- Year 2016
- NSF Noyce Award # 1035483
- First Name Ann
- Last Name Cavallo
- Discipline Biology, Mathematics, Middle School/Middle Grades, Science
Gregory Hale, University of Texas at Arlington, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ramon Lopez, University of Texas at Arlington, email@example.com
Laura Mydlarz, University of Texas at Arlington, firstname.lastname@example.org
Theresa Jorgensen, University of Texas at Arlington, email@example.com
Ann Cavallo, University of Texas at Arlington, firstname.lastname@example.org
Gregory Hale, University of Texas at Arlington, email@example.com
Ramon Lopez, University of Texas at Arlington, firstname.lastname@example.org
Across the US, and in Texas in particular, education is enduring severe shortages in science and mathematics teachers. The Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) metropolitan area, where UT Arlington is situated, is the 4th largest metropolitan in the nation, with a population of approaching 7 million. The large majority of school districts in the DFW Metroplex serve economically disadvantaged populations, and nearly all have schools within their district where 50 percent or more of their students are on free and reduced lunch programs. Furthermore, these same schools and districts with the most disadvantaged students have large Hispanic and African American populations. Unfortunately, these school students tend to be in classes with under-qualified teachers and/or experience high teacher turnover/attrition rates.
The University of Texas at Arlington is the fifth most diverse university in the nation, and is designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). The majority of students at UT Arlington, including those in our teacher education and Noyce program, are first generation college students, and themselves graduated from the school districts this program serves. This Noyce program and new knowledge gained from research on this program is critical in helping prepare and induct the most highly qualified teachers to work in these school districts where they are crucially needed. The talents of our school district’s most disadvantaged students can best be recognized and promoted through the high level learning experiences provided by our well-prepared and qualified Noyce Scholars, who also serve as role models and mentors to future generations.
The program objectives are to: 1) recruit mathematics and science teacher candidates from baccalaureate programs, community colleges, and career changers from local industry, 2) provide a quality two-track teacher certification program for our candidates, and 3) induct, monitor, and mentor our teacher candidates through the program and their early years of teaching.
This program includes a robust, ongoing research program to measure achievement of stated goals, to gauge teacher quality and retention, and to provide new knowledge to the field on best practices and lessons learned over the years of this NSF Noyce program.
Key activities of this project are:
** Recruit candidates from UT Arlington and area community college science and mathematics programs and from the Dallas-Arlington-Fort Worth metropolitan area science and math related businesses and industry.
** Implement a two-track program for our teacher candidates through our collaborative College of Science and College of Education NCATE/CAEP approved teacher education programs, including UTeach Arlington.
** Provide candidates with access to academic and professional resources, and help them become members of a community of learners throughout their teacher preparation program, their induction into teaching, and beyond.
** Form and support cohort groups led by university Education and Science faculty and link candidates with school-based Mentor Teachers to guide field experiences and induction, and provide continued teaching support.
** Engage candidates in learning and gaining skill in implementing research-based, inquiry teaching models (learning cycle/5E), project- and problem-based teaching experiences, classroom action research, curriculum development, reflective practice, and in the sharing of findings, curricula, and reflections via regular Noyce Scholar Learning Seminars, electronic interactions, and professional presentations.
** Implement an evaluation plan that provides data on the project’s effectiveness in recruiting, preparing, inducting, and retaining teacher candidates, and that measures their professional development as teachers and teacher leaders through the program.
** Disseminate findings and best practices of this project through research, and scholarly publications and presentations at professional conferences.
Objective 1. Recruit science and mathematics teacher candidates from the science and mathematics baccalaureate programs, community colleges, and mid-career change pools in industry.
Our leadership team recruits undergraduates from UT Arlington (UTA) and from local community colleges, particularly Tarrant County College (TCC) who may be considering a transfer to UTA. Career changer candidates are recruited from STEM majors of the senior class and recent graduates of UTA and other area colleges, as well as from industry in the DFW area. Our team recruits candidates by utilizing appropriate websites to post information about the program. Promotional packets are prepared and disseminated to students in the College of Science and personal presentations about our program are made in introductory science and math classes. We personally visit and recruit undergraduate candidates from the area’s community colleges in collaboration with our TCC partners. We disseminate information and make personal contact with targeted industries employing large numbers of science and mathematics professionals. We maintain regular contact with various student organizations on campus to recruit candidates of underrepresented groups, including the Black Student Association, Association of Mexican American Students, and the Native American Student Association. We advertise through minority and bilingual media to reach minority/bilingual employees thinking of career changes, as well as seniors and recent graduates. Furthermore, our recently established UTeach Arlington program has been successful in recruiting large numbers of STEM students to “try out teaching” in one credit hour, UTeach scholarship funded courses (STEP 1 and 2); therefore, we recruit candidates to apply for the Noyce from among this group. In addition, we place STEM freshman and sophomore college students in educational experiences on campus and within our area informal science education partners supported through the project. UT Arlington hosts several summer science camps for K-12 students, including the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp, which is directed by two leadership team members of the Noyce program. We place the STEM recruits as counselors in this program to help foster their interest in the teaching profession. The Fort Worth and Dallas Science Museums, CR Smith Aviation Museum, and Arlington River Legacy Nature Center accept our STEM interns to work in teaching/teaching assistant positions at their facilities for educational experience and service to the community. These internships enable our college students to gain valuable experiences in STEM education, and provide a pipeline of recruits for our Noyce scholarship program.
