- Year 2018
- NSF Noyce Award # 1540662
- First Name Andre
- Last Name Green
- Discipline Other: General Science Education
Susan Ferguson Martin, firstname.lastname@example.org
Justin Sanders, email@example.com
Leslie Revel, University of South Alabama, firstname.lastname@example.org
Audrey Carrio, University of South Alabama & Mobile County Public Schools, email@example.com
Noyce Pathway to Science (PTS) is a collaborative program between a local university’s College of Education, College of Arts & Sciences, and a public school system. Pathway to Science addresses the desperate need to increase the number of science teachers in the school system through enabling recent science bachelor’s degree graduates to complete secondary science certification in an intensive four-semester program that culminates with certification and an earned master’s degree. Graduates participate in a two-year mentoring program designed to provide classroom support after graduation.
Noyce Pathway to Science (PTS) is a collaborative program between a university’s College of Education, College of Arts & Sciences, and a public school system. PTS addresses the need to increase the number of science teachers through enabling recent science bachelor’s degree graduates to complete secondary science certification in an intensive four-semester program that culminates with certification and an earned master’s degree. To ensure that the investment in these newly certified teachers is successful, they participate in a mentoring program designed to provide support after graduation. Nineteen students have completed the program since 2012 with the final three graduating in the spring of 2016. The primary goal the mentoring component is to keep scholars connected to each other to strengthen their network of support to enhance their effectiveness as science teachers and retain them as career teachers. Teaching can be a very lonely profession so creating a network where our graduates are linked together and focused on a common goal of supporting one another can make the profession not so lonely. Thus, keeping the scholars connected as practicing teachers to learn from one another is of the utmost importance in moving them forward as professional and in their retention.
The PTS program provides scholarships for recent science graduates who commit to becoming science teachers at grade levels 6-12 in local high-need schools for three years. The scholarship package that is offered to each candidate is valued at approximately $30,000.
PTS provides a semester-long internship for potential Noyce Scholars each fall semester. Recruitment efforts focus mainly on undergraduate science and engineering majors, with the goal of recruiting these students to teach science at the secondary level upon graduation.
Participants must complete the internship and satisfy all academic prerequisites for admission to the PTS program.
Overall the scholars were satisfied with the training they received, and all of the scholars indicated that they had improved their knowledge of inquiry-based learning and instruction and had more content knowledge than when they entered the program. A theme that was apparent throughout their replies was that the required pre-residency experience assisted them in making the decision to become science teachers or solidified their decision to become science teachers. In addition, the scholars also found it very helpful to matriculate through the program as a cohort and not as individuals as each provided support for one another. In reflecting back on ways to improve the program the scholars indicated that some of the training activities that they participated in late in the year would have been more helpful earlier in their experience but all students who have graduate felt that they were prepared to extremely prepared to enter the teaching profession.
This study explored factors of the Noyce Pathway to Science program. Those factors were the recruitment of high quality students, the process of preparing those students in a graduate initial certification science education program, and their true preparedness to transition from student to teacher from their own perspective. The educational importance of this program is its aim to increase the supply of qualified science teachers for the local school system and other partner school districts in rural southwest Alabama as the lack of certified science teachers is a major cause of poor achievement and low expectations for high-risk students. Identifying factors of how to better prepare science teachers for the rigors of the teaching profession was the purpose of this study.