- Year 2022
- NSF Noyce Award # 1852944
- First Name Jerry
- Last Name Dwyer
- Discipline Mathematics
Brock Williams, Raegan Higgins, Jill White, & Ron Hendrick
Jerylme Robins, Texas Tech University
Despite having a rich heritage of successful NOYCE Scholars programs, the COVID-19 pandemic presented a series of novel challenges to the current project implementation. We believe these challenges, the project leadership team’s efforts to respond to and lead through them, and the initial—albeit largely anecdotal—outcomes of these efforts have value in the broader discussion regarding educational and policy responses to our nation’s current STEM teacher recruitment and retention crises. Currently, the project team is wrestling with the challenge presented by knowing the sorts of pre-service teaching activities that foster better prepared teachers and the reality that adding additional programming and demands on student time presents a significant barrier to recruitment—even when these additional demands come with opportunities for additional funding. The proposed poster will highlight programmatic evolutions and ongoing challenges specific to our Learning Assistants to NOYCE Scholars pipeline.
Our proposed NSF NOYCE Scholars Track 1 award focused on the recruitment and training of secondary mathematics teachers. A key program element in that proposal focused on leveraging Learning Assistants (LA) in college math classes—but extending those LA experiences into new contexts such as dual credit courses taught on high school campuses. This poster will highlight some specific research findings regarding the impact of various COVID-19 policy and implementation shifts (funded by a NSF NOYCE supplement in 2020) and discuss broader practical inquiries that have arisen as the project team has worked to resume elements of the pre-pandemic program design.Specifically, this poster will outline the leadership team’s current focus on determining if low numbers of LA-to-NOYCE-scholar persistence is driven by ongoing COVID-19 pandemic challenges or if the model is poorly suited for the specific aim of recruiting students into pursuing careers as STEM teachers.
Texas Tech has seen success in both the NOYCE Scholars program and the implementation of the Learning Assistant (LA) model into various STEM courses. This is the motivating factor behind targeting LAs during our recruitment efforts. LAs typically poses a proclivity for the subject matter being taught and an appropriate disposition for guiding others. We aim to identify the specific components within each program that generate the most efficiency and effectiveness at achieving the goal – more secondary math teachers in high-needs schools. For instance, the LAs take seminar courses designed to address specific gaps observed in the teaching proficiency of LAs. Therefore, we approach our investigation with the following questions in mind. What specific attributes of each program should be emphasized to increase the yield of participants who ultimately serve as a secondary math teacher in a high-needs school? How should we intentionally integrate the lessons learned about self-determination while navigating the pandemic into the development of LAs?The poster will also highlight two qualitative studies focusing on the specific impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the LA programming.
NOYCE grant support for the Learning Assistants (LA) program translated into the development of a robust Learning Assistants (LA) program that spans across multiple STEM sections and academic departments. Additional resources, such as training videos have been produced to prepare for the increased volume of LAs needing to be trained. Energies are currently being focused on the expansion of LA engagement to develop a more predictable rendering of students who feel positioned to complete the teacher certification trajectory and, subsequently, decide to persist.
In an anticipatory manner, we aim to impact the overarching goal of NOYCE. There is potential for noticeable forward progress that can be accomplished through our sharing lessons and techniques learned during the initial implementation process of our LA-to-NOYCE-scholar model. The continued process of honing the details of the collaborative efforts between our NOYCE and LA programs will provide additional findings. Questions such as “Will bigger stipends increase the quantity and quality of LA recruitment” are yet to be addressed. In turn, new findings being added to our already established pool of information can be presented to, and utilized by, program administration teams at other institutions – potentially becoming best practices. This could potentially create a compounding effect on the number of NOYCE scholars nationally.