[Federal Register: December 21, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 246)]
[Page 66249-66253]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

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Part VI

Department of Education


Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), Cognition and 
Student Learning (CASL) Research Grant Program; Notice

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[CFDA No. 84.305H]

Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), Cognition 
and Student Learning (CASL) Research Grant Program

ACTION: Notice inviting applications for new awards for fiscal year 
(FY) 2002.


    Purpose of Program: The purpose of this program is to improve 
student learning by supporting a new program of research that brings 
recent advances in cognitive science and neuroscience to bear on 
significant educational problems. The overarching goal of this program 
of research is to establish a scientific foundation for educational 
practice by supporting research on key processes of attention, memory, 
and reasoning that are essential for learning and that are likely to 
produce substantial gains in academic achievement.
    Eligible Applicants: Public and private agencies, institutions, and 
organizations, including for-profit and non-profit organizations; 
institutions of higher education; State and local educational agencies; 
and regional educational laboratories.
    Deadline for Receipt of Letter of Intent: February 5, 2002.
    A Letter of Intent is optional, but encouraged, for each 
application. The Letter of Intent is for OERI planning purposes and 
will not be used in the evaluation of the application.
    Applications Available: December 21, 2001.
    Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: April 15, 2002.
    Estimated Available Funds: Up to $3,000,000 for the first year of 
this program.
    The estimated amount of funds available for new awards is based on 
the Administration's request for this program for FY 2002. The actual 
level of funding, if any, depends on final congressional action. 
However, we are inviting applications to allow enough time to complete 
the grant process if Congress appropriates funds for this program.
    Estimated Range of Awards: $75,000 to $500,000.
    Estimated Size of Awards: The size of the awards will be 
commensurate with the nature and scope of the work proposed.
    Estimated Number of Awards: 10.

    Note: The Department is not bound by any estimates in this 

    Project Period: Up to 36 months.
    Page Limits: The application must include the following sections: 
title page form (ED 424), one-page abstract, research narrative, 
literature cited, curriculum vitae for principal investigators(s) and 
other key personnel, budget summary form (ED 524) with budget 
narrative, appendix, and statement of equitable access (GEPA 427). The 
research narrative is where you, the applicant, address the selection 
criteria that reviewers use to evaluate your application. You must 
limit the research narrative (text plus all figures, charts, tables, 
and diagrams) to the equivalent of 25 pages and the appendix to 20 
pages, using the following standards:
     A ``page'' is 8.5" x 11", on one side only, with 1" 
margins at the top, bottom, and both sides.
     Double space (no more than three lines per vertical inch) 
all text in the research narrative, including titles, headings, 
footnotes, quotations, references, and captions, as well as all text in 
charts, tables, figures, and graphs.
     Use a font that is either 12-point or larger or no smaller 
than 10 pitch (characters per inch).
    The page limit does not apply to the title page form, the one-page 
abstract, the budget summary form and narrative budget justification, 
the curriculum vitae, literature cited, or the assurances and 
certifications. Our reviewers will not read any pages of your 
application that--
     Exceed the page limit if you apply these standards; or
     Exceed the equivalent of the page limit if you apply other 
    We have found that reviewers are able to conduct the highest 
quality review when applications are concise and easy to read, with 
pages consecutively numbered.
    Applicable Statute and Regulations: (a) 20 U.S.C. 6031; (b) The 
Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) in 34 
CFR parts 74, 75 (except as limited in 34 CFR 700.5), 76, 77, 80, 81, 
82, 85, 86 (part 86 applies only to Institutions of Higher Education), 
97, 98, and 99; and (c) The regulations in 34 CFR part 700.
    Selection Criteria: The Secretary selects the following selection 
criteria in 34 CFR 700.30(e) to evaluate applications for new grants 
under this competition. The criteria below will receive the following 
percentage weights.
    (a) National Significance (.2)
    (b) Quality of the Project Design (.5)
    (c) Quality and Potential Contributions of Personnel (.2)
    (d) Adequacy of Resources (.1)
    Strong applications for CASL grants clearly address each of the 
applicable selection criteria. They make a well-reasoned and compelling 
case for the national significance of the problems or issues that will 
be the subject of the proposed research, and present a research design 
that is complete, clearly delineated, and incorporates sound research 
methods. In addition, the personnel descriptions included in strong 
applications make it apparent that the project director, principal 
investigator, and other key personnel possess training and experience 
commensurate with their duties.
    Collaboration: We encourage collaboration in the conduct of 
research. For example, major research universities and institutions may 
collaborate with historically underrepresented institutions, such as 
Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving 
Institutions, and Tribal Colleges and Universities.
    Pre-Application Meeting: We will hold a pre-application meeting on 
February 19, 2002 to discuss the funding priority. You are invited to 
participate. You will receive technical assistance and information 
about the funding priority. Participants are also encouraged to use 
this meeting to engage in substantive discussion about prior empirical 
research and the nature of high quality research in this new area. The 
meeting will be held at the U.S. Department of Education, Office of 
Educational Research and Improvement, 555 New Jersey Avenue, NW., room 
101, Washington, DC, between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. A summary of the meeting 
will be posted on the Internet at: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OERI

Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities at the Meeting

    The meeting site is accessible to individuals with disabilities. If 
you will need an auxiliary aid or service to participate in the meeting 
(e.g., interpreting service, assistive listening device, or materials 
in an alternate format), notify the contact person listed under FOR 
the scheduled meeting date. Although we will attempt to meet a request 
we receive after that date, we may not be able to make available the 
requested auxiliary aid or service because of insufficient time to 
arrange it.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Cognitive science and neuroscience have been 
dynamic areas of research over the past fifteen years, producing 
breakthroughs in our basic understanding of the brain and behavior. 
Although this research has identified key processes of

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attention, memory, and reasoning that are essential for learning, it 
has yet to be systematically applied to significant educational 
problems. Therefore, OERI is interested in funding research that builds 
on these advances and meaningfully connects them to profound and 
pervasive problems in learning or academic achievement. In this 
competition, we focus on cognitive psychology rather than linguistics, 
artificial intelligence, or other areas of cognitive science. We seek 
research proposals on both basic information processing (problems in 
encoding, processing information in working memory, storage, and 
retrieval of knowledge) and higher order cognition (problems in 
executive function and monitoring, inferential and critical thinking, 
and verbal and quantitative reasoning). Ranging from basic to higher 
order cognition, the following topics are illustrative foci for 
    Attention: Research has identified complex attentional mechanisms 
at the neural and behavioral level that govern information encoding. 
Little is known, however, about the encoding of information presented 
to students, notably, how much information is encoded, how attentional 
mechanisms are implicated in failures to encode, and the degree to 
which encoding failure explains academic failure, particularly among 
students who would not be characterized as having attention deficit 
disorder. Clearly, the effectiveness of teaching and learning 
interventions depend on whether students process those interventions, 
and it may well be that effectiveness can be improved by increasing the 
quality and degree of student attention. Furthermore, attentional and 
related information-processing systems undergo significant development 
with age and experience, and such development interacts with task and 
contextual variables to affect cognitive performance. Research is 
needed that bridges the gap between detailed, rigorous models of 
attention (and its development) and successful academic performance.
    Memory: Recent research suggests that memory can be conceived of as 
a property of brain systems and as an outcome of the brain's 
processing, rather than as a distinct item stored in a specific brain 
location. Thus, memory is both a part and a product of information-
processing activities that are crucial for learning. For example, in 
working memory, presented information is both stored and operated on, 
as when students add a series of numbers in their head (i.e., mental 
arithmetic). Indeed, thinking, problem solving, comprehension, 
judgment, and long-term retention are related to operations in working 
memory; all but the simplest tasks also recruit executive control in 
managing working memory. Although research has related working memory 
to individual differences in test performance, few process analyses 
have been done to either isolate sources of difficulties in school-
related tasks or to design process-based interventions to reduce those 
difficulties. Most recently, research on memory has focused on multiple 
memory systems and processes in long-term memory, which would be tapped 
to different degrees in different academic tasks. Although theorists 
differ about the exact nature of these multiple memories, research has 
demonstrated that learners harbor memories for presented material that 
are elicited with varying success in different testing environments. 
Thus, research might profitably focus on how to improve retrieval of 
these implicit memories for learned material, how memory systems differ 
in their support for reasoning and problem solving, and how 
representations in memory can more accurately reflect what has been 
    Reasoning: Although the seeds of reasoning competence appear to be 
planted early in development, logical and other forms of reasoning 
continue to develop significantly into late adolescence. Rudimentary 
reasoning is required for students to comprehend textbooks, follow 
class lectures and discussions, and to write and think effectively on 
their own. Research has distinguished different kinds of reasoning 
errors in laboratory tasks, which can be ameliorated in different ways. 
Furthermore, research has shown that students are not trapped in 
cognitive stages until they are ``ready to learn,'' but, rather, they 
can learn to improve their reasoning at each stage of development. 
Research is needed that links this work on reasoning development and 
performance to the amelioration of reasoning problems in important 
academic contexts, such as high-stakes testing. Students who fail to 
master these higher-order reasoning skills are unlikely to compete 
effectively in a fast-moving economy in which new learning and problem 
solving are routinely required.
    Applicants must focus on research that has the potential to produce 
substantial gains in academic achievement. Dependent variables may 
include: measures of cognitive processes, such as conceptual 
understanding; performance on problems from textbooks, homework 
exercises, and other ordinarily and widely assigned school tasks; items 
such as those customarily given on standardized tests (e.g., SATs, 
NAEP); and other measures of learning or cognition that are 
demonstrably relevant to academic achievement.


