- Year 2017
- NSF Noyce Award # 1660700
- First Name Christine
- Last Name Lotter
- Discipline Other: math/science
Jan Yow, University of South Carolina, firstname.lastname@example.org
George Roy, University of South Carolina, email@example.com
Bert Ely, University of South Carolina, firstname.lastname@example.org
Christine Lotter, University of South Carolina, email@example.com
One particular area of deep and enduring need in South Carolina is the workforce that feeds and fuels all STEM disciplines, specifically secondary science and mathematics teachers. This void exists in virtually all school districts of the state, but it is especially great in high-needs districts (Berry, Rasberry, & Williams, 2007), including our partner districts that often recruit teachers from other countries to fill vacancies. Using the research-based experiences from our University’s past Noyce Phase 1 project, this recently funded Noyce program capitalizes on established partnerships with high-needs districts to recruit, prepare, and ensure success during induction years for 31 highly qualified high school science and mathematics teachers. Our project also fills a need in helping to prepare new teachers to teach in innovative ways through integrating project-based learning experiences into our scholars coursework and other program components.
Our program goals are to attract qualified science and mathematics students into high school teaching and retain them through instructional guidance and induction support. Our scholars will be prepared to teach in high need districts through interacting with our rural Master Teaching Fellows (prior Noyce Master Teacher grant with 20 rural teacher leaders), learning innovative project-based learning instructional skills, early field experiences, and quality induction support. Our program partners with Central Carolina Technical College (CCTC) to provide our scholars with additional instructional experience and 21st Century skills. CCTC has unique mechatronics and engineering graphics technology programs geared toward moving students from high school degrees to high paying local manufacturing jobs in two years. Through our partnership with CCTC and Sumter County School District, faculty from CCTC will train our Noyce scholars in basic 3-D printing and graphic design at CCTC providing our future science and mathematics teachers with this real world skill that they can integrate into project-based units within their science and mathematics classrooms. Through this training, the teachers will also learn about the many other connections between their content and local manufacturing jobs and training available for their future students at CCTC. For example, CCTC mechatronics program is an interdisciplinary program combining design, manufacture and electromechanical production and maintenance. This program prepares students for electronic, welding, electrical machine and other high paying local STEM jobs with an Associate’s degree.
As part of this partnership, CCTC and Sumter County School District plan to create introductory engineering courses for Sumter high school students at their campus. Our scholars will assist CCTC faculty during this program, helping to design project-based curriculum that can be enacted with these students. For example, CCTC has 3-D printers that currently design prosthetic hands for local students with disabilities. This design project could be turned into a high school curriculum that integrates biology, engineering and mathematics content standards to serve a community need and teach integrated STEM content. This program will give our Noyce scholars increased content knowledge, hands-on technical experience, and additional experience working with high school students from a high need partner district.
As part of our mission to prepare our students for 21st Century classrooms, we have also partnered with USC?s Project Lead the Way (PLTW) program, that is housed in USC?s College of Engineering and Computing, to provide our Noyce scholars with free engineering and biomedical summer training opportunities. As the state PLTW affiliate they train hundreds of educators from across the country to better teach engineering and computing courses to middle and high school students.
Our scholars will also participate in yearly practicum experiences in high need school districts to gain additional mentoring and experience in high poverty school settings. These experiences will be supported through monthly seminars and weekly course meetings.
The main goal of this program is to prepare exemplary professional educators who will be able to increase the science and mathematics literacy of all students. A constructivist perspective provides the philosophical foundation for this program (Driver, Asoko, Leach, Morimer, & Scott, 1994). Instruction organized around constructivist practices emphasizes student thinking, problem solving strategies (i.e., inquiry), and active student engagement (Brooks & Brooks, 1993). Accordingly, this instruction is said to increase student motivation, group interaction, and the manipulation of materials and data (Brooks & Brooks, 1993). As students are immersed in their initial teaching courses and internships they actively construct and enact a technology-rich curriculum project. The extended projects provide a meaningful performance in which beginning teachers can explore how to support students in asking questions, making sense of data, and assessing student understanding.
We have just recruited our first cohort of 9 scholars that will begin their Noyce experience in Fall 2017. We anticipate our scholars will gain an understanding of project-based science during their first year of Noyce program specific coursework, seminars, and practicum experiences. They will be able to gain additional 21st Century skills and instructional knowledge the following summer through our partnerships with Sumter County School District and CCTC. We will work with our partners to develop effective project-based curriculum for Sumter School District and enhance their engineering programs and our scholars content and pedagogy skills. We hope to continue to entice more qualified science and mathematics students to consider a career in education as our project grows.
USC-SMTI will positively impact the state of South Carolina by cultivating and supporting 31 new and 67 current, highly qualified high school mathematics and science teachers who, in turn, will impact the high need students they will teach. The project will also impact the national and international teacher education communities by continued research and development of an innovative tiered-approach that includes STEM underclassmen recruiting, preparation in accredited programs, development of project-based technology rich instruction, and retention of high-quality mathematics and science teachers who will teach in high needs districts. Empirical evidence validated through the project evaluation will result in improved teacher education and retention for high school science and mathematics teachers for diverse populations within challenging settings and address a deep and enduring need in South Carolina and the greater United States.