- Year 2017
- NSF Noyce Award # 1339853
- First Name Andrea
- Last Name Burrows
- Discipline Other: Earth Science (& Biology), Chemistry, and Physics
Danny Dale, University of Wyoming; firstname.lastname@example.org
Tim Slater, University of Wyoming; email@example.com
Farhad Jafari – University of Wyoming; firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Allen – Western Wyoming Community College; email@example.com
Andrea C. Burrows; University of Wyoming;
Andrea.Burrows@uwyo.edu , Rachel Esh; 1st year teacher; Sheridan Junior High School, Sheridan, Wyoming
Building community with beginning teachers is important. Currently in year three, there are 19 secondary science scholars utilizing the Noyce grant SWARMS- chatroom with another 12 joining in year four (representing Biology & Earth Science, Chemistry, and Physics teachers). The importance of building community cannot be underestimated when working in STEM teacher retention (Buchanan, Prescott, Schuck, Aubusson, Burke, & Louviere, 2013; Burrows & Harkness, 2015; Doney, 2013: Hicks, Sorge, Thomas, Nowak, Vannatter, & Bellina, 2016; Kelly, Reushle, Chakrabarty, & Kinnane, 2014; Phillips, 2015; Schwortz & Burrows, 2016). Beginning STEM teachers often encounter piles of work, challenging classrooms, and limited resources. Noyce scholars often face additional stressors of a shortened teacher preparation program, less time to build connections before working, and the obligation of the grant itself.
The goals of this project are to (1) engage and nurture the UW community of scholars to be partners in filling STEM pipeline?s need for highly qualified science and mathematics teachers in high need K-12 schools (2) recruit a diverse group of talented military veterans and individuals who hold graduate and undergraduate STEM degrees, (3) annually prepare at least fourteen (14) highly qualified, Wyoming certified, secondary science and mathematics teachers to teach rigorous content through inquiry-driven approaches steeped in integrated STEM, (4) strengthen and expand current innovative programs (post-bac) and test new recruitment techniques for targeted prospective teachers, (5) promote science and mathematics teacher retention in high-need schools by developing learning communities to support cohort groups based on best practices in early career teacher mentoring, and (6) study and iteratively build the SWARMS Program for sustainability, replication, and dissemination. The SWARMS Program is unique in targeting and recruiting physics, chemistry, and mathematics candidates, comprised of experienced military veterans and STEM candidates dedicated to Wyoming.
The SWARMS chatroom is an interactive space for the SWARMS leadership team and all cohorts of Noyce scholars to communicate with each other through messages, questions, and answers. It promotes a whole community approach as well as teacher reflection and ultimately helps with teacher retention. In the SWARMS program, each Noyce scholar is encouraged to post at least once a week excluding holidays and the summer months. The SWARMS chatroom builds community, yet it also helps to announce opportunities for scholars and offers a space where teaching ideas and projects are shaped by a group with different discipline perspectives.
To build the SWARMS chatroom community we use a technology. As with any tool, there are positive and negative aspects of using it, and they are explored in this poster. Pros to the chatroom include promoting community and teacher reflection, offering a space for STEM discipline integration and project creation, and sharing experiences and activities to learn from peers as well as ideas for classroom management and duties in the classroom. Some cons of the chatroom use are identified as another obligation for Noyce Scholars, the lack of a notification system to remind the scholars to post and check comments, and formatting changes that make navigation difficult on occasions. Qualitative pro and con themes are highlighted from chatroom conversations and are showcased for readers as well. SWARMS has specifically targeted these goals with the chatroom use: A) #4 – strengthen and expand current innovative programs (post-bac) and test new recruitment techniques for targeted prospective teachers.
Overall, the SWARMS scholars (n=19) that used the chatroom report higher levels of engagement with the SWARMS program as well as a heightened sense of community. The poster highlights qualitative data (e.g., quotes from Noyce scholars) along with quantitative data (e.g., number of uses, self-efficacy). Data shows that adding cohorts each year, so that there is a steady stream of undergraduates, post-bac teaching candidates, and beginning teachers has been extremely helpful to all that use the chatroom.
Any Noyce program can utilize the chatroom set up and build community. Every SWARMS scholar has been impacted by this approach. Additionally, this approach was well received at the regional conference in Fresno, CA in February 2017. A journal article is in progress.
Although the technical side of an online chatroom changes with technological advances, the current technology is explored in depth for possible use in other Noyce or teacher retention programs. The SWARMS chatroom is set up with a webserver using PHP or MySQL. The SWARMS program applies Vanilla Forums which is an open source edition and free for users. The set-up time can be minimal (a few hours), and has the opportunity for the organizer to create individual spaces for participants. Other options for hosting chatrooms are explored and offered as well.