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Collaborative learning focus of $457,755 NSF grant

Goal is to teach middle and high school students science and math through collaborative problem solving

The National Science Foundation has awarded UMass Dartmouth Associate Professor of STEM Education and Teacher Development Walter Stroup a $457,755 grant to develop new strategies for middle school and high school teachers to excite their students about science, technology, engineering and math careers.

Dr. Stroup and his colleagues envision classrooms where students engage in collaborative problem solving projects – untangling traffic jams or mapping the potential spread of the Zika virus – using math and science skills and knowledge.

“Young people are curious, creative, and social beings so it only makes sense to get them into a hands-on problem solving endeavor with their peers,’’ Dr. Stroup said. “They will be motivated to learn the math and science needed to succeed in their mission.”

Dr. Stroup’s main collaborator is University of Texas College of Education Associate Professor Anthony Petrosino. Dr. Stroup joined the UMass Dartmouth faculty in September after working with Dr. Petrosino for several years.

The project, based at UMass Dartmouth’s Kaput Center for Research and Innovation in STEM Education, focuses on collaborative, interactive, cloud-based instruction and learning. The goal is to demonstrate how network-supported, group-based learning grounded in the principles of Generative Design can improve learning outcomes for all learners, across racial and ethnic backgrounds.

The project will help pre-service teachers develop more fully participatory and socially supported approaches to classroom learning, using authentic STEM practices in group-centered learning environments. The work is of particular importance to those who prepare pre-service teachers for the classroom, because most programs don’t use this type of approach in teacher preparation.

The full NSF award is in collaboration with scholars from Northwestern and Vanderbilt universities. 

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