TSEC STEM Education Grants

Institute of Education Sciences (IES): 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

NSF Noyce Scholarship Program Division of Undergraduate Education: Education and Human Resources (DUE: EHR): 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

NSF Noyce Scholarship Program Division of Undergraduate Education: Education and Human Resources (DUE: EHR): 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. Gregory Van Patten and Leigh McNeil

Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Education and Human Resources  (IUSE: EHR): 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

NSF Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE): 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

NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM EducationEducation and Human Resources (IUSE:EHR): 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



NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Education and Human Resources (IUSE:EHR):  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

NSF Research Coordination Network - Undergraduate Biology Education (RCN-UBE): 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

Tennessee STEM Education Center

820 Fairview Ave,
Suite 102
MTSU PO Box 82
Murfreesboro, TN 37132