$110,000 Fellowships from Knowles Science Teaching Foundation Support Innovative Research on Teacher Preparation
Dr. Jessica Thompson from University of Washington and Dr. Michelle Cirillo from University of Delaware Conduct Research to Advance
High School Mathematics and Science Teaching Practices
The Knowles Science Teaching Foundation (www.kstf.org) has announced the recipients of the 2010 Research Fellowships, a two-year, $110,000 postdoctoral award that supports early career scholars engaged in research to improve the recruitment, preparation, induction, mentoring and retention of high quality mathematics and science teachers in United States high schools. Dr. Jessica Thompson, Research Associate at the University of Washington, and Dr. Michelle Cirillo, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Delaware, join the ranks of accomplished KSTF Research Fellows. The Fellowship will support Dr. Thompson as she explores ways to improve cooperative learning between beginning and experienced teachers, and Dr. Cirillo as she works with beginning educators to improve the teaching of geometry proofs.
“The KSTF Research Fellows are exploring challenging areas of teacher preparation where there has been little research or innovation,” said Dr. Ralph Putnam, KSTF’s Senior Program Officer for Research. “As a community of educators, it is our responsibility to continuously reexamine and improve the ways in which teachers are taught to teach so they excel in their field.”
The two Fellowship recipients will work with local high school teachers in active classrooms which can be of direct benefit to educators. The community of KSTF Research Fellows will serve as a forum and network to discuss and learn about issues of research on science and mathematics teaching, and the process of becoming a successful scholar in academic and research environments.
In her research project, “Buffering Against Regression: Supporting Co-Learning between Teacher Candidates and Cooperating Teachers,” Dr. Thompson will study ways to support novice science teachers in their adoption of high-leverage practices which increase student learning, while simultaneously improving the capabilities of the cooperating teachers. She aims to develop a theory of co-learning with the goal of re-shaping teacher education programs.
“Many beginning science teachers regress from the high-leverage teaching practices they’ve learned at teacher preparation programs when they first enter an internship classroom,” said Dr. Thompson. “In my research I will focus on ways new teachers can retain these effective teaching practices while participating in a co-learning relationship with an experienced teacher.”
Dr. Cirillo’s project, “Mathematics Discourse in Geometry Proof,” will focus on supporting beginning geometry teachers as they engage their students in learning mathematical proofs. Dr. Cirillo will examine teacher talk moves, which can help increase student participation in a mathematics classroom by prompting students for further information and using wait time to slow the pace of classroom talk.
“When beginning teachers lack the tools, support, and adequate preparation to teach geometry proofs, they develop teaching practices that lead students to believe that mathematics is about memorization rather than thinking and reasoning,” said Dr. Cirillo. “The KSTF Research Fellowship will allow me to potentially generate important findings related to the improvement of teaching proofs at the high school level.”
KSTF awarded its first Research Fellowships in 2005. Today, there are nine active KSTF Research Fellows and three alumni working in colleges and universities in the US and Canada. In 2010, KSTF received 74 pre-proposals from scholars focusing on math and science education, 17 of whom submitted full proposals. The recipients were chosen by the KSTF program staff in conjunction with a judging panel of prominent educators and academics.
The Knowles Science Teaching Foundation (KSTF) was established in 1999 by inventor and entrepreneur C. Harry Knowles and his wife Janet to strengthen the quality of science and mathematics teaching in United States high schools. The Foundation’s programs include the KSTF Teaching Fellowships and the KSTF Research Fellowships for doctoral level researchers. For more information, visit www.kstf.org.