- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # 1339963
- First Name Anne
- Last Name Seitsinger
- Discipline Biology, Chemistry, Geosciences, Math, Physics
David Byrd, University of Rhode Island, firstname.lastname@example.org; Bryan Dewsbury, University of Rhode Island, email@example.com;
Jay Fogleman, University of Rhode Island, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Cornelis de Groot, University of Rhode Island, email@example.com;
Kathy Peno, University of Rhode Island, firstname.lastname@example.org
Anne Seitsinger, University of Rhode Island, email@example.com
Nationally, the need exists for more highly-qualified teachers with strong STEM backgrounds to teach children, particularly in high-need school districts, to think scientifically and critically (Malcom, 2017; National Commission on Mathematics & Science Teaching, 2000; National Science Board, 2008; Samueli, 2010). Retaining STEM teachers in high need school districts is needed to support student learning of sciences and mathematics.
How prepared and confident do beginning STEM teachers perceive themselves to be for teaching students in high-need school districts? What do they feel they need to enhance their teaching and their students’ learning?
We assessed STEM inductees’ skills and needs using mixed methods. Data were gathered using the Noyce Scholar Exit Survey (Boulmetis, 2013). The external evaluator emailed surveys to Noyce Scholars/inductees at the end of the spring semester. The intent of the instrument is to collect perceptual information from Noyce Scholars as to their experiences while part of the teacher preparation program as they relate to their Skill Preparation, their Confidence in these skills, and their belief of the Importance of these skills to a beginning teacher. The skills represent those identified by the State’s Department of Education as Professional Teacher Standards (PTS). The 36 skills assess six areas, including a) Subject Matter Knowledge, b) Planning, c) Instruction, d) Family/Community Engagement, e) Professionalism, and f) Assessment. Inductees were asked to respond to Skill Preparation items on a scale of 1 (not at all prepared) to 4 (very well prepared).
Survey results: Thirty-eight percent of the Scholars responded to the survey. Generally, these beginning teachers felt prepared to meet the PTS areas of subject matter knowledge, planning, instruction, family/community engagement, professionalism, and assessment. However, they felt least prepared to use technology for instruction and assessment. They felt confident in most areas, however, they reported less confidence the area of assessment. They viewed nearly all the six areas of PTS as important to very important to their teaching. Eighty percent responded to the interview questions. Based on the responses, several patterns emerged. Our Noyce Scholars are enthusiastic about teaching students in high-need school districts, felt overwhelmed, and spoke of the challenges they faced.
While we are enthusiastic about supporting these beginning teachers, our Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program is making an important impact on STEM education in several high-need school districts. One elementary teacher has made science a daily-block, emphasizing hands-on activities in mathematics, integrated technology, and offering first-time exposure in an environment that fostered risk-taking and active questioning. In the words of one of our Scholars, ‘The Noyce scholarship program is really incredible–it has encouraged me to apply for a job in a school where I would never think to work. I think my patience and ability as a teacher while dealing with behavior concerns has grown immensely.’ The next step was to apply for another Track 1 award. We were just awarded our second Track 1 grant.