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Interdisciplinary Team Lands Grant to Create Graduate Mentorship Program

Wenner NSF group

Boise State researchers from the College of Education, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, and STEM and Diversity Initiatives recently were awarded a National Science Foundation Innovations in Graduate Education award totaling $497,820 over three years.

The research team, Julianne Wenner, Megan Frary, Donna Llewellyn and Paul Simmonds, will use the funds to continue developing the Graduate Identity Formation through Teaching (GIFT) educational model with Boise State graduate students. Graduate students will serve as disciplinary experts as they teach elementary teacher candidates specific science topics. Teacher candidates then will turn their knowledge into 15-minute mini-lessons for elementary students at local Title I elementary schools. Title I schools receive federal assistance to raise achievement levels in student populations considered to be at-risk.

“We’re excited to be given the opportunity to scale this project up, and we see it as a win-win-win: Graduate students view themselves as experts with something to offer the education world, teacher candidates learn more science content from experts and elementary students receive lessons that are solidly rooted in STEM content,” said Wenner, assistant professor in the College of Education and principal investigator of the grant. “We’re eager to see how this program develops as we begin pairing with graduate students from Biosciences, Geosciences and Civil Engineering.”

The researchers anticipate the project will provide a transferable, low/no-cost model for future collaborations that support graduate students across a variety of content areas and other institutions. The results from the project stand to contribute to the fields of graduate education, teacher education, educational opportunities and STEM education research.

“This grant is evidence of the strong interdisciplinary research taking place all over this campus, and it highlights the amazing collaborations that are being led by new faculty like Wenner and the rest of the team,” said Rich Osguthorpe, dean of the College of Education. “An exciting aspect of this project is the practical, positive potential impact on our graduate students, teacher candidates and the students they teach.