Training Science Teachers

‌To improve science education in New Jersey schools, a team of five Montclair State faculty members will implement a five-year project that will train science teachers and support scientific research in the classroom.  

The project, the WIPRO Science Education Fellowship Program, is supported by a $1.3 million grant from WIPRO, an India-based IT corporation.

The team includes Mika Munakata, Jackie Willis and Colette Killian of the College of Science and Mathematics and Emily Klein and Monica Taylor of the College of Education and Human Services.

Teachers will engage in a two-year professional development program that will “nurture classroom research and the implementation of new methods of teaching,” Munakata says. “We want teachers to focus not only on the content, but how you work with the content.”  

Another aim is to improve teacher retention by preparing veteran teachers to train new teachers.

The project will involve more than 60 teachers from high-needs schools in Clifton, Montclair, Kearney, Paramus and Orange, who were chosen “on the strength of their applications, enthusiasm and past relationship with the University,” says Taylor.  In addition to the research conducted by the external evaluation team, the Montclair State faculty will research the impact of the program on teachers’ attitudes, beliefs and practices. As a partnership with the University of Massachusetts-Boston, the project promotes collaboration throughout its duration, culminating in an end-of-the-year conference with participating teachers from both universities.  

“We hope to form a professional community of science teachers, where they are encouraged to share their research and form ties in professional organizations,” adds Munakata.  “By the end, we hope they will say ‘this program allowed me to implement an education method I never would have tried without the support.’” Participants will be encouraged to lead professional workshops to train future teacher leaders.

“The ultimate goal is to strengthen the school districts through a grassroots approach that will allow teachers to become leaders within the classroom,” Munakata says.