Full Text ES-96-001

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SCIENCES EDUCATION:  TEACHER ENHANCEMENT

NIH GUIDE, Volume 24, Number 33, September 22, 1995

RFA:  ES-96-001

P.T. 34

Keywords: 
  ENVIRONMENT 
  Health and Safety Education 


National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  October 27, 1995
Application Receipt Date:  December 22, 1995

PURPOSE

Human health and human disease result from three interactive
elements:  environmental factors, genetic susceptibility, and age.
The mission of the National Institute of Environmental Health
Sciences (NIEHS) is to reduce the burden of human illness and
dysfunction from environmental causes by further understanding each
of these elements and how they interrelate.  The NIEHS achieves its
mission through a multidisciplinary biomedical research program,
prevention and intervention efforts, and a communication strategy
that encompasses training, education, technology transfer, and
community outreach.  The ultimate goal of these NIEHS activities is
to define and understand the mechanism of action of toxic
environmental agents on human health and to transfer this knowledge
to the public.

The NIEHS is actively responding to the increasing desire of the
public to understand the effects on human health of exposure to
physical and chemical agents.  Although the public is challenged
daily to make decisions based on the risk and benefit of agents that
permeate the environment, there are few programs that prepare the
public to meet this challenge.  For example, in the past few years
there have been media reports concerning the hazards of
electromagnetic radiation, chemicals in drinking water, and
pesticides in food.  While the scientific community has been tasked
with making scientifically based recommendations on the safety of
chemicals and physical agents, the general public has become
increasingly involved in the regulatory decision making process.
Therefore, there is a critical need to educate the general public
about environmental health issues.

In recognition of this challenge, a public mandate in the 1990s is to
reach out to students in grade school and high school to improve
their science literacy.  In 1992 the NIEHS established a priority to
develop an environmental health sciences education program at the K
12 grade levels.  The objective of this program is to improve the
understanding of environmental health issues by all students and to
expand career awareness for those interested in pursuing further
education leading to research and service occupations in
environmental health sciences.  In 1993 the NIEHS issued an RFA to
stimulate the development of educational materials related to
environmental health sciences in grades K-12.  The NIEHS provides
further support for development of such materials through its Small
Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

In addition to promoting the development of relevant instructional
materials, the NIEHS seeks to enhance the dissemination, utilization,
and effective implementation of materials and curricula pertaining to
environmental health science.  A necessary step in achieving this
objective is the provision of teachers with requisite disciplinary
and pedagogical skills.  The specific intent of this RFA is to
organize teacher enhancement activities, that will ultimately enhance
students' comprehension of and interest in environmental health
sciences.

HEALTHY PEOPLE 2000

The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health
promotion and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy People 2000,"
a PHS led national activity for setting priority areas.  This RFA,
Environmental Health Sciences Education:  Teacher Enhancement, is
related to the priority area of environmental health.  Potential
applicants may obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2000" (Full Report:
Stock No. 017-001-00474-0 or Summary Report:  Stock No. 017-001-
00473-1) through the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing
Office, Washington DC 20402-9325 (telephone 202/512-1800).

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Applications may be submitted by domestic and foreign, for-profit and
non-profit organizations, public and private, such as universities,
colleges, hospitals, laboratories, units of State and local
governments, and eligible agencies of the Federal government.
Applications from educational institutions with significant minority
enrollments and from principal investigators who are women or
minority group members are especially encouraged.

MECHANISM OF SUPPORT

This RFA will use the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Education
Grant (R25).  Responsibility for the planning, direction, and
execution of the proposed project will be solely that of the
applicant.  The total project period for an application submitted in
response to this RFA may not exceed four years, and awards are not
renewable.

This RFA is a one time solicitation.

