- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # 1660602
- First Name Wen
- Last Name Ma
- Discipline Other: Education
Hilary McManus, Le Moyne College, firstname.lastname@example.org; Jonathan Needleman, Le Moyne College, email@example.com
Wen Ma, Le Moyne College, firstname.lastname@example.org
This research is situated within a 5-year, Track 1 Noyce Scholarship program at a liberal arts college in New York. The study aims to explore the college STEM majors’ viewpoints on career choices. The result is important in multiple ways, especially in terms of helping to understand not only what career options the STEM majors have, but also reasons and hurdles that prevent them from wanting to become STEM teachers, despite of teacher scholarship opportunities and job openings. This information may also inform the Noyce Scholarship program to develop relevant strategies to recruit and train effective the needed STEM teachers in New York and beyond.
1. What career choices do you plan to pursue after graduation? 2. What are your viewpoints on becoming a STEM teacher?
To carry out this 12-item survey study, the researcher first first filed the IRB application for approval. After that, he sent an invitation message to all STEM majors, inviting them to take a brief survey available at Google Docs. using the bcc feature in accordance with the requirement by the Registrar’s Office. For potential participants, the first thing they saw is the Consent Form when they click on the survey link. After reading the form, they must indicate that they consent to participate by checking a box in order to be taken to the survey. If they checked the box that they did not consent, they would be taken to an exit page. Following these procedures, 95% of the 80 participants (over two thirds of whom are female) gave their consent and submitted the completed survey.
The findings show that nearly half of the participants plan to attend graduate school or medical school, and over 26% prefer to work in health care professions, but few intend to become STEM teachers. The four major reasons that kept them from considering school teaching are teachers’ low salaries (45.5%), curriculum standards and testing (22.7%), followed by high major and education credits (13.6%) and student misbehavior and discipline (13.6%) respectively. These results suggest that STEM majors are reluctant to get to the teaching field because of ‘too little pay, too many standards and testing, and too high requirements.’ Clearly, to overcome such a perception, the entire educational community must come up with a counter-narrative to project a more conducive STEM teacher education environment, and create implementable action plans to address this serious issue.
This survey research, though only a small case study, highlights the STEM majors’ viewpoints in a liberal arts setting. The participants’ perceptions and perspectives demand STEM teacher educators, as well as government leaders and policy-makers across the federal, state and local levels to make collective efforts to address the growing STEM teacher shortage our country faces. To maintain our nation’s competitiveness in an increasingly technology-driven 21-century world, we must invest with more resources and incentives in this critical area in order to attract, recruit, and retain a new generation of STEM teachers. This also implies that at the institution where this study is situated, more interdisciplinary collaborations and innovative programs need to be developed to attract and recruit STEM teacher candidates, one at a time.