    This competition focuses on projects designed to meet the following 
absolute priority. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3) we consider only 
applications that meet the priority.

Absolute Priority

    Despite their relevance to learning, recent advances in cognitive 
science and neuroscience have remained virtually untapped in education. 
This program of research on Cognition and Student Learning seeks to 
establish a scientific foundation for educational practice by building 
on these theoretical and empirical advances and applying them to 
significant problems in learning or academic achievement. Specifically, 
proposals are solicited that address either 1 or 2 below.
    1. Mechanisms of basic information processing, such as the 
following, and their relation to significant problems in learning or 
academic achievement.
    a. Attention.
    b. Working memory.
    c. Learning processes: Acquisition and retention.
    d. Storage in and retrieval from long-term memory.
    e. Interference and inhibition.
    2. Mechanisms of higher order cognition, such as the following, and 
their relation to significant problems in learning or academic 
    a. Executive function and monitoring.
    b. Metamemory/memory strategies.
    c. Meaning extraction (literal and figurative) for words, 
sentences, discourse, and complex events.
    d. Inference and critical thinking: derivation of semantic, 
logical, and pragmatic inferences, situation models, and other mental 
    e. Similarity, categorization, and analogical reasoning.
    f. Non-verbal reasoning (e.g., spatial, scientific, quantitative 
    g. Conceptual development (e.g., biology, music, calculus).
    h. Judgment and decision-making.
    Proposed research must be motivated by a specific conceptual 
framework and relevant prior empirical evidence, both of which must be 
clearly articulated. The research must have the potential to advance 
fundamental knowledge that bears on solving important problems in 
learning or academic achievement. The proposal must indicate method and 
why the approach taken optimally addresses the research question. Any 

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must incorporate a valid process that allows for generalization beyond 
the study participants. Proposals must indicate which of the following 
approaches is to be used:
    1. Experiment (control group; randomized assignment--both 
    2. Quasi-experiment (comparison group, stratified random 
assignment, groups comparable at pretest, statistical adjustment for 
    3. Correlational study (simple, multiple/logistic regression, 
structural equation modeling, hierarchical linear modeling).
    4. Other quantitative (e.g., simulation).
    5. Descriptive study using qualitative techniques (e.g., 
ethnographic methods; focus groups; classroom observations; case 
studies; single subject designs).
    The design of studies should be clear: Independent and dependent, 
or predictor and criterion, variables should be distinguished. Proposed 
research is expected to employ the most sophisticated level of design 
and analysis that is appropriate to the research question. For research 
questions that cannot be answered using a randomized assignment 
experimental design, the proposal should spell out the reasons why such 
a design is not applicable and why it would not represent a superior 
approach (compared to the selected design).