FUNDS AVAILABLE

The estimated funds (total costs) available for the first year of
support for the entire program are anticipated to be $600,000.  The
maximum award will be $100,000 in direct costs per year.  Indirect
costs will be paid at eight percent of direct costs, including any
subcontracts, less appropriate exclusions.  The indirect cost rate on
subcontract costs may not exceed eight percent.  It is expected that
four to six awards will be possible.  This level of support is
dependent on the receipt of a sufficient number of applications of
high scientific merit.  Although this program is provided for in the
financial plans of the NIEHS, awards pursuant to this RFA are
contingent upon the availability of funds for this purpose.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

Background

The "High School and Beyond" Surveys, which have been widely
discussed, show a steady decline in the scientific literacy of
students and in the number of students interested in careers in
natural science or engineering.  As an example, of four million high
school sophomores in school in 1977 only 9,700 were projected to
reach the Ph.D. degree in 1992.  In response to this and other
evidence of a decline in the performance of American students in
science and mathematics, a new urgency has led to a national
awareness of the need to improve teaching and learning in these
fields.  The momentum for major changes in the way that science is
taught in grades K-12 has been increasing rapidly in recent years, as
has the amount of money provided from public and private sources to
support retraining of teachers, development of curricula, and
provision of educational technologies.

Although the approach and content of the science curriculum is
undergoing change, in none of the national efforts to develop new
curricula or teaching standards is there a systematic approach to
educational activities linking the environment to human health
concerns.  Although some schemes incidentally use examples from the
environmental health sciences as a basis for hands on experiences and
critical thinking skill development, in general, adequate materials
are lacking, teachers are not well prepared, and the relationship of
environmental health science, as a concept, to the standard K-12
curricula is not evident.

Importantly, teachers in grades K-12 appear to lack the training and
background in science instruction to utilize effectively hands on
instruction.  An April 1995 assessment of elementary school parent
and teacher attitudes prepared for the Bayer Corp. and the National
Science Foundation (NSF) indicated that half of all teachers are not
at all or only a little familiar with recent recommendations for
science education reform.  Almost as many rate the course work and
training in science that they experienced as relatively ineffective.
Many teachers do not feel well qualified to teach science.  Most
believe the emphasis on science education in their schools should
increase.  These findings suggest that the success of science
education reform will likely require an increased commitment to
teacher enhancement activities.

Organizations with a scientific or educational mission may submit
applications.  Such groups include colleges and universities; state
and local education agencies; professional societies; museums;
research laboratories; private foundations or industries; and other
public or private education related organizations, either for profit
or non-profit.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to form consortia
entailing active participation by more than one of the groups listed
above.

Applications must include teachers and other school personnel in the
planning, conduct, and evaluation of appropriate activities.  In
addition, because of the wide range of environmental health science
and education issues to be addressed, only applications that include
research scientists (such as those at NIEHS Environmental Health
Sciences Centers) will be considered responsive.  At a minimum, an
educator and an active  researcher in an environmental health science
area relevant to the mission of the NIEHS must be included as key
personnel.  Applications lacking these personnel will not be
considered responsive.

NIEHS Commitment to Science Education

Support of K-12 science education has received high priority from the
Director, NIH, and the Director, NIEHS.  Commitment of the Public
Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services, and the
President is well documented.  Also at the national level, the
National Science Foundation, through the Directorate for Education
and Human Resources, and the Department of Education, through the
Eisenhower program, are supporting major reform activities by the
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the
National Science Teachers Association, the National Research Council,
and other organizations.  Other Federal agencies, such as the
Departments of Energy and Agriculture, National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency are investing
in K-12 programs related to their missions.  As part of its
intramural program, NIEHS has established a "Summers of Discovery"
program to support high school teachers and students in summer
research opportunities and has conducted a variety of career
awareness and education programs for students and teachers.

Since 1966, the NIEHS has supported basic and applied biomedical
research on environmental health.  In addition to this research
mission, the NIEHS also serves an educational role.  In the past, the
NIEHS has been involved in science education mostly by supporting
research training at the pre- and postdoctoral levels, career
development.  However, more recently, the NIEHS has established as a
priority the development of an environmental health sciences
education program at the K-12 level.

