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Tennessee STEM Education Center

TSEC Current Grants and Projects

TSEC associated PI and co-PIs, please use the following link to report new grant acquisitions.

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Attention Postdoctoral Scholars and Student Researchers!
Are you looking for research opportunities to expand your skills and knowledge in STEM Education?
Submit an application to indicate your interest today!

Primary Investigator: Greg Rushton, greg.rushton@mtsu.edu   

Sponsor: National Science Foundation Sponsor Award Number: 1949925
Award Amount: $214,350
Award Start Date: 10/1/2020 Award End Date: 9/30/2024
Field: STEM Education Activity: Other
Abstract: 
This project aims to serve the national need to improve the retention and persistence of STEM teachers in high-need schools across the nation. It will do so by studying the retention and persistence of Noyce Master Teacher Fellows compared to a control teacher population. Specifically, this Noyce Track 4 Collaborative Research project will conduct an exploratory study through a collaboration among eight universities: Rice University (lead institution), Middle Tennessee State University, University of Rochester, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, University of Arizona, University of Louisiana-Lafayette, University of California-San Diego, and Kennesaw State University. K-12 education in the U.S. has been suffering from teacher shortages and attrition, particularly in mathematics and science disciplines and particularly in high-need schools. Investigating factors related to teacher retention and persistence is, thus, a crucial first step to increasing the positive effects of teacher retention on K-12 education. By comparing Noyce Master Teaching Fellows with a group of non-Noyce teachers with similar background characteristics, the impact of the Noyce Master Teaching Fellows programs on long-term teacher retention and persistence should become more visible.
Not Accepting Applications

Primary Investigator (MTSU): Greg Rushton, greg.rushton@mtsu.edu  

Sponsor: National Science Foundation Sponsor Award Number: 2243377
Award Amount: $75,000
Award Start Date: 10/1/2023 Award End Date: 9/30/2024
Field: STEM Education Activity: Other
Abstract: 
This project aims to serve the national need to conduct research regarding STEM teacher effectiveness and retention in high-need school districts. Funds will support the principal investigators as they seek to increase capacity to conduct a research program that focuses on examining STEM teacher leader effectiveness and the leaders’ impacts on STEM teacher effectiveness and retention. Utilizing established research practice partnerships (RPPs) in three different geographic locations, Nebraska, Tennessee, and South Carolina, university researchers will collaborate with high-need urban and rural school districts to identify the metrics and data sources that best align to the local context and goals that the project will use for measuring STEM teacher effectiveness, as well as STEM teacher retention. This Capacity Building project will focus on identifying needed data, deepening partnerships, and coming to agreement as to the evidence-based strategies that will undergird a future research effort consistent with the RPP approach.
Not Accepting Applications

Primary Investigator: Hanna Terletska, hanna.terletska@mtsu.edu Additional PIs: Greg Rushton, greg.rushton@mtsu.edu 

Sponsor: National Science Foundation Sponsor Award Number: 2322591
Award Amount: $264,322
Award Start Date: 10/1/2023 Award End Date: 9/30/2026
Field: STEM Education Activity: Public Service
Abstract: 
The project aims to serve the national interest by introducing Quantum Information Science and Engineering (QISE) education to partnering institutions in the Southeastern United States. Quantum technology, using QISE concepts, has the potential to change the world. For this emerging field, educating the workforce and broadening participation in QISE now are crucial to prepare future generations for related emerging technology fields and enabling the development of QISE practical applications. Five universities (The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee Tech, Fisk University, and Auburn University) have assembled a team of experts to provide QISE training to community colleges and universities in the Southeast, including first-generation college students, women, and historically underrepresented populations in STEM.
Not Accepting Applications

Primary Investigator: Hongbo Zhang, hongbo.zhang@mtsu.edu   Additional PIs: Greg Rushton, greg.rushton@mtsu.edu 

