- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # 1660615
- First Name John
- Last Name Pecore
- Discipline Biology, Chemistry, Geosciences, Math, Physics
Jaromy Kuhl, University of West Florida, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kwame Owusu-Daaku, University of West Florida, email@example.com; Darren North, Pensacola State College, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jaromy Kuhl, University of West Florida, email@example.com; Kwame Owusu-Daaku, University of West Florida, firstname.lastname@example.org; Melissa Demetrikopoulos, Institute for Biomedical Philosophy, email@example.com
The Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) reports that middle and high school science and math teachers are listed as critical shortage areas. The highest portions of critical teacher shortages exist within urban and rural low-economic schools, which describe the majority of high needs schools in the counties served by UWF and its partners. Moreover, high needs schools have higher percentages of out-of-field teachers as compared to the statewide average. Local principals reported an estimated need of 147 Science teachers and 147 Mathematics teachers for the 16 schools.
What factors encourage STEM majors to pursue teaching careers in local high-needs school districts?
The critical shortage of middle and high school science and math teachers is of particular concern in high need schools. UWF-Teach is examining STEM majors interest in teaching. Students were presented with a teaching interest survey following a UWF-Teach presentation during STEM classes and STEM student organization meetings at UWF, and PSC. To date, 1,026 students have taken the STEM Majors Interest in Teaching Survey.
There were clear differences in the interest in teaching by major. This suggests that many STEM majors are interested in teaching but have vastly different levels of interest based on the educational level that they are asked about. Mathematics and Earth/Environmental Science students had the highest percent interest in teaching when asked in general terms. When students were asked specifically about teaching in a STEM field, all majors typically reported a significant interest. However, the percentages for interest in teaching high school and middle school are much lower. Twenty-five percent of Chemistry majors reported being interested in teaching in high needs schools. 42.1% of Biology majors that are interested in teaching reported being interested in teaching in high needs schools. 37.5% of Mathematics majors that are interested in teaching reported being interested in teaching in high needs schools. 37.5% of other majors that are interested in teaching reported being interested.
These students interested in STEM teaching may be an important group to target for recruitment into pre-college STEM education. While the overall percentages of students’ interest in teaching in a high needs school are low, when one looks specifically at the students who are interested in teaching, several of majors are interested in teaching in high needs schools. UWF-Teach NSP will recruit and retain a total of 18 new highly qualified STEM majors over a five year period to pursue a career as a grades 6-12 STEM teacher in a high needs school district in the Northwest Florida region. Each highly qualified UWF-Teach NSP scholar will work with an average of 150 different students each year for a total of approximately 750 students every five years; therefore, 18 UWF-Teach NSP Scholars will impact an estimated 13,500 students every five years in high needs school districts.