In 1992 the NIEHS convened a forum of teachers, scientists, science
educators, administrators, and persons representing various
associations to advise the NIEHS on the establishment of an
environmental health sciences education  program.  The forum
discussed and made recommendations in four areas:

o  Curriculum:  The environmental health science education program
should be multidisciplinary and infused into existing curricula at
appropriate grade levels.

o  Needs to be addressed in developing programs:  There should be
defined outcomes, teacher training, equipment and materials,
community support, appropriate assessment, involvement of the science
community, and inclusion of underrepresented groups.

o  Identification of existing models:  There are many programs that
exist in related fields that could be used as a framework for a
program in environmental health science.

o  Barriers: Lack of public awareness, the poor science background of
teachers, overloaded curricula, lack of materials, and inadequate
funding impede the implementation of environmental health science in
K-12 curricula.

In response to these concerns, the NIEHS issued an RFA in 1993 for
development of educational materials related to environmental health
sciences.  As a result, seven awards were made.  These grants, still
ongoing, are aimed at producing instructional materials that can be
integrated into existing science curricula.  In addition, the NIEHS
supports the development of educational materials through its SBIR
grant program.

Goals For The NIEHS Education Program

The recommendations of the 1992 Forum provide the basis for a
comprehensive NIEHS environmental health sciences education program,
of which the current initiative is a component.  The broad goals of
this program are to improve students' understanding of environmental
health issues, expand students' career awareness related to
environmental health science, and train and support science teachers.
In accomplishing these goals, the NIEHS realizes that active
involvement of students, teachers, parents, and community members is
essential.  All should participate and all should benefit from these
activities.

Goals for Students:  Enhancement of critical thinking skills to
develop a sense of personal involvement in the issues and challenges
created by the linkage of human health with environmental factors;
competence in identifying problems, assembling relevant data,
arriving at solutions; deeper understanding of the concepts of
environmental health sciences through applications of the scientific
process to issues of health and the environment; awareness of career
opportunities in environmental health fields and the background
essential to those careers.

Goals for Teachers:  Greater awareness of environmental health
science issues as a means of teaching science concepts and generating
social responsibility in students; stronger knowledge base of
environmental health sciences concepts through real life
applications; a broader range of techniques and methods of teaching
science; enhanced professional stature through opportunities to
interact with scientists in team situations.

Goals for Parents and Communities:  Opportunities to participate with
students and teachers in educational activities based on real
problems found in homes and communities and to influence outcomes.

Characteristics of this Initiative

The NIEHS presently supports a variety of efforts to produce
effective instructional materials in environmental health sciences.
The current RFA seeks to provide teachers with the scientific
knowledge and pedagogical skills required to implement these and
other materials and curricula in the classroom.  It is essential that
these efforts be a collaboration between scientists, who are familiar
with environmental health sciences issues, and educators, who are
familiar with teaching these grade levels.

It is important to note that all proposed projects submitted in
response to this RFA must focus on providing teachers with
information on the interrelationship between environmental factors
and human health.  Programs addressing only ecology or only general
concepts of health and biology will be considered unresponsive.
Applicants are encouraged to concentrate on emerging issues of broad
scope that clearly portray interactions between human health and the
environment.

Teachers ultimately determine the success or failure of any
environmental health science education program.  Unfortunately, many
teachers do not have the science background or confidence to embark
on such an undertaking.  Moreover, those with an understanding of the
concepts and processes of science often do not have the opportunity
to update their knowledge or skills.  Teachers also must have the
time, incentive, and resources required to participate in effective
science education.  In combination, these deficiencies, particularly
severe among teachers in elementary grades, make it difficult to
model the processes of science in the classroom.  Teacher enhancement
programs aim to further the skills of teachers already in the
workforce by supporting continuing education.  Projects should
emphasize both content and pedagogy, promote leadership qualities,
and provide opportunities for professional growth.  To help ensure
success, these projects must involve teachers in both planning and
staffing.