Sponsor: National Science Foundation Sponsor Award Number: 2306285
Award Amount: $199,683
Award Start Date: 8/1/2023 Award End Date: 7/31/2025
Field: STEM Education Activity: Public Service
Abstract: 
The global robotics technology market size is expected to grow three times from 2021 to 2030. There is, however, a limited workforce pipeline to sustain the rapid growth of the industry demands, leading to increased workload and decreased quality of output. To resolve these challenges, this project will investigate effective engineering educational methods to prepare future robotics engineers. The research will leverage industry partners’ needs to formulate the industry requirements for robotics engineers. The research will immerse learners in engaging learning environments emphasizing human-robot interactions for effective learning of robotics technologies. Various real-world robotics engineering tasks will be used through the learning process. A virtual reality application will be developed to create immersive learning environments to explore the development of robotics software, hardware, motion control, and object manipulation. Hands on activities and projects will be used in the classes to boost the learning efficacy of the robotics technology. Iterative and rigorous evaluation will ensure the learning outcomes to maximize the impacts on the formation of engineering workforce of robotics.
Not Accepting Applications

Primary Investigator: Grant Gardner, grant.gardner@mtsu.edu  Additional PIs: Greg Rushton, greg.rushton@mtsu.edu ; Jennifer Kaplan; Sarah Bleiler-Baxter; Maryann Barnes

Sponsor: National Science Foundation Sponsor Award Number: 2329405
Award Amount: $1,249,445
Award Start Date: 10/1/2023 Award End Date: 9/30/2026
Field: STEM Education Activity: Public Service
Abstract: 
This organizational STEM education postdoctoral fellowship project will focus on preparing graduates with doctoral degrees in a STEM field (e.g., mathematics or biology), with recruitment focused specifically on members of underrepresented groups, to conduct rigorous discipline-based education research (DBER) in their respective fields. DBER scholars from disciplinary fields can have high impacts on the quality of undergraduate STEM instruction, and currently there are few professional development models focusing on how to train disciplinary scholars as effective DBER researchers. The project team will implement a two-year professional development program for a cohort of four postdoctoral fellows. In the first year, the fellows will collaborate with faculty on an interdisciplinary STEM education research project while engaging in professional development activities to support development of their independence and skills as DBER researchers, as well as strengthen their relationship with this community of practice. In year two, the fellows will conduct an independent research project related to undergraduate STEM faculty teaching professional development. With strong domain knowledge in a STEM field and training in education research methods, the fellows will be well-positioned for future careers in STEM departments to conduct research that will support effective instruction in their departments. As researchers from groups typically underrepresented in STEM fields, their entry into the community of discipline-based STEM Education research will position them as leaders guiding efforts to improve retention of undergraduate STEM majors from similar backgrounds.
Not Accepting Applications

Primary Investigator: Greg Rushton, greg.rushton@mtsu.edu 

Sponsor: National Science Foundation Sponsor Award Number: 1914813
Award Amount: $609,435
Award Start Date: 10/1/2019 Award End Date: 9/30/2024
Field: STEM Education Activity: Other
Abstract: 
With support from the NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education Program: Education and Human Resources (IUSE: EHR), this project aims to serve the national interest by investigating factors that create effective classroom environments for large undergraduate chemistry courses. To accomplish this goal, the project will gather data from large enrollment courses at the University of Iowa, the University of Arizona, Middle Tennessee State University, and Stonybrook University. It will use these data to determine the features of collaborative activities that foster high-quality student engagement and meaningful learning. Special attention will be paid to the participation of diverse student populations, such as first-generation college students and English-language learners. Core findings from this research project will be used to develop and disseminate faculty resources that will support creation and implementation of effective classroom activities.
Not Accepting Applications

Primary Investigator: Kevin Ragland, kevin.ragland@mtsu.edu  

Additional PIs: Chaney Mosley
Sponsor: United States Department Agriculture Sponsor Award Number: 2023-67037-39939
Award Amount: $500,000
Award Start Date: 6/1/2023 Award End Date: 5/31/2026
Field: Agricultural Science; STEM Education Activity: Public Service
Abstract: 
This project will provide a three-year CASE AgXplore professional development institute and CASE curriculum certification program in agricultural science education for 100 middle school agriculture teachers. CASE has been shown to be a highly effective curriculum that can improve agriculture teachers personal science teaching efficacy and science teaching outcome expectancy (Velez et. al, 2013). It has also been shown to positively impact student outcomes in math and science (Smith, 2019). However, research has demonstrated there are barriers that prevent some teachers from implementing the curriculum. Witte et. al, (2021) identified 1) time for training, 2) cost of training, and 3) access to equipment and supplies as the greatest barriers to the implementation of CASE. Additionally, Bird and Rice (2021) found that some teachers need additional support and an opportunity to ask questions about scheduling and teaching the curriculum after attending CASE training to implement it with increased frequency and fidelity. This project is designed to mitigate the common barriers to implementation for middle school agriculture education teachers by providing training, certification, classroom materials for teachers, lodging, transportation and virtual ongoing support. The goals of this project are to (1) enhance the middle school student educational experience by improving instructional practices and relevant curricula, (2) increase teachers ability to integrate science and experiential learning into the middle school agriculture curriculum, and (3) boost teachers self-efficacy.
Not Accepting Applications

Primary Investigator: Gregory Rushton, greg.rushton@mtsu.edu

Additional PIs: Kevin Krahenbuhl, Keith Gamble, Katherine Miller, Ryan Jones

Sponsor: National Science Foundation Sponsor Award Number: 2345138

Award Amount: $2,990,932
Award Start Date: 6/15/20234 Award End Date: 5/31/2029
Field: STEM Education; Data Science Activity: Public Service

Abstract: This project aims to serve the national need of recruiting and retaining high-quality STEM teacher leaders in high need K-12 schools by developing STEM teachers in grades 5-8 into both leaders in their schools and Data Science Education (DSE) communities. Data Science competencies are increasingly important for students to be well prepared for professional opportunities and engage in civic discourse. However, most STEM teachers lack the necessary skills to engage students with data in productive ways, especially the ever-expanding forms of data from new digital technologies and in meaningful ways. In addition, STEM teachers often lack the opportunities and support to grow into leaders that can support and influence colleagues in their schools and districts. The project’s design includes development of teacher competency, recognition, belonging and identity so that partner teachers become leaders in their local context who contribute to the improvement of STEM education in sustainable and professionally fulfilling ways. This project will develop, implement, and study this innovative program for in-service STEM teachers in grades 5-8. In addition, the program will integrate coursework in leadership and DSE and support teachers in using concepts from these classes in their local contexts through leadership experiences, community building, and recurring reflection meetings.

This project at Middle Tennessee State University is conducted in partnership with Cannon County Schools, Bedford County Schools, Murfreesboro City Schools, and The Concord Consortium. Project goals include the development of a new program for developing teacher leaders in DSE, 16 Master Teaching Fellows (MTFs) with new expertise and support to guide colleagues to create novel approaches to data science education in their schools and districts. This project will recruit MTFs from a pool of middle school STEM teachers in partner districts and conduct research on their changing ideas and practices related to DSE and leadership in their local contexts. In partnership with local school districts and The Concord Consortium, this program will center an innovative platform for learning about data science, the Common Online Data Analysis Platform (CODAP). CODAP?s development has been supported through multiple NSF grants, and the professional learning opportunities built from this platform will result in a cohort of teacher leaders that will be equipped to make creative and sustainable contributions to their local schools and districts. This project will contribute to STEM education through research findings on how teachers’ ideas and practices change as they grow into DSE leaders in their schools and districts. This study will examine MTFs? changing knowledge, practices, and professional identity using interviews, MTF data science lessons, written reflections from MTFs, and their capstone projects. The intellectual merit of this project is the contribution of knowledge about how to develop and support data science education leaders, and the broader impacts will be more leaders in schools supporting students to learn about data and modeling. An external evaluator will evaluate the project through regular reviews and disseminate the products and knowledge through professional conferences, publications, professional networks, and programming for the Tennessee STEM Education Research Center and The Concord Consortium. This Track 3: Master Teaching Fellowships project is supported through the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program (Noyce). The Noyce program supports talented STEM undergraduate majors and professionals to become effective K-12 STEM teachers and experienced, exemplary K-12 teachers to become STEM master teachers in high-need school districts. It also supports research on the effectiveness and retention of K-12 STEM teachers in high-need school districts.

Primary Investigator: Kevin Ragland, kevin.ragland@mtsu.edu

Sponsor: TN Department of EducationBattelle Education Sponsor Award Number: 000000797
Award Amount: $35,000
Award Start Date: 10/1/2023 Award End Date: 6/30/2024
Field: STEM Education Activity: Public Service
Abstract: 
This project aims to encourage students to engage and excel within STEM fields in hopes of preparing future graduates for STEM careers. With the help of our community partners, we are able to offer opportunities to both students and teachers for real-world work situations and experiences. High expectations and challenging problems have prooven to enhance students’ ability to critically solve tasks at hand. While being dedicated to ensuring that every student and teachers’ needs are met, we provide a network of resources and ideas to our community. 
Not Accepting Applications

Primary Investigator (MTSU): Chaney Mosley, chaney.mosley@mtsu.edu  Additional PIs: Kevin Ragland, kevin.ragland@mtsu.edu; Jessica Carter; Song Cui; Samuel Haruna

Sponsor: United States Department Agriculture Sponsor Award Number: 2023-70440-40157
Award Amount: $901,398
Award Start Date: 6/1/2023 Award End Date: 5/30/2028
Field: Agricultural Sciences; STEM Education Activity: Research – Applied
Abstract: 
This multi-institutional $18,110,000 project will establish an inclusive consortium of institutions from nearly every MSI category to build and sustain the future workforce in food, agriculture, natural resources, and human sciences (FANHS). We will build present and future student knowledge of the processes and pathways leading to education opportunities and employment in Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Human Sciences while advancing equity through student scholarships (SSP), experiential learning (ELP), and outreach and engagement (OEP). Tasks/activities to be conducted will accomplish the following objectives of the project: 1) Attract and engage youth 2) Attract and engage high school and college learners 3) Fund high quality underserved students 4) Attract underserved learners 5) Develop a communication campaign and marketing materials to attract/engage future underserved learners to the FANHP. 
Not Accepting Applications

Primary Investigator: Kevin Ragland, kevin.ragland@mtsu.edu  Additional PIs: Ying Jin, Song Cui, Chaney Mosley

Sponsor: United States Department Agriculture  Sponsor Award Number: 2023-67037-40313
Award Amount: $749,443
Award Start Date: 8/15/23  Award End Date: 8/14/2028
Field: Agricultural Sciences; STEM Education Activity: Research – Applied
Abstract: The goal of this Agri-analytics Fellowship program is to create a self-sustainable interdisciplinary certificate program in Agricultural Analytics at the host institution, Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). Upon graduation, undergraduate students successfully completing the certificate program will be ready to enter the agricultural workforce with exceptional data analytical skills. Additionally, other competencies students will develop to prepare them for the workforce include critical thinking, complex problem-solving, collaboration, communication, self-directed learning, and academic mindset, which are well aligned with the leadership skills required by the AFRI EWD programs. The most important impact of this certificate program is that it will benefit nearly 70,000 farming operations in Tennessee (WIOA Tennessee 2020-2023) in the long run with a workforce with exceptional data analytical skills that will transform the agricultural industry in the next decade.

