- Year 2017
- NSF Noyce Award # 1557389
- First Name Danielle
- Last Name Jacobs
- Discipline Other: All STEM, STEM
Peter Hester, Rider University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Shahin Pirzad, Brookdale Community College, email@example.com
Danielle Jacobs, Rider University, firstname.lastname@example.org
To remain globally competitive in the fields of science and technology, the US must develop modern and effective strategies for recruiting, training, and preparing young scientists for the future. These strategies must attract students of all demographics, particularly those currently underrepresented in STEM fields, so as to improve the innovation of scientific and technological advances for future generations. Rider University’s STEM Scholars program will contribute to the growing body of knowledge and scholarship on best practices to (1) improve the number and quality of STEM educators; (2) promote their retention in traditionally hard-to-staff school districts; and (3) measure the overall impact of these educators on the pipeline of underrepresented learners in STEM disciplines and careers.
The goals for this project are to (1) recruit student cohorts from Rider University and partner community colleges (Grant Years 1-3); (2) sustain and deliver academic and extracurricular programming that supports the development of highly qualified and culturally responsive pre-service high school STEM teachers (Grant Years 2-5); (3) provide frequent opportunities for faculty development across campus to institutionalize an emergent culture of civic engagement into STEM courses, as a tool to increase retention of Noyce participants (Grant Years 1-5); and (4) deliver and support a substantial population of highly qualified and culturally responsive STEM educators into urban high schools in New Jersey (Grant Years 4-5)
The first year of the STEM Scholars program was used primarily for building community relationships and creating new and sustainable academic pathways for STEM and Education double majors, particularly those transferring from community colleges, that will ultimately enable STEM Scholars (and future STEM/Ed students) to become successful science and math educators in high-needs school districts. We developed a key partnership with The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), three miles away from Rider, which was also recently awarded a Noyce Phase I grant solely for Physics. Our complementary grants have allowed us to integrate and consolidate our recruitment efforts with high schools, which will prove to be essential in the coming years. Furthermore, we solidified the role in which our community college partner will play in recruitment, advising, and curricular alignment, and in the future will model that for creating partnerships with other community colleges.
By the end of year 1, we had 7 stellar students apply for the first STEM Scholars cohort. Unfortunately, we are becoming increasingly aware of the difficulty of graduating in just four years with both STEM and Education double majors, particularly when transferring from a community college. Only two of our applicants will be immediately eligible to receive scholarships; the others will need more coursework before they can take advantage of financial assistance. Thus, our immediate goal is to develop a sustainable and achievable pathway for community college students to pursue these two majors at Rider in the least amount of time (and least out-of-pocket expenses). This may include (1) waiving core requirements; (2) allowing for mediated field placement to occur during January and May terms; (3) creating more lower-credit STEM degrees appropriate for teaching at the high school level; and (4) offering a Master’s or credit towards an M.A concomitantly with the B.S. in their STEM field.
Rider’s STEM Scholars initiative is strategically designed to reach populations that are not currently served by other programs: Rider’s is the only program in the state that targets talent from all STEM disciplines (excluding Physics) in central and southern New Jersey, which encompasses the low-income cities of Trenton and Camden, listed in the US DOE’s Teacher Shortage Areas for Science since 2004. Furthermore, our unique ‘grow-your-own’ strategy focuses on the most rapidly growing population in our state ‘Hispanics and Latinos’ because when placed into urban school districts similar to their own upbringing, they are far more likely to remain past the 4-6 year period required by the NSF. By graduating three cohorts of eight STEM educators, we expect to impact hundreds of high school and college students, as well as novice and veteran teachers.