- Year 2022
- NSF Noyce Award # 1660640
- First Name Jennifer
- Last Name Cuddapah
- Discipline Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics
Ann Stewart & Christopher Stromberg, Hood College; Perry Wood, Frederick Community College
Ann Stewart, Hood College
A national and local need exists for STEM teachers. The US Department of Education (n.d.) states, “few American students pursue expertise in STEM fields—and we have an inadequate pipeline of teachers skilled in those subjects” (para 2). In 2010, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) recommended that the US “recruit and train 100,000 great STEM teachers over the next decade who are able to prepare and inspire students” (p. xi). These teachers should “have strong majors in STEM fields and strong content-specific pedagogical preparation” (PCAST, 2010, p. xi). The MSDE biennial report on teacher staffing (see MSDE, 2014-2016) lists mathematics, chemistry, technology education, computer science and to a lesser degree, biology as areas of “critical shortage” in the state. Of 24 counties in MD, 23 listed their school system as a “geographic area of critical shortage” for teachers in specific subject areas.
Hood N-STEP proposes to address these needs in part by producing more STEM teachers. Because Maryland has certification reciprocity with many other states, graduates of Hood N-STEP will be prepared to choose teaching positions in high-needs schools both in and beyond Maryland. The four major questions guiding 3 Hood NSTEP goals are: 1. What are effective practices for recruiting and retaining high quality and diverse secondary STEM teaching candidates? 2. How can we support the needs of new secondary STEM teachers who are teaching in high-needs schools through the Hood NSTEP partnership? 3. What will it take to shift personal and institutional mindsets to employ culturally relevant practices in high needs schools?
Major program features of Hood N-STEP are: (1) robust STEM majors for biology, chemistry, and mathematics, (2) a high quality secondary teacher preparation program, (3) a committed collaboration between a college, a two year institution, and a school system, (4) a variety of activities and support mechanisms to prepare secondary STEM teachers specifically to work in culturally relevant ways in high-needs schools, (5) Hood College’s strong institutional support infrastructure, and (6) plans for supporting graduates during their initial years of teaching to facilitate retention. Hallmark professional development opportunities provided include reflection on personal and cultural belief systems, exploration of growth mindset, partnership with school system STEM summer program, a STEM field-trip planning workshop, and math manipulatives workshops.
Since the first year of our program we have awarded 17 scholarships – 5 for biology teacher candidates and 12 for mathematics teacher candidates. We have graduated twelve Noyce scholars (5 biology, 7 mathematics). Eight have taught at least one year in a high needs school district, and our four May 2022 graduates are currently interviewing for positions. We have continued to partner with the community college and the school system, provided a STEM 101 immersion week to recruit new scholars and provided professional development opportunities for our scholars.
Hood N-STEP is contributing to the high-quality secondary STEM teacher pool needed in MD and nationally. Coming from a strong preparation program, N-STEP graduates are poised to model STEM content knowledge excellence and inspire their own students to consider STEM-related careers. Such motivation is needed because teachers without solid STEM content and pedagogical knowledge cannot model scientific thinking and research in the same ways that a Hood N-STEP graduate can. Additionally, N-STEP is developing best practices in collaborating with FCC. Combined with the Hood partnership with FCPS, the collective institutional know-how for preparing culturally proficient secondary STEM teachers is being developed, and a sustainable pipeline of future STEM educators is being created for the continuation of the program beyond the NSF funding period. This model can be used to launch similar partnerships by other colleges and universities for working with two-year colleges and public school system.