- Year 2022
- NSF Noyce Award # 1852795
- First Name Reenay
- Last Name Rogers
- Discipline Biological Sciences, Mathematics
Reenay Rogers & Tracy Keener, University of West Alabama
The counties of the Black Belt are rural and socioeconomically underdeveloped with relatively few employment opportunities. Several factors have contributed to economic stagnation in the region. The environment in West Alabama is burdened by extremes; dangerous levels of poverty, low standards of living, and high rates of unemployment (Kids Count Data Center, 2016). Furthermore, most secondary schools in the region demonstrate low levels of academic achievement, high percentages of instructors teaching out of field, high dropout rates, and low levels of financial support. These circumstances have resulted in a self-perpetuating cycle that has, for generations, limited the educational opportunities of children living in the region and impaired their ability to become significant contributors to society.
1. Did the experiences developed within INSPIRE significantly increase UWA STEM majors’ awareness and interest in teaching STEM disciplines in rural schools?2. Did INSPIRE events improve INSPIRE scholars’ self-efficacy in interacting with rural P12 students?3. Was INSPIRE successful in recruiting up to 18 scholars with a 90% completion rate in the requirements for certification in a STEM field?4. Was INSPIRE successful in recruiting up to 15 Alternate A scholars with a 90% completion rate in the requirements for certification in a STEM field?5. Did INSPIRE’s well-structured program of seminars, workshops, summer camps, and mentor/mentee relationships improve INSPIRE scholars’ engagement with and understanding of local, rural P12 students?6. Was a model of best practices regarding experiences that influence STEM majors to enter teaching developed through an analysis of assessment data gathered throughout the implementation of INSPIRE?
Students accepted into Project INSPIRE will participate in enrichment experiences provided for program participants to better prepare them for teaching in a rural or high-needs school. These activities include:a.INSPIRE Program Seminars (two per semester) – These seminars, conducted on the UWA campus, will focus on various aspects of rural STEM education with the goal of broadening the knowledge base of participants.b.INSPIRE Program Workshops (one per semester) – One weekend workshop (Friday and Saturday) will be conducted each semester. These workshops will be hands-on sessions involving STEM educators, STEM professionals, and INSPIRE Scholars. They will serve to provide a more in-depth experience in a specific area of rural STEM education, as well as enhance the networking ability of INSPIRE Scholars.c.INSPIRE Summer Workshops – Each summer, for the duration of the program, INSPIRE Scholars will participate in a week-long workshop. These workshops will bring in experts in the field of STEM education to provide intensive training in areas such as technology, pedagogy, grant-writing, etc.d.INSPIRE PRAXIS preparation tutorials – Each semester, INSPIRE Scholars will complete a diagnostic exam designed to assess their strengths and weaknesses in areas assessed by the PRAXIS exams. The results of these diagnostic exams will be used to implement a series of tutorials in areas of weakness.
INSPIRE will improve INSPIRE scholars’ self-efficacy in interacting with rural P12 students in a STEM learning environment. INSPIRE will recruit up to 18 scholars over 5 years with a 90% completion rate in the requirements for certification in a STEM field. INSPIRE will provide up to 15 stipends to STEM professionals over 5 years with a 90% completion rate for Alternate A certification.INSPIRE will develop a model of best practices based on formative and summative assessment to support identification of experiences that influence STEM majors to enter a certification program.INSPIRE will develop an open access online resource for the sharing of knowledge in teaching the STEM fields and current pedagogical practices.
Project INSPIRE promises to support the placement of a group of highly qualified, highly motivated young STEM teachers into the struggling rural school districts of West Alabama. These teachers will have a solid understanding of the importance of a strong educational background in science and mathematics and the way in which these disciplines can transform the lives of their students. The students in these schools are talented but often lack strong role models. This is particularly true in the STEM disciplines, where all too often instructors are teaching out of field and not well versed in the discipline. Skills in science and mathematics are often viewed as nonessential. Dynamic teachers produce dynamic students, of the type that are motivated to affect change. Project INSPIRE has the capability to produce those types of students.