The project explores the use of an early field experience recruitment course (Step 1) developed by UTeach at the University of Texas and modified by the University of Maryland (UM) and Terrapin Teachers (TT) to recruit prospective 4-9 and 7-12 STEM teachers at two local community colleges (CC). TT offers science, math, and computer science majors a career option they may not have considered and provides them with various pathways to teaching certification. Prospective teachers can complete a double major in a STEM field plus secondary education with certification in four years or complete an undergraduate STEM major and a masters degree certification program in five years. By offering Step 1 at local CC, we will tap into a large and diverse pool of students who would, otherwise, not necessarily be considering teaching as a career. Through this outreach, we expect to be able to transform the local institutional landscape by supporting pathways into certification programs at UM, enlarge the pool of STEM teachers for our local school districts, and help our local pool of STEM teachers become more diverse. Three research questions will be explored: (1) Over the course of the project, how does the nature of the cross-institutional environment for STEM teacher recruitment change? (2) How well does Step 1 work as a device for recruiting new types of prospective teachers and, as part of this, diversity the STEM teacher pipeline? and, (3) How does the performance of on-campus and off-campus students who enroll in STEM certification pathways compare in Step 1 and as they move through their certification program on the assessments used by the University of Maryland in its accreditation procedures? During the pandemic, the Step 1 course, including the field experience, was adapted to an online platform. Surveys of our Step 1 students revealed that the authenticity of the lesson delivery was not diminished by the lack of an in-person experience. In addition, the online adaptation of Step 1 led to the innovative model of offering an asynchronous course during the summer to expand our recruitment state-wide. Long-term, TT seeks both to meet an aspirational goal of 40 secondary STEM certifications per year and to diversify the secondary STEM teaching workforce. The model developed will also be ultimately “exportable” so that other four-year colleges with middle grades and/or high school certification will be able to partner with CC to recruit teachers and foster diversity in STEM teaching.
Daniel Chazan, University of Maryland, College Park, