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Department of Secondary Education

STEM Projects and Initiatives

Current and Ongoing Projects

1. USF is a committed member of the Science Mathematics Teacher Imperative (SMTI) to transform middle and high school science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education by preparing a new generation of world-class science and mathematics teachers.  

  •  SMTI Mathematics Teacher Education (MTE) Partnership. As part of this effort, the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and Hillsborough County Public Schools have partnered with the mathematics education program faculty in the MTE-Partnership. The SMTI MTE Partnership effort will provide a coordinated research and development effort for secondary mathematics teacher preparation programs in order to meet the challenges of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and to embody research and best practices in the field.


2.Tampa Bay Robert Noyce Master Teacher Fellows (MTF) Program

PI: Gladis Kersaint (Mathematics Education, COEDU); co-PIs: Robert Potter (Chemistry,  CAS), Diane Yendol-Hoppey (CELS-Teacher Leadership); Larry Plank (HCPS)

Funded by NSF for $1,210,115; 8/1/2012-7/31/17


The Tampa Bay Robert Noyce Master Teacher Fellows Program is a partnership effort between the University of South Florida (USF), Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS), and Helios Education Foundation (HEF). This program provides stipends to effective mathematics and science teachers who will engage in an extended teacher development program to become effective teacher leaders. The objectives of this program are to:

  • Recruit and select 20 content knowledgeable mathematics and science teachers with a proven track record of effectiveness who will participate in a program for developing teacher leaders.
  • Prepare MTF to assume leadership roles within their schools and school district so that they can mentor and support beginning and veteran inservice teachers.
  • Prepare MTF to assume leadership roles as part of the USF teacher education program so that they can support prospective mathematics and science teachers by serving as mentors, supervising teachers, guest presenters, and co-instructors.

MTF selected to participate in this program will have master’s degrees, will have demonstrated subject matter knowledge, and will have a record of effective teaching as defined by the HCPS’ Empowering Effective Teachers (EET) initiative. As part of this initiative, HCPS has reformed its teacher evaluation system utilizing a multi-metric approach. Thus, teacher effectiveness is calculated based on evaluations by principals (30%), evaluations by peer/mentor evaluators (30%), and measurable gains in student achievement (40%) that are based on a 3-year value-added growth model utilizing multilevel modeling. MTF will be recruited from those math and science teachers who are rated as “effective” or “highly effective” on the evaluation rating scale. Selected MTF will participated in a jointly developed and well-coordinated Teacher Leaders for Student Learning graduate certificate and a Teacher Leader Academy professional development program designed to enhance their skills so that they can support mathematics and science programs at both institutions.


3. Project ASAP (Accelerated STEM Academic Pipeline): Graduate Certificate Program for Title 1 Middle School Teachers

PI: Vanessa Pitts Bannister (Mathematics Education); CoPIs: John Liontas (Foreign Language), Ruth Sylvester (Literacy), Roderic Brame (Science)

Funded by the Helios Foundation for $844, 815; 11/30/12- 11/30/14

Project ASAP provides funds to support teachers who complete a 12-credit hour Graduate Certificate in Integrated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education designed to prepare them to work in Title 1 middle schools. The certificate program is designed to improve content expertise, pedagogical skills, & interdisciplinary knowledge; the courses are infused with inquiry, problem-based learning, and links to literacy, engineering, and technology.  The graduate certificate program includes a mathematics and a science track, which combine to include a course on ESOL/literacy and an integrated math/science course.  The courses are offered in Lakeland, drawing teachers from the high needs/underserved rural and urban areas of Polk, Sarasota, Manatee and Eastern Hillsborough counties.


4.Helios STEM Middle School Residency Program:  Transforming STEM Teacher Preparation for the Transition Years 

PI: Gladis Kersaint (Mathematics Education); Co-PIs: Ben Herman (Science Education), Cheryl Ellerbrock (Middle School Generalist), Robert Potter (College of Arts and Sciences), Larry Plank (Director of STEM Education, HCPS)

Funded by the Helios Education Foundation: Planning Grant ($430,000; 10/1/11 – 12/23/2012); Implementation Grant ($2,736,000; 2/1/2013-12/31/2018)


This grant supports the development of a new teacher education program for STEM (science, technology, engineering, & mathematics) middle school teachers. This teacher education program will be collaboratively developed among the University of South Florida’s College of Education and College of Arts and Sciences faculty, Hillsborough County Public Schools, and the Helios Education Foundation. The goals of the planning effort are to:

  • Develop a new Teacher Education program to prepare middle school STEM teachers that takes into consideration middle school students’ developmental needs, curricular expectations (e.g., Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, Next Generation Sunshine Standards for Science), and the content and pedagogical knowledge needed middle school students effectively
  • Redesign the internship experiences so that it reflects a yearlong collaborative co-teaching model between middle school STEM teacher scholars, cooperating teacher, and clinical faculty members.

Overall, this program will be research-based; make links to practice through a yearlong residency program; provide ongoing professional development for clinical faculty, cooperating teachers, and residents; support clinical faculty members who are jointly appointed to both the university and school districts, and dependent on the continuous assessment of program and teacher effectiveness.


5. USF Robert Noyce Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Scholars Program

PI: Gladis Kersaint (Mathematics Education); Co-PIs: Allan Feldman (Science Education), Jeff Ryan (Geology), Mile Krajcevski (Mathematics)

Funded by NSF for $1,200,000; 8/2010 – 12/2015

The USF Robert Noyce (STEM) Scholars program provides $30,000 stipends to 31 graduating seniors, recent graduates, and career changers who are interested in earning their teaching credentials in mathematics or science by enrolling in a one-year accelerated Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program as a full time student. The stipend is intended to cover the cost of attendance (i.e., tuition and fees) and other expenses. In return for this stipend, Robert Noyce STEM scholars will commit to teach for at least two years in one of the following school districts: Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, or Sarasota.

6. Project Pride- Planning and Rewarding Diversity in Education

PI: John Lionatas (Foreign Language); Co-PIs: Tom Freijo (Measurement), E. Nathan Thomas III

Funded by Florida DOE for $1,200,000; 10/2011-6/2014

Planning and Rewarding Instructional Diversity in Education: Building the Future One Minority Teacher at a Time --- is a $1.2 million grant from Race to the Top funds, a $4.35 billion U.S. Department of Education competitive grant program designed to spur innovation and reforms in state and local district K-12 education. Project PRIDE aims to recruit, select, matriculate, graduate, and place at least 42 well-trained, highly effective teachers in high-poverty/high-minority elementary schools in Polk County in an effort to help reduce the demographic disparity between students and teachers. It was conceived and developed jointly with Polk County Public Schools, Polk State College, and USF in Lakeland in early Summer 2011 to actively recruit and provide financial support and development opportunities for qualified males and minorities.

As such, Project PRIDE will serve to directly improve and impact the number of minority teacher representation in Polk County Schools. Project PRIDE addresses this need in a proactive, professional, LEA collaborative manner. Financial Incentives, Recruitment and Selection, Participant Preparation and Support, and Participant Placement and Support form the nucleus of the approach taken here to see the successful realization of Project PRIDE. Project PRIDE was awarded in 2011 and will continue until summer of 2014.

Past projects

7. Coastal Areas Climate Change Education (CACCE) Partnership

PI: Jeff Ryan (CAS); Co-PIs: Allan Feldman (Science Education), Frank Muller-Karger (Marine Science), Fernando Gilbes (University of Puerto Rico)

Funded by NSF for $495,154; 09/2010-09/2012


The Coastal Area Climate Change Education (CACCE) Partnership is an effort to organize a wide range of partners and stakeholders in the coastal regions of the southeastern United States and the Caribbean to educate current K-12 and college students, and the broader public about the impacts of global climate change.


8. A Qualitative Study of Pre-Service Mathematics Teachers’ Learning to Teach Culturally Diverse Students Through an Alternative Field Experience

PI: Eugenia Vomvoridi-Ivanovic

Funded by the USF Office of Research & Innovation for $10,000; 08/2010 - 08/2011


The purpose of this study is to explore how pre-service teachers benefit through their participation in a community-based field experience in an after-school setting where they will work on mathematical activities with Culturally Diverse Students (CDS). Qualitative methods are employed to investigate how the participating pre-service teacher’s approach to pedagogy and their conversations around teaching and learning mathematics to CDS evolve through their participation in the after-school field experience (ASFE), and how they connect the theory discussed in their mathematics methods course with their interactions with the CDS in the after-school.


9. Conference on Research on the Enacted Mathematics Curriculum

PI: Denisse Thompson (Math Education)

Funded by NSF for $119,662; 4/2010 – 3/2012


This grant provided support to host a conference in November 2010 to develop a conceptual framework related to researching the enacted mathematics curriculum and also considered a research agenda related to this issue. Seventy-eight participants from around the country participated in this 3-day conference. The participants included a mix of veteran researchers, early-career researchers, and doctoral students.


10. Leadership for Integrated Middle School Science (LIMSS)

PI: Robert Potter (Biology); Co-PIs: Dana Zeidler (Science Education), Pam Caffery (Science Supervisor, Hillsborough County Public Schools)

Funded by the U.S. DOE Institute of Education Sciences for $1,444,403; 2008-2012


The goal of this three-year professional development program is to build a cadre of 30 Teacher Leaders in 10 middle schools in Hillsborough County. After two years of professional development, LIMSS’ Teacher Leaders planned and facilitated a 4-day summer institute for their science colleagues (Second Generation Teachers) and are now mentoring these science teachers at their schools to implement inquiry-based science and increase student achievement in science.


11. Scholarships Reinforcing Computational Physical Sciences

PI: David Rabson (Physics): Co-PIs: Gladis Kersaint (Mathematics Education), Brian Space (Chemistry), Chris Tsokos (Mathematics)

Funded by NSF for $500,000; 2006-2012


The goal of the NSF-STEM scholarship program is to increase the number of undergraduate students in computational physics, chemistry, and math/statistics by supporting between 18 and 25 students, depending on financial need, for four years of study.


12. Untangling Mathematical KnoTSS (Knowledge for Teaching Secondary School Mathematics)

PI: Rebecca McGraw (University of Arizona): Co-PIs: Denise S. Mewborn (University of Georgia), Gladis Kersaint (USF, Mathematics Education); Saad I. El-Zanati (Illinois State University); William McCallum (University of Arizona)

Funded by NSF for $623,318; 2008 – 8/2011 (Subcontract to USF: $84,000)


KnoTSS examined the nature and process of collaborations between mathematicians and mathematics teacher educators who co-taught two courses (one mathematics course and one methods of teaching mathematics course) aimed at building integrated knowledge of content and pedagogy. The that were investigated were 1) How do collaborations develop and evolve? How can they be fostered within institutions? and 2) What is the intellectual terrain co-created and traversed by collaborators? How do they negotiate its boundaries? How do they position themselves with respect to it and to each other?

13. Partnership to Rejuvenate and Optimize Mathematics and Science Education (Florida PROMiSE)

PI: Gladis Kersaint (Mathematics Education)

Funded by the US Department of Education, awarded by the Florida Department of Education for $22,000,000; 8/2007-12/2010

Florida PROMiSE addresses the need to improve the mathematics and science achievement of students through professional development. Florida PROMiSE is a partnership among the three Florida Public Research - Flagship Universities (USF, FSU, & UF), four large school districts (Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Duval & Seminole), educational consortia (Heartland Educational Consortium (HEC), North East Florida Educational Consortium (NEFEC) & Panhandle Area Educational Consortium (PAEC)), Florida Virtual School, and Horizon Research, Inc. PROMiSE lays the foundation and leads development and implementation of large-scale, systemic professional development and teacher education programs to significantly improve learning in mathematics and science of all students by working collaboratively with a statewide network of stakeholders to implement the new mathematics and science standards.

14. Achievement through Content Expertise (ACE)

PI: Gladis Kersaint (Mathematics Education)

Funded by the US Department of Education, awarded by the Florida Department of Education for $1,284,500; 11/2006 – 8/2007


Project ACE was a collaborative partnership effort between mathematics educators and mathematicians from USF and educators from the School District of Hillsborough County to increase teachers’ knowledge of mathematics content.  Project ACE provided professional development across three broad conceptual themes that span all K-8 grade levels – Number and Operation, Geometry and Measurement, and Algebra.


15. Understanding Resignations of Science, Mathematics, and Reading Teachers (UR-SMART)

PI: Gerry Meisels (CSL); Co-PIs: Gladis Kersaint (Mathematics Education), Jennifer Lewis (Chemistry)

Funded by Multi-University Reading, Mathematics, and Science Initiative (MURMSI) grant awarded to the FSU Learning Systems Institute by the Institute of Education Sciences at the US DOE for $154, 116; 11/2003 – 10/2004)


This grant supported a research study to examine factors that influence the retention or resignation of teachers.


16. Science That Matters

PI: Robert Potter (Chemistry): Co-PIs: Gerry Meisels (CSL), Bruce Cochran, Dana Zeidler (Science Education)

Funded by NSF for $104,269.00; 2003. (0231179)

This grant supported the development of A Standards Based Interdisciplinary Science Course for Non-Science Majors and Future Elementary School Teachers-Instructional Material Upgrade and Multi-site Implementation.


17. Cross Bar Ranch Science Education Center

PI: Dana Zeidler (Science Education)

Funded by the Pasco County Utilities for $59,596.00; 2003


Funds were provided to develop informal environmental science education.


18. Mathematics and Science Teacher Recruitment, Alternative Certification, and Induction

PI: Gerry Meisels (USF); Co-PIs: Nancy March (SDHC), Judith Lombana, MOSI).

Funded by US DOE Mathematics and Science Partnership program, $1,265,520; 10/2002-2005

Steering Committee members: Gladis Kersaint (Mathematics Education), Dana Zeidler (Science Education).


This grant involved a three-year partnership between the University of South Florida, Hillsborough County School District, and the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) to recruit, train, and retain high quality mathematics and science teachers.


19. Mathematics/Science Professional Development

PI: Sandi Schlichting; Co-PI: Gladis Kersaint (Mathematics Education)

Funded by US DOE Mathematics and Science Partnership program, subcontract with University of Central Florida for $508,149 (1/2003 – 6/2003) and $508,149 (1/2002 – 6/2002)


The grant funds were used to provide professional development to teachers in Region 4.


updated 6/2013



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