UNCW Receives $216,000 NC QUEST Grant for "Writing in Science, Science in Writing" Program

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The University of North Carolina General Administration has awarded UNCW a three-year grant in the amount of $216,000 to develop a program to enhance the writing skills of elementary school students. The grant will fund training for teachers on effective writing instruction and promoting discovery in science as a means of student engagement.

The project, titled “Writing in Science, Science in Writing,” is a joint initiative of the Watson College of Education (WCE) and the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) in partnership with Pender County Schools. The project is funded by the North Carolina Quality Educators through Staff Development and Training (NC QUEST) grant program.

Teacher leaders, instructional coaches and administrators will collaborate with UNCW faculty to create a professional development program that aids teachers in enhancing their writing instruction to engage young students in scientific discovery and writing on topics of interest to them. The project will involve three elementary schools in Pender County. Training will begin during the 2015-16 school year.                                 

Debbie Powell, the grant’s project director and a WCE associate professor, has conducted extensive research on national and international standards for writing over the past decade. She has also developed research-based tools to enhance writing instruction and assessment, and has worked with dozens of teachers to test these tools in the classroom.

“Effective writing skills can be taught, but writing is also an art that needs to be developed,” Powell said. “That’s why the scientific discovery aspect of this program is so important.”

Geology professor Patricia Kelley and Beth Metcalf, director of Elementary Student Learning and Title I for Pender County Schools, are co-project directors.

UNCW faculty members on the project team include:

-          Brad Walker, associate professor of Language and Literacy Education

-          Chuck Jurich,  assistant professor of Language and Literacy Education

-          Kathy Fox, professor of Language and Literacy Education and department chair of Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle, Literacy and Special Education

-          Lynn Sikma, assistant professor in WCE’s Elementary Education program

-          Amy Garrett Dikkers, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership

-          Roger Shew, lecturer in the geography and geology and environmental studies departments

During the first phase of the program, teacher-leaders’ classrooms will serve as demonstration sites where other teachers can observe and learn. The “Writing in Science, Science in Writing” program will be expanded to all elementary school classrooms in Pender County over the next three years.