- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # 1758508
- First Name Susan
- Last Name Nickerson
- Discipline Math
janet Bowers, San Diego State university, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Randy Philipp, SDSU, email@example.com
Susan Nickerson, San Diego State University, firstname.lastname@example.org
The California Department of Education estimates that in the next 10 years the school districts of San Diego County (one of the most diverse in the country) will need to hire 2,030 mathematics teachers. Locally, the need has never been greater (Carver-Thomas & Darling-Hammond, 2017). We have a multi-pronged effort to address this need. First, we are working to retain more students in STEM, particularly mathematics and mathematics-intensive majors. Second, we are offering teaching experiences to ignite a passion for teaching. Students report that their experiences in Calculus are a primary issue derailing their intention to study STEM (Bressoud, Mesa, & Rasmussen, 2015; Ellis, Kelton, & Rasmussen, 2014; Seymour & Hewitt, 1997). We lose women and URM at each successive juncture. Our intervention addresses their sense of belonging. Our other intervention aims to encourage a diverse group of highly-qualified students to choose teaching as a career and with support the hope is they continue and help us meet the need for credentialed secondary mathematics teachers.
By increasing the pool of diverse math majors, we can recruit more diverse majors into mathematics teaching. Often women and other underrepresented minorities do not believe they belong in mathematics (Good, Rattan, & Dweck, 2012; Walton & Cohen, 2011). We are exploring whether the targeted interactions with college freshmen and sophomores attains the goal of increasing the number of declared mathematics majors and minors. Also, students have an opportunity to engage in fieldwork ranging from tutoring at the Mathematics Learning Center (MLC) at SDSU or the community college to paid internships as teachers’ aides situated in a local middle or high school in order to ignite their passion for teaching.
Research on another NSF grant demonstrates that when peer role models (mathematically-capable female students) visited the lower division math classes twice to share applications of mathematics that contribute to the communal good (e.g., prosthetic limbs and bacteriophages), women’s self-efficacy and sense of belonging are not significantly different from men’s. Through these short interventions, freshmen and sophomores can begin to envision themselves as mathematically-capable agents of change (Nickerson, Bjorkman, Ko, & Marx, 2017). Peer role models are inspiring in-group members who defy stereotypes (Marx & Roman, 2002) and, as such, students develop a mathematics identity, which supports their decision to choose a mathematics-intensive major. We place tutors at a local middle school and in the Mathematics Learning Center at SDSU or they lead a PreCalculus class breakout section in weekly lab activities. Our preliminary research suggests that this has potential to attract STEM majors into teaching because the students get a chance to interact with ?and experience the positive feelings of helping struggling students (Bowers, Hanna & Meredith, 2017). Results from four semesters of this program at SDSU have revealed that (1) 75% of STEM majors who were not initially planning to teach stated that they definitely did consider teaching as a career as a direct result of their participation in the program, and (2) program participants who were prospective teachers developed their identities as mathematics teachers more strongly than their peers who did not teach break out sections (even though both groups took the same preparatory education courses). Collecting and analyzing surveys.
We have one year’s data on the experience of Calculus students. We will also share the survey data from students who participated in the teaching experiences.
We focus on retention of students of mathematics at multiple points in their undergraduate education and teacher induction path. We designed multiple, rich, pre-service pathways to teaching and provide support so that their identities shift from student, to student of mathematics, to teacher candidate, and teacher (Gee, 2001). We will share what the data suggests about changing mathematics identities and persistence in the STEM major. We will share what the data suggests about the teaching experiences. We plan to continue studying teacher identity as they transition through the credential program.