03:20 AM

Cultivating More STEM Teachers

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded CSUSM a five-year, $1.2 million grant to fund the CSUSM Noyce Science and Math Teacher Scholars program, aimed at increasing the number of students completing the University’s math or science single subject credential program and entering into careers as high school Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teachers. The interdisciplinary program is a partnership between CSUSM’s School of Education and College of Science and Mathematics (CSM) and seeks to respond to the great need for well-qualified high school math and science teachers in the region. The California State University Chancellor’s Office reports that California is projected to need upwards of 33,000 new mathematics and science teachers in the next ten years. “There is a national need for science and math teachers, and this is particularly acute and relevant in San Diego given the county’s STEM-based economy and workforce,” said CSUSM Physics Department Chair Ed Price, citing the region’s cluster of biotech/life sciences, cleantech, software, wireless communication and military-related organizations. “But science and math majors have many options for employment once they graduate and many don’t consider teaching as an option,” points out Andre Kundgen, chair of CSUSM’s mathematics department.  “The hope is that the Noyce program will help alleviate the barriers perceived by our students and create a pipeline of well-qualified STEM teachers for our region.”In order to recruit more CSUSM science and math majors into teaching, the NSF funded program will provide $12,000 in scholarship support annually to a total of 38 highly qualified CSUSM mathematics or science majors known as Noyce Scholars. Scholars must make a two-year commitment for each year that they accept the scholarship to teach high school level science or mathematics once they earn their credential at CSUSM’s School of Education. Prospective Noyce Scholars will have the opportunity to explore the field of teaching prior to acceptance into the program by engaging in CSUSM’s existing paid Learning Assistants program—where undergraduates work with faculty in a course to facilitate fellow students’ learning—and through a new Learn by Doing Lab which will provide high school teaching experiences in area schools.This project will also consolidate current efforts in CSUSM’s College of Science and Mathematics (CSM) to prepare students for careers as educators and make teacher preparation an important focus of CSM.  Currently, the Mathematics Department offers a Single Subject Matter Preparation (SSMP) program; the Physics Department is a member of the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC), is developing a SSMP program, and has received previous NSF funding for teacher professional development; the Chemistry Department offers a Chemistry Education Option and is a member of newly formed Chemistry Teacher Education Coalition (C-TEC); and the Biology Department has recently begun a community service learning program with a local elementary school. “Despite current collaborations between the College of Science and Mathematics and the School of Education, there are currently very few CSUSM math and science undergrads who continue on to our science and math single-subject credential program,” noted Brian Lawler, co-director of CSUSM’s Math and Science Learning Assistance Program and assistant professor of mathematics education. “Not only do undergrads see the application process into the credential program as daunting and complicated, but they have financial constraints and limited knowledge of what a career in teaching is all about. But this program seeks to address these issues and creates a strong pipeline of qualified teachers for our program.”  Applications for the CSUSM Noyce Science and Math Teacher Scholars program will open in spring 2013 for fall 2013 admission. For more information, contact Brian Lawler at 760-750-4260 or blawler@csusm.edu.