October 6, 2014

CGU pioneers program to grow STEM teachers for middle and high schools

Claremont Graduate University (CGU) has received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to bring together expertise from across the Claremont Colleges to develop a cadre of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) educators to teach in middle and high schools.

The Claremont Colleges STEM Initiative (CCSI) will be based out of the Teacher Education Program in CGU’s School of Educational Studies. Courses will be taught by CGU professors, STEM faculty from the W.M. Keck Science Department of Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges, and STEM faculty from Harvey Mudd College.

The program will train two dozen master STEM educators over the next six years, but perhaps more significantly, it will serve as a laboratory for developing a curriculum and best practices that can be used to train K-12 STEM teachers at other programs across California.

“The project revolves around the idea that being a STEM educator is more than just being a teacher of science, technology, engineering or math, that a STEM educator is somebody who has the pedagogical content knowledge of one of these disciplines but also has a sense of the underlying skillsets used by all, and can help draw connections to the application of these skills to address real-world, contextual issues,” said DeLacy Ganley, director of CGU’s Teacher Education Program.

Ganley is leading the CCSI with Adam S. Landsberg, professor of physics at the W.M. Keck Science Department.

“Our focus is to help high-school STEM teachers develop a transferable STEM skillset – a highly adaptable set of scientific approaches and methodologies with wide-ranging applicability across a broad spectrum of disciplines,” Landsberg said.

President Obama has called for the training of 100,000 new STEM teachers for public schools nationwide, but there is little know-how regarding how to cultivate them. Traditionally, too few of the best college graduates from STEM fields have chosen to teach.

The CCSI will confront this challenge by recruiting 15 high-performing college graduates from STEM fields who will be trained first as math or science teachers, then as Master STEM Educators. Each fellow will receive approximately $42,000 in tuition support during the first two years of the program to cover the cost of earning a California Preliminary Credential, a California Clear Credential, and a master’s degree in education.

During the first year, these fellows will also receive $15,000 in living stipends while engaged in a year-long teaching residency. Upon completing their certification, fellows will receive salary supplements of $10,000 per year for up to four years for teaching math or science in high need schools.

In addition, the program will recruit nine exemplary math and science teachers and provide them with additional training to become Master STEM Educators. Each will receive more than $20,000 in tuition support, plus an additional $10,000 per year in salary supplements for up to 5 years for engaging in professional development, mentoring other CCSI teaching fellows, and participating in research activities.

The core of the CCSI curriculum is a four course series taught by Claremont Colleges’ STEM faculty that is designed to help teachers gain the knowledge they need to instill transferrable STEM skills in their K-12 students. The four course series will focus on scientific and mathematical model building, computer science, statistical analysis, and engineering and problem-solving.

Upon completion of the program, it is anticipated that the 24 CSSI fellows will teach math and science to more than 3,100 K-12 students per year.

This is the third grant CGU has received from the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Scholarship Program. In 2005, the university received $460,000, which it used to recruit and train 40 STEM teachers. The university received an additional $800,000 in 2012 to train an additional 40 K-12 STEM teachers.