Waiver of Proposed Rulemaking

    Under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553) the 
Department generally offers interested parties the opportunity to 
comment on proposed regulations. However, in order to make timely grant 
awards in FY 2002, the Secretary has decided to issue this application 
notice without first publishing a proposed priority for public comment. 
These regulations will apply to the FY 2002 grant competition only. The 
Secretary takes this action under section 437(d)(1) of the General 
Education Provisions Act.
    OERI is conducting this grant competition under the national 
research institutes authority for the purpose of funding projects that 
will establish a new stream of research bridging basic cognitive 
science and educational application. Cognitive science, including 
studies of learning, memory, decision making, language acquisition, 
higher order thinking skills, as well as the brain mechanisms 
underlying these abilities, has shown explosive growth in the last 25 
years. Indeed, along with genomic science, many believe that the 
cognitive and brain sciences have generated the greatest scientific 
progress of the late 20th century. Basic research within the 
disciplines of psychology, linguistics, and neuroscience has generated 
new and important fundamental knowledge on how people learn. However, 
most of this research has been conducted in laboratory settings, with 
samples of convenience, and with tasks that are artificial. 
Translations of this research into educational practice have either not 
occurred or have not gotten further than abstract statements of 
    The new program of research sponsored by OERI is intended to move 
research in the cognitive and brain sciences into schools, expanding 
the knowledge base to school settings, and to develop new programs and 
interventions that take advantage of that knowledge base.
    Thus for the first time OERI is soliciting applications that will 
address the lack of substantial interplay between the applied problems 
of schools and learners, and the cognitive and brain sciences.
    In a separate Federal Register notice to be published in the near 
future, the Assistant Secretary will ask for public comment on this 
priority for the purpose of designing and conducting future grant 
competitions for this research.

Pilot Project for Electronic Submission of Applications

    In FY 2002, the U.S. Department of Education is continuing to 
expand its pilot project of electronic submission of applications to 
include additional formula grant programs and additional discretionary 
grant competitions. The Cognition and Student Learning Research Grant 
Program (CFDA 84.305H) is one of the programs included in the pilot 
project. If you are an applicant under the CASL program, you may submit 
your application to us in either electronic or paper format.
    The pilot project involves the use of the Electronic Grant 
Application System (e-APPLICATION, formerly e-GAPS) portion of the 
Grant Administration and Payment System (GAPS). We request your 
participation in this pilot project. We shall continue to evaluate its 
success and solicit suggestions for improvement.
    If you participate in this e-APPLICATION pilot, please note the 
     Your participation is voluntary.
     You will not receive any additional point value or penalty 
because you submit a grant application in electronic or paper format.
     You can submit all documents electronically, including the 
Application for Federal Assistance (ED 424), Budget Information--Non-
Construction Programs (ED 524), and all necessary assurances and 
     Within three working days of submitting your electronic 
application, fax a signed copy of the Application for Federal 
Assistance (ED 424) to the Application Control Center after following 
these steps:
    1. Print ED 424 from the e-APPLICATION system.
    2. Make sure that the institution's Authorizing Representative 
signs this form.
    3. Before faxing this form, submit your electronic application via 
the e-APPLICATION system. You will receive an automatic 
acknowledgement, which will include a PR/Award number (an identifying 
number unique to your application).
    4. Place the PR/Award number in the upper right hand corner of ED 
    5. Fax ED 424 to the Application Control Center at (202) 260-1349.
    We may request that you give us original signatures on all other 
forms at a later date.
    You may access the electronic grant application for the CASL 
Program at: http://e-grants.ed.gov.
    Due to software upgrades, it is anticipated that the e-Application 
software will be unavailable for several days in mid-January. The 
tentative dates for this system down time are January 11-21, 2002. 
Please check this site for future updates on system availability.
    We have included additional information about the e-APPLICATION 
pilot project (see Parity Guidelines between Paper and Electronic 
Applications) in the application package.

of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, 
555 New Jersey Avenue, room 600, Washington, DC 20208. Telephone: (202) 
219-1385 or via Internet: Valerie.Reyna@ed.gov.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may 
call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339.
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an 
alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer 
diskette) on request to the program contact person listed under FOR 
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain a copy of the application 
package in an alternative format by contacting Valerie Reyna. However, 

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Department is not able to reproduce in an alternative format the 
standard forms included in the application package.

Electronic Access to This Document

    You may view this document, as well as all other Department of 
Education documents published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe 
Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the following site: 
    To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available 
free at this site. If you have questions about using PDF, call the U.S. 
Government Printing Office (GPO), toll free, at 1-888-293-6498; or in 
the Washington, DC area at (202) 512-1530.

    Note: The official version of this document is the document 
published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the 
official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal 
Regulations is available on GPO Access at: http://

    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 6031.

    Dated: December 18, 2001.
Grover J. Whitehurst,
Assistant Secretary for Educational, Research and Improvement.
[FR Doc. 01-31503 Filed 12-20-01; 8:45 am]