UW News

October 16, 2008

‘Rhodes Scholarship’ for teaching one of two new scholarship programs at College of Education

UW News

The UW College of Education is beginning two prestigious new scholarship programs, both with the aim of enhancing teacher effectiveness and focusing greater attention on disadvantaged students and high-needs areas.

The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, also called the Noyce Scholars Program, funded by the National Science Foundation, will start in the spring of 2009. The Woodrow Wilson Foundation Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Program, funded by the Annenberg Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, will begin in the spring of 2010.

The Noyce program will pay for scholarships of up to $15,000 for undergraduate math, science, engineering and technology majors heading into teaching. The grants will cover tuition and stipends for four quarters of full-time graduate study leading to teacher certification at the secondary level. Noyce Scholarship recipients also must agree to serve at least two years in a rural or urban high-needs school after graduation. Thirty-six scholarships will be awarded in all, over four years.

“The Noyce awardees are going to be referred to as scholars not simply because they have scholarships, but because we want them to become scholars of learning,” said Mark Windschitl, associate professor of curriculum and instruction and the principal investigator for the Noyce program, which will be tracked by the college. He said that means they will increasingly use data on student learning — or “being systematic in analyzing student work and student talk in the classroom” — to help make instructional decisions.

Windschitl explained, “Often in teacher education, teachers are simply prepared to reproduce the status quo in the classroom, and our program is trying to change the status quo. And part of changing that is to help new teachers understand with more clarity what the relationship is between teaching and learning.”

The Woodrow Wilson Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Program is meant, according to the Wilson Foundation’s Web site, “to be the equivalent of a ‘Rhodes Scholarship’ for teaching.” The fellowships will go to outstanding recent college graduates and career-changers who agree to work in urban and rural secondary schools serving high proportions of disadvantaged students.

Students chosen for the fellowships will get $30,000 in assistance for the two-year Masters in Teaching program. Twenty-five fellowships will be funded in all, with cohorts of eight each for 2010 and 2011, and nine for 2012.

Patricia Wasley, dean of the College of Education, said the new programs will help those students with “a deep-seated passion for teaching” get the best possible preparation for a career in education. “The Wilson Foundation’s substantial investment in these fellowships will help us attract top-notch students and to work with them beyond their academic studies to help ensure their success in the field.

“We are working closely with Ed Taylor of Undergraduate Academic Affairs and our colleagues in Arts & Sciences to reach out to students across the disciplines. Teaching is a noble profession — the Wilson fellowships give us another tool to make sure that no one turns to another profession solely because of financial reasons.”

As keeping new teachers on the job is an ongoing concern, both programs provide opportunities for first- and second-year teachers to reconnect with their alma mater. The college will host, and document, a series of “Reconnect and Recharge” seminars in which the new teachers will get focused support to address issues encountered in the classroom.

“This has not traditionally been part of teacher education, but what we know from current research is that new teachers need as much help and support in their first year or two as they did during the preparation program itself,” Windschitl said.

An online support network created in partnership with the National Commission on Teaching and American’s Future will allow the teachers to form online video clubs, critical friends groups or support groups based on subject matter or grade level.

Windschitl added that with both programs, the college “wants to raise the status and visibility of high-quality teacher education.”

Wasley added, “Our state and nation are facing an increasingly aging teaching force and we need to fill critical needs areas with new, well-prepared and well-supported teachers to work in the increasingly diverse and complex world of P-12 education.”