Learning Assistants Become Teachers (LABT) 2011-2017

Reporting 2011-2017

The 2011-2017 Program

Learning Assistants Become Teachers (LABT) is a University of Montana program that makes NSF Noyce Scholarship funds available to undergraduate juniors/seniors earning a degree in science or mathematics and seeking to teach secondary school mathematics/science.  Scholarships of $12,000 per year are awarded to help defray tuition and school related expenses.  NSF Noyce Scholars must commit to a minimum of two years of teaching secondary mathematics/science in a high needs school district for each one year of grant support.  Students may apply for a second (and in rare cases, a third) year of support.

Goals for the program include:

  1. design a recruitment and Noyce Scholarship award strategy that increases the number of middle/high school mathematics and science teachers entering the profession prepared to teach effectively in rural and frontier areas;
  2. improve the quality of education for Noyce scholars by instituting a summer field science workshop and an academic year pedagogy seminar;
  3. improve the quality of education for both Noyce scholars and undergraduate students in targeted mathematics and science courses by using Noyce scholars as Learning Assistants (peer mentors using supportive teaching strategies); and
  4. establish a culture at UM that engages faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates in the learning of mathematics and science content through research-based teaching.

The LABT project is designed to transform the culture of mathematics and science teacher preparation on the UM campus through the recruitment of STEM undergraduates to become assistants in large section mathematics and science courses. The students work in pairs, and with faculty and graduate assistants, to engage other undergraduates as peer tutors and this provides them with experiences as facilitators of learning in anticipation of becoming teachers in middle and high school classrooms.

Additionally, the Learning Assistant model is being extended into elementary and secondary schools where the Noyce Scholars assist master teachers in high-need school districts. Noyce Scholars are being prepared to work in western Montana communities, which are rural and represent a diversity of cultures, including different Native American tribes.