- Year 2022
- NSF Noyce Award # 1852925
- First Name Toni
- Last Name Sauncy
- Discipline Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics
Jeannette Jones & Will Hager
Toni Sauncy & Jeannette Jones, Texas Lutheran University
The pandemic left many institutions reeling with adjustments to the standard in-person learning and eventual decreases in enrollment. TLU was no exception. As a small liberal arts institution, TLU’s strength is in the close professional relationships between faculty and students. Remote learning did significant damage to the ability for faculty to develop these relationships, particularly with first and second year students. How teacher preparation programs proceed after this upheaval in “normal” is critically important.
We are focusing on how we might best restructure our recruitment efforts to increase the numbers of STEM students who choose to pursue degree plans leading to secondary STEM certification. Recruitment has plagued the TLU Noyce scholarship program, and was exacerbated by the pandemic shutdown. We hope to discover new and improved ways of encouraging and inspiriting strong STEM students to choose teaching as a career path.
At TLU, the recruitment has been primarily via faculty advising, which has not been fruitful. We have determined that we are not getting to students early enough, as many students find that the degree plans are too onerous if they decide even as early as the first semester of the junior year. We are now restructuring our recruitment efforts toward first year freshman, and using the Get the Facts Out Materials to enhance faculty advising and mentoring. As we come out of pandemic adjustments, we hope to find an impactful strategy that will increase the numbers of students who enter the TLU Educator Preparation Program. The TLU TOP Dogs Program has fallen significantly short of its scholarship award goals since its inception.
We anticipate that increasing efforts to students earlier in their matriculation may increase our numbers and allow us to award our NOYCE funded scholarships. While some STEM teachers have graduated, they are few. What we have learned is that we have waited to late to move students into the education track for their STEM degrees, and our aim is to change that. As we come our of pandemic-induced restrictions, restructure recruiting strategies, and energize student activities on campus, we hope to find the right combination of interventions that inspire students to pre-service teaching paths.
The NOYCE scholarship has made the idea of preparing well qualified STEM teachers more visible to all STEM faculty. We continue to work closely with STEM faculty by providing Culturally Relevant Teaching workshops and materials and the faculty in general seem receptive to these efforts. This improves STEM education for all students.