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UT Receives Grant to Boost Science and Math Teaching

Published: November 22, 2011
The University of Tampa has been awarded a grant of $500,000 to lead a professional development program in math and science for Florida teachers to boost teacher and student performance.

The grant, awarded by the Florida Department of Education State Board of Education, is titled
Science-Math-Master (SM²) and will provide tailored professional development to 350 educators in Volusia, Hillsborough and 32 rural Florida counties.

UT, partnering with the Florida Independent College Fund, will deliver a tailored science and math curriculum online, on-campus and on-site, focused on biology and geometry for high school students.

Working with the Florida Learning Alliance, Heartland Educational Consortium, North East Florida Educational Consortium and Panhandle Area Educational Consortium, the partnership’s goal is to boost teacher and student science performance.

SM² has three elements: 1) Website with online science and math videos and modules for homework; 2) Four school-year on-campus sessions focused on biology, geometry and the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards; and 3) Two summer on-campus sessions for educators that include coursework, hands-on labs and student demonstration classes to teach and test lessons on targeted students.

Faculty from both the UT mathematics and biology departments, led by Leslie Jones, assistant professor of mathematics, and Rebecca Waggett, assistant professor of biology, will be involved in implementing the grant.

Anne Gormly, UT’s dean of the College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education, said that underprepared science and math teachers lead to too few college science and math students and too few graduates with science and math degrees that return home to teach science.

“The weak content knowledge of school teachers leads to too few students energized by science and math,” Gormly said. “And yet, given access to sound and sufficient professional development, Florida educators can boost science and math education programs dramatically.”

Jim Gore, dean of the College of Natural and Health Sciences, added that “this is an excellent opportunity to bring state-of-the-art teaching techniques in STEM subjects to more of the educators of Florida’s future.”