It is clear that science education would benefit from combining the
content knowledge of research scientists with the teaching skills of
classroom teachers.  Hence, one intent of this RFA is to link
researchers in environmental health sciences with teachers at the K-
12 level.  The NIEHS encourages the initiation of cooperative efforts
among the diverse elements within the scientific and education
communities.  The NIEHS seeks to improve environmental health
sciences literacy by promoting partnerships between public and/or
private sector organizations and active scientists.  This partnership
should help to ensure that all students are exposed to a view of
environmental health science that accurately represents the
scientific enterprise.

Although a proposed project should be best suited to an applicant's
own strengths and characteristics, at a minimum, each program must
possess the following features:

o  Participating teachers can be recruited statewide, regionally, or
nationally.  They should not be from the same school district.
Applications lacking at least a statewide focus will not be
considered.

o  Projects can focus on the entire K-12 spectrum or natural
groupings of various grade levels.

o  The issue of incentives (e.g., graduate credit, school district
credit, stipends, certificates) for involvement of teachers in
training programs must be addressed.

o  Opportunities for intensive interaction between researchers in
environmental health science and K-12 teachers must be maximized.
Formation of scientist teacher partnerships, either one on one or
site based (e.g., between research institutions and schools), is
encouraged.

o  Leadership development and in school support of teacher leaders is
a requirement of this program.  As educational leaders, graduates of
these programs can carry new skills back to their peers.  This
element stresses the need for long term, year round support of
teachers in their home school environment.

o  Programs must include awareness components for other significant
participants, e.g., principals and school administrators, school
board members, and guidance counselors.  Understanding and commitment
on the part of these groups is essential to the success of teacher
enhancement projects.

o  The continuous nature of enrichment activities necessary for
excellence in teaching should be emphasized.

o  An evaluation plan to determine the success of the project in
accomplishing its objectives must be included.

Specific examples of the types of activities that may be proposed
include, but are not limited to:

o  Provide for teachers new and additional education related to
environmental health sciences.  Both content and instructional
strategies may be considered.

o  Produce materials related to environmental health sciences for
continuing professional development of teachers.  These materials
should reflect current research knowledge and emphasize hands on
experiences, inquiry learning, and problem solving activities.  These
materials must then be incorporated into appropriate training
sessions.

o  Involve teachers in educational research activities or internships
in order to further the application of research findings to the
improvement of classroom instruction.

o  Identify and educate leadership teachers and/or leadership teams
composed of teachers, administrators, university faculty, and
parents.

o  Develop teacher institutes to promote enhanced understanding of
content and teaching strategies related to environmental health
sciences.  Such sessions typically provide for three or more weeks of
instruction each summer and follow up activities during the academic
year.

Relationship to Other Federal Programs in Science Education

Applications that propose working relationships with major science
education projects/groups such as the NSF Statewide Systemic
Initiatives program, the Department of Education Regional Consortia
for Science and Mathematics, American Chemical Society, the National
Science Teachers Association, National Association of Biology
Teachers, or other federal, state, or national organizations and
programs are particularly encouraged.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

To foster collaboration and to share approaches and evaluation
strategies, each application should include a provision for attending
an annual meeting at the NIEHS in Research Triangle Park, NC.

INCLUSION OF WOMEN AND MINORITIES IN RESEARCH INVOLVING HUMAN
SUBJECTS

It is the policy of the NIH that women and members of minority groups
and their subpopulations must be included in all NIH supported
biomedical and behavioral research projects involving human subjects,
unless a clear and compelling rationale and justification is provided
that inclusion is inappropriate with respect to the health of the
subjects or the purpose of the research.  This new policy results
from the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 (Section 492B of Public Law
103 43) and supersedes and strengthens the previous policies
(Concerning the Inclusion of Women in Study populations, and
Concerning the Inclusion of Minorities in Study Populations), which
have been in effect since 1990.  The new policy contains some
provisions that are substantially different from the 1990 policies.

