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ERC Examining Program To Create Quality STEM Educators

ERC Examining Program To Create Quality STEM Educators
April 14, 2016 SEHD Communications

ERC Examining Program To Create Quality STEM Educators

Hoping to help combat a national shortage of teachers in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, researchers at the College of Education and Human Development’s Education Research Center (ERC) at Texas A&M University are collaborating with Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation.

The ERC is conducting an external evaluation of TAMU-CC’s Elementary Teachers Engaged in Authentic Math and Science (ETEAMS) Partnership. The project seeks to implement a new teaching fellowship program that will improve the quantity, quality and diversity of middle levels mathematics teachers in high-need schools, provide rich experiences in science for students and teachers in grades 4-8 and coordinate opportunities for scientists, teacher education faculty and K-12 teachers to collaborate in content-based scientific research projects.

“What we’re finding is that there are problems with there not being enough highly-qualified teachers to teach in the middle grades, specifically to teach math and science. That’s what this project was designed to address,” explained Jaqueline Stillisano, ERC co-director.

Over the course of three years, researchers at the ERC have observed in classrooms, conducted interviews and analyzed survey data to document the development and implementation of the ETEAMS Partnership.

Four cohorts totaling 57 students have completed the ETEAMS program with a 100% graduation rate. 92% of the students in the first cohort have completed their first year of full-time teaching, including STEM subjects, in South Texas.

“We find that, in doing interviews, the ETEAMS fellows say over and over again that they never thought they could teach math or science. They never thought they would like math or science but they find that, by working in this program, they enjoy teaching those subjects and also recognize the value of those subjects,” said Stillisano.

“Confidence in teaching those subjects is huge particularly when you’re facing trying to convince teachers post-graduation to take a certification test. It’s daunting,” said Kim Wright, ERC research associate.

The pre-service teachers are not the only ones that are benefitting from the ETEAMS Partnership. Teachers at the partner schools are reporting that they have seen an increased interest in math and science from their students.

According to the report from Year 2 of the evaluation, one teacher explains: “I think that the students definitely enjoy when they’re able to have those hands-on opportunities, that hands-on learning, especially in science and math. They consider it fun and exciting and they look forward to going to science lab and they look forward to being able to do different projects that involve them getting their hands dirty.”

TAMU-CC’s expectation was this program would be a viable model for teacher education across the country. Hersh Waxman, the ERC’s director, said this is a model that could be replicated at Texas A&M in College Station or other Texas A&M campuses.

Numerous studies have shown the United States is dealing with a global achievement gap caused, by some extent, by a lack of strong grounding in math and science literacy. The Obama Administration has called for a focus on K-12 STEM education to increase teacher quality and student achievement.

“There’s a definite need to train and recruit teachers to teach in the STEM fields. There is a clear shortage, especially in the state of Texas,” said Waxman.

Researchers from the ERC will present their findings from Year 2 of the ETEAMS evaluation at the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting in April 2016 in Washington, D.C.

About the Writer

Ashley is the Media Relations Coordinator and responsible for news coverage in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture as well as the Department of Educational Psychology.

Articles by Ashley

For media inquiries, contact Ashley Green.


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