WSU professor gets grant to help improve education

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldMarch 2, 2013 

Another faculty member at Washington State University Tri-Cities is receiving a grant to improve teaching in primary and secondary schools.

Judy Morrison, an associate professor in the College of Education at the Richland campus, is one of four WSU faculty working on the project, which will receive $518,000 during the next three years from The Mathematics and Science Partnership, according to a release from the university.

Morrison said the grant specifically deals with helping teachers in the Pomeroy and Clarkston school districts develop more engaging ways to teach science.

"Really it's just getting them to do more active science with (students) in the classroom," she said.

The project being headed up by associate professor Andy Cavagnetto on WSU's Pullman campus. Along with the education faculty, professors from various science departments also are contributing to the effort.

Morrison said the project is tied to the upcoming release of the Next Generation Science Standards, new science standards that will be implemented by 26 states across the country.

"These new science standards have a lot of focus on science practices and engineering," she said.

It's a good time for the fresh emphasis, Morrison said. Studies have shown that student interest in science and science-related careers in the U.S. is waning despite science's growing importance in the job market. Making science education more hands-on could help change that, she said.

The grant will pay for Morrison and her team to visit the districts during summer months to work with teachers on curriculum and lesson plans. It could be expanded to other districts in the region depending on its success, she said.

Earlier this month, another faculty member in education at WSU Tri-Cities received a grant to help improve classroom teaching. Amy Roth McDuffie will use a $260,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to help researchers determine how best to make the next generation of math teaching materials such as textbooks and apps.

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