News @ Minnesota State University Moorhead

MSUM Receives $1.2 Million Grant to Prepare STEM Teachers

Posted on January 11, 2016

From National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Scholarship program

MSU Moorhead has been awarded close to $1.2 million from the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Scholarship program. The five-year grant, Preparing STEM Teachers to Successfully Navigate the Urban to Rural Gradient, will facilitate the licensure of approximately 35 new Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) teachers in outstate Minnesota.

The majority of the grant funds will be used to provide both scholarships and internships for talented science and math undergraduates and recent graduates in a STEM field. Interns will work with our partners, including Fargo and Moorhead Public School Districts and Lakes Country Service Cooperative, to assist in the delivery of summer opportunities for K-12 students, including English language learners, in the subjects of science and math.

“Chemistry, math, physics, middle level science, and technology education are all on the current list of teacher shortages in Minnesota,” said Linda Houts-Smith, associate professor and program coordinator of TESL. “Along with these areas is the subject of English as a second language. Best practices for teaching math and science to (English Learners (ELs) begin with the best practices for teaching math and science, but teachers need to understand the unique linguistic and cultural needs of ELs so that the lessons are comprehensible to students that are still developing their abilities with the English language.”

Scholars will receive up to three years of forgivable loans covering 100 percent of their tuition and partial living expenses to pursue secondary licensure in mathematics or science (physics, chemistry, earth or life science) in the state of Minnesota. Scholars will also receive special training in best practices for teaching science and math to English language learners (ELL), and will agree to teach in a high needs school district upon receiving licensure, providing invaluable service to the diverse K-12 students and numerous districts in our region, of which the majority fit the definition of high-needs.

Principal grant investigators are MSUM Professors Alison Wallace, Steve Lindaas, Tim Harms and Linda Houts-Smith, all of whom are content specialists as well as members of the secondary education program. Senior personnel include Professors Brian Smith, Richard Lahti, Russ Colson, Julie Swaggert and Diane Allen.

This current grant builds on funds received from a previous Noyce Capacity Building grant. With that grant MSUM developed a course to train scholarship recipients on teaching science and math to ELs that will also be open to others desiring this training, such as already practicing teachers of math and science; developed a learning assistant program that has been adopted by the College of Science, Health, and the Environment; and fostered campus and community-wide partnerships that include faculty from seven departments and three colleges, K-12 school districts, a community college, a science and technology college, and a tribal college.

If you are a professional in a STEM field and are interested in more information or know someone who might make a great candidate for becoming a Noyce Scholar, please contact one of the principal investigators mentioned above at noyce@mnstate.edu or visit the website.

What is a high-needs district?

The term high-need local educational agency as defined in section 201 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C.1021) means a local educational agency (for example, a school district) that serves an elementary or secondary school located in an area which is characterized by at least one of the following: a high percentage of individuals from families with incomes below the poverty line; a high percentage of secondary school teachers not teaching in the content area in which they were trained to teach; or a high teacher turnover rate.


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