- Year 2016
- NSF Noyce Award # 1439819
- First Name Curtis
- Last Name Pyke
- Discipline Mathematics, Science
Tiffany Sikorski, George Washington University,
In its broadest sense, this project addresses the need to adapt our graduate teacher education program to prepare more new teachers for the present landscape of math, science and STEM programs in DC area schools. This project is important locally because the DC area needs more math and science teachers. On a larger scale, the project can serve as a case relevant to the many programs across the country like ours that have grown-up with a generalist and interdisciplinary orientation to teacher education but hold disciplinary depth and better alignment to the school STEM standards as a curricular aim. Aware that not much has changed since 2008, when the National Math Panel Task Group on Teachers and Teacher Education declared that little is known about the key features of teacher ed programs that influence outcomes (e.g., duration, structure, quantity, content, pedagogy, and connection to practice), we looked for strategic places in the curriculum to create and study innovations that might spark a recalibration of our program elements to new standards. Therefore, through this project we targeted innovation in three curricular elements that we believed could served as catalysts for change: (a) out-of-school field experiences, (b) a sharper focus on constructivist pedagogies of inquiry and PBL, and (c) emphasis on doing mathematics and science in methods courses with an eye on practices. We argue that together, these elements mutually reinforce teachers’ focus on student work and thinking, in relation to deep engagement in the doing of math and science. In addition, these elements provide anchors at the university level for interdisciplinary collaboration on STEM teaching and learning, across K-16. To demonstrate the nature of our capacity building in this area the proposed poster features data from our innovative museum-based field experiences, and our “doing math” and “doing science” modules in the methods courses. We believe this work will benefit not only our program but add to the knowledgebase on these topics in the field.
The overarching goals of our Noyce project are to: (1) Increase the supply of DC-area STEM professions and STEM majors enrolled in a comprehensive pre-service route to careers as math and science teachers; (2) Increase alignment among field experiences, coursework, and K-12 Standards, (3) Form a nexus of collaboration between GW STEM and education faculty, local educational organizations, and DCPS centered on the preparation and mentoring of secondary math and science teachers in the DC-metro region’s high-needs schools. This poster elaborates on selected activities and research related to goal 2. In particular, we present our museum-based field experience model and some evaluation data, as well as tentative findings from our video case study of our methods course module aimed at engaging pre-service teachers in doing math and science to learn and learn to teach practices.
Our Noyce project was planned as an incremental approach to building capacity and program change (e.g., adjustments to fieldwork and courses). We believed, and still do, that developing math- and science-specific pedagogy is possible in an interdisciplinary program that builds on the shared commitments across disciplines to ideas about learning (i.e., that learning is student-centered), about where learning takes place (i.e., classrooms and out of school spaces), and about how learning is enacted (i.e., through authentic experiences). This poster reveals how this shared constructivist framework connects two critical activities of the project; the new museum-based field experience, and the “doing math and science” course modules in our methods courses. To this end, the poster highlights: (a) experiences where teacher candidates interpret and value the ideas of others; (b) actively construct understandings with experts, peers and students; and (c) have opportunities to reflect on a teacher’s role in facilitating student-centered learning. We will show how these themes manifest differently in the out of school setting where we partnered with the National Museum of Natural History to plan, train, implement and evaluate our field model, contrasted with our classroom work where we leveraged collaboration with math and science faculty to plan, implement and study the doing experiences.
The key program findings to date point to pockets of success across goals including: undergraduate awareness and interest, the establishment of a broader community network in support for our teacher preparation, establishing the merit of the museum based experience, and detecting some unique features of the engagement of faculty and students in the methods collaborative problem solving experiences. Again, the poster will focus on the latter two. In particular, we will show that through volunteering at the museum, processing and sharing experiences in a reflective journal, and completing formal observations on site with expert debriefings, the teacher candidates evidenced abilities to attend to diverse learners’ thinking, facilitated inquiry, sustained curiosity, and engaged in reflective practice for pedagogical improvement. And, in the doing math and science course modules evidence is presented that students are gaining an appreciation for doing math and science as an instructional strategy that requires attention to multiple student ideas. And, through our video study of these modules we are able to better understand how different decisions about next moves impact the flow of the problem solving activity and what is ultimately done with the class time. The poster will show some promise and some pitfalls of these authentic activities.
10 future science and math teachers, and two STEM faculty members, have been directly impacted by the changes to our program. That number will grow as we continue to recruit more math and science teachers.
** Our model of museum-based field experiences was shared at the DC STEM Network Summit to an audience of teachers, teacher educators, and out-of-school STEM providers, and other stakeholders.
** An initial version of our video case study from the science methods course was shared at the National Association for Research in Science Teaching in 2015, reaching an audience of teacher educators and science education researchers.
** The collaborations/network that was established by and reified through this capacity building project, and perhaps some of the work of the project itself, enabled a successful bit to create an entirely new undergraduate pathway in teacher education at GW, GWTeach. This program is a UTeach replication and is drawing new teaching candidates from across the University’s STEM majors.