TU Chemistry Professor Honored by State Regents

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

University of Tulsa chemistry professor Robert Howard, leader of a $5.5 million project to help Oklahoma recruit, train and retain science and math teachers, was recognized recently as a "Champion for Student Success" by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

Howard was among three Oklahomans honored in December for their efforts "to help students prepare for and succeed in college." The regents described Howard as "an outspoken advocate" for quality professional development of K-16 teachers and faculty in mathematics and science."

Howard said his project, funded in 1995 by the National Science Foundation, has helped some 3,000 teachers annually. He says it was distinctive because it used "master teachers" drawn from math and science teachers in local schools, and it created special academies where high school students were shown how to be teachers for younger students.

Work was done through the Oklahoma Teacher Education Collaborative, a consortium of public schools, universities and professional educational associations.

Howard, who has been with TU since 1982, said the consortium used innovative methods to interest young people in becoming science and math teachers, including summer academies in which novice teachers worked with "master teachers" and the participants were high school students, who in turn became instructors for a day for elementary school students.

In addition, college-level education courses in science, math and engineering were changed to create hands-on classes with real-world applications, including a TU chemistry course in which weather is studied using the Internet to connect to sites such as Mesonet, an Oklahoma statewide network of meteorological stations.