Associate Professor Linda Venenciano and Specialist Thanh Truc Nguyen, of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education (COE) Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), have been awarded nearly $200K in National Science Foundation (NSF) Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program grants.
Venenciano serves as the director of Capacity-building in Hawaiʻi to Address the Shortage of Mathematics Teachers, which received $124,858 in funding and will run from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022. The project aims to gain a better understanding of the Hawai’i mathematics teacher education pipeline and to build partnerships that increase the state’s capacity to effectively address the mathematics teacher shortage.
CRDG Director Barbara Dougherty said, “Secondary mathematics education teachers are in short supply, not just here in Hawai‘i, but nationwide. This project serves as a catalyst to increase the capacity for producing high-quality mathematics teachers and address the high need at the same time. I am so pleased that this funding was granted.”
As a Hawai’i public school graduate, former middle school mathematics teacher, and a parent, Venenciano says she has had the great fortune of knowing many wonderful mathematics teachers and seeing the impact they have on their students.
“We are very grateful to NSF for their support of this effort,” Venenciano said. “This award will help us focus our efforts to bring together mathematics educators, mathematicians, and public school teachers and leaders in support of creating a promising future for more mathematics teachers and students. We have an enthusiastic team of partners and advisory board members and we are very excited to bring them together for this project!”
Partners of the project include co-principal investigator, UHM Mathematics Undergraduate Director Mirjana Jovovic; advisory board member, HIDOE Assistant District Superintendent Cindy Covell; senior personnel, CRDG Assistant Specialist Kara Suzuka; and collaborators from Kapiolani CC, Leeward CC, UH Hilo, and UH West Oʻahu.
Nguyen was awarded $74,940 for the Computer Science Education Hui (CSE Hui) whose central goal is to develop a computer science education certificate program that will lead towards teacher licensure in computer science (to add a field to an existing Hawai‘i teaching license). A partnership between the COE and the College of Natural Sciences, the project also aims to produce partners to computer science teachers from computer science upper level undergraduate students, graduate students, and industry personnel.
“Augmenting the capacity for computer science will expand opportunities for our K–12 students,” Dougherty said. “Findings from recent research indicate significant promise from computer science education to improve problem-solving abilities and increase rates for college enrollment. I’m very excited to see where this project will lead.”
The CSE Hui, which began on March 15, 2021 and runs until February 29, 2022, will work to engender a sense of a community among educators and industry partners who can support each other to ultimately provide meaningful computer science learning and experiences. Underpinning this project is the attention to inclusion strategies to recruit girls and women into computer science as well as a commitment to increasing the representation of Native Hawaiians in all STEM fields.
COE Institute for Teacher Education-Elementary Director Ku‘ulei Serna serves as co-principal investigator on the project along with Michael-Brian Ogawa and Martha Crosby of the College of Natural Sciences, Department of Information and Computer Sciences.
“This award gives us a chance to really delve into what meaningful computer science learning and experiences can look like here in Hawai‘i,” Nguyen stated. “We know teachers are a critical part of student learning. We expect that exploring computer science concepts and blending it with pedagogical approaches, rich with hands-on experience, is going to be challenging. There are teachers who have already excelled in this work, and I am personally looking forward to learning from them the most.”
The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program provides funding to institutions of higher education for scholarships, stipends, and programmatic support to recruit and prepare STEM majors and professionals to become K–12 teachers in high-need school districts.