Environmental Factor

June 2011

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NIH grantee receives Wisconsin Regents Teaching Excellence Award

By Eddy Ball
June 2011

Craig Berg, Ph.D.

“Students everywhere really need the best teachers and programs we can provide for them - especially those students in urban settings who have many other challenges in their lives,” Berg said of the work that earned him this prestigious award. (Photo courtesy of Kyle Stevens)

In a May 4 press release(https://www.wisconsin.edu/news/archive/regents-to-honor-outstanding-uw-system-teachers/) Exit NIEHS, the University of Wisconsin (UW) announced that NIH grantee Craig Berg, Ph.D., is one of two individual winners of the 2011 Regents Teaching Excellence Award(https://www.wisconsin.edu/news/archive/regents-recognize-2011-winners-of-teaching-excellence-awards/) Exit NIEHS. In addition to the honor conveyed by the UW system's highest recognition for members of its faculty and academic staff, when he accepts his award at the Board of Regents meeting June 10 in Milwaukee, it will include a $5,000 stipend for professional development.

Berg(http://uwm.edu/education/people/berg-craig/) Exit NIEHS is a professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the School of Education at the UW Milwaukee (UWM) and director of the Milwaukee Collaborative Science and Mathematics Teacher Education Program (MACSTEP), an innovative approach to producing exemplary science teachers. He is a co-principal investigator with NIEHS Children's Environmental Health Sciences Core Center grantee(http://tools.niehs.nih.gov/portfolio/index.cfm?action=portfolio.grantdetail&grant_number=P30ES004184) David Petering, Ph.D., on a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program(http://nihsepa.org/) Exit NIEHS. The award is funded by NIEHS in conjunction with the NIH National Center for Research Resources, which oversees the large science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program.

Commenting on this year's winners, Regent Betty Womack, chair of the selection committee, said, “My fellow committee members and I were deeply inspired by the creative energy and passion for their craft that these gifted teachers share with their students, their colleagues, the campus community, and beyond.”

A collaborative program to shape the STEM education

Much of Berg's teaching is focused on the MACSTEP program at UWM. MACSTEP is a cutting-edge science and mathematics teacher-preparation program that has been extensively shaped through the collaborative efforts of faculty, practicing teachers in the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), former students, and other strategic players who work to incorporate best practice into coursework and field experiences. Students benefit from highly coordinated courses and fieldwork experiences delivered through the synergy of instructors from UWM and MPS.

The program is tailored to train undergraduate students, those who already have B.S./B.A., master's, or Ph.D. in a science or mathematics field, and those who also want to start working towards a master's degree while becoming certified to teach. One of Berg's areas of interest is the effective use of technology in instruction, with programs designed to implement collaboration between science, mathematics, and social studies teachers by using the Internet.

Berg was quoted in a UWM press release as saying, “Student's attitudes toward science, their interest in taking more science, almost always depend on the quality of the teachers teaching science. One excellent science teacher can make a huge difference in student attitudes and their desire to continue working toward a STEM career.” Berg adds that they are constantly striving to develop highly effective science and mathematics teachers who will then have maximum positive impact on their students.

Berg and Petering's SEPA program, "Biology-Environmental Health Science Nexus: Inquiry, Content, and Communication," focuses on the high school general science and biology teachers and students in metropolitan Milwaukee, particularly minority students in the Milwaukee Public School District. The program's general objective is to develop the skills of inquiry in teachers and students as the basis for doing and understanding science, particularly in relation to life science and environmental health.

“I am thrilled to be working with scientists who are doing cutting-edge research and who have a passion for translating their work into classroom experiences for children,” Berg explained. “In this project I also work with dedicated teachers who help hone these materials into exciting activities for their classroom. SEPA is a program that helps keep me grounded in the real world of doing science and science teaching.”

Along with Berg, the Regents honored UW-Green Bay Professor Regan Gurung, Ph.D., with an individual award, and the UW-Green Bay Professional Program in Education for exceptional commitment to and effectiveness in teaching by an academic unit.

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