STEM Educators Key to Growing Number of Students in STEM Professions

Date: February 07, 2011

Jose Zelaya, a middle grades math and science major, is one of a growing number of College of Education and Human Development students, including many minority students, choosing to enter STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.
"I went through middle and high school always loving math, but my friends hated the subject. I want to change that negative perspective by making math fun and applying it to real-life examples," says Jose, a senior at Texas A&M University.
"One of the greatest blessings I've had is coming to the College of Education and Human Development because the professors really care about how you are doing."
The college is the state's largest producer of teachers in the high-need fields of math and science. In 2009-2010, the college certified 132 STEM teachers, and approximately 19 percent were minorities. This figure has grown consistently over the last several years.
This fact is not that surprising given Texas A&M ranks 14th in best universities for women and minorities in STEM fields, according to a recent "Forbes" article. And developing strong math and science teachers plays an important role in interesting young people to enter STEM fields in general, notes Robert Capraro, professor of mathematics education.
"STEM teachers provide holistic insights into the teaching and learning processes for students, and ultimately, those students will be more likely to major in a STEM field in college," he says.
In addition to traditional teacher preparation programs, the college offers a number of routes to earning teacher certification in STEM areas, including a unique partnership with the College of Science called aggieTEACH, which allows students to become secondary math and science educators.
The College of Education and Human Development also plays an active role in developing the instructional skills of current STEM teachers through the Aggie-STEM Center.
Capraro, who works with Aggie-STEM, adds that recruiting and training knowledgeable STEM teachers is linked to creating a competitive business environment.
"Developing highly qualified STEM teachers at both the undergraduate and graduate levels is paramount to building a high-tech, highly valued workforce that will attract highly visible businesses, making Texas the national leader in STEM jobs," he says. "It's essential for Texas’ continued prosperity."