SIUE Awarded $1 Million NSF Grant to Train Math Teachers

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Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation. During the next five years, the SIUE Noyce Math Scholars program will graduate and certify 24 secondary mathematics teachers to serve in high-needs rural and urban communities in southwestern Illinois.

Sharon Locke, director of the SIUE Center for STEM Research, Education and Outreach under the Graduate School.

We have encountered strong interest and a need for a scholarship program that focuses on the specific needs of mathematics teacher candidates and early career mathematics teachers.”

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation. During the next five years, the SIUE Noyce Math Scholars program will graduate and certify 24 secondary mathematics 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 math teachers. The program is a partnership of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), School of Education, Health and Human Behavior, SIUE STEM Center, master teachers, community-based organizations, local community colleges and the cooperating school districts.

“The program model is based on a previously awarded SIUE NSF Noyce scholarship program developed for science teachers,” said Jerry Weinberg, associate provost for research and dean of the Graduate School. “We have encountered strong interest and a need for a scholarship program that focuses on the specific needs of mathematics teacher candidates and early career mathematics teachers.”

This multi-disciplinary effort will be led by Liza Cummings, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction in the School of Education, Health and Human Behavior; Tammy Voepel, associate professor of mathematics and statistics in CAS; and Sharon Locke, director of the Center for STEM Research, Education and Outreach under the Graduate School.

Three novel elements of the program design are a self-efficacy framework, a comprehensive recruitment strategy 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 mathematics 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

Four summer internships will be awarded annually to SIUE and local community college freshmen and sophomores with an interest in STEM and aptitude for mathematics 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 mathematics 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 junior and senior mathematics majors who are committed to pursuing a mathematics teaching career. Noyce Math Scholars will conduct outreach with disadvantaged pre-college students, observe master teachers in high-needs schools, and participate in discussion sessions with practicing teachers and administrators.

Juniors will participate in a tutoring program at a local community college while seniors will participate in research with a faculty mentor. 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.

The new teachers will also have access to and support from the SIUE STEM Center, which provides numerous services to educators, including a lending library and professional development opportunities.

Through outreach activities built into the program design, the Noyce interns and scholars will reach an additional 2,000 middle and high school students, providing “minds-on” STEM activities designed to generate interest and enthusiasm in STEM and STEM careers.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville provides students with a high quality, affordable education that prepares them for successful careers and lives of purpose. Built on the foundation of a broad-based liberal education, and enhanced by hands-on research and real-world experiences, the academic preparation SIUE students receive equips them to thrive in the global marketplace and make our communities better places to live. Situated on 2,660 acres of beautiful woodland atop the bluffs overlooking the natural beauty of the Mississippi River’s rich bottomland and only a short drive from downtown St. Louis, the SIUE campus is home to a diverse student body of nearly 14,000.

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