- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # 1758369
- First Name Emily
- Last Name Lesher
- Discipline Biology, Chemistry, Other: Environmental Sciences
Patricia Waters, St. Joseph’s College of Maine, firstname.lastname@example.org; Daniel Moore, Southern Maine Community College, email@example.com
Emily Lesher, St. Joseph’s College of Maine, firstname.lastname@example.org; Patricia Waters, St. Joseph’s College of Maine, email@example.com; Daniel Moore, Southern Maine Community College, firstname.lastname@example.org
For more than two decades, the U.S. Department of Education (2016) has identified chemistry as an area of teacher shortage in Maine, and science more generally since 2004. This project will address this shortage by targeting rural and urban high schools located within high-need LEAs. Mirroring a national pattern, students in Maine schools serving minority populations are taught by white teachers. Portland Public Schools enroll over 40 percent minority students, yet the teaching force is nearly all white (97 percent) (Bangor Daily News). Increasing the number of teachers from under-represented groups will increase the odds that students will benefit from teachers from similar backgrounds (Goldhaber, Theobald, & Tien, 2015).
This capacity-building project will generate new knowledge about effective practices to increase the number of well-prepared high school teachers in science. The project will develop and assess an online college credit-bearing education pilot course as a cost-effective way to introduce high school students from disparate areas to careers in high school science teaching. The project will also collect data to ascertain reasons community college students decide not to pursue a career in teaching science. Finally, the project adapts an evidence-based practice, professional learning communities for new teachers, increasing the knowledge base of the most effective design of this new teacher support.
The capacity-building project emphasized 1) developing and implementing activities to spark aspirations in teaching science and enhance recruitment in Science and Secondary Education programs (complete); 2) develop curricular elements at Saint Joseph’s College to prepare future science teachers (complete); and 3) developing professional learning communities to support new teachers (in progress). To spark interest in teaching science and recruit students into Science and Secondary Education programs the SJC team developed and implemented an online, credit-bearing Education Foundations course (ED100) open to students at partner CCs and LEAs (juniors and seniors) and the Careers in Science Education Workshop Series. To prepare future teachers, 2 courses and 1 program have been developed/refined. These approaches will continue into the future along with the development of professional learning communities to support new teachers. Additionally, data collected to address our research questions will inform the progression and evolution of these activities and programs, and new ones.
Findings: A survey was administered to 67 SJC students and 83 SMCC students to understand perceptions of the upsides and downsides of the profession as well as what would entice students to enter a career in science education. The preliminary findings shed insight into factors affecting attrition of community college students with a strong STEM content knowledge in the field of Education, particularly within high need school districts. Deliverables: The capacity-building project enabled St. Joseph’s College to develop the infrastructure to recruit, prepare, and support secondary education teachers needed to meet the shortage of science teachers in high-need schools. Key deliverables include strengthened relationships, the online ED100 course and Career Workshops, and a 2+2 SMCC-SJC articulation agreement. Future: SJC intends to apply for NOYCE Track 1 funding to expand on many of the initiatives begun during the capacity-building project and make scholarship funds available.
The project has developed the necessary infrastructure at SJC to increase the number and diversity of secondary education teachers of science in high-need LEAs through 1) partnerships with high-need schools that can grow their own future teaching force, and 2) recruitment of students from community colleges serving diverse students. Many of the activities developed in this project could be deployed at other institutions at low cost. SJC intends to apply for NOYCE Track 1 funding to expand on many of the initiatives begun during the capacity-building project and make scholarship funds available.