Teaching Experiences

STEMTEC will offer college and school teaching experiences as parts of regular courses, volunteer activities, and special seminar courses. These experiences will be facilitated by campus coordinators at each college, in most cases an administrative staff member, who will also be responsible for the general operation of STEMTEC on that campus; a science or math education graduate assistant will coordinate UMass teaching experiences. The coordinators will meet with some of the college faculty and with ten school teachers who will serve as mentors during a three day meeting overlapping with the first Summer Institute to plan for the first new efforts in this area. Full implementation with fifty mentors will start in the second year.

Undergraduates will have the opportunity for teaching experiences both at the college and school level. They will be able to teach and tutor in the introductory level college science, mathematics, and engineering courses. There will be opportunities to help develop lab experiments or educational software. Experiences as teaching assistants have been an entry into teaching for significant numbers of secondary school science and mathematics teachers. Giving them this opportunity early on will encourage more undergraduates to consider teaching as a career.

At the school level, college students will do tutoring, advise science clubs, serve as mentors via email, or teach a lesson. The following existing programs in the participating colleges will serve as models, but it will be important to substantially increase the number of students who participate:

Because we are focusing on science and math majors who are not presently planning to teach, we need to provide them with some guidance in order to make their teaching experience successful. We will develop workshops which prepare students to advise after-school science, math, or engineering clubs; act as teacher aides or tutor individual students; and engage in email conversations with school students. Students will have the opportunity to engage in "drop-in" programs of several days to a week to implement special projects in science, mathematics, or engineering. Close contact between the colleges and schools in the implementation of the field experiences will ensure the symbiotic relationship in this collaborative. Undergraduates will be selected to participate, and the workshops will prepare them by introducing constructivist forms of pedagogy and by helping them to be aware of the needs of diverse student populations. The students will be supervised while in the field by the mentors, and write reflective papers about their experiences to be shared in a poster session for other undergraduates, college and school faculty and administrators, and the public.

The mentors will have key roles in this program. It is their classrooms which the students visit and they will ensure a supportive climate for these visits. We are fortunate to be able to draw on the more than 400 graduates of our teacher enhancement projects. These teachers are an important resource because they already have been exposed to the new forms of pedagogy and assessment. Ten teachers in 1997, and 50 in subsequent years, will be identified annually as mentors and engage in professional development activities that will hone the skills they developed in earlier programs, and will prepare them to be effective mentors for undergraduates. Mentor professional development activities will take place during the summer (3 days) and continue through the academic year. These mentors are in addition to the teachers who will serve on the curriculum teams.

The mentors and advanced graduate students in science and math education will work with the campus coordinators to facilitate the field placements and to teach the workshops in which the undergraduates will be enrolled. These teaching experiences will have several desired outcomes. First, undergraduates will have the opportunity to experience classroom teaching which may lead them to choose teaching as a career. Second, school children will see that undergraduates have an [MS1]interest in teaching, encouraging them to think about becoming teachers. Third, the interaction of teachers, mentor teachers, undergraduates and advanced teacher education students will result in the improvement of the teaching and learning of science and mathematics in the schools as these teams work collaboratively. Finally, special efforts will be made to encourage women and minorities to join in this program. This will encourage these undergraduates to consider becoming teachers, and it will provide women and minorities as role models in the sciences and mathematics for school students.

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Created June 2000
Author: STEMTEC Webmaster