SIUE Awarded $1.2 Million Grant to Train Science Teachers

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Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has received a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation. During the next five years, the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program at SIUE will graduate and certify 36 secondary science teachers to serve in high-needs rural and urban communities in southwestern Illinois.

The need for teachers, who can not only educate but truly inspire our children to become the next generation of engineers and scientists, is absolutely paramount ...

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has received a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation. During the next five years, the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program at SIUE will graduate and certify 36 secondary science teachers to serve in high-needs rural and urban communities in southwestern Illinois.

The program provides funding for scholarships, stipends and programming to recruit and prepare STEM majors to become middle school and high school science teachers. The program is a partnership of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), School of Education, SIUE STEM Center, master teachers, community-based organizations, local community colleges and the cooperating school districts.

“The need for teachers, who can not only educate but truly inspire our children to become the next generation of engineers and scientists, is absolutely paramount for keeping our economy strong and discovering innovations to solve the challenges of our growing population,” said Jerry Weinberg, associate provost for research and dean of the Graduate School.

This multi-disciplinary effort will be led by Jessica Krim, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction in the School of Education; Kelly Barry, associate professor of biological sciences in CAS; Sharon Locke, director of the Center for STEM Research, Education and Outreach in the Graduate School; and Susan Wiediger, associate professor of chemistry in CAS.

Three novel elements of the program design are a self-efficacy framework, a focus on recruitment of pre-health professional students and regional capacity building. The objectives of the project are to:

  •     Recruit highly qualified STEM students that demonstrate an aptitude for teaching
  •     Provide these students with an enhanced experience in STEM education and research
  •     Supply high-needs middle and high schools with exemplary science educators
  •     Increase outreach in the communities of southwestern Illinois
  •     Disseminate project findings for use in other STEM education settings

The program will implement strategies for recruiting and nurturing cohorts of STEM teacher candidates during their college years and into their early teaching careers in high-needs schools. Key components of the program are:

  •     A self-efficacy framework that imparts confidence and skills to developing teachers
  •     A two-phased recruitment strategy that exposes underclassmen to the rewards and challenges of education and offers scholarships and research opportunities to upperclassmen
  •     The development and support of a STEM teacher network in southwestern Illinois high-needs schools

Ten summer internships will be awarded annually to SIUE and local community college freshmen and sophomores with an intended or declared major in STEM disciplines who show promise to be strong teachers. Interns will teach in a variety of educational outreach programs at SIUE or with community partners for a total of 200 hours during the summer. They will receive training in science pedagogy for informal learning, meet regularly with project staff to reflect on their experiences and give a culminating presentation at the end of the summer.

Competitive Noyce Scholarships valued at $11,500 per year will be awarded to juniors and seniors with a STEM major who are committed to pursuing STEM education careers. Noyce Scholars will conduct outreach with disadvantaged middle and high school students, observe master teachers in high-needs schools and take on the challenges of formal research in their content area or STEM education. Scholars also will receive funding to attend the National Science Teachers Association annual conference.

After graduation, new teacher support will include a summer face-to-face workshop, online mentoring and support, and professional development events to maintain a collaborative network of peers and supportive master teachers in southwestern Illinois. The new teachers will have access to and support from the SIUE STEM Center, which provides numerous services to educators, including a lending library and professional development opportunities.

“SIUE has a strong history of K-12 STEM programs that educate and inspire,” Weinberg added. “The NSF Robert Noyce Scholarship Grant is an exciting opportunity for SIUE to pass these ideas on to a group of STEM teachers who will impact hundreds, if not thousands, of regional students to become that next generation.”

Through outreach activities built into the program design, the Noyce interns and scholars will reach an additional 2,500 middle and high school students, providing “minds-on” STEM activities designed to generate interest and enthusiasm in STEM and STEM careers.

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