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Georgia Southern receives $1.1M National Science Foundation grant to support development of regional mathematics, science teachers

Georgia Southern University’s College of Education (COE) and College of Science and Mathematics (COSM) have been awarded a five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program grant with a total intended award amount of $1,199,206 to support dynamic preparation of secondary science and mathematics educators who will be teacher-leaders in high-needs schools.
The grant will focus on developing prospective secondary teachers, grades 6-12, who can integrate authentic, problem-based learning experiences into their science and mathematics classrooms using regional STEM contexts.

The state of Georgia continues to have a shortage of certified secondary mathematics and science teachers, with southeast Georgia reporting more than 200 high school mathematics and science openings over the past several academic years. Gregory Chamblee, Ph.D., principal investigator  (PI) and COE professor of secondary mathematics education, explained that this grant provides an avenue to meet the growing needs of the University’s service area schools and Georgia schools in general.

“To meet these content and demographic needs, prospective secondary mathematics and science teachers must learn how to integrate various instructional models and resources in their classrooms,” he said. “Simultaneously, they must be able to assess how these strategies impact their students’ learning and communicate their work to their colleagues. They must develop their students’ critical and creative thinking skills.”

To achieve this, Chamblee and the grant team, composed of COE faculty Amanda (Glaze) Townley, Ph.D., and COSM faculty Gwendolyn Carroll, Ph.D., and Tuyin An, Ph.D., will recruit science and mathematics majors at Georgia Southern, who may not have previously considered a career in teaching, to experience enriched secondary education preparation in sync with their content area.

The NSF-funded program will provide scholarship support to students to earn dual undergraduate degrees in biology, chemistry, mathematics or physics and secondary education. A five-year academic plan has been tailored for students who wish to complete both degrees, including summer internships with the Skidaway Island Marine Extension and community education experiences with the COE’s Center for STEM Education and the University Botanic Garden. Students participating in the program will also have seminar courses during the final three years of their program that will be co-taught by COE and COSM faculty for teaching support in content and methodology.

The program will provide academic funding of $12,500 per year for the final three years of the academic program, which include a yearlong teaching placement, for 18 undergraduate scholars.

“During the yearlong teaching experience, students will be placed in a high-need regional school in Chatham or Evans County,” explained Chamblee. “These school districts are very interested in hosting and, ultimately, hiring the Noyce Scholars to provide opportunities to develop their teaching skills in high-need schools. This will provide our scholars both urban and rural school settings as they develop their teaching skills.”

Support of the program’s participants will continue into their induction years of teaching, with meetings and instructional coaching provided during their first year of teaching. A mentorship model will be developed to allow for graduates of the program in their second and third years of teaching to pair with first-year graduates as cohorts complete the program.

“In five years, 18 Georgia Southern Robert Noyce-funded scholars will become leaders in high-need school districts,” said Chamblee. “They will be well-versed in leading the use of locally-designed experiences to make positive changes in schools and student achievement across the state.”

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