Marquette receives $1.2 million NSF grant to attract and retain secondary science, technology, engineering and math teachers

May 16, 2017

Marquette University's College of Education and Opus College of Engineering faculty have received a $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant to develop a 14-month master's program that will attract and retain new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers. The accelerated program, which will start in summer 2018 and is already accepting applications, targets people with STEM-related bachelor's degrees not currently in the teaching profession.

"This significant grant reflects the vital need to secure top-level science and math teachers in middle and high school," said Dr. Bill Henk, dean of the College of Education. "We are proud to step forward to prepare and cultivate these future teachers who will significantly impact future generations of students in the classroom."

Central to the NSF grant is scholarship money, as each accepted graduate student will receive $23,400 in financial support (to be used for both tuition aid and living expenses) to make the transition into the teaching profession. Marquette will enroll seven students in its first cohort of the program, named the Graduate Noyce Scholars program after Robert Noyce, the co-inventor of the integrated circuit and co-founder of both Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel Corporation.

Marquette aims to graduate 28 students with teaching degrees and secondary licensure over the course of the five-year grant. The teachers will then serve in high-needs, urban middle and high school settings.

A unique aspect of the interdisciplinary teacher training will include a co-op educational model, based off Marquette's Opus College of Engineering's successful model that has existed for more than a century. Students will immediately receive extensive hands-on career related work experience to develop professionally and academically, including a field site internship in the first summer. A Marquette instructor will work side-by-side with each student at the internship to introduce students to teaching and learning, while instructing in adolescent development, exceptional needs and diversity.

Dr. Kristina Ropella, Opus dean of the Opus College of Engineering, emphasized how this innovative program reflects recent initiatives in education.

"As we reach deeper into primary and secondary education to attract students to STEM careers, it is critical to have teachers who bring both experience and passion for the field," Ropella said. "This unique program emphasizes deep engagement with students in science classrooms and creates a new bridge for STEM professionals to become licensed and experienced teachers."

Additional coursework in the master's degree program will include:

  • Integrated STEM methods: Focusing on literacy in math and science classrooms
  • Teacher practice: Instruction in educational theory and analysis of teaching
  • Professional practice: Instruction in legal issues, leadership and educational policy

Lead faculty contributors for the grant include:

From the College of Education:

  • Jill Birren (assistant professor of educational policy and leadership)
  • Ellen Eckman (associate professor and chair of educational policy and leadership)
  • Leigh Vandenkieboom (associate professor of educational policy and leadership)

From the Opus College of Engineering:

  • Barbara Silver-Thorn (associate professor of biomedical engineering)

The graduate Noyce scholars program builds off of a successful $900,000 NSF grant awarded to Marquette in 2011 to educate undergraduates for STEM teacher preparation. The majority of graduates in the new program are expected to teach in high-need schools in the greater Milwaukee area.