- Year 2016
- NSF Noyce Award # 1540848
- First Name Charles
- Last Name Granger
- Discipline STEM
Keith W. Miller, University of Missouri – St. Louis, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicolle von der Heyde, University of Missouri-St. Louis, email@example.com; Phyllis Balcerzak, University of Missouri-St. Louis, firstname.lastname@example.org
The need for high quality STEM teachers in high need secondary schools persists. According to most recent Science and Engineering Indicators (National Science Board, 2014), ‘mathematics and science classes with the highest concentrations of non-Asian minority students or the lowest-achieving students were less likely to be taught by teachers with a degree in their teaching field’. There are 4,850 STEM secondary teachers in the state of Missouri with an average annual turnover rate of 6.4%, resulting in a demand of 310 new STEM teachers each year. The need is especially immediate in the school districts located in a 5-mile radius of the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL), an urban campus whose on-going service to these districts, with a STEM teacher turnover rate of 15%, is responding to a renewed sense of urgency prompted by the recent events in Ferguson, MO. These populations of students and the surrounding communities, joined by UMSL’s initiation of major efforts, are highly motivated to recover from civic unrest and build on strengths.
The goals for the UMSL Noyce Scholars: Building Excellence in STEM Talent (BEST) Program include meeting the following objectives:
** Objective 1 – Increase recruitment and retention of STEM educators in high need school districts.
** Objective 2 – Construct collaborations between STEM professors in the College of Arts & Sciences (A&S), College of Education (COE) faculty, corporate outreach educators, and secondary teachers/administrators to improve the effectiveness of educators to prepare students for STEM careers.
** Objective 3 – Establish a mentor support system for UMSL BEST scholars from year-1 in the program through a two-year induction period in high need schools.
** Objective 4 – Implement a research plan that articulates a model for the preparation and improvement of STEM teaching and learning in dynamic high need schools.
UMSL BEST is implementing and researching a structure and a process for the sustained collaboration of STEM content experts, COE experts, and school and community experts to bear on the preparation of STEM secondary teachers and their students as they engage in the specific activity of lesson design and instruction. To assist in this effort, leaders in the local biotech industry in St. Louis will share their expertise through summer workshops and internships for teachers, ensuring the connections between the lives of students in the classroom and career pathways.
The UMSL BEST program is preparing up to 21 new undergraduate STEM majors and/or post-baccalaureate students in three cadres for careers as secondary STEM educators in high need local education agencies. During the first semester, the UMSL BEST scholars, while completing educator preparation coursework, were introduced to the InnoLab, a non-credit weekly seminar. This seminar allows them to deepen the experience they received in the research component of their A&S STEM courses, and practice the instructional design component of the COE courses. The seminar is taught by professors in COE and A&S, school-based instructors, and attended by business and community partners.
As part of the Studio School structure, the UMSL-COE has initiated a collaborative teacher improvement process, the “Inquiry into My Practice”, in which educator candidates improve their lesson design and implementation by teaching to each other and getting feedback from peers, in effect practicing with each other rather than experimenting with their students, only.
The UMSL BEST program incorporates the Studio School and InnoLab, in which educators can meet to watch each other and practicing teachers enact STEM lessons and receive feedback, thus helping build collaborative lessons/projects for their students. The InnoLab builds on the “Inquiry into My Practice” process to bring those with expertise in STEM content, teaching, career and community into the lesson design and instruction process of the novice teacher candidates. In addition to the school districts, UMSL BEST initiated its program with a business partnership with Sigma-Aldrich, one of 15 international biotech industries in St. Louis.
The UMSL BEST Scholars Project builds on results from the InnoLab and addresses the following research questions:
1) How does the increased collaboration between the Studio School and InnoLab lead to an increase in the capacity of the Noyce Scholar to produce relevant, engaging instruction?
During the first semester of the Noyce BEST InnoLab Seminar, pre-post data were collected using validated instruments that indicate preservice teacher attitudes about science instructional strategies, lesson design, and real-world contexts of students in high need schools in the area. These data, along with interviews asking teachers to report on the impact of their experience as Noyce Scholars on their instruction will be analyzed and reported on the poster presentation.
Research Questions 2 and 3, below will be studied in Years 2, 3, 4, and 5:
2) How do the post-graduate support structures of CoachEd, InnoLab, Teaching Channel and content mentors lead to more effective, engaging instruction?
3) How does the collaboration between STEM professors, corporate outreach educators, COE educators, secondary teachers and Noyce scholars lead to a more visible, tightly constructed pipeline from a high needs STEM classroom to a career pathway?
The research is conducted according to a design experiment methodology allowing for iterative modifications in design as results are analyzed, annually. Mixed-methods are used as the data collection strategy. Primary data sources compare teacher candidates’ progress through the COE data system (for quantitative analyses) and additional surveys and interviews of collaborators, using existing valid instruments when applicable. In addition to interview and survey data, meta-analyses of classroom observations of clinical educators during years 1 & 2 will inform the data collection plan during the induction years. The results from the research will shape a model for educator preparation and improvement in high need STEM learning environments.
The Noyce UMSL BEST Teacher Scholarship program implemented by the University of Missouri – St. Louis will impact both the teacher preparation program for STEM teachers and therefore STEM learning and secondary student access to STEM careers. By involving a broad community of stakeholders in the collaborative design of relevant instructional projects, it will simultaneously impact the new educators, university faculty and in-service teachers. At its completion, 21 newly certified STEM teachers, with master’s degrees and on-going access to professional support from UMSL-COE and Arts and Sciences, will be in classrooms of high need schools with 85% of the students under-represented in STEM careers and 77% on free and reduced lunch. The project will also impact the local community through partnerships with St. Louis Public Schools, Sigma-Aldrich and community outreach programs such as the Association of Black Scientists, St. Louis Chapter. STEM teachers from partnering high schools will update their skills by co-instructing scholars, resulting in a highly competent force of 40 STEM teachers, new and experienced, working together to improve their individual practice and collective impact. Business partners will organize resources for scholars to connect their instruction to career pathways and participate in seminars, and the COE has added a career pathway to their program entitled Teach in 12.
The research will produce and disseminate a model for the co-construction of STEM lessons that reach from classrooms to community, with a plan to transfer this teaching and learning technology to other high need districts through the UMSL EdCollabitat, a center for collaborative innovation. The researched lesson products will be available on the UMSL BEST website, available to all future STEM graduates. The research program applies an extensive database of teacher candidates’ backgrounds to their performance portfolio which contains evaluations of their teaching including videos uploaded to the Teaching Channel. The new data generated by this project will advance our understanding about how collaborative processes can bring diverse stakeholders to bear on the improvement of teaching and learning in high need schools.