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KU Professor Receives NSF Grant to Provide Scholarships for STEM Teacher Candidates

By Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

Mar 23, 2022

KUTZTOWN, PA – Kutztown University’s Dr. Mark Wolfmeyer, department chair, secondary education, was awarded a five-year, $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant (NSF-2150692) will support the recruitment of more STEM professionals to careers in secondary STEM teaching, drawing from a wider diversity of demographic, disciplinary and professional experience and to prepare them for the challenging task of STEM education in under-resourced urban communities.

The project, Mentoring Urban STEM Teachers (MUST) for Equity and Innovation, aims to serve the national need to increase the diversity of students entering STEM professions by supporting and training a broader diversity of secondary STEM teachers to teach those students. This project will recruit post-baccalaureate STEM professionals, drawn from a wide diversity of demographic, disciplinary and professional backgrounds, to careers in secondary STEM teaching and will prepare them for the challenging task of serving as STEM educators in under-resourced urban communities. A synergistic collaboration among university faculty, secondary-school educators and community partners will train candidate teachers in development of the pedagogical and cultural knowledge needed for effective teaching in underserved communities and will provide sustained mentorship to the new teachers as they implement that knowledge in the classroom.

KU professors involved in the grant include Wolfmeyer (PI), Dr. Yun Lu (Co-PI), Dr. Ju Zhou (Co-PI), Dr. Amber Pabon (Co-PI) and Dr. Richard Heineman (Co-PI).

The 12-month program concludes with a student earning a master’s degree and teacher’s license. Accepted applicants receive a stipend award of $27,900, which covers the cost of in-state tuition and helps to offset living expenses during the student teaching experience. KU is currently accepting applications for the Master of Education program as well as the Noyce scholarship for new teacher candidates with an application deadline of April 15. The program starts at the end of May.

Based at Kutztown University, the project includes partnerships between the KU Colleges of Education and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Reading and Allentown School Districts and community partners to achieve the following goals over the five-year period:

  1. Support the academic training of 25 STEM professionals as secondary STEM teachers through a one-year M.Ed. degree program (with initial teaching certification).
  2. Increase the demographic diversity of STEM teachers.
  3. Prepare STEM educators capable of implementing culturally relevant approaches to STEM teaching, through a community-based co-curricular program and sustained mentorship of student teachers by KU education and STEM faculty that continues through the first two years of post-degree teaching.

A research project will assess the impact of three elements of the proposed program on both student teachers and faculty members:

  1. The impact of STEM-faculty mentoring and an annual pedagogy content knowledge (PCK) workshop on implementation of PCK by Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program (Noyce) scholars in the STEM classroom.
  2. The impact of KU education faculty mentoring and planned co-curricular experiences on implementation of culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP) in the classroom.
  3. The impact of mentoring Noyce scholars on PCK and CRP on the KU STEM and education faculty themselves.

Broader impacts of this project include an increase in the number and diversity of secondary STEM teachers and increased diversity of the young mathematicians and scientists trained by those teachers. It also is expected that the project will have synergistic effects on all members of the local teaching community by creating a shared understanding, among both university and secondary educators, of the teaching challenges faced by current STEM teachers and by teachers in training. Dissemination of project outcomes at regional and national conferences and in STEM and education-focused publications will further broaden the project’s impact.

Visit the website for more information and application process.

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