Primary Investigator: Chaney Mosley, chaney.mosley@mtsu.edu   Additional PIs: Kevin Ragland,  kevin.ragland@mtsu.edu; Mary Ellen Sloane; Ying Jin

Sponsor: Institute of Museum and Library Services Sponsor Award Number: LG-254869-OLS-23
Award Amount: $549,574
Award Start Date:  8/1/2023 Award End Date: 7/31/2026
Field: Agricultural Sciences; STEM Education Activity: Research – Applied
Abstract: Middle Tennessee State University will conduct applied research to investigate virtual reality career exploration and training initiatives in libraries and their role in yielding positive workforce outcomes for patrons. The project will partner with public libraries in economically distressed, at-risk, and transitioning areas, providing them with VR technology equipped with workforce simulations. The project will survey and interview library patrons, staff, and stakeholders about their experiences with VR programming, including ways in which the experience may be associated with workforce outcomes (e.g., technical skills, industry credentials, new employment). The project anticipates producing publications, presentations, podcasts, testimonies, and a best practice guide to help share results and promote widespread adoption of VR programming in libraries for workforce development, benefiting under skilled library patrons and staff, employers, and communities.
Not Accepting Applications

Current Awards

Deeper Learning Professional Development For High School Agriculture Teachers

“Deeper Learning describes the higher-order thinking skills, learning dispositions, and collaboration skills needed for students to succeed in twenty-first century work and civic life” (Deeper Learning Hub, 2022). The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation defined deeper learning as “a set of competencies students must master in order to develop a keen understanding of academic content and apply their knowledge to problems in the classroom and on the job” (American Institutes for Research AIR, 2022). Embedding deeper learning activities into lesson planning helps students to develop a  mastery of core content, critical thinking skills, collaboration skillscommunication skills, learning-how-to-learn skills, and an academic mindset . According to the Alliance for Excellent Education (2022),  project-based learning (PBL) is one instructional approach that engages students in deeper learning opportunities, where students develop knowledge and skills while investigating a meaningful problem or answering a complex question.

PI: Jin, Ying
Resources

NSF Includes: South East Alliance for Persons with Disabilities in STEM (SEAPD-STEM)

The SouthEast Alliance for Persons with Disabilities in STEM (SEAPD-STEM) will implement innovative interventions designed to engage students with disabilities in STEM. The Alliance will involve students at various stages with the following two specific objectives for maximum effect. 

Objective I.1: Increasing the quality and quantity of SWD completing associate and baccalaureate degrees in STEM. Objective I.2: Increasing the quality and quantity of students with disabilities entering graduate school.

PI:  Dr. Sarah Bleiler-Baxter 

Inclusive Pedagogy among STEM Faculty: A Professional Development Program for Becoming Aware and Culturally Responsive.

This TBR-funded project is a pilot program to provide faculty professional development that focuses on inclusive pedagogy. The intended target population for this project is faculty who teach in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences (CBAS) at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). In particular, we intend to reach faculty who have identified a need for supporting particular high-needs subpopulations of students in their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses and who have experienced pedagogical discontentment with their current instructional methods. Our goals are to (1) support faculty in becoming more aware of and responsive to varied backgrounds, learning styles, and culture of learners in STEM courses, (2) promote reflective practice among faculty with respect to inclusive pedagogy, and (3) spark cultural change within STEM departments with respect to a focus on inclusion.

PI: Dr. Sarah Bleiler-Baxter 

Co-PI(s): Dr. Grant Gardner, and Dr. Gregory Rushton 


Exploring the Impact of Noyce Master Teaching Fellowship Programs on Teacher Retention: The Role of Motivation, Leadership, and School-Work Environment

This project aims to serve the national need to improve the retention and persistence of STEM teachers in high-need schools across the nation. It will do so by studying the retention and persistence of Noyce Master Teacher Fellows compared to a control teacher population. Specifically, this Noyce Track 4 Collaborative Research project will conduct an exploratory study through a collaboration among eight universities: Rice University (lead institution), Middle Tennessee State University, University of Rochester, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, University of Arizona, University of Louisiana-Lafayette, University of California-San Diego, and Kennesaw State University. K-12 education in the U.S. has been suffering from teacher shortages and attrition, particularly in mathematics and science disciplines and particularly in high-need schools. Investigating factors related to teacher retention and persistence is, thus, a crucial first step to increasing the positive effects of teacher retention on K-12 education. By comparing Noyce Master Teaching Fellows with a group of non-Noyce teachers with similar background characteristics, the impact of the Noyce Master Teaching Fellows programs on long-term teacher retention and persistence should become more visible.

Building on existing research and theories related to teacher development and retention including self-efficacy, self-determination, and networks, the project intends to investigate the relation between key teacher constructs and variables (e.g., motivation, leadership skills, diversity dispositions, school-work environment, social networks, and professional background) and teacher retention and persistence. The project aims to compare Noyce Master Teaching Fellows with non-Noyce teachers, using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Results of this study have the potential to inform teacher preparation and development programs, as well as stakeholders who are trying to solve the teacher retention and persistence problems facing the nation, particularly in high-need schools and school districts. An external Advisory Board of expert scholars will provide feedback throughout the implementation of the research study. Broad dissemination of the findings is planned through Rice’s Digital Scholarship Archive, publications in academic journals, and presentations at professional conferences. To reach the public audience, articles about the project will be sent to local newspapers; and the work and its findings will be disseminated through social media outlets (e.g., website, FaceBook, Twitter). This Track 4: Research project is supported through the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program (Noyce). The Noyce program supports talented STEM undergraduate majors and professionals to become effective K-12 STEM teachers and experienced, exemplary K-12 STEM teachers to become STEM master teachers in high-need school districts. It also supports research on the persistence, retention, and effectiveness of K-12 STEM teachers in high-need school districts.

PI: Dr. Gregory Rushton


Collaborative Research: Investigating Classroom Discourse in Active Learning Environments for Large Enrollment Chemistry Courses

With support from the NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education Program: Education and Human Resources (IUSE: EHR), this project aims to serve the national interest by investigating factors that create effective classroom environments for large undergraduate chemistry courses. To accomplish this goal, the project will gather data from large enrollment courses at the University of Iowa, the University of Arizona, Middle Tennessee State University, and Stonybrook University. It will use these data to determine the features of collaborative activities that foster high-quality student engagement and meaningful learning. Special attention will be paid to the participation of diverse student populations, such as first-generation college students and English-language learners. Core findings from this research project will be used to develop and disseminate faculty resources that will support creation and implementation of effective classroom activities.

The research design for this project is based on the understanding that collective activity is a sociological construct that fosters the construction of ideas through different patterns of interaction. Productive ways of reasoning emerge as learners solve problems, explain their thinking, and represent their ideas when engaged in well-designed and relevant tasks that are properly facilitated. Thus, at the center of the research design is the observation, recording, and analysis of student-student as well as student-facilitator conversations to: a) characterize critical characteristics of collaborative task facilitation that most strongly support productive engagement; b) explore how different features of task design (e.g., structure; focus; cognitive demand; opportunities for knowledge integration; co-construction of knowledge) affect students’ modes of reasoning and productive engagement in argumentation and explanation; and c) characterize the interaction of task design and facilitation with student discourse in large chemistry classes and determine how those interactions hinder or facilitate the productive engagement of diverse students by reducing barriers to their equal participation in and contribution to group work. 

PI: Dr. Gregory Rushton


PDConnect: A Scalable Community Approach to Improving Instruction in AP Chemistry Nationwide

In this project, researchers propose to develop an online teacher-professional development community (PDConnect) that leverages social processes hypothesized to be central to the diffusion of teaching reform. Students need to be better prepared to participate in a workforce which evolves as rapidly as the technological advances that drive the U.S. economy. Consequently, educators are faced with the task of both fostering student proficiency on the current state of knowledge, and preparing them to remain proficient in the future. To adopt reforms in practice, teachers need to be aware of practices informed by evidence-based research and know other teachers in other schools who have adopted new practices. The intervention consists primarily of a comprehensive collection of resources and an online professional development community for AP Chemistry teachers. Researchers will utilize web-based small-group peer discussion system (Talkabout) to refine the site and to maximize the mechanisms used to create peer discussion groups. This project will run from September 2018 to August 2021.

PI:  Dr. Gregory Rushton
Co-PI’s: Chinmay Kulkarni and David J.Yaron


Collaborative Research: Teacher Leadership: Investigating the Persistence and Trajectories of Noyce Master Teaching Fellows

The overarching goal of this collaborative Noyce Track 4 Research project is to contribute to the currently-limited understanding of STEM teacher leadership by examining the influences of teacher leadership development on the persistence and professional trajectories of Noyce Master Teaching Fellows (MTFs). The Teacher Leadership (T-Lead) project plans to gather data related to the nature and structure of seven currently active Noyce MTF projects, the professional trajectories of participating MTFs, the school contexts in which the MTFs teach, and the leadership activities in which they engage. This data set will allow the project team to address two main research objectives. The first is to determine the impact of the professional learning models used in the various Noyce projects on the professional identities and trajectories of participating MTFs, and look for patterns in the features of those models that may be correlated with teacher persistence. The second is to explore how different contextual factors (e.g. STEM teaching responsibilities, school culture), professional networks, and leadership opportunities shape the decisions of MTFs to remain in classroom roles during and/or after the Noyce program. This project is estimated to run June 2018 to May 2021.

PI:  Dr. Gregory Rushton


Collaborative Research: A Research Study of Teacher Retention and Network Formation in Noyce Communities of Practice

This Noyce Track 4 Research project is a collaborative endeavor to examine teacher induction as an aspect of teacher preparation that affects the way teachers become embedded within their professional community. It will look at how being a member of a specific Community of Practice (CoP) influences teacher identity, belief in their personal teaching abilities, and desire to remain in the profession related to teacher retention. The universities in this study span the U.S. and represent successful Noyce teacher preparation programs with a variety of recruitment strategies (e.g., career changers), induction support structures (e.g., online), and teacher placements (e.g., rural vs. urban). These six sites will also allow for a comparison of Noyce and non-Noyce teachers emerging from the different teacher preparation programs. The goal is to determine whether a core set of program features contributes to the success of each induction program, or if distinct program features are useful for unique populations (e.g., periodic face-to-face meetings for career changers, or online support for urban teachers). The project also seeks to determine which program features lead to different community structures (e.g., collaborating mainly with teachers inside or outside the school), and how that community affects a teacher’s perception of the profession (e.g., teacher is connected to professionals across the state and wants to remain in the profession as a career). This project is running from April 2017 to March 2020.

PI: Dr. Gregory Rushton 
Co-PI’s: Gillian Roehrig, Brandon Ofem, and Michael Beeth


NSF Noyce Scholarship Pre-Science: Scholarships for Chemistry, Geoscience, and Biology Prescience

The NSF Scholarship Prescience grant responds to the critical need for K-12 teachers of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by encouraging talented STEM students and professionals to pursue teaching careers in elementary and secondary schools. The program provides one million dollars of funding to institutions of higher education to provide scholarships, stipends, and programmatic support to recruit and prepare STEM majors and professionals to become K-12 teachers. The grant has been active since 2014 and will run through 2019. 

PI: Dr. Amy Phelps
Co-PI’s: Dr. P. Greg Van Patten and Leigh McNeil


Student Engagement in Statistics Using Technology: Making Data Based Decisions 

 Middle Tennessee State University’s Dr. Ginger Holmes Rowell serves as a Statistics Education Consultant for the “Student Engagement in Statistics Using Technology: Making Data Based Decisions” NSF IUSE proposal at Grinnell University (#DUE-1712475), which is a project to develop realistic video games to help students learn statistics and instruments to assess their ability to help students learn important statistical concepts.  Dr. Rowell assists in the following:

  •  The development of a new assessment tool in collaboration with Dr. David Lopatto,
  • Test early drafts of games and corresponding lab activities in her own statistics classes,
  • Coordinate class testing at MTSU of the games and corresponding lab activities; and
  • Help organize and host a one-day workshop at MTSU for MTSU intro statistics teachers.

The grant is expected to run from June 1, 2017 to May 3, 2021.    

PI: Dr. Ginger Holmes Rowell


Tools for Assessment in Genetics (TAG)

Dr. Rebecca Seipelt-Thiemann leads an important genetics learning assessment project to improve how biological sciences are taught in college to meet the nation’s need for more and better educated graduates in the biological sciences. When completed,the project will provide tools, called concept inventories (CI), needed for educators to determine the level of student understanding and misunderstanding of several core genetics concepts, such as the nature of mutations and how genes interact in a living system. This grant is active from Fall 2017 to Fall 2020. 

PI: Dr. Rebecca Seipelt-Thiemann


Collaborative Research: Preparing to Teach Mathematics with Technology- Examining Student Practice

PTMT-ESP is a collaborative project across four institutions that will build on the theoretical foundations of technological pedagogical content knowledge, video case pedagogies, and professional noticing, along with the success of previous PTMT projects (DUE ​0442319, 0817253, 1123001)​ to engage students in meaningful mathematical tasks and capitalizing on available technological tools has been shown to improve attitudes towards mathematics and increase learning. This project is expected to run from October 2018 through September 2023. To learn more CLICK HERE

PI: Dr. Jennifer N. Lovett
Co-PI’s: Allison McCulloch, Charity Cayton, and Hollylynne Lee


OTHER STEM EDUCATION GRANTS AT MTSU

Collaborative Research: Mathematics of Doing, Understanding, Learning and Educating for Secondary Schools

The Mathematics of Doing, Understanding, Learning and Educating for Secondary Schools (MODULE(S2)) project will create course materials that will be used to develop preservice teachers’ mathematical knowledge as it relates specifically to the work of teaching geometry, statistics, algebra, and modeling. These modules will be used in university mathematics courses and piloted with faculty at universities and colleges of all types across the United States. The project will promote effective instruction by offering professional development activities for faculty using the modules during the summers and the school year. Additionally, the project will investigate the impact of instruction with the modules on preservice teachers’ knowledge and inform nationwide efforts in teacher education. This five year project will build on efforts by the Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership (MTE-P) to create a gold standard for the preparation of secondary mathematics teachers across its 90 member universities. This project is estimated to run through August 2022. 

PI: Dr. Jeremy Strayer
Co-PI: Dr. Alyson E. Lischka


Biology Teaching Assistant Project (BioTAP 2.0): Advancing Research, Synthesizing Evidence

The PI team from the University of Tennessee Knoxville, the University of Maryland College Park, Middle Tennessee State University, University of Georgia, and Ohio State University have collaborated on a project to build a sustainable collaborative network to support, synthesize, and disseminate biology Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) Teaching Professional Development (TPD) research results and to advocate for community TPD standards with the potential to increase the effectiveness of GTA TPD nationwide. BioTAP 2.0 is improving undergraduate biology education by expanding the network of 80 institutions developed during their RCN-UBE Incubator project. In that way the project is increasing the number and diversity of institutions involved in GTA TPD, both practice and research. This project is estimated to run through August 2020. 

Co-PI: Dr. Grant E. Gardner

Contact Us

 tsec@mtsu.edu

 615-904-8573

Tennessee STEM Education Center
820 Fairview Avenue
Fairview Building, Suite 102
MTSU Box #82
Murfreesboro, TN 37132

tsec.mtsu.edu