Noyce Scholarship Program Archives

How to Talk to Parents About the Common Core Standards in Mathematics

By Casey Sears on September 30, 2014 4:11 PM


Are you an educator wanting to know the best way to talk to parents about the new Common Core Standards in Math? Well you are in luck because Bill McCallum, a distinguished professor of mathematics at University of Arizona and author of the Mathematics Common Core, came to Sonoma State University and addressed this topic recently.

Bill McCallum spoke at the Student Center Ballroom on September 3, 2014. His presentation covered the basic facts about the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics that parents might want to know. McCallum discussed strategies on how to answer questions they might have. There is a plethora of misinformation about the Common Core Standards being spread by traditional and social media. McCallum was able to put some of the misconceptions about the standards to rest and show educators how to address the positive attributes in a way parents will understand. McCallum's visit was very interactive with the audience. He made sure to give a solution to the questions that people wanted answered. 

This event was organized by the Sonoma State Department of Mathematics and Statistics in collaboration with the School of Education as well as the SSU Math Club and SSU Statistics Club. A special thanks to the NSF Noyce Scholarship Program who made this event possible.  

Below is a video of the speech in case you missed it!

SFSU Provost Sue Rosser addresses campus community and opens up discussion on unconscious gender bias in the STEM fields

By Lina Raffaelli on November 1, 2013 2:08 PM

Sue Rosser lecturing

Dr. Sue Rosser addresses audience questions

Two weeks ago Sonoma State welcomed Dr. Sue Rosser, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at San Francisco State University, for a campus-wide academic discussion. Dr. Rosser delivered a thought-provoking lecture on Unconscious Gender Bias, delving into the complex issue of underrepresentation of females in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Rosser is a noted scholar, having written 13 books and contributed to more than 130 journal articles on this and related topics.

The event was supported by every school on campus and many departments and programs, including the School of Education's Noyce Scholarship Program. The NOYCE Scholarship Program works in collaboration with the School of Education to recruit STEM majors to consider a career in teaching, in order to fill an important need in our California public schools.

Several Noyce scholars, many of whom now teach in local public high school science and math classrooms, attended the lecture, and then had the valuable opportunity to meet with Dr. Rosser after the event and discuss how an understanding of unconscious bias can help their own teaching practice.

The first of Rosser's four discussion points was the exclusion of females as experimental design subjects. For example, for a long period of history only men participated in drug trials. Problems arose as drugs were released and women began taking prescriptions designed for men.

With no research to reference, it was impossible to predict potential side effects a woman might experience from a given medication. Although this oversight was arguably unintentional, men continued to the serve as the archetype for research, creating a knowledge gap between how drugs may affect the genders differently.

By excluding half of the population, drug manufacturers took serious risks with the health of their patients. Rosser noted that if more female scientists had been involved behind the research then perhaps the inclusion of females as study participants would have began much sooner.

Attendees packed in the Cooperage Oct. 21 to hear Sue Rosser

Attendees packed the Cooperage to hear Sue Rosser's lecture

It is historical circumstances like this, Rosser argues, that have contributed to an unconscious gender bias over time. It's something that is ingrained in our history, and often something we unknowingly contribute to. However, women have made huge strides in the STEM fields, and more females are beginning to saturate these fields every day.

One strong point Rosser discussed is the importance of education and the early introduction of science and math.

"I know that the gender gap has improved in some areas of STEM but not enough," said NOYCE coordinator Dr. Kirsten Searby. "As parents we should expose our children to science at an earlier age so it becomes a gradual, natural area of study for all children."

Another contributor to unconscious bias is the overwhelming male majority amongst politicians and policy makers. Those in charge define what problems are the most important and the order in which they shall be researched. Similarly as professionals in the STEM field, fewer women equates to a weaker representative voice in the general community.

NOYCE Scholar Josh Baca asks a question

NOYCE Scholar Joshua Baca asks a question during the Q&A portion

Rosser argues that diversity is the key for innovation to excel and STEM fields to keep their forward-moving momentum. Diversity ensures that important decisions aren't made with any overpowering singular bias, unconscious or otherwise, while providing multiple perspectives on which to draw conclusions and contribute ideas.

