Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 418–437 | Cite as

Analysis of Propagation Plans in NSF-Funded Education Development Projects

  • Courtney Stanford
  • Renee ColeEmail author
  • Jeff Froyd
  • Charles Henderson
  • Debra Friedrichsen
  • Raina Khatri


Increasing adoption and adaptation of promising instructional strategies and materials has been identified as a critical component needed to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. This paper examines typical propagation practices and resulting outcomes of proposals written by developers of educational innovations. These proposals were analyzed using the Designing for Sustained Adoption Assessment Instrument (DSAAI), an instrument developed to evaluate propagation plans, and the results used to predict the likelihood that a successful project would result in adoption by others. We found that few education developers propose strong propagation plans. Afterwards, a follow-up analysis was conducted to see which propagation strategies developers actually used to help develop, disseminate, and support their innovations. A web search and interviews with principal investigators were used to determine the degree to which propagation plans were actually implemented and to estimate adoption of the innovations. In this study, we analyzed 71 education development proposals funded by the National Science Foundation and predicted that 80% would be unsuccessful in propagating their innovations. Follow-up data collection with a subset of these suggests that the predictions were reasonably accurate.


Effective propagation strategies Educational innovations Proposal writing Diffusion Transfer of innovation Broader impacts Dissemination 



This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under grant nos.1122446, 1122416, and 1236926. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. We are grateful for the contributions of PIs who have allowed us to analyze their proposals and members of the STEM education community for sharing their knowledge of well-propagated innovations.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


In this article, Table 2 has been published in a previous journal article by the authors. This table is printed in Stanford, C., Cole, R., Froyd, J. E., Friedrichsen, D., Khatri, R., & Henderson, C. Supporting sustained adoption of education innovations: The Designing for Sustained Adoption Assessment Instrument. International Journal of STEM Education. (2016). This is an open access journal where the copyright is retained by the authors. In the article, we have cited it accordingly as a reprint and have referenced where the original publication can be found.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryThe University of IowaIowa CityUSA
  2. 2.College of EngineeringTexas A&MCollege StationUSA
  3. 3.Department of Physics and Mallinson Institute for Science EducationWestern Michigan UniversityKalamazooUSA
  4. 4.MJ Innovations, LLCCorvallisUSA

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