UW’s Leonard Awarded Prestigious Fulbright Research Chair in STEM Education

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Jacqueline Leonard, director of the University of Wyoming’s Science and Mathematics Teaching Center (2012-16) and professor of elementary and early childhood education (2012-present) in the College of Education, has been selected for a Fulbright Canada Research Chair in STEM Education award.

The award is considered the most prestigious appointment in the Fulbright Scholar Program and is awarded to highly respected scholars with a noteworthy history of publication and teaching. Only two such awards were awarded in North America in 2018-19.

“This award means a great deal to me as a senior scholar and researcher,” Leonard says. “It allows me to extend my research agenda of equitable STEM education to indigenous students in an international context and to serve as a role model for underrepresented students in Calgary, Alberta.”

Fulbright awards encourage mutual understanding between the United States and foreign countries through the exchange of knowledge and skills. These positions allow scholars to immerse themselves in the host institutions, conduct their own research, work collaboratively with new colleagues, engage with students and become involved in local communities.

“A Distinguished Scholar Fulbright is a highly competitive award and a rare recognition for the individual receiving it,” says Ray Reutzel, UW College of Education dean. “It also is a wonderful recognition of the quality of the faculty we have in the College of Education at the University of Wyoming. We are all very proud of and pleased for Dr. Leonard and for our college.”

Leonard will spend four months teaching and working on research at the University of Calgary’s Werklund School of Education. She will teach game design and computer modeling to elementary students in grades 4-6 in schools with high populations of indigenous students. Her research will focus on measuring the impact of students’ self-efficacy in technology, or belief in oneself to succeed in specific situations, and how it affects their ability to learn new technological skills.

This position will bolster UW’s reputation for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) research, and the university will benefit from cross-collaboration.

“In 2019, I will invite a member of the Werklund School of Education faculty to present at the Distinguished Speaker Series that I established while director of the Science and Mathematics Teaching Center,” Leonard says.

This award aligns with Wyoming’s recent decision to be a national leader and mandate computer science courses in schools across the state.

“More than 50 percent of 21st century jobs will involve computer science,” Leonard says. “It is important for underrepresented students in North America to develop and demonstrate computational thinking and computer science knowledge.”

The Fulbright Scholarship Program started over 70 years ago with legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright and enacted by President Harry Truman. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually to U.S. and foreign students, U.S. and visiting scholars, and several hundred teachers and professionals.

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