Professional Development

Principals Sought for STEM Research Leadership Project

A North Carolina university is recruiting principals for a new grant-funded program intended to help school leaders work more effectively with their math and science teachers. The program will use virtual reality and online coaching. The purpose: to help them improve their abilities to observe, analyze and communicate improvements to classroom instruction, particularly as it relates to access and equity in STEM.

"Project I4," as it's named (for "innovate, inquire, iterate and impact"), is taking place at East Carolina University's Department of Educational Leadership, which was awarded a five-year, $9.7 million innovation grant from the U.S. Department of Education for the program.

Over the course of a year, almost 300 participants will attend a week-long learning exchange on campus in late July, along with online and on-campus classroom experiences in the fall and spring, followed by an additional on-campus workshop the following summer. Among the activities will be the use of a VR simulation of STEM classrooms to allow the principals to practice observing and giving feedback in a game setting.

Those who complete the program will earn a nine-credit microcredential, which can be applied to a 60-credit doctorate in educational leadership.

"Linking school leadership to student learning has been elusive. However, there are a few promising studies about school leaders' ability to impact student achievement by providing more timely, specific feedback to teachers," said Matt Militello, a professor in the College of Education, and the principal investigator for the research project, in a statement.

Militello added that the project and study rely on research evidence that has found that effective principals who foster fruitful observation and coaching can boost student outcomes. "If we want to help teachers improve their instruction, then we must help principals develop the knowledge and skills to do so."

Applications are being accepted until April 30, 2019.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.