Tufts Receives $1.8 million Grant for STEM Education

Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program will fund teaching fellows through the university’s Urban Mathematics and Science Teacher Collaborative

About half of the nation’s public school teachers quit the profession within their first five years, especially those who teach math and science, says Bárbara Brizuela, associate professor of education and dean of academic affairs for the School of Arts and Sciences.

Keeping teachers teaching is the goal of Tufts’ 1–12 Urban Mathematics and Science Teacher Collaborative, which has received a $1.8 million grant from the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Noyce program seeks to help colleges and universities train undergraduates who have majored in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to become elementary and secondary school teachers.

The Noyce grant will fund nine teaching fellows who are recent college graduates enrolled in Tufts’ Master of Arts in Teaching program as well as four master teaching fellows who are in-service teachers with about 10 years of experience who will be mentoring the nine teaching fellows. The teaching fellows and master teaching fellows will spend the next five years in Tufts University’s intensive teacher training and mentoring Noyce Program.

The teaching fellows will receive full tuition scholarships while in the Tufts’ Master of Arts in Teaching program as well as a stipend to cover living expenses. They will receive $14,000 annually from the grant, in addition to their teaching salaries, for four years after their graduation. The master teaching fellows will receive $14,000 annually from the grant, in addition to their teaching salaries, for the five years of the program, says Brizuela.

The fellows will work with faculty in Tufts’ education, mathematics and physics and astronomy departments to focus on improving mathematics and science teaching and learning in grades 1–12, Brizuela says. Teaching fellows will be recruited to start the program in September 2015, when they will be teaching at Malden High School and at the Linden STEAM Academy, a public K–8 school in Malden.

Fellows will also receive special training in how to teach mathematics and science to students from linguistically diverse backgrounds through a partnership between Tufts and the Chèche Konnen Center at Cambridge-based TERC, a nonprofit educational research and development organization dedicated to improving STEM teaching and learning.

“Our partners at TERC specialize in how to teach students from communities where English is not the predominant language,” Brizuela says. “We will be working to identify the resources that students bring from their own cultural and linguistic backgrounds that can be leveraged to teach math and science.”

The project will also seek to discover what kinds of mentoring models keep teachers in the profession. “We hope to discover new paradigms for teacher training that can be shared beyond the project to reverse the trend of having primarily beginning teachers at in our nation’s classrooms,” Brizuela says.

Gail Bambrick can be reached at gail.bambrick@tufts.edu.

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