WMU News

September grants top $1.4 million

Oct. 31, 1997

KALAMAZOO -- More than $1.4 million in grants was awarded to Western Michigan University during September, the WMU Board of Trustees learned at its Oct. 31 meeting.

The September grant total of $1,452,738 pushed the total of grants received since the July 1 start of the 1997-98 fiscal year to $4,143,536. More than $1.1 million of the September grant total was awarded for new and continuing research projects. Public service efforts attracted more than $300,000 of the remaining funds.

Major grants received during the month included two awards totaling $341,500 to support implementation of the Core-Plus Mathematics Project curriculum. Core-Plus is an innovative high school mathematics curriculum that has been in development at WMU since 1992. Funded by $11.2 million from the National Science Foundation and based on mathematics standards developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the curriculum is now being adopted by schools around the country.

A $200,000 award from Ithaca College in New York to Dr. Christian R. Hirsch, WMU professor of mathematics and statistics, will be used to help implement the curriculum. Ithaca College received funding from the National Science Foundation to create a structure that will help secondary schools adopt new standards-based mathematics curriculum projects such as Core-Plus. The WMU grant project is part of that effort.

Hirsch, the director of the project, will use the grant for the first of three years of work to disseminate the curriculum and address the professional development needs of teachers who will use the new materials. An implementation satellite site at WMU will serve as the hub of Core-Plus professional development and support activities. A network of regional professional development centers around the country will provide the local staff development activities needed by teachers who use the curriculum.

A $141,500 award from the National Science Foundation to Dr. Laura R. Van Zoest, assistant professor of mathematics and statistics, and Beth E. Ritsema, professional development coordinator for the Core-Plus project, also will support implementation of the curriculum. Earlier this year, the pair received NSF funding for an intensive professional development project for teachers in several Southwest Michigan schools who are learning to use the curriculum.

Van Zoest and Ritsema will use the new funding for a four-year study that will examine the impact of having mathematics teaching interns learn to teach in a reform environment. Their study will target partnerships involving six secondary mathematics education majors from WMU and teachers at Battle Creek Central High School, one of the schools that is part of their original project.

The performance of Michigan's charter schools and public school academies will be the focus of new research funded with a $149,493 award from the Michigan Department of Education to Dr. Jerry Horn, principal research associate in WMU's Evaluation Center. With an earlier state grant, Horn developed a long-range plan to evaluate such schools as well as a product that schools could use to evaluate themselves. Horn will use the new funding to evaluate approximately half of the state's charter schools and academies. The remaining schools will be evaluated by a private firm in Lansing.

Dr. Nora Berrah, associate professor of physics, will use a $152,000 award from the U.S. Department of Energy to continue research she has been conducting at the Advanced Light Source facility at Berkeley National Laboratory in California. Her work is aimed at uncovering fundamental information about atomic and molecular structure.

Also reported to the board was a previously announced grant from the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency (formerly the Kalamazoo Valley Intermediate School District) to Dr. James J. Bosco, director of the Office of Educational Technology in the College of Education. Bosco will use the $130,000 to improve the technological training of future teachers. The project will integrate computers and technology throughout the entire education curriculum, including them in both methods and content courses.

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