All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should
read the "NIH Guidelines for Inclusion of Women and Minorities as
Subjects in Clinical Research," which have been published in the
Federal Register of March 28, 1994 (FR 59 14508-14513) and reprinted
in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, Volume 23, Number 11,
March 18, 1994.

Investigators also may obtain copies of the policy from the program
staff listed under INQUIRIES.  Program staff may also provide
additional relevant information concerning the policy.

LETTER OF INTENT

Prospective applicants are asked to submit, by October 27, 1995, a
letter of intent that includes a descriptive title of the proposed
project, the name, address, and telephone number of the Principal
Investigator, the identities of other key personnel and participating
institutions, and the number and title of the RFA.

Although a letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does
not enter into the review of subsequent applications, the information
that it contains is helpful in planning for the review of
applications.  It allows NIEHS staff to estimate the potential review
workload and to avoid conflict of interest in the review.

The letter of intent is to be sent to:

Dr. Allen Dearry
Division of Extramural Research and Training
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
111 T.W. Alexander Drive
P.O. Box 12233
Research Triangle Park, NC  27709
Telephone:  (919) 541-4500
FAX:  (919) 541-2843
Email:  DEARRY@NIEHS.NIH.GOV

APPLICATION PROCEDURES

The research grant application form PHS 398 (rev.5/95) is to be used
in applying for these grants.  These forms are available at most
institutional offices of sponsored research and from the Office of
Grants Information, Division of Research Grants, National Institutes
of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Suite 3032, MSC 7762, Bethesda, MD
20892-7762, telephone (301) 435-0714, email: girg@drgpo.drg.nih.gov.

The RFA label available in the PHS 398 application form must be
affixed to the bottom of the face page of the application.  Failure
to use this label could result in delayed processing of the
application such that it may not reach the review committee in time
for review.  In addition, the RFA title and number must be typed on
line 2 of the face page of the application form and the YES box must
be marked.

Submit a signed, typewritten original of the application, including
the checklist, and three signed, photocopies, in one package to:

DIVISION OF RESEARCH GRANTS
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
6701 ROCKLEDGE DRIVE, ROOM 1040 - MSC 7710
BETHESDA, MD  20892-7710
BETHESDA, MD  20817 (for express/courier service)

At the time of submission, two additional copies of the application
must also be sent to:

Dr. Ethel Jackson, Chief
Division of Extramural Research and Training
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences 111 T.W.
Alexander Drive
P.O. Box 12233
Research Triangle Park, NC  27709
Telephone:  (919) 541 7826

The following schedule is planned for this initiative.  It should be
noted that this schedule may be changed without notification due to
factors that were unanticipated at the time of announcement.  Contact
the program official listed under INQUIRIES regarding any changes in
the schedule.

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  October 27, 1995
Application Receipt Date:       December 22, 1995
Initial Review Group Meeting:   March 1996
Advisory Council Review:        May 1996
Anticipated Date of Funding:    July 1996

REVIEW CONSIDERATIONS

Applications will be administratively reviewed by NIH staff for
completeness and responsiveness to this RFA.  Applications found to
be incomplete or nonresponsive will be returned to the applicant
without further consideration.

Applications that are complete and responsive to the RFA will be
evaluated for scientific and technical merit by an appropriate peer
review group convened in accordance with the standard NIH peer review
procedures.  As part of the initial merit review, all applications
will receive a written critique and undergo a process in which only
those applications deemed to have the highest scientific merit,
generally the top half of applications under review, will be
discussed, assigned a priority score, and receive a second level
review by the National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences
Council.

