Xavier University Receives Grant to Encourage Talented STEM Majors to Teach

September 28, 2012

Xavier University has received $1.2 million from the National Science Foundation for a Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship grant to establish a program to encourage talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors and graduates to become K-12 mathematics and science teachers. It addresses the goal established by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology "of ensuring over the next decade the recruitment, prepara¬tion, and induction support of at least 100,000 new STEM middle and high school teachers who have strong majors in STEM fields and strong content-specific pedagogical preparation.”

Xavier’s project will investigate how service experiences can encourage STEM majors to consider teaching, and whether students attracted to teaching because of a personal commitment to service are more likely to be successful in high-need districts and stay in these school environments longer.

Through this project, Xavier is creating opportunities, including tutoring and summer internships, for STEM majors to teach science, technology, and math content to underserved, urban children. The project is considering what curricular supports make education licensure courses and field work relevant to students motivated by a commitment to community engagement. For example, the revised introductory education course is being enhanced to include theories related to asset-based community development, conversations with parents and community stakeholders, and experiential learning such as neighborhood tours. The project is also considering what supports enable new STEM teachers to be successful in high-need districts.

STEM students who make the decision to pursue careers in teaching will be eligible for two-year scholarships of $20,000 their junior-senior years, senior-fifth years, or for a one-year stipend of $20,000 in their first year after graduation to help them complete the teaching licensure requirements. Scholarship recipients must teach in high-need districts for two years for each year of scholarship funding they receive.

“High-need districts need strong STEM teachers who are passionate about the community as a whole. Xavier students fit this need perfectly,” says Gary Lewandowski, program director. “The Noyce program helps us build the pathways to connect our students’ strong academic preparation with their passion for service in a teaching career that helps society.”

The program will be under the direction of Gary Lewandowski, professor of computer science, Michael Flick, professor and chair of secondary and special education, and Daniel J. McLoughlin, associate professor and chair of chemistry. Community partners include Boys Hope Girls Hope, Leadership Scholars and Minorities in Mathematics, Science and Engineering (M2SE).