- Year 2022
- NSF Noyce Award # 2049681
- First Name Elliott
- Last Name Elliott
- Discipline Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, Geosciences, Mathematics, Physics
Terry Silver & Adam Bruner
Elliott S. Elliott, University of Tennessee at Martin
Rural West Tennessee schools need mathematics and science teachers. The U.S. Department of Education projects an increase in public school enrollment in Tennessee through 2027 (Hussar & Bailey, 2019). Between 2017 and 2027 the Tennessee Department of Education Office of Research and Strategy expects half of the state’s 65,000 teachers to leave the profession or retire (2017). Currently the state’s greatest teacher shortages are “in the areas of English as a Second Language (ESL), world languages, and science [emphasis added]” (p. 8). Though not as severe, there is also a current and projected shortage of mathematics teachers. At the end of the 2022 school year, every math teacher at one partner LEA high school quit. They were recruited by other regional school districts who are also struggling to find teachers. The University of Tennessee at Martin (UTM) will address these shortages within our region as part of a national solution.
Which populations are attracted to the UTM Noyce Scholars program?What types of advertising or recruiting attracts STEM professionals to the UTM Noyce Scholars program? What training helps STEM professionals become effective teachers? What factors encourage new teachers to complete full careers as educators?
Petty, Fitchett, and O’Connor (2012) indicate that financial incentives help attract people to the teaching profession. A stipend for scholars provides a financial incentive. Also, the PIs considered the SHRM Foundation’s guidelines for effective recruiting and use messaging from Get the Facts Out. Advertising and recruiting methods include posts on LinkedIn and Instagram, PI presentations at Rotary Clubs, rack cards in Disability Services and the Career Center, posters in campus buildings, direct email, campus radio advertisements, PI visits to classes and student organizations, and posters and rack cards for STEM faculty at nearby colleges and universities. Further, marketing students studied promotion of the UTM Noyce Scholars program as a semester-long class project and provided recommendations. In addition to financial incentives and working conditions, Darling-Hammond (2003) emphasized the importance of preparation and mentoring in the effort to retain teachers. Preparation for UTM Noyce Scholars includes graduate educational studies coursework, MindsetMaker® online professional development, the Classroom Organization and Management Program, and attendance at a meeting of the Tennessee Mathematics Teachers Association or Tennessee Science Teachers Association. The first UTM Noyce Scholar begins teaching in fall 2022. A mentor teacher in the same school will guide the new educator, and PIs will support the scholar through professional learning meetings.
The program is one year old. One scholar has completed a master’s degree. Three more scholars began coursework in May 2022. Initial data suggest three things. First, having STEM faculty at our university and nearby universities encourage their students to apply is an important recruiting tool. Second, direct email contact with STEM students is not an effective recruiting tool. Third, UTM Noyce Scholars value the training that we offer to help them become teachers.
The project has produced one licensed teacher and is currently training three more. Initial data indicate that our Noyce Scholars consider training as teachers to be important. Due to teacher shortages, they could walk directly into a teaching job with no educator training, but they have chosen to complete a master’s degree in education. They need the content knowledge from their STEM degrees, but they also need to know how to teach. Educator preparation programs, faculty, and administrators might be able to share this information to better prepare future teachers. Next steps include ongoing recruiting, training current scholars, and supporting Noyce Scholars with mentorship during the first year in the classroom. The PIs will continue to refine our understanding of what attracts Noyce Scholars to the teaching profession and the relative effectiveness of the various forms of training the program provides.