Education to Help to Better Train Local STEM Teachers

The nearly $2 million grant for LISD and FISD will provide elementary teachers with better teaching skills.

One of the project goals is to increase the number of well-prepared mainstream and bilingual teachers to meet the instructional needs of STEM students.

One of the project goals is to increase the number of well-prepared mainstream and bilingual teachers to meet the instructional needs of STEM students.

With a $1.98 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, researchers in Texas Tech’s College of Education and other disciplines will empower elementary teachers with skills to better teach science and math to English Language Learners in the Lubbock area.

English Learner Science and Mathematics Education (Proyecto EL SMEd) will support on-going and intensive professional development activities designed to improve classroom instruction for English Learners (EL) in science and mathematics education.

The project is a collaboration among the College of Education and faculty members in physics and math. Zenaida Aguirre-Muñoz, an associate professor of education, program coordinator for Bilingual Education and Diversity Studies, and assistant director for the Center for Research on Leadership in Education, is the primary investigator. David Lamp, associate professor of physics; Brock Williams, associate professor of math, and Rebecca Ortiz, an assistant professor of science education, are the co-investigators.

“The program will allow local teachers to better support the increasing numbers of English Language Learners in math and science,” Aguirre-Muñoz said. “However, it will also support mainstream students who are having a difficult time with math and science.”

In-service mainstream and bilingual teachers serving ELs will be required to complete five courses designed to develop their teaching skills in science and mathematics in relation to ELs. The face-to-face courses, aimed at serving graduate students and classroom teachers, and founded on research-based methods to develop academic literacy, will serve as the basis for obtaining a Texas Tech science and mathematics graduate certificate and could count towards a master’s degree.

Specific elementary schools in the partner districts have not yet been designated.

Aguirre-Muñoz said the purpose of the five-year project is to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education (STEM); increase opportunities for in-service teachers to engage in high-quality, sustained professional development in STEM subjects that benefit EL students; and improve instructional practices and student outcomes in elementary schools based on high-quality data.

“To address the needs of consortium districts with whom we are partnering, Proyecto EL SMEd is designed to achieve several goals,” Aguirre-Muñoz said.

Goal 1 is to increase the number of mainstream and bilingual teachers who are well-prepared to meet the instructional needs of English Learners in science and mathematics education. Goal 2 is to improve the science and mathematics pedagogical content (how to teach) knowledge of elementary mainstream and bilingual teachers in the consortium school districts; and goal 3 is to improve instructional practices, data-based decision making and student outcomes in elementary schools based on high-quality data.