STEMTEC UPDATE  May 1999 

STEMTEC is nearly through its second year of a projected five-year program. That’s a good time to see what we have accomplished, and equally important, what remains to be done.

STEMTEC’s basic goals are to increase the numbers, diversity, and quality of new science and math teachers. Our principal focus is on the students at the eight STEMTEC colleges, but we also are committed to assisting other colleges in Massachusetts improve their science and math teacher preparation programs.

Providing well designed, student-active, science and math courses is the first step in achieving these goals, and much of our efforts to date have focussed on this area. Our emphasis now is turning toward developing student recruiting and support mechanisms.

Here are some highlights of what STEMTEC has done so far:

·     Faculty institutes on student-active learning were held during the summers of 1997 and 1998 and during the spring 1998 semester. Currently, 108 college and 49 K-12 faculty from the Collaborative have participated in STEMTEC workshops, working in disciplinary teams to redesign selected college science, math, engineering, and technology courses.

·     Approximately $500,000 in mini-grants has been awarded to faculty for course redesign.

·     The monthly STEMTEC Roundtables allow STEMTEC college faculty to have dinner and informal conversation about what is and isn’t working in their classrooms; support groups for STEMTEC faculty have formed on several campuses of the Collaborative.

·     At UMass, an interdisciplinary science major has been revised to better prepare students for teaching math and science in middle schools.

·     A range of dissemination tools has been developed: a short video about the Summer Institute; a STEMTEC web site (http://k12s.phast.umass.edu/~stemtec); and a newsletter (STEMTREK).  A 20-minute video about the process of science and math course reform is scheduled for release in late 1999.

·     All three of the community colleges in the Collaborative have established, or are in the process of establishing, science/math education transfer options.

·     Amherst College has created mechanisms for its undergraduates to enroll in teacher preparation programs at Mount Holyoke College.

·     Workshops in various formats have been held at most of the colleges to promote student-active teaching beyond the STEMTEC participants.

·     “Want ads” on the STEMTEC home page connect college and K-12 faculty developing undergraduate teaching experiences.

·      Six in-depth case studies of STEMTEC-reformed courses have now been completed.  Student surveys, classroom observations, and faculty focus groups have provided summative and formative feedback for other STEMTEC courses. We are seeing evidence of changes in the way science and math is taught, and of an increase in interest in teaching careers.

·     A series of workshops are being held for new math and science teachers in the Pioneer Valley.

·     In all, over 25 STEMTEC courses have offered some kind of teaching experience for undergraduates; 160 students took advantage of these opportunities during the 1997-98 academic year.  ”Want ads” on the STEMTEC home page connect college and K12 faculty developing undergraduate teaching experiences.

·     Approximately 40 science, education, and mathematics faculty members and administrators from 18 campuses met in November 1999 to explore ways to improve science and mathematics teacher preparation at other private and public colleges in Massachusetts. This was the first time this kind of meeting had occurred, and the participants were delighted to share their experiences and concerns. Its success has encouraged a group of colleges in the northeastern corner of the state to hold a similar gathering. A subgroup is working with STEMTEC to plan a one week summer institute for teams from eight to ten of the colleges.

·     NSF approved a supplementary $500,000 proposal to fund teaching scholarships in August 1998. The STEMTEC/NSF Scholarship Advisory Board awarded the first scholarships in January 1999 to 50 highly talented prospective science and math teachers.

·     “Exploring Science and Math Teaching”, a seminar offered at UMass and open to all Five College students, has introduced approximately 25 science and math majors to some teaching approaches and the career opportunities in teaching.

 The list does not include some important “work in progress” such as preparing advising and recruiting materials and workshops, and developing a Five Colleges arrangement to share teacher preparation resources. A future column will report progress in these areas.