NSF grant awarded for teacher preparation scholarships

UNC Charlotte has been awarded a $698,123 Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program grant from the National Science Foundation to enhance the content expertise of 12 secondary education majors dedicated to pursuing careers as chemistry and physics teachers.

Through a partnership among the departments of physics and chemistry, the College of Education and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, this teacher preparation program uses the “Learning Coach” model to engage UNC Charlotte’s most talented chemistry and physics students in peer instruction, supported by faculty mentors. A cadre of chemistry and physics students will be trained as learning coaches to lead small-group discussion sessions among their peers.

Individuals selected for the UNC Charlotte 49er Teach Noyce Scholars Program will be enrolled in pedagogy courses, attend seminars enriching their knowledge of both science and pedagogy, attend state and national meetings on science education, have summer internship opportunities, and receive support from a three-person team of mentors — one each from the science faculty, the education faculty and a classroom teacher.

After completing the certification program, new teachers will continue to be mentored and supported during their first three induction years.

“This project’s success rests on seamless collaboration among disparate disciplines, strong administrative support, and the well-developed Learning Coach model,” said David Pugalee, director of the Center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education in the College of Education. “It addresses a key need for well-trained high-school chemistry and physics teachers, particularly in underserved areas such as rural North Carolina.”

The program will be under the direction of Pugalee; Kate Popejoy, assistant professor of reading and elementary education; Kathryn Asala, undergraduate coordinator and lecturer in the Department of Chemistry, Michelle Stephan, associate director of the Center for STEM Education; and Pedram Leilabady, senior lecturer in the Department of Physics and Optical Science.

UNC Charlotte will begin accepting Noyce program applications in the 2012-13 academic year, with paid internships available for the summer 2013 semester and scholarships of $12,500 each year for up to two years to be awarded for the fall 2013 semester.

For more information, contact Pugalee at 704-687-8887 or email david.pugalee@uncc.edu.