Educators hold the power to be a major influence in this shift, as teachers cultivate early interests in science and mathematics, and encourage students to pursue STEM degrees and careers.

"The more females we have in STEM, the more they will be role models in our schools" said Searby. " I believe we need to have more science in elementary schools, so girls will feel comfortable with it early." Parents, teachers, and STEM professionals can also help encourage girls.

"I encouraged my son and daughter to follow their passion and keep an open mind. Most people do not have a thirty year career in the same field," said NOYCE scholar Anne Chism. "Education is the key to being successful, regardless of what your definition of successful is."

The full lecture is available on YouTube

Teacher Technology Showcase Highlights New Media for the Classroom

By Pamela Van Halsema on November 26, 2012 2:33 PM

techshowcase-poster-web.pngImagine a classroom where middle school students learn geospatial awareness by taking a virtual tour of the moon, or a lesson where special education kids improve their vocabulary with Garage Band.  These are just a couple examples of projects that will be featured at the Teacher Technology Showcase this Thursday at Sonoma State University.  At the Showcase, twenty four pre-service and recently credentialed teachers will demonstrate lessons that they have created to help build student engagement and support student learning. 

School of Education Assistant Professor Jessica Parker designed the event, which provides beginning teachers the chance to share creative ideas for ways they plan to use new media tools in classroom experiences. Dr. Parker, who teaches educational technology at SSU, notes that the focus of the event is not just on the technological tools the teachers are employing, but also on the content objectives as well; how are they creating a better learning environment for students through technology integration.   At the showcase, presenters will have the opportunity to converse with experienced teachers and administrators from local schools, graduate students and faculty about the lessons they designed. 

Presentations will include examples of lessons built for mobile devices, the use of web based collaboration tools, video screencasts for flipped classrooms, wikis and more. The presenters come from a range of teaching environments and student age groups, from early education, elementary, secondary, educational leadership and special education, and they will provide examples of for kindergarten through senior year of high school and beyond.

This is the second year that the SSU School of Education is hosting the Showcase, which this year has support from Google, KQED and Edutopia. The event will take place on Thursday, November 29, 5:00-7:00 PM in the Student Union Multipurpose Room and is free and open to the community.  (Please note that parking on campus is $2.50).

Can't make it to the event?  Follow us on Twitter for highlights:  @educationSSU #ssuedtech.

CSSE Department Welcomes Megan Taylor

By Pamela Van Halsema on August 16, 2012 10:56 AM

Megan Taylor

The CSSE Department in the School of Education welcomes new Assistant Professor for Mathematics Education Megan Taylor this semester.  She comes to Sonoma State having just completed  a post-doctoral research fellowship at Harvard Graduate School of Education for the TESLA Project (Transforming the Engagement of Students Learning Algebra).  Immediately prior to the postdoc, her doctoral work at Stanford focused on the way mathematics teachers use and adapt textbooks in the classroom.

We asked Megan tell us a little about herself and her journey to becoming a mathematics educator:

*Math was never easy for me. If you had told me, as I was struggling through freshman Algebra (and hating every minute), that I would become a mathematics teacher, I would have laughed hysterically (and probably cried a little, too). But I AM a math teacher today in spite of and because of the teachers I had along the way. Teachers who ignored my needs, who frustrated me, who saw me as a lost cause. Teachers who inspired me to challenge myself, try my best, and never give up. Teachers who helped me realize I wanted to BE a teacher.

Today I work with mathematics teachers and study mathematics teaching so more people can help more students be successful in mathematics. In my dissertation research I studied how four teachers worked to use their textbooks more effectively, and observed fascinating changes in how they adapted and created curriculum materials over time. In my postdoc the past two years I developed curricula and a professional development experience for over 400 teachers, as part of a project designed to understand motivation in middle-school mathematics. One of the most recent findings emerging from the data is that the "best" lessons were not necessarily those from teachers implementing our materials the way we expected them to.

