IES and NSF Release Guidelines for Education Research and Development

A new report from the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation provides important cross-agency guidelines for preparing successful proposals and carrying out research funded by the two agencies—including obtaining meaningful findings and actionable results.

The report describes six types of research that can generate evidence about how to increase student learning:

  1. Foundational Research provides the fundamental knowledge that may contribute to improved learning and other relevant education outcomes.
  2. Early-Stage or Exploratory Research examines relationships among important constructs in education and learning to establish logical connections that may form the basis for future interventions or strategies to improve education outcomes.
  3. Design and Development Research develops solutions to achieve a goal related to education or learning such as improving student engagement or mastery of a set of skills.
  4. Efficacy Research allows for testing of a strategy or intervention under “ideal” circumstances, including with a higher level of support or developer involvement than would be the case under normal circumstances.
  5. Effectiveness Research examines effectiveness of a strategy or intervention under circumstances that would typically prevail in the target context.
  6. Scale-up Research examines effectiveness in a wide range of populations, contexts, and circumstances, without substantial developer involvement in implementation or evaluation.

For each research type, the report describes the purpose and expectations for theoretical and/or empirical justifications, research design, project outcomes, and external review.

To read the full report, go to