- Year 2016
- NSF Noyce Award # 1439858
- First Name Frackson
- Last Name Mumba
- Discipline Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Physics
Jennie Chiu, University of Virginia, firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Tai, University of Virginia, email@example.com
Larry Richards, University of Virginia, firstname.lastname@example.org
Frackson Mumba, University of Virginia, email@example.com
Laura Ochs, firstname.lastname@example.org
National reports show that American students exhibit low performance in science and mathematics, when compared to students in other countries (National Assessment of Educational Progress [NAEP], 2011; Nation’s Report Card, 2013). This problem has been attributed to lack of highly qualified mathematics and science teachers. A large number of science and mathematics teachers are academically unprepared to teach in these fields (Ingersoll, 1999 & 2001). Similarly, the Glenn Commission discussed the urgent national need for more mathematics and science teachers in the Before It’s Too Late Report (National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching, 2000). The Commission estimated that the nation’s schools will need to hire 240,000 middle and high school mathematics and science teachers in coming years.
These are the same challenges our partner school districts and other high-need schools in Virginia are experiencing as evidenced by low student scores on Standards of Learning (SOLs) tests (Virginia School Report Card, 2013) and schools failing to meet Academic Yearly Progress (AYP). Administrators in partner school districts have attributed the low student achievement in science to lack of training opportunities for many science teachers. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) attributes this problem to lack of qualified science teachers and has identified science as one of the top ten critical shortage teaching endorsement areas in the state (VDOE, 2013).
The other challenge our partner school districts are facing is how to integrate engineering design in Virginia 2010 Science Standards. At the national level, there has been an incorporation of engineering into the standards (now referred to as the Next Generation of Science Standards or NGSS), which presents a need for teachers to be able to teach engineering design. While many science teachers may have specific training and degrees in their content fields, current research suggests that many science teachers have no training in engineering design (Custer & Daughtery, 2009). Therefore, science teachers need to be explicitly trained in engineering design in order for them to teach engineering design integrated science (EDIS) (Custer & Daugherty, 2009; Carr & Strobel, 2011; Wang, Moore, Roehrig & Park, 2011).
In response to shortage of qualified STEM teachers in the nation, in 2013, President Obama launched a national initiative to train more than 100,000 highly qualified math and science teachers in the next decade (Office of Science and Technology Policy, 2013). Similarly, UVa in partnership with high-need school districts proposes to recruit, educate, and retain academically talented science and engineering undergraduates and STEM professionals, who will become certified high school science teachers in Virginia. This group of teachers will be trained as Teacher-Leaders in integrating engineering design and technology in K-12 so they can effectively address the Virginia 2010 Science Standards in high-need schools. The costs of post-secondary education and the need to relocate to pursue this education raises access barriers. The UVa Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship and Stipend Program will provide greatly needed financial assistance to well-qualified students who may not otherwise be able to pursue teaching careers.
The overarching goal of the project is to train 40 academically-talented science and engineering undergraduates and STEM professionals, who will become certified high school science teachers. The project also assists pre-service teachers in finding teaching positions in partner school districts and other high-need schools in Virginia.
The project goal is addressed through a science methods course (EDIS 5050), which uses a three-part definition of science (scientific knowledge, scientific processes, and the nature of science) to guide activities (NRC, 1996). The course has been redesigned to integrate engineering design. Throughout the course, students build a definition of science and engineering. Additionally, pre-service teachers compare/contrast science and engineering disciplines in order to develop an understanding of the engineering field. PI Mumba, and Co-PI Chiu jointly teach the secondary methods course. The course uses Co-PI Chiu’s WISEngineering platform and integrated STEM projects (Chiu et al., 2013). Students work in groups on content specific engineering projects. Additionally, students create teachers’ manuals for EDIS and an EDIS unit plan to demonstrate their knowledge of the engineering design process in science courses. This draws from an informed engineering design approach (Burghardt & Hacker, 2004; Crismond & Adams, 2012). An informed engineering approach emphasizes the intelligent nature of engineering design to help motivate learning of science and engineering concepts in K-12 classrooms. Informed engineering activities ensure that the specifications and constraints target important STEM concepts.
The key outcomes from the project include an increase in the number of certified high school science teachers for high-need schools, an increase in knowledge and skills for engineering design and technology integration in science teaching among Noyce Scholars, high retention of Noyce scholars in the teaching profess, and enhanced existing partnerships between UVa school districts and among academic units at UVa. Currently we are analyzing pre-service teacher surveys, which focus on knowledge, self-efficacy, interest, and familiarity of engineering design integrated science. The analysis compares both pretest and posttest data to determine the effectiveness of the engineering design component of the science methods course.
As Teacher-Leaders in integrating engineering design and technology in science instruction, Noyce Scholars will promote engineering design in high-need schools before and after they become teachers. The project’s plan to integrate engineering design in pre-service science teacher education will impact Noyce scholars’ skills for developing and teaching engineering integrated science lessons. The project?s approach to engineering design integration in pre-service teacher education will be transferable to other teacher education programs as other states work to meet the Next Generation Science Standards. Overall, this program will significantly increase the number of certified secondary science teachers in high-need schools in Virginia, and subsequently stands to increase student success in science.