NSF Noyce grant to fund UNL scholarships for future science teachers

Elizabeth Lewis, associate professor in TLTE, is the principal investigator for the NSF Noyce grant and directs the MAst program.

NSF Noyce grant to fund UNL scholarships for future science teachers

09 Oct 2015     By Brad Stauffer

A three-year, $799,890 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant awarded to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) will be used to help meet the growing need for high school and middle school science teachers. The Phase II Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship grant will provide scholarships for qualifying graduate students to participate in UNL’s Master of Arts with emphasis in science teaching (MAst) program. The 14-month program prepares students to teach middle and high school science.

“Nebraska and the nation are facing large numbers of retirements by baby boomer teachers, and we need as many new highly-qualified science teachers as we can prepare,” said Elizabeth Lewis, principal investigator (PI) of the Noyce grant and associate professor of science education in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education (TLTE) in the College of Education and Human Sciences (CEHS).  Faculty members from the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) also are involved in the project. 

Potential participants include recent college graduates who have majored in science or science professionals who have strong academic backgrounds. Applicants should have a commitment to fostering adolescents’ learning and a desire to change careers. Over the last five years, more than 50 science professionals have taken advantage of the MAst program at UNL, including a veterinarian, a physician and a forest ranger.

Next spring, CEHS will offer 10 Noyce scholarships at $15,000 apiece, and the Phase II grant will then provide 30 additional $16,000 scholarships over the next three to four years. In total, the MAst program will support 40 additional students seeking to become science teachers.

Upon successful completion of the 14-month MAst program, students will graduate with a master’s degree and be certified by the state of Nebraska to teach secondary science in grades 7-12. The 42 credit hour degree is designed for individuals who have earned at least a bachelor’s degree in an area of science (biology, environmental science, chemistry, geosciences, physics, agricultural science or natural resources) and who want to become middle or high school science teachers. The intensive program requires full-time graduate student status and requires recipients to teach for two years in a high-need school district in the U.S.

The program begins in May of each year with graduation in August of the following year. The deadline to apply for the next MAst cohort is March 1, 2016. For more information or to apply, please visit http://go.unl.edu/zyps.

Lewis; Daniel Claes, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy; David Harwood, professor of earth and atmospheric sciences; and Tiffany Heng-Moss, CASNR associate dean, were notified of the grant award in September. The grant will also fund a longitudinal research study of beginning and intermediate science teachers’ instructional practices, an understudied area within science education.

A similar Noyce grant in mathematics (2010-2016) launched TLTE’s Master of Arts with an emphasis on mathematics teaching (MAmt), to prepare graduates to teach secondary mathematics in Nebraska. The NebraskaNOYCE grant also funded 30 Master Teaching Fellows, who are experienced mathematics teacher leaders across the state. A mathematics-focused Phase II grant (2014-2016) is a monitoring and evaluation grant, designed to better understand how to prepare secondary mathematics teachers and how mathematics teacher leaders are improving mathematics teaching and learning statewide.

College of Education and Human Sciences
Teaching, Learning & Teacher Education