This study will explore the barriers facing two- and four-year undergraduates who intend to major in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and opportunities for overcoming these barriers.

Evaluation of National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) Achievement Levels
This study is focused on the NAEP achievement levels, which are used to provide information that can be easily understood and used by policy makers, educators, and the public.
Five Year (2009-2013) Summative Evaluation of the District of Columbia's Public Schools
The committee will write a consensus evaluation report that describes changes in the public schools during the period from 2009 to 2013 and also addresses the questions outlined in the PERAA legislation about effects on business practices; human resources operations and human capital strategies; academic plans; and student achievement.
How People Learn II: The Science of Practice and Learning
The study will review research on learning and learning contexts across the lifespan, and will specify directions for strategic investments in research and development to promote the knowledge, training, and technologies that are needed to support learning in today's world.
New Directions in Policy, Practice, and Research for Young English and Dual Language Learners
This study will focus on the foundational elements of language development and cultural influences from the home to the community for children from birth to age 8; and the systems and policies affecting ELL and DLL children and youth in grades K-12.
Science of Team Science
The committee will recommend opportunities to enhance the effectiveness of collaborative research in science teams, research centers, and institutes.

Strengthening Science Education through a Teacher Learning Continuum

This study will explore the learning needs for teachers throughout their careers and how these needs might differ depending on school level (elementary, middle, and high school).

Science Literacy cover Literacy for Science: Exploring the Intersection of the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core for ELA Standards: Workshop Summary (BOSE)

The recent movement in K-12 education toward common standards in key subjects represents and unprecedented opportunity for improving learning outcomes for all students.  Read more
STEM Learning Everywhere cover STEM Learning is Everywhere: Summary of a Convocation on Building Learning Systems (TAC)

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) permeate the modern world. The jobs people do, the foods they eat, the vehicles in which they travel, the information they receive, the medicines they take, and many other facets of modern life are constantly changing as STEM knowledge steadily accumulates.  Read more
Science Assessment cover Developing Science Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards (BOTA, BOSE)

The Next Generation Science Standards will reshape science education, helping students gradually develop a deep understanding of science’s core ideas, practices, and crosscutting concepts over multiple years of school. New kinds of assessments must be developed to support this vision of science learning.  Read more
Education for Life cover Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century (BOTA)

This report clarifies the meaning of the terms "21st century skills" and "deeper learning", examines evidence on links between these skills and positive adult outcomes, outlines teaching methods that support the development of transferable knowledge and skills, assess the degree to which current standards documents support deeper learning, and recommends future steps for policy and research.
Adult Literacy 

Improving Adult Literacy: Options for Practice and Research


This report recommends a program of research and innovation to gain a better understanding for adult literacy learners, improve instruction, and create the supports adult need for learning and achievement.  Read more

Framework cover 

A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas


The framework identifies the key scientific ideas and practices all students should learn by the end of high schoolRead more

Successful STEM Education cover 

Successful K-12 STEM Education


This report considers various STEM-focused school models, highlights research on effective STEM education practices, and identifies conditions that promote school- and student-level success. Read more










Community Colleges in the Evolving STEM Education Landscape: Summary of a Summit  (BOSE,BLS,BHEW)

The National Research Council (NRC) and National Academy of Engineering (NAE) have released a new report, Community Colleges in the Evolving STEM Education Landscape: Summary of a Summit. Based on a... Read more

Assessing 21st Century Skills: Summary of a Workshop  (BOTA)

The routine jobs of yesterday are being replaced by technology and/or shipped off-shore. In their place, job categories that require knowledge management, abstract reasoning, and personal services... Read more

Successful STEM Education: A Workshop Summary  (BOSE,BOTA)

What students learn about the science disciplines, technology, engineering, and mathematics during their K-12 schooling shapes their intellectual development, opportunities for future study and work,... Read more

Climate Change Education: Goals, Audiences, and Strategies: A Workshop Summary  (BECS,BOSE)

The global scientific and policy community now unequivocally accepts that human activities cause global climate change. Although information on climate change is readily available, the nation still... Read more

A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas  (BOSE)

Science, engineering, and technology permeate nearly every facet of modern life and hold the key to solving many of humanity's most pressing current and future challenges. The United States' position... Read more

Successful K-12 STEM Education: Identifying Effective Approaches in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics  (BOSE,BOTA)

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are cultural achievements that reflect our humanity, power our economy, and constitute fundamental aspects of our lives as citizens, consumers,... Read more

Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education  (BOTA)

In recent years there have been increasing efforts to use accountability systems based on large-scale tests of students as a mechanism for improving student achievement. The federal No Child Left... Read more

Allocating Federal Funds for State Programs for English Language Learners  (CNSTAT,BOTA)

As the United States continues to be a nation of immigrants and their children, the nation's school systems face increased enrollments of students whose primary language is not English. With the 2001... Read more

Promising Practices in Undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education: Summary of Two Workshops  (BOSE)

Numerous teaching, learning, assessment, and institutional innovations in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education have emerged in the past decade. Because... Read more

Learning Science Through Computer Games and Simulations  (BOSE)

At a time when scientific and technological competence is vital to the nation's future, the weak performance of U.S. students in science reflects the uneven quality of current science education. ... Read more

High School Dropout, Graduation, and Completion Rates: Better Data, Better Measures, Better Decisions  (BOTA)

High school graduation and dropout rates have long been used as indicators of educational system productivity and effectiveness and of social and economic well being. While determining these rates may... Read more

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