Objective 2. Provide a two-track program for teacher certification that reflects quality, standards-based teaching and learning for our teacher candidates; one track for undergraduates and one for post-baccalaureates.
The undergraduate students are science or mathematics majors or equivalents who are also enrolled in secondary or middle level science or mathematics teacher education, completing all content and education courses as required of the program. Graduate students are enrolled in the certification component (post-baccalaureate teacher certification program) leading to a Masters of Education in Teaching (M.Ed.T.). Specific required courses in science/math content and education are determined through a review of each student’s academic transcripts by both College of Science and College of Education advisors. The students take the required education courses for certification, e.g., teaching methods, project-based instruction, teaching diverse populations, knowing and learning in science and math, and classroom interactions in science and math. Students in both the undergraduate and graduate tracks culminate their course work with a full semester of Internship/Student Teaching. The candidates are supervised and mentored throughout their programs, in the schools in all field experiences, and through their first years of induction by school-based Mentor Teachers, our on-staff Noyce Scholar Leader (experienced science and mathematics teacher), UTA faculty members serving as Content and Pedagogy Mentors, a Project Coordinator, and the PI/Co-PI team. Noyce Scholars participate in at least four professional development experiences each semester called, Learning Academy Seminars. These Seminars bring new and past Noyce Scholars together to address topics relevant to teaching their disciplines in the high need schools.
Objective 3. Induct, monitor and mentor our teacher candidates during the program and their early years as teachers.
Our teacher candidates begin the program as organized cohort groups. Each new cohort along with returning cohorts attend an orientation session early in the semester they are accepted to the program. In this session candidates meet the other members of their cohort group and the Noyce Scholar Leader, UTA Content/Pedagogy Mentors, the PI/Co-PI team members and as possible, school-based Mentor Teachers and other key school district personnel. Candidates engage in introductory activities on teaching and learning and become familiar with the program. The school-based Mentor Teachers begin mentoring our candidates during their first field experience. The Mentor Teacher and our Noyce Scholar Leader guide and mentor our candidates during student teaching, and through their first two to four years of teaching, thus providing sustained support for the new teacher candidates. The Noyce Scholar Leader makes regular visits the schools/classrooms of all Noyce Scholars in their first years of teaching to provide encouraging help and guidance in these early, critical years in the profession. Noyce Scholars engage in dialogue and exchange of ideas with peers in their own and other Noyce cohort groups throughout the program. Supportive activities include the four per semester Learning Academy Seminars, informal small group and/or individual meetings, online mentoring and discussion groups, bi-weekly meetings during their student teaching, professional development webinars, state teacher examination study groups, and professional and social activities provided to all Noyce Scholars throughout the project.
This program also includes an evaluation/research program to determine achievement of stated objectives. Scholars complete questionnaires at the beginning of their program, near graduation from the program and UTA, and after teaching in the school districts. Our evaluation program maintains demographic data, measures of teacher quality, and retention data. The program also measures Scholars pre-program, mid-program, and post-program views and shifts in their understandings of the nature of science and mathematics as disciplines, their self-efficacy toward teaching science and mathematics, and their understanding and use of effective teaching practices, particularly their use of inquiry. Candidates also complete open ended surveys, and are interviewed and observed, and sample project-based units, professional portfolios, and other artifacts and collected and maintained in a database.
The key outcomes of this program are:
1.) The program has exceeded the originally proposed number of new recruits into the science and mathematics teaching profession, and has achieved diversity among awarded scholars; retention of our Noyce Scholars in teaching is over 90%; Noyce Scholars and their Mentor teachers have reported they are well-prepared for teaching in their high need school districts.
2.) Data analysis has indicated positive shifts in views of the nature of science and mathematics as disciplines, self-efficacy in teaching science and mathematics, and shifts from didactic to more inquiry-based science and mathematics teaching.
3.) Our Noyce Scholars are in high demand and receive positive evaluation reports from school principals and mentor teachers.
4. )Many of our scholars have quickly moved into leadership positions in their schools and districts.
A full report on these outcomes will be presented in the final poster.
The broader impacts of this program are that many of our first generation college students have been able to successfully complete their college education and become teachers with financial, academic, and personal support needed for success. Many would not have been able to finish college, or finish within a reasonable time frame if it were not for the support provided through this Noyce program. Further, there are now thousands of students in our DFW area high need school districts who have our Noyce Scholars as their teachers, providing them with high quality teaching and learning experiences for these most under-served and economically disadvantaged students. Results of our work has been disseminated through professional conference presentations, publications, and news reports. The impacts will continue to be quantified, and qualitatively measured with full reports on the program to be widely disseminated in the future.