Citadel Awarded Largest Research Grant in College's History to Improve STEM Education in NC and SC

Monday, August 28th, 2017

Representatives from The Citadel STEM Center of Excellence, the Zucker Family School of Education, and the School of Science and Mathematics will work to improve the professional development of more than 350 middle and high school teachers in North and South Carolina. The collaborative research project, to be conducted in conjunction with North Carolina State University, is being made possible by two grants from the National Science Foundation totaling $2.4 million. The award is the largest research grant that The Citadel has secured to date.

“Computing is integral to the practice of science, technology, engineering and mathematics which is the reason for this STEM+Computing project,” said Jennifer Albert, Ph.D., director of the STEM Center of Excellence and the lead researcher on the project. “Our goal is to design, develop and investigate outcomes of professional development created to support teachers in integrating computing and STEM curricula used in middle and high school classrooms.”
 
Over the next three years the project team from both institutions will work on the applied integration of computational thinking and computing activities within STEM teaching and learning. According to the research rationale used to apply for the grant, both institutions are in optimal positions to lead these investigations. Both South Carolina and North Carolina have booming information technology and computing-related industries, but there exists little integration of information technology and computer science into K-12 STEM curricula.
 
“We are very proud of this effort and the broad impact it will have on STEM education,” said Connie L. Book, Ph.D., Citadel provost and dean of the college. “It is the result of great team work between the STEM Center, The Zucker Family School of Education and the School of Science and Mathematics.”
 
Principal investigators, including Albert and Tiffany Barnes, Ph.D., professor of computer science at North Carolina State University, will lead a multidisciplinary research team highly knowledgeable in STEM education, STEM professional development and the integration of technology into classrooms. Co-principal investigators from The Citadel include Robin Jocius, Ph.D., professor of literacy education; Deepti Joshi, Ph.D., professor of computer science; and Richard Robinson, Ph.D., professor of mathematics.
 
The award abstract on the NSF website states researchers from The Citadel and North Carolina State University will collaborate to:
 
·     Design and develop the team-based professional development

·     Investigate its effects on educational practice

·     Create computational tools as needed to support classroom-based activities

·     Work to advance knowledge on how the new resources can be effectively adopted across diverse classrooms, contexts, and cultures

For this rigorous comparative study, approximately 360 STEM teachers in North Carolina and South Carolina will be recruited to participate in two types of summer professional development workshops. The first type will implement a new professional development model that provides an interdisciplinary, team-based approach. In this approach, teams of teachers will have the opportunity to work with the investigators—and together—to design lesson plans, activities, and resources that integrate computing into the classroom. The second type will apply a more traditional, single-teacher focused method of professional development.

The investigators will continue to support the recruited teachers after the summer workshops through the end of the school year via monthly online meetings and opportunities to participate in an online forum and attend in-person sessions.

Work on this project is slated to begin September 2017 and estimated to conclude fall of 2020.