Sarah Roberts awarded a $1.1 million NSF Faculty Early Career Development Grant

Thursday, March 3, 2022
Sarah Roberts

Sarah Roberts of UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School has been awarded a Faculty Early Career Development Grant of $1.1 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant will fund the project “Understanding the Routinization of Mathematics Language Routines in Middle and High Schools” that will provide multilingual learners with cognitively rich grade level instruction while also engaging students in disciplinary rich language.

“I'm ecstatic that NSF has decided to fund this project,” Roberts says. “I’m excited to work with our school partner, to work with teachers and students to build on the resources they bring and engage them in this work. Additionally, we will be working with a whole team of graduate and undergraduate students to bring this project to fruition—developing their research and education skills and knowledge along the way. I’m thrilled about the potential and opportunity within this project.”

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Activities pursued by early-career faculty should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.

This CAREER project draws on research that Roberts and fellow Department of Education faculty member Julie Bianchini have been doing on a CPM Research Grant in local schools around helping Integrated Math 1 teachers think about how to use mathematics language routines with their students to access text and communicate mathematical reasoning, particularly to attend to their multilingual learners. Roberts and Bianchini developed the CPM project in concert with work that they are doing with secondary mathematics and science methods.

“I was a middle school and high school mathematics and science teacher who taught multilingual learners in the Bay Area. In my own teaching, I saw that there was a need for us to provide more concerted learning opportunities for teachers that focused on the content area and multilingual learners,” Roberts says, explaining what drew her to this project. “I also saw that there was a key need for us to provide richer learning experiences for multilingual learners, both in terms of language and content. I think that this project comes back to what originally drew me to graduate school.”

Sarah Roberts is an assistant professor of mathematics education in the Department of Education. Professor Roberts received her B.A., M.A., and teaching credential from Stanford University and her Ph.D. from University of Colorado at Boulder. Prior to attending graduate school for her Ph.D., Professor Roberts taught high school and middle school math and science for several years in the Bay Area.

Professor Roberts’ research focuses on equity across the P-20 continuum, with an emphasis in mathematics in K-12 education. This work grew out of her experiences as a public school, middle school and high school mathematics and science teacher and her desire to both understand and foster equity in classrooms and schools. As she has developed her primary line of inquiry, she has expanded into other areas, including post-secondary mathematics and higher education research.

[Sarah Roberts is available for interviews; contact George Yatchisin at george@education.ucsb.edu]