I couldn't be more excited to join the SSU team and get to know the Seawolf culture!"

SSU Noyce Scholars Chu and Green Present at NSF Noyce Conference

By Pamela Van Halsema on July 11, 2012 2:15 PM

image of Ginnie Chu and Adam Green at the NSF Noyce poster session

Adam Green at the NSF Noyce Poster Session in Washington D.C.

School of Education faculty member Kirsten Searby, and Noyce Scholars Adam Green and Ginnie Chu represented Sonoma State University at the May 2012 NSF Noyce Conference in Washington D.C. The meeting was an opportunity for hundreds of NSF Noyce Program awardees from across the nation  to learn and share strategies from each other, as well as from K-12 STEM leaders, and national experts in recruiting, preparing, and retaining new K-12 STEM teachers.  The invitation-only conference featured plenary speakers and panel sessions; concurrent workshop sessions, including sessions for Noyce Scholars and new teachers; and poster sessions.

Noyce Scholars Green and Chu have both completed the Single Subject Teaching Credential Program in the School of Education, and just finished their first year of teaching.  Green teaches mathematics at Rancho Cotati High School here in Rohnert Park, and last year Chu worked as a science teacher at Piner High School and Grace High School, which both meet on the same campus in Santa Rosa. SSU Noyce Scholars receive collegial support both during their credential program and for the first couple of years as they begin to work in California high needs school districts.

image of Adam Green at the NSF Noyce poster session

Noyce Scholar Adam Green with his poster NSF Noyce Conference

Searby, who is the Sonoma State Noyce Program Coordinator says this is the first time Sonoma State Noyce Scholars have presented at this annual conference.  She says the opportunity proved to be a great experience for them, and remarked that  "Watching them interact and share ideas with other new teachers and experts in the field  was inspiring.  Seeing them participate in the conference showed me what they understood and valued about education.  They are both really excited to try some of these new ideas in the schools where they work."

In addition to attending workshops, both Sonoma State Noyce Scholars made presentations at the conference.  Adam Green participated in a poster session, presenting information about three teaching strategies he finds helpful in the mathematics classroom.  Ginnie Chu was as a panelist for a session titled, "Voices from the Field", featuring six beginning teachers from different regions of the country.  The session was attended by hundreds of people including pre-service teachers, new and old teachers, deans, and professors. Searby noted that the audience all clapped when Chu said, "I have learned that to my students I'm not only teaching science but I also have to teach language as part of the curriculum."  Chu, reflecting about the conference and the opportunity to talk to teachers from all over the country said, "I realize that I am not as isolated as I think. As I attempt to make small ripples in my classroom, teachers all over the country are doing the same. And together, we are collaborating to generate a large wave of positive change while propagating social justice." You can read more of Ginnie Chu's reflections here.

close up image Ginnie Chu participating in the panel discussion at the NSF Noyce conference

SSU Noyce Scholar Ginnie Chu during the Voices from the Field panel discussion. Conference photo by

The Robert Noyce Scholarship Program for Math and Science Teachers seeks to encourage talented Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) majors and professionals who might otherwise not have considered the teaching profession, particularly those from underrepresented groups. Each Noyce Scholar receives a maximum of three years of scholarship support of up to $10,000 per year. In addition, Sonoma State provides support to the scholars throughout the period covered by the scholarships and up to two years after to assist the scholars to reach their goal of a credential and a teaching position. Noyce Scholars are selected by consideration of academic achievement, under-representation and financial need. To learn more about the Noyce Scholarship Program on the School of Education website at

SSU Noyce Scholar Ginnie Chu Reflects on Conference Participation

By Pamela Van Halsema on July 10, 2012 9:59 AM

A Sense of Perspective

by Ginnie Chu, SSU Noyce Scholar, and Science Teacher

At the recent NSF Robert Noyce Teachers Scholarship Conference, as I recounted some of my teaching experiences to a professor in attendance, he asked how long I have been teaching. When I responded that this was my first year, he exclaimed, “But you sound like such an expert!” I was caught a bit speechless, because I thought, “Of course I am an expert of my own experiences.” I realized that as I write this, I should ask you, dear reader, to bear in mind, my musings on my first year teaching come from a sample size of one…me.

