« PreviousContinue »
But they are never going to replace the other mode. And I don't think that is really the question here, at least in relation to what it does to faculty members.
On the other hand, I wouldn't say shorter term institutes don't have some impact on keeping good faculty at your institutions.
Take the example of what NEH has done. NEH has used summer institutes for some years, at least the last 3 or 4 years. And that has worked, I think, quite well with our faculty and has been seen as a special reward and acknowledgement of their work, and they gained some very useful intellectual growth out of these institutes.
I think that has had an impact on retaining good people.
Retention of good faculty, of course, is a different ballgame than previously. There simply isn't that much maneuvering of faculty among our colleges and universities in general.
Mr. PEASE. Let me turn now to another aspect of my concern about these programs, and that is, I'd like to just explore with the two of you the question of where do we get our really top scientists of the future, persons who will be on the cutting edge of science, will be the innovators, people making really startling new discoveries.
I suspect one could make an allegation about the longer term science faculty development program, that since only 1 out of 11 or 12 applicants gets a grant, there may be a little sense of elitism to the
program. I would assume if the competition is keen and the NSF chooses on the basis of merit, that there probably will be some concentration of the awards to the best colleges, which have the best faculty members.
I don't know that to be the case. I think it is conceivable.
I wonder if you have any experience or study to indicate whether that is indeed the case.
Do you have any evidence in that direction at all!
Dr. POWELL. I don't know of any specific evidence that bears on that point. You are really referring to a study of the recipients of the SFPD
I have a feeling that they are pretty widely distributed.
There are a lot of colleges in every State, so that is just a hunch. I don't have data to back that up.
Dr. NELSEN. I haven't comparative figures either. But just from interviews I did last year, which were at what I think you would call leading liberal arts colleges around the country, I know there is obviously a high percentage of these grants that go to faculty at these institutions.
Maybe I am anticipating the second part of your question, but you were raising the question of elitism. I know that that can be raised, but I think that if you look at the record of colleges of this type as to numbers of persons turned out who have gone into graduate school work, who have gone on into research and teaching in the sciences, that number is quite significant and I think in the past few years testimony has been presented before this committee that indicates that.
But the charge of elitism is going to be there, no matter what mode you select. You are going to end up with good people who come out of the competition, and I think NSF has been pretty good in the way it structured its competition, using peer review. That charge may always be there.
According to a recent article in Science magazine, there are 200,000 faculty that teach undergraduates in the sciences. So in competitive programs, for relatively few awards, there may always be the charge of elitism.
Mr. PEASE. Well, I am wanting to turn that charge around and use it as an advantage.
I think if there is anything everybody agrees on this morning and this afternoon, it is that our funding for science education is inadequate and the question has got to arise, Where do we spend the money if we have a limited amount ?
It seems to me that if you go for numbers of faculty members rather than small groups, in order expose more people to it, that means also exposing a greater number of institutions and a greater number of students. But a real argument can be made, if you have a limited amount of funds, for focusing those funds and programs that make better teachers at the best institutions, who are going to be teaching the best students who are likely to be the leading scientists of next
year and 10 years from now and 20 years from now. We are not engaged at this moment in a sputnik-like competition with the Soviets for scientific and technological superiority, and I think all of us have to be concerned about where our really outstanding scientists are going to come from.
For that reason, I don't blush at all about any indication that a lot of these grants go to the very best colleges in the United States because I assume that they are the ones from whom students go predominantly to graduate school and who are going to be the best scientists of the next generation.
Dr. Powell ?
Dr. POWELL. I have an appendix to my testimony that bears a little bit on this question. Appendix C lists the number of graduates of certain liberal arts colleges who went on to receive Ph. D.'s. I think if you have time to refer to that, you will find it instructive. The percentage is very large indeed, as I am sure you are already aware.
It is clear that among Ph. D. scientists turned out by the major research universities are a lot of those people who got their undergraduate training and formed and completed their commitment in science while they were at liberal arts colleges.
I would also like to go on the record as supporting not necessarily elitism--that word hasn't been well received these days—but certainly quality.
I think NSF should continue to emphasize quality and should use their peer review process right down the line in every single program to establish it.
Mr. PEASE. Let me turn now to where the money comes from to fund research sabbaticals. Right now, at NSF that comes out of the funds of the education directorate. We have all been told that more money and more emphasis in NSF and in the whole Government is going into research activities outside of the education directorate, and since faculty members who go on sabbaticals with science faculty professional development grants, do do research, I wonder if it wouldn't be practical to get money from the research directorate of NSF to fund these grants.
Does that sound appealing to you?
Dr. POWELL. I would not want to come out for any reduction in the support for the basic research as a former research scientist myself. I think that is crucial and a cut in research funds would be not consistent with the national interest in the long run.
It is true that many of the people on these fellowships are in completely research programs and there might be some way to fund them through the graduate institutions research projects.
I haven't really thought about that before.
There well may be other ways of securing funding from within the foundation itself. We are not talking about a lot of money. A few million dollars would make a difference with the SEPD program.
Mr. PEASE. Well, Dr. Powell, in your reply you seem to make the assumption which I think is commonly made, that you have a faculty member on a year-long grant doing research, but that is not the same kind of research or that doesn't count as research as it would be if it were being spent out of a research directorate, out of the Department of Defense, or whatever.
Don't you see or do you see any feasibility at all just to make sure that some of the research that is funded by the research directorate or by the Department of Defense is conducted by undergraduate college teachers who are on year-long grants? Dr. Powell. I think the distinction is not a completely logical one.
