- Year 2023
- NSF Noyce Award # 1950159, 2243413
- First Name Joseph
- Last Name Stabile
- Discipline Chemistry
Christina Andruk, Benjamin Gaines, Kathleen Kristian, Dennis Gunn, Margaret Smith, Iona University; Raymond Houston, SUNY Westchester Community College
The primary goal of the project is to increase the number of grade 7-12 candidates in STEM teacher candidates, especially candidates from populations underrepresented in STEM education. The general shortage of qualified STEM teachers in our state makes it even more difficult to find qualified candidates for STEM positions; increasing the number of certified graduates would address this problem. A secondary goal is to incorporate interdisciplinary place-based learning into the introductory STEM curricula to maintain student engagement and improve persistence in STEM majors, the first step to graduating future teachers who majored in their STEM field.
There were two parts of the capacity building grant. The first was to see what interest students had in teaching STEM and in other STEM careers in the early stage of their college years. The second was to examine if providing students with interdisciplinary place-based urban learning experiences in introductory STEM coursework increases their enthusiasm for STEM fields and STEM teaching.
There were two parts of the project. The first part of the project was to examine student beliefs and attitudes towards STEM coursework and careers to inform our recruitment strategies, as well as to strengthen and formalize partnerships with a local community college (WCC). During the first year of the capacity building grant, Iona and WCC created a program for students to attend WCC for the first two years and then complete three years at Iona University to earn a STEM undergraduate degree and a Master’s of Science in Teaching in one of the STEM content areas.
The second part of the project was to promote persistence and engagement in STEM coursework and enable introductory STEM students to see themselves as STEM teachers. This was accomplished by creating laboratory activities enabling students to explore interdisciplinary place-based urban ecology laboratory modules. These laboratory activities encouraged students to apply the knowledge and skills of introductory chemistry to local environmental concerns, drawing on concepts from both biology and mathematics. Future work is designed to incorporate introductory calculus and biology in similar activities. COVID-19 limited laboratory engagement opportunities so alternative materials were used to help students engage in activities connecting local resources with science experimentation. Students conducted experiments on local natural resources suing prescribed materials and drew conclusions from these. After engaging in these activities, students were surveyed on their beliefs and attitudes toward STEM fields and STEM teaching, as well as on the impact of the lab modules.
(a) A key outcome is the creation of the 2+2+1 program for students to transfer from WCC to Iona into a program that will allow them to complete an undergraduate STEM degree and an MST in a total of just 5 years (master’s degree is required in NYS for professional certification). Key findings related to the survey data and interdisciplinary place-based laboratory module include: (i) STEM students indicate that the possibility of our 4+1 programs would increase their interest in pursuing a teaching career; better advertisement is needed, (ii) the interdisciplinary place-based laboratory module increased student engagement and interest in the content of their general chemistry course and increased student interest in pursuing a STEM career, but did not increase student interest in pursuing a STEM teaching career.
Four products from this work:
(1) Kristian, K. E.; Andruk, C.; Gaines, B.; Varner, M.; Smith, M.; Stabile, J. Place-based learning and real-world context in general chemistry laboratory via urban ecology and green chemistry. In Engaging Students with Real World Context; King, D., ed; ACS Symposium Series; American Chemical Society: Washington, D.C., 2023. Invited and submitted.
(2) Kristian, K. E.; Gaines, B.; Andruk, C.; Smith, M.; Stabile, J. “Implementation of urban environmental science modules in general chemistry laboratory and impact on students’ perception of STEM education careers”. Oral presentation, 264th ACS National Meeting, August 20-24, 2022. Paper ID: 3752833
(3) Gaines, B.; Stabile, J.; Kristian, K. E.; Andruk, C.; Smith, M.; Gunn, D.; Houston, R. “Promoting STEM Teaching Interest Through Urban Ecology”. Oral presentation, National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) National Harbor Area Conference, November 11-13, 2021. Paper ID: 35046.
(4) Smith, M.; Andruk, C.; Dougherty, C.; Gunn, D.; Kristian, K.; Gaines, B.; Stabile, J.; and Varner, M. “Promoting STEM Teaching Interest Through Urban Ecology”. Video presentation at the STEM For All 2021 Video Conference (https://stemforall2021.videohall.com), May 2021.
This project aims to increase persistence in STEM majors and increase enthusiasm for STEM teaching by drawing connections into local applications of STEM activities. Future work will include the development of interdisciplinary place-based laboratory module for introductory biology and calculus courses, as well as implementing the existing module in coursework at WCC. An intended broader impact is to attract more well-prepared STEM candidates to teaching careers, who will, in turn, generate enthusiasm in STEM and STEM teaching in their students. The survey data from Iona students will assist us in efforts to recruit and retain STEM teacher candidates at Iona, and this work can be expanded to WCC students. In addition, the combined findings from our capacity building project have led to a 2023 Track 1 Scholarships & Stipends award, to continue our partnership with WCC and produce at least 15 new STEM teachers over 2023-2028.