Research News

Vanderbilt faculty earn $1.2M grant to support STEM majors who want to teach

(Getty Images)

The National Science Foundation has awarded $1.2 million to researchers at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of education and human development who, in partnership with Fisk University, will establish a second Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. Noyce scholarships are designed to serve the national need of recruiting and preparing high-quality STEM teachers for high-need school districts.

“All students deserve high-quality teachers, and high-needs schools especially require strong teaching in STEM,” said Camilla P. Benbow, Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development. “The Noyce Program helps to address this need. We are honored to take part once more in partnership with Fisk University and our local schools.”

Principal investigators include Heather Johnson, associate professor of the practice of science education; and Teresa Dunleavy, assistant professor of the practice of mathematics education; both in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Peabody.

Their project, “Recruitment and Preparation of Next Generation STEM Teachers,” specifically aims to increase the number of diverse candidates, particularly candidates of color, who seek secondary licensure in science or mathematics, and who want to make a commitment to teach in what the NSF refers to as high-priority schools.

The grant allows Vanderbilt to prepare a minimum of 18 new STEM teachers over three cohorts starting in 2019. The M.Ed. students selected to receive the Noyce scholarship funds will receive stipends valued at $31,818, which is currently more than 50 percent of tuition. They will receive this stipend in addition to any Vanderbilt scholarship funds they may be eligible for.

“This one-year practice-based pathway to licensure will significantly reduce the financial burden of a graduate degree in education,” Johnson said. “The program also will help us to understand the hidden obstacles that teacher candidates confront as they make a commitment to teaching as a profession more broadly.”

As they did for their first Noyce grant (in 2015), they will partner with co-principal investigators from Vanderbilt’s science and math departments, including astronomy professor David Weintraub and mathematics assistant professor Marcelo Disconzi. They also will continue to partner with Isaac Thompson, executive director of Fisk University’s THRUST (To Harness, Retain, Understand, Sustain and Teach) math and science program.

The team also will continue to strengthen existing partnerships with K-12 teachers and district leaders in Metro Nashville Public Schools.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to use this grant to continue our partnership with Fisk University and to grow and strengthen partnerships with other HBCUs,” Dunleavy said. “We also believe that adding the Noyce stipend to any existing scholarships a student earns will allow us to be more financially competitive than some of the institutions that we often lose math and science scholars to, including Stanford and Harvard.”

The Noyce program includes additional mentoring and professional development throughout the M.Ed., as well as induction support during the scholars’ first two years of teaching.

Program contact: