News & Information

NSF grants boost Sac State teaching mission


Sacramento State has scored a trifecta of National Science Foundation grants that will enhance student learning and better prepare our graduates to succeed in an increasingly competitive workforce.

Two grants, totaling more than $1.63 million, will provide scholarships to several Sacramento State students and ultimately create more math and science instructors for middle and high schools in high-needs areas.

Awarded in two phases, these grants will be overseen by Department of Teacher Education Professor Deidre B. Sessoms and Professors Gary P. Shannon and Kelly McDonald from the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

In Phase I, more than $1.27 million will provide what’s known as the Robert Noyce Scholarship – $12,000 per year to each of 38 Sacramento State students working toward a teaching job in high-needs schools.
Phase II of the grant earmarks $364,000 to train 24 industry professionals who want to become teachers.

This includes people who are working as geologists, computer programmers and engineers. They receive many of the same benefits as the Sacramento State students. “They’ll do a lot of activities together,” Sessoms said.

Congresswoman Doris Matsui congratulated the recipients. “This federal grant goes a long way in supporting Sacramento State students who are training to become math and science teachers – fields that are critical for the region and to our country’s ability to compete in the future,” she said.

In addition, Sac State has received a comprehensive NSF grant, thanks to a collaborative effort by the College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics.

Professors Jennifer A. Lundmark (Biological Sciences), Jeffrey A. Paradis (Chemistry) and Lynn M. Tashiro (Physics and Astronomy, and the Center for Teaching and Learning) are the principal investigators on the five-year, $2 million project, “The Sacramento State PASS Program: Peer-Assisted Student Success.” Professor Ellen Berg (Sociology) will serve as the project evaluator.

The PASS program seeks to increase the retention and graduation rates of students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The program consists of an innovative, multifaceted approach based on early intervention and advising, a Commit to Study program, and a Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) program designed to provide students with the skills and resources needed to succeed as STEM majors.

Taken together, these NSF grants underscore Sac State’s commitment to teaching, learning and service.

– Alan Miller