- Year 2016
- NSF Noyce Award # 1340019
- First Name Michelle
- Last Name Head
- Discipline Chemistry
David Rosengrant, Kennesaw State University; Charlease Kelly-Jackson,
Kennesaw State University; Gregory Rushton, Kennesaw State University
Michelle Head, Kennesaw State University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Recruitment of students into science education programs, specifically chemistry and physics, has been an ongoing struggle to garner enough students to fill the demand for these positions in the workforce. This poster seeks to better understand what external factors influence someone in making the choice to pursue a career in science education. The results are used to design a strategic recruitment plan for early-career decision makers.
The overarching goal of this project is to develop a strategic recruitment plan for early-career decision makers in chemistry and physics education. The recruitment strategy employed by this project takes on a pipeline approach that offers early teaching experiences in a science summer camp. Students may also gain early experience through coursework in science education that they can begin as early as their freshman year of college. Through these experiences information regarding the chemistry and physics education degree tracks is shared along with the Noyce scholarship opportunities. Once a student has confirmed this degree track they may apply to become a Noyce scholar where they will receive continued support while in the preparation program and during their induction years.
One method that was utilized to recruit students into our chemistry or physics education program that is part of this Noyce project was the development of a summer teacher development program that included an embedded science summer camp for middle school students. Over the past two years of the program it has attracted a diverse population of student participants. The ultimate goal of this summer program is to offer an authentic situated learning experience to college-bound high school students and college freshmen and sophomores interested in pursuing a career in chemistry or physics education in a low-stakes and interactive setting.
The diverse student population that has been recruited into the summer teacher development program serves as an ideal population to investigate the research question described previously. To do so an ethnographical approach was chosen as a theoretical framework through which the questions were explored. This framework will aid the researchers, who were also the university supervisors at the camp, in understanding how the participant’s culture and daily life has influenced their choice to pursue a career in science education. Questions included in the data collection measures were carefully designed to identify how not only the camp, but more importantly external factors may influence their disposition and choice to pursue a career in science education.
Data were collected from the program application and an initial questionnaire that were completed upon acceptance into the program. This questionnaire sought to identify their initial dispositions towards teaching and their expectation for the program. Also, during the program each participant was required to complete a daily electronic reflection. Following the completion of the camp all leaders participated in a focus group interview that investigated how this experience changed with perception of the science education career, their career aspirations, and influences on their career choice. Each of these data sources will be analyzed, using an open coding method, to detect if the response from students vary with regards to different cultural backgrounds as well as how their experiences in the program impacted their disposition towards teaching.
The results of the data collected thus far suggest that in order to recruit students into the teaching profession current science educators need to do more than just be cheerleaders for the profession. It is currently believed that based on these results that the recruitment plan must be two-fold for early-decision makers. First it is imperative that friends and family are informed about the preparation programs, opportunities, and the career in general. This involvement is believed to be crucial among high school students since friends and family are found to play a major role in allowing a student decide which career they will pursue. On the other hand, the recruitment strategy must also employ techniques to allow students to find their voice in the decision-making process. Therefore students need to be encouraged to evaluate multiple career options and determine what is best suited for their future aspirations, both with regards to a career and lifestyle.
These findings will inform the revision of the summer teacher development program to both involved the family and friends of the participants as well as engage in career exploration. Research will continue to determine how these activities influence the dispositions of the participants towards a career in science education.
The findings of this work may aid in not only allowing the teacher preparation community to better understand why students are not entering into the field of science education, but it may also provide insight into how teacher recruitment plans may be strategically designed to target the early-decision makers. The knowledge gained thus far has been used to further refine recruit strategies across the institution. However, it is believed that these findings are applicable to similar populations nation-wide. Therefore these early results have been shared through a poster sessions as national conference for science education.