This project aims to serve the national interest by developing highly qualified STEM teachers who can adapt a unique blend of teaching strategies to meet the needs of students from different cultures and backgrounds. Project leadership will engage with schools and community partners in southwest Georgia, where regional challenges caused by poverty and inequity contribute to minimal production of STEM teachers from the local communities. There is a need to both grow and diversify the STEM teacher pipeline to meet future staffing demands and to improve STEM learning outcomes for underrepresented students. The project addresses this need by developing 12 new STEM teachers and training them to implement an innovative STEM curriculum based on Citizen Science. Such a curriculum involves collecting scientific information from nearby areas and attempting to solve problems that are relevant to the lives of the students and other citizens in those local communities. The new STEM teachers' training in Citizen Science will link three key teaching skills: (1) use of culturally responsive instruction, (2) connecting new understanding and knowledge to what students already know, and (3) creation of teaching exercises and lessons that interweave concepts from multiple STEM areas during the problem-solving process. Project outcomes will help to identify solutions to one of the most challenging issues facing rural education in America: how to produce adequate numbers of STEM-certified minority teachers who are exceptionally qualified and willing to stay in high-need schools. The student population at Albany State University is more that 70% African American, resulting in a strong potential for increasing the number of African American STEM teachers in local schools.

This project at Albany State University includes partnerships with: 1) school districts in Southwest Georgia, specifically Dougherty, Randolph and Terrell; 2) the USDA Research Station (Peanut Lab) in Dawson, GA; and 3) a consortium of non-profit partners including The Albany Civil Rights Institute, Thronateeska Heritage Center, The Flint RiverQuarium, and Chehaw Park. The primary goal of the project is to increase and diversify the STEM teacher pipeline in southwest Georgia school districts. Specific objectives include: (1) train a cohort of diverse STEM teachers to use culturally relevant pedagogy; (2) design curricular modules that are problem based and focus on Citizen Science; (3) provide systematic and ongoing induction support; and (4) develop STEM teacher leaders. During the 5-year project, the project will produce 12 STEM teachers in multiple STEM disciplines (e.g., mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry), and support their transition from STEM post-baccalaureates to highly qualified teachers, and to teacher leaders. Intellectual merit of the project includes contributions to research and practice for building a diverse STEM teacher pipeline and a more STEM literate public. By engaging higher education and its school system partners in Citizen Science, this project intends to encourage teacher education programs to redesign instructional practices and curricula to draw upon the cultural assets of teacher candidates and students they will serve. The project's focus on Citizen Science will link the learning principles of culturally responsive pedagogy, constructivism, and integrative learning. The project directly addresses critical STEM teacher shortages, especially in rural areas, by strengthening teacher preparation to meet the challenges of underrepresented groups. This Track 2: Teaching Fellowships project is supported through the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program (Noyce). The Noyce program supports talented STEM undergraduate majors and professionals to become effective K-12 STEM teachers and experienced, exemplary K-12 teachers to become STEM master teachers in high-need school districts. It also supports research on the persistence, retention, and effectiveness of K-12 STEM teachers in high-need school districts.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Program Officer
Sandra Richardson
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Albany State University
United States
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