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UI Receives $2.8 Million Grant to Explore Online PreK-12 Teacher Development

September 14, 2016

The University of Idaho College of Education, in partnership with the University of Rochester in New York, was awarded a $2.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Discovery Research PreK-12 program to provide teachers in rural school districts access to innovative online professional learning experiences in mathematics.

Julie Amador, assistant professor in the UI College of Education and director of Idaho Region 1 Math Center in Coeur d’Alene, serves as the co-principal investigator along with Jeffrey Choppin of the University of Rochester. The four-year grant will support research of an online-based professional development model that includes coordinated online courses and online video coaching, in addition to online demonstration lessons. The goal is to increase the quality of professional development opportunities for teachers in rural areas in the United States.

“This project will advance our existing professional development efforts and will focus on teachers in rural contexts who may traditionally have less access to quality professional support. Through synchronous online professional development, this program will ensure teachers in remote areas of Idaho are receiving instructional support that will ultimately influence student learning in mathematics,” Amador said.

This project is one of only 50 studies nationwide to receive a Discovery Research PreK-12 award in 2016. The program seeks to enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers through research and development of STEM education innovations and approaches.

Central to the project will be a research team in Idaho and New York who will study online professional development activities to better understand the limitations and benefits of conducting such activities in virtual, rather than face-to-face, settings. The team has considerable experience conducting research in middle school mathematics classrooms, including previous projects that studied the impact of the common core state standards for mathematics, face-to-face teacher professional development and the impact of digital curriculum resources. Findings from the project have the potential to inform the design of professional development in the digital age, and ultimately contribute to research on professional learning in online contexts that extend beyond K-12 education into other areas such as higher education, the health care profession and other domains where professional development is needed and would benefit from high-quality online opportunities.

Media Contact:

Allison Stormo
Communications Coordinator, College of Education

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference. Learn more at