About me:

  1. I just completed my first year teaching at a comprehensive and an alternative high school in Santa Rosa, CA. Both are high-needs public schools sharing one campus.
  2. 2) This is the first STEM education conference I have ever attended.
    1. One of the many challenges I faced in my first year teaching was a lack of perspective for the diversity of new experiences in which I found myself living. I was constantly reflecting, asking colleagues for their perspectives, and then re-evaluating my own instinctual reactions to these new experiences because I lacked past experiences for comparison. One of best outcomes of attending the Noyce conference was the valuable perspectives and additional lens I gained for which to view my understanding and place in the larger world of education. While the conference provided me with rich layers of multifaceted learning, I will focus on three specific experiences.


      The first one-hour workshop I attended was titled, “Social Media for STEM Educators: How to Build an Online Community Around STEM Ideas and Market Yourself as a Leader in the Field.” While I gained some tips and tricks, such best blogging sites and how to set up a Twitter account, sitting in this workshop forced me to consciously recognize that I am actively building my identity as an educator. I must exercise great intention in the process of creating my professional identity. This workshop emphasized the use of social networking tools in education. The idea of social networking tools spurred me to think deeper about the idea of education itself. Very few educators currently in classrooms today experienced the same learning environment of that of their students. The current learning environment is a very different landscape from which I was raised. The learning paradigm is shifting, and whether I choose to shift and adapt my teaching with it has significant implications for my students’ achievement. This is well illustrated in an exchange I had with a student I taught this year. The classroom was buzzing with a school scandal. When I asked the students what they were talking about, one student said to me, “Oh come on Ms. Chu. You know what we are talking about.” When I feigned ignorance, she responded, “Don’t you read the news? You need to go to Facebook.” While it hadn’t occurred to me that Facebook was a legitimate news outlet, it also had not occurred to me that I was not meeting my students where they were, both metaphorically and in the virtual places they congregate. Recognizing this leads me to ponder, how do I teach to most effectively engage today’s students in the act of learning?


      Another workshop I attended was titled, “Using Concept Maps as an Assessment Tool to Close the Achievement Gap.” In this one-hour workshop, two professors presented a cursory introduction to concept mapping followed by practice creating our own concept maps. This workshop was unlike any other experience I had at the conference. Some audience members raised skepticism and expressed negative sentiment about the validity and effectiveness of concept mapping as an assessment tool. There was provocative and at times hostile debate throughout. From my participation in this workshop, as well as the conversations I had with other scholars in attendance afterwards, I have two conclusions to share. First, I was surprised by the controversy surrounding something as seemingly innocuous as concept making. This surprise underscores a greater philosophical debate about education. We as educators share a common goal; we want students to learn. That may be where the consensus ends. What we consider effective teaching, whether in theory or practice, expected learning outcomes, and how we assess those outcomes lie on a wide continuum. Just as students act in the way they see themselves, we act in the way we see our roles as educators. The controversy in which I found myself allowed me to realize this second point. The dialogue around me underscored the importance that I must form and articulate my own pedagogy in order to participate in both the larger conversation as well as in consensus building in the STEM education community. While this goes in tandem with building professional identity, I believe that when I can articulate what teaching and learning mean to me, I will find that identity. Or alternatively, how am I able to cross pedagogical lines if I don’t know where I stand?

