TLTE’s Gatti earns prestigious Spencer grant

Lauren Gatti, assistant professor, Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education.

TLTE’s Gatti earns prestigious Spencer grant

07 Nov 2016    

Lauren Gatti closely tracks new developments in teacher preparation. When the U.S. Department of Education announced new regulations for teacher preparation programs earlier this month, she immediately started pouring over them. Gatti’s close attention to teacher education and her unique research in teacher residency programs has resulted in a $50,000 grant from the Spencer Foundation Small Grants Program. Gatti will be working on the grant with colleagues from DePaul University and National-Louis University in Chicago.

“It’s a highly competitive grant,” said Gatti, assistant professor in Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education in the College of Education and Human Sciences (CEHS). “Fewer than 10 percent of applicants get funded, so we felt it was a real longshot, but were excited about trying.” She also gave high praise to Ronda Alexander, CEHS grants specialist, and the CEHS research and grant support team for assistance in preparing the grant application 

The award allows her research on teacher residency programs to continue from a previous Layman Award funded internally through the University of Nebraska Foundation. The Spencer Foundation grant will fund Stage 2 of this longitudinal, comparative case study which examines two distinct pathways of teacher preparation at one university—a more traditional student teaching model and a teacher residency program. Teacher residency programs are modeled from medical residencies, and generally speaking include a paid residency year teaching alongside an effective classroom teacher. Both programs result in teacher certification and a master’s degree. If they remain teaching in the high-needs district for 3-5 years, their student loans are forgiven.

“I’m really hoping we gain some insight into what program features are most consequential for teacher learning,” said Gatti. “There’s a lot of hype right now around teacher residency but very little peer reviewed research out there that shows what is happening or which specific parts of the residency model are most effective in producing the kind of teachers we need, especially in high-needs schools.”

Gatti says teacher residency programs are “exploding” right now, in part because of the focus of the Department of Education’s Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) Grants which, since their inception in 2008, have consistently identified Teacher Residencies as an “absolute priority” for funding. Recently, the provision addressing teacher preparation in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), allocated $2.3 billion dollars a year (for five years) to states to address teacher preparation, and includes a pathway for states to create independent principal preparation academies and teacher preparation academies, including residencies. “This means that there are many, many more residencies in our future,” said Gatti.

“When I think about the huge issues facing teacher preparation, when I think about the dizzying proliferation of residencies, when I think about how little we know about what particular aspects of residencies are most powerful for teacher learning, this kind of collaboration feels really important to me,” said Gatti.

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