How can rural schools overcome remote locations, small sizes?

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A team of educational researchers and professors in the College of Education and Human Development was recently awarded an $8 million U.S. Department of Education grant for serving English learners and economically challenged students in Texas rural schools.

“Rural schools frequently face challenges due to their geographic location and small size,” said Rafael Lara-Alecio, Regents Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology. “For example, rural teachers may not have as many opportunities to receive targeted professional development or support from content specialists in the STEM fields. Our project will address some of these issues.”

Researchers with Project VICTORY – Virtually-Infused Collaborations for Teaching and Learning Opportunities for Rural Youth – will explore the impact of virtual and face-to-face teaching and learning with a literacy-infused science curriculum.

“When students engage in problem-based activities, such as those we have planned in VICTORY, they increase their intrinsic motivation.  Students’ successes can be more meaningful and connected to what they are learning when they engage in these hands-on activities,” said Robert Capraro, professor and co-director of AggieSTEM. “Our intervention is necessary and can be effective in increasing awareness of the challenges of English learners and economically-challenged rural school students as they engage in STEM activities.”

One of the first controlled studies of its kind, the project will take place over three years. One grade level will be studied each year, starting in third grade and ending in fifth grade.

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