Review Criteria

o  Merit and significance of the proposed project as determined by
such factors as content, originality, feasibility, potential long
term impact, transportability, and  relationship to established state
and national educational standards, educational needs, and current
educational research pertaining to instructional methodologies.

o  Demonstration within the proposed project plan of current
knowledge of research practices, outcomes, and standards,
specifically those related to science learning, attitudes,
motivation, and educational strategies.

o  Evidence of cooperation and interaction among scientific and
educational staff.  The project should establish partnerships based
on mutual interest and purpose with all partners sharing in planning,
development, implementation, and follow up activities.

o  Plans for evaluation of factors contributing to the project's
effectiveness.  The potential impact of the project upon teachers and
students in the classroom should be described and assessed.
Evaluations should include a measure of the impact of the project on
teachers' knowledge of environmental health sciences.

o  Plans for distribution of results in the educational arena.
Projects should be transportable, and there should be discussion of
how activities could meet the needs of new target audiences at new
sites.  Findings should be communicated to the larger educational
research community.

o  Qualifications and research/education experience of the principal
investigator and staff, particularly but not exclusively in areas
relevant to the mission of NIEHS.  Individuals with strong subject
matter skills are expected to play key roles.  Personnel should
demonstrate knowledge of the needs of their target audience in
educational settings.

o  Availability of resources necessary to perform project objectives.

o  Strength of commitment by the participating institution(s) as
evidenced by provision of appropriate resources, services, technical
support, and allocation of space.  Schools are expected to assist in
the implementation process by providing requisite release time and
contributing to classroom materials.  The importance of continuing
education will necessitate that schools and administrators
demonstrate a definitive, long term commitment to teacher enhancement
activities.

o  Appropriateness of the proposed budget and duration in relation to
proposed objectives.

o  Feasibility of plans for independently continuing the program.
Evidence of continuing commitment on the part of the proposing
institution(s) and of long term impact of the proposed project is
especially important.  Applicants may consider cost sharing in order
to continue their program beyond the period of NIEHS funding.

o  Adequacy of plans to include both genders and minorities and their
subgroups as appropriate for the scientific goals of the research.
Plans for the recruitment and retention of subjects will also be
evaluated.

AWARD CRITERIA

The anticipated date of award is July 1, 1996.

The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

o  Quality of the proposed project as determined by peer review.
o  Availability of funds.
o  Program balance and relevance to mission of NIEHS.
o  Number of teachers and students impacted by the project.

INQUIRIES

Written and telephone inquiries concerning this RFA are encouraged.
The opportunity to clarify any issues or questions from potential
applicants is welcome.

Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues to:

Allen Dearry, Ph.D.
Division of Extramural Research and Training
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
P.O. Box 12233
Research Triangle Park, NC  27709
Telephone: (919) 541-4500
FAX:  (919) 541-2843
Email:  DEARRY@NIEHS.NIH.GOV

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Mr. David L. Mineo
Division of Extramural Research and Training
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
P.O. Box 12233
Research Triangle Park, NC  27709
Telephone:  (919) 541-1373
Email:  MINEO@NIEHS.NIH.GOV

AUTHORITY AND REGULATIONS

This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic
Assistance No. 93.113 and 93.115.  Awards are made under
authorization of the Public Health Service Act, Title IV, Part A
(Public Law 78 410, as amended by Public Law 99 158, 43 USC 241 and
285) and administered under PHS grants policies and Federal
Regulations 42 CFR 52 and 45 CFR Part 74.  This program is not
subject to the intergovernmental review requirements of Executive
Order 12372 or Health Systems Agency review.

The PHS strongly encourages all grant and contract recipients to
provide a smoke-free workplace and promote the non-use of all tobacco
products.  In addition, Public Law 103-227, the Pro-Children Act of
1994, prohibits smoking in certain facilities (or in some cases, any
portion of a facility) in which regular or routine education,
library, day care, health care or early childhood development
services are provided to children.  This is consistent with the PHS
mission to protect and advance the physical and mental health of the
American people.

.

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