Teachers in elementary classroom.

Addressing a Shortage of Teachers in STEM Subjects

Photo: The University is addressing a shortage of STEM teachers through a $1.1 million grant from the NSF.

A Montclair State cross-disciplinary research team has received a three-year, $1,106,026 National Science Foundation (NSF) Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program grant to address the shortage of high-quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers. The collaborative program between the College of Education and Human Services and the College of Science and Mathematics will prepare eligible math majors to teach math in the New Jersey elementary schools that need them most.

Principal investigator, Mathematics Professor Erin Krupa, and co-principal investigators Mathematics Professor Steven Greenstein, Center of Pedagogy Director Jennifer Robinson, and County College of Morris colleague Diana Aria note that the grant will enable them to grow this unique program and actively recruit math majors.

“We’ll be one of the only programs in New Jersey to emphasize exemplary elementary mathematics education through our teacher candidates,” says Robinson.

While a previous National Science Foundation Noyce Capacity Building grant funded the development of a major in mathematics specifically for students who want to become certified to teach K-6 students, the new grant will provide 10 students per year with scholarships. “The earlier grant did not provide opportunities for students, which is why we are very excited about this new award,” says Krupa.

With its innovative curriculum, the project’s Noyce Scholars will be able to conduct research in elementary school classrooms and participate in a program of community-oriented field experiences and seminars.

Research focusing on the project’s impact on the Noyce Scholars’ beliefs about mathematics and mathematics teaching is another key project component. And once the scholars begin teaching in high-need New Jersey schools, they will receive ongoing support through monthly seminars and access to a University-based professional learning community.

“Program graduates will receive extraordinary preparation, not only for the cultivation of their future students’ STEM interests and aptitudes, but also for additional school-based leadership opportunities,” Greenstein says.