Professor Dante Tawfeeq, Fulbright Scholar, Looks at STEM Education in Namibia

Professor Dante Tawfeeq, Fulbright Scholar, Looks at STEM Education in Namibia

Professor Dante Tawfeeq, Fulbright Scholar, Looks at STEM Education in Namibia

Associate Professor Dante Tawfeeq of John Jay College’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science recently won a U.S. Government-sponsored Fulbright Specialist award that allowed him to work at Polytechnic of Namibia, analyzing gaps in the area of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.

The Fulbright Specialist Program, part of the larger Fulbright Scholars Program funded by the U.S. State Department, promotes linkages between U.S. scholars and professionals and their counterparts at host institutions in more than 140 countries worldwide. Fulbright Specialist awards and overseas assignments are short-term, typically two to six weeks, which allows the scholars greater flexibility to pursue projects that work best with their current academic or professional commitments.

During his stay in Namibia, Professor Tawfeeq, who is coordinator of John Jay’s Math Foundations and Quantitative Reasoning Program, worked at the Polytechnic’s School of Engineering, where he evaluated the curriculum of its Introduction to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (InSTEM) program. InSTEM is a bridging program for students who do not comply with the standard entry requirements for various STEM programs.

He was also charged with assisting in the development of a multimodal student academic support system aimed at identifying at-risk students early in the semester and aligning them with the proper tutorial assistance.

Professor Tawfeeq also delivered a presentation to students and faculty on the topic of “College and Career Readiness in the Area of STEM.”

As head of the Math Foundations program at John Jay, Professor Tawfeeq and his team of instructors have designed and implemented changes in the curriculum that have led to significant increases in the pass rate for introductory mathematics courses. “My job is to help people be a little more comfortable in studying and learning mathematics,” he said. “If I can do that, then I know that what I’ve done is not a marginal gain, but an exponential one.”

He will submit his recommendations for improving the Polytechnic’s InSTEM program when he returns to Namibia for another two weeks this summer.

Additionally, Professor Tawfeeq has been selected as a 2014-2016 Massachusetts Institute for College and Career Readiness (MICCR) Senior Research Fellow. This fellowship places 18 Senior Research Follows, who come from universities throughout the U.S., with school systems in Massachusetts to work directly with district and city officials on the design, implementation, and evaluation of programming to support college and career readiness pathways. Professor Tawfeeq along with Professor Peter Eley of Fayetteville State University have been paired to work with Brockton Public Schools. The MICCR is collaboration by three leading voices in Massachusetts education reform – Boston University’s School of Education, MassInc’s Gateway Cities Innovation Institute (GCII), and the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy.