Illinois State University received a grant of $1.4 million to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups seeking a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degree and a secondary teaching credential.
The $1,444,790 award comes from the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program, and was secured by Rebekka Darner Gougis, assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences. With the funding, Illinois State University’s Noyce Scholarships for STEM Teachers of Under-Represented Groups will fund 40 scholars with $20,000 scholarships as Noyce Scholars along with the opportunity for research and teaching internship funding.
The grant is a five-year, three-way partnership with Illinois State University, Joliet Junior College, and Valley View School District to recruit sophomore junior college students to Illinois State University to become Noyce Scholars and earn a degree as a STEM major and a secondary-teaching credential; and to interest middle school students in STEM careers.
“Underrepresentation of women and some minority groups is a persistent problem across STEM disciplines,” said Gougis. “This trend has the potential to undermine STEM productivity because science relies on diverse perspectives to innovate and solve societal problems.”
With funding from the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program, Illinois State University’s Noyce Scholarships for STEM Teachers of Underrepresented Groups is recruiting undergraduate STEM majors in agriculture, biology, chemistry, earth and space science, mathematics, physics, technology, and engineering, and preparing them to become grades 9-12 science or math teachers.
A previous Illinois State Noyce program centered on urban high-need schools in the city of Chicago. Ninety-four percent of the graduates are still teaching in these high-need urban areas. The current project will enable Illinois State to use the lessons learned from that urban-based project to expand their efforts to serve suburban high-need districts.
“Students from under-represented groups are negatively affected by underrepresentation in STEM teaching professions, because they are more likely to receive the implicit message that STEM is not for them, experience racial micro-aggressions, have low expectations set for them by their teachers, and internalize those low expectations,” noted Gougis. “In the long run, we expect this partnership to give rise to greater college preparedness of students, increased transfer rates to ISU in the STEM disciplines, and improve diversity of ISU’s STEM majors.”
The full efforts of the grant will begin in February 2016 and run through January 2021.