NSF Grant Partners Faculty to Improve Student Experience

College of Education and Human Services partners with College of Science and Engineering Faculty to Dig into Core Teaching Practices

| Author: Ashley O'Neil | Media Contact: Ashley O'Neil

When Kevin Cunningham, PhD, Doug Lapp, PhD, and Julie Cunningham, Director of the Center for Excellence in STEM Education decided to work with on a National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant, they were clear that this needed to be a collaborative effort. Their goal was to improve the education experience of a key group of students on campus - future teachers. 

This grant focuses on faculty from the College of Education and Human Services and the College of Science and Engineering creating a professional learning community around Core Teaching Practices (CTPs). These nineteen practices are the researched foundations for classroom instruction, and they articulate the specific strategies and facets of instruction that are central to teaching. The Michigan Department of Education tasks teacher education programs with selecting five of these practices to work on in-depth with students. The NSF Grant addresses three of the university's five. This collaboration includes faculty from both colleges because teacher education students uniquely work with multiple colleges on campus; their education courses include those taken in the College of Education and Human Services and those taken with faculty in the college of their chosen major and/or minors. 

Prior research suggests that, if CTPs are not explicitly modeled in teacher preparation courses, pre-service teachers are unlikely to use those same instructional techniques in their future classrooms. This grant focuses on a professional learning community that discusses what these CTPs mean for future and practicing teachers, how to explicitly talk about and model that practices for future teachers, and how to make the modeling of these strategies explicit for their students. In short, these faculty know that they are teaching both their content and how to teach it based on the CTPs. While most can often say that they really enjoyed or learned a lot from a teacher; the work this faculty is doing around these CTPs will help future teachers know exactly what made a lesson meaningful and how to replicate that in their own classrooms. 

This NSF grant launched in August with a 3-day professional learning workshop led by Kevin, Julie, and others. This PLC is continuing to meet once per month during the academic year and will conclude in the summer of 2024. 

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