      Aside from attending workshops, I also had the opportunity to speak on a plenary panel discussing some of the trials and tribulations of my first year teaching. It was not the panel talk itself but rather the feedback I received that was so poignant and thought provoking for me. Teaching can be an isolating experience. In the concentric circles of inclusion, I am in the center. From there, my students, departmental colleagues, school faculty, and district occupy the outer circles roughly in that order. While I shared my experiences as a first year teacher in a high needs school, I falsely assumed that many in the audience would not be able to relate to the unique vagaries and challenges of teaching in Northern California, or more specifically, at my schools. For example, I believed that some would take offense to the idea that I see myself as both a science and language educator. After this plenary session, a first year teacher from Mobile, Alabama thanked me for the talk. This teacher expressed gratitude and appreciation for my words because, as she put it, “You articulated everything I was thinking and wanted to say.” From that brief exchange, I learned two new things. First, a teacher from Mobile, Alabama and one from Northern California shared similar teaching experiences. It suggests to me that our situations and experiences are far more alike than not. For one, we are attempting to teach scientific literary. While there are always nuances to each individual circumstance, teachers in high-need schools throughout the country share similar obstacles, needs, and student populations. If this is true, then there must be similar underlying root causes to these challenges we face. The second realization I made from talking to this teacher is that I am not as isolated as I think. As I attempt to make small ripples in my classroom, teachers all over the country are doing the same. And together, we are collaborating to generate a large wave of positive change while propagating social justice.

      This conference was an invaluable opportunity for me to immerse myself in quality discourse. It challenged my own ideas of what it means to be an educator. And in a year when I was just treading water to stay afloat, this experience was a lifeline that brought me back to the raft of values that originally inspired me to teach. During my time in the SSU credentialing program, I felt indoctrinated to many of the visions contained within the School of Education Conceptual Framework. I understood what that meant on paper, but only now am I beginning to embody and understand what that means in action.

Physics Department and Noyce Program Host Astronomy Education Lecture and Reception October 17

By Pamela Van Halsema on October 12, 2011 12:55 PM

illustration of telescope

The Physics Department at SSU has invited physicist Dr. Ed Prather to speak about Astronomy Education as part of their on-going "What Physicists Do Lecture Series" on Monday, October 17, 4:00 PM in Darwin 103. The event is open to the community.

Dr. Prather is an Associate Professor at Steward Observatory, and the Department of Astronomy, at the University of Arizona and is Executive Director of the NASA and NSF funded Center for Astronomy Education (CAE) at the University of Arizona. He has led several research programs to investigate students' conceptual and reasoning difficulties in the areas of astronomy, astrobiology, physics, and planetary science. The results from this research have been used to inform the development of innovative instructional strategies proven to intellectually engage learners and significantly improve their understanding of fundamental space science concepts.

Over the past decade members of the Center for Astronomy Education (CAE) at the University of Arizona have worked closely with hundreds of college instructors, postdocs, graduate students, and undergrads on collaborative projects designed to understand issues of teaching and learning in college-level gen. ed. college Earth, Astronomy and Space Science courses (EASS). The results from these collaborations have been used to transform traditional lecture-based classrooms into learning environments shown to significantly impact learners' science literacy and engagement in STEM. The recent national study his team completed, involving nearly 4000 students at 31 institutions around the United States, reveals dramatic improvement in student learning with increased use of interactive learning strategies. In addition, the study revealed positive effects of interactive learning strategies apply equally to men and women, across ethnicities, for students with all levels of prior mathematical preparation and physical science course experience, independent of GPA, and regardless of primary language. These results powerfully illustrate that all categories of students can benefit from the effective implementation of interactive learning strategies.

Future Science and Mathematics Educators

The Noyce Scholarship program will host a reception in the lobby of Darwin Hall immediately after Dr. Prather's presentation. Sonoma State University's Noyce Scholars, all of whom are on track to become mathematics or science teachers in the School of Education Single Subject Credential Program, will attend Monday's lecture.

Noyce logo

The Noyce Scholarship Program is a collaboration between the School of Science and Technology and the School of Education at SSU, providing support for future math and science teachers. Each Noyce Scholar receives a maximum of three years of scholarship support of up to $10,000 per year. In addition, Sonoma State provides support to the scholars throughout the period covered by the scholarships and up to two years after to assist the scholars to reach their goal of a credential and a teaching position. For more information about the Noyce Scholarship Program see