College Park, MD. The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a grant of $296,041 to the University of Maryland College of Education for support of a project that will provide resources for undergraduate students to participate in early teaching experiences. The project is entitled "Engaging Community Colleges in Recruitment of Secondary STEM Teachers Through Early Field Experiences."
The award will support Terrapin Teachers' science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) secondary certification undergraduate pathway. In the fall of 2014, Terrapin Teachers was launched to increase the number of high-quality science and math teachers. Replicating the nationally recognized UTeach program at UMD, Terrapin Teachers enables undergraduate students in STEM fields to receive both a subject-matter degree and teaching certification.
The project aims to recruit undergraduates, para-educators and career changers by implementing an early fieldwork course, also known as early teaching experiences, at local community colleges to address the local and national crisis of diversity and numbers of STEM teachers.
"Our recruitment efforts target students that are majoring in fields that fall under the science and math discipline, but that are not specifically education majors," stated Dr. Anisha Campbell, who is the Associate Director of Terrapin Teachers. "Not only do we want to increase the number of qualified STEM teachers, but we want to diversify the pool of STEM teachers."
The goals of this project are to research the effectiveness of using an early field experience course designed to generate excitement about STEM teaching as a career, increase awareness of STEM teaching as an option, and create seamless pathways (transfers) from community college coursework to university-based STEM teacher preparation programs. The focus is to develop an "exportable"model so that other four-year colleges with STEM certification pathways will be able to partner with community colleges to recruit teachers and foster diversity in STEM teaching.
The grant-funded project consists of three main phases. The first phase, which took place during the Spring of 2019, consisted of UMD forming a profesisonal learning community with Prince George's Community College and Montgomery College. During the second phase, which will take place this fall, community college instructors will shadow and teach alongside UMD instructors to get the full course field experience. Lastly, the third phase will help expand the course to Prince George's Community College and Montgomery Community College.