I can imagine, for instance, a program in which recipients of basic research grants at major universities might have a component of support that would allow them to bring people in from undergraduate college for a semester or a year. This could be an almost automatic part of the program.
Dr. NELSEN. Let me just comment briefly at this point.
The second mode that was mentioned in the order of priority in the NSF report was tieing faculty members in with research done at other universities or in industry or other agencies outside the academy.
One of my faculty members, when I talked about this suggested that instead of giving second priority to that mode why not build in research opportunities for undergraduate faculty through regular NSF research grants to larger universities.
This would provide research opportunities and at the same time is perhaps a way to free up more money in the science education area, to do both the intensive mode and the time-extended mode.
Mr. PEASE. I have been impressed with the discussion we had this afternoon, and what I sense to be a realization that there has not really been any systematic evaluation of the differences between the long-term mode and the shorter mode in terms of who participates, what kind of results we get, which one is more cost effective, and that sort of thing.
Would you agree there has not been any adequate evaluation?
Dr. NELSEN. I wouldn't agree there hasn't been any evaluation. In fact, I think the work we undertook last year with these 20 institutions was worthy of some attention as an evaluation.
To be sure, we did not look specifically at this question, the intensive versus the time extended mode.
And our findings are based only on interviews with faculty members themselves.
Thus, when you get into asking what is the most cost effective, that is a very difficult question.
If you are talking about what has the most effect on students themselves, that is very difficult to measure. It may take a long time to find that out.
But I think you have to look at the purposes you have in mind for each of these modes.
I don't think that there is really any question of the value of the sabbatical. Do we need a whole lot of testing to find out that it is a valuable mechanism. It's been with us a long time. We need to preserve it.
Colleges and universities will need support for sabbaticals in years to come. Many of them are giving them up because of the financial constraints.
Fewer faculty are taking full-year leaves. Many are taking halfyear leaves because they simply can't afford it financially.
Most colleges have a program whereby they take a half-year leave at full pay or full year at just half pay, and that is where the NSF fund helps provide salary support.
So, sure, that is something we need to continue to support and value.
But the intensive mode is needed, too. There are so many faculty who need assistance and remember that a sabbatical comes only once every 7 years.
In the science field you need to have other mechanisms for reaching faculty along the way, after 2 years, after 3 years, after 4 years, because of the changes that continue to take place.
That is why I favor a mixture of programs.
Mr. Brown. Gentlemen, let me apologize first for being delayed. I had another meeting or I would have heard your full testimony, but I do appreciate your statements which I have had a chance to read.
I think you can sense that the past feeling in this committee and the Congress in support of continuing a strong program of science education still exists. Our problem is where to try and exercise what small amount of leverage we may have in order to get the best results. We are not always sure of that.
We heard testimony this morning, for example, from representatives of the institutions that are involved in more engineering and science, that they need help on research instrumentation. You note the need for this but you place a higher priority on the continued upgrading of the faculty. Am I correct that this would represent your feeling of where any increased funds should go in the program?
Dr. POWELL. I think both are extremely important.
I have tried to teach science labs with inadequate equipment and, no matter how current you may be yourself, that becomes an impossible task. I would hate to make that decision.
Mr. Brown. The problem of maintaining a high level of current skills in professional personnel is not unique to science teaching, as you know, and I noted that the medical profession has this same problem, and that there are some highly sophisticated efforts in this field involving a whole range of new information technologies which are being developed and utilized in some of the teaching hospitals and medical research facilities.
In fact, the Veterans' Administration has experimented with the use of satellite communications, links connecting hospitals for purposes of training professional personnel. In some cases, subprofessional personnel.
This hasn't been a wholly successful demonstration but again the technology and the resources are changing very rapidly as we noted this morning in the demonstration using the video discs.
Is there any possibility that we can combine more than one goal here, and try and develop using these technologies programs both for upgrading the skills, shall we say, of the teachers and institutions such as your own, and at the same time developing new ways of using these communication computer related technologies. Are all of your institutions fully equipped with the latest in computer and television technologies, or is this something that you are having difficulty funding?
Dr. NELSEN. The answer is yes and no.
Yes, we have some of the new technology. In the whole field of computer usage, for example, there has been a real revolution in education. More and more of our faculty members, even outside of the sciences, are making use of the computer in teaching.
But, no, in the sense that new instrumentation is being developed all the time. Not only in relation to computers but other areas and colleges are simply hard strapped to be able to continue to keep up with constant equipment changes.
So that is why I think each of us put in our testimony something about scientific equipment and instrumentation that will be needed down the line.
Mr. Brown. Yes, I noted reference to instructional scientific equipment programs and the need for these.
I am not sufficiently familiar with this whole subject matter area to know just what can be done, but I am trying to visualize the system in which we have a complete chain of information flow from those at the highest level, if we may use the term, who are creating new knowledge to those who are transmitting that new knowledge to graduate students and those who are transmitting the basis for acquiring that new knowledge at every level of the educational system to the public. It is difficult to envision this kind of a system, but I think that is exactly what we are moving toward in this society. And I am looking for ways of helping to create that linkage, a term that I use frequently, that will tie these various things together.
Do you have any comments, I'd appreciate it?
Dr. POWELL. I think your vision is a correct one. How long it will take to come about, I am not sure. But clearly the sort of thing you are describing will begin to occur in libraries. Information technology is already very important there.
I think, however, at the present moment, I, at least, would not assign new technology a very high priority because I think that the bottom line will always be the well-informed faculty member in a well-equipped laboratory with bright, motivated students.
I don't think satellites or computers will make a tremendous difference, although they can help and will have some effect.