Math and Science Education

I  do research on bringing about educational change with a focus on how multiple institutions can work together to support STEM teachers and improve STEM education. My interest in this issue started when I was Co-Principal Investigator of the Math Science Partnership of Greater Philadelphia (MSPGP, Joe Merlino PI). In this project involving 13 Institutions of Higher Education and 46 School Districts in the Greater Philadelphia region, we explored how to share resources and expertise among the partners so as to improve K-16 STEM education. This project evolved into a non-profit organization, The 21st Century Partnership for STEM Education (21 PSTEM ), which recently received a large USAID grant to reform STEM education in Egypt.  I sit on the 21 PSTEM Board of Directors.

I am the Founding Director of the Philadelphia Regional Institute for STEM Educators (PRISE) based at Saint Joseph’s University. PRISE is an outgrowth of the Philadelphia Regional Noyce Partnership (PRNP), a collaboration among nine institutions of higher education that  worked  together starting in 2010 to recruit, prepare, and support STEM teachers in the Philadelphia region. PRISE’s motto is

 “Doing together what we can not do alone”

– that by sharing resources and working together, we can be more successful in our work of supporting STEM teachers and their students than we could by working separately. Our goal is to make Philadelphia a national leader in STEM teacher preparation. In 2018, 6 PRNP-institutions shared a $1.4 million grant from NSF to provide scholarships and other supports for STEM majors preparing to go into teaching in Philadelphia and other high needs districts.

My engagement with PRISE/PRNP grew out of my teaching the course Changing Pedagogies in Math and Science Education (Education 220) which introduces STEM majors to new advances in learning theory and pedagogy. When I spoke about this course at the national Math Science Partnership conference, a NSF program officer encouraged me to apply for a Noyce Scholarship grant and to explore how one might encourage more STEM majors at a Liberal Arts college to go into teaching. I was Principal Investigator on Bryn Mawr’s successful application for the Noyce grant  which then brought me into contact with other Noyce programs in the region.

To further explore the role of Liberal Arts colleges in STEM teacher preparation, I hosted a nation conference on this topic at Bryn Mawr in spring 2012. An outgrowth of the conference was the development of  the Teaching Experience for Undergraduates (TEU) program that provided students from a national network of liberal arts colleges with an in-depth summer experience in math/ science pedagogy combined with a teaching practicuum. Given the small number of students who go into math/science teaching at such colleges, it is rare that any one college has the resources and critical mass of students to provide such a course. By brining students together from multiple institutions, we were able to provide them with a high quality program as well as with a community of like-mined peers  passionate about education. I am presently Co-PI on a grant from the PA Department of Education to pilot a Philadelphia TEU program in partnership with Temple University.

During the 2017-2018 year, PRNP was funded by NSF to carry out a pilot program for teacher leadership development in Education for Sustainability (EfS). The School District of Philadalphia has a comprehensive sustainability plan, GreenFutures, which calls for including issues of sustainability in the curriculum at all grade levels and in all disciplines. In our pilot project,  14 secondary teachers learned about EfS and developed and taught curricular incorporating EfS principles. I spoke on this project at the 2018 SIAM national conference.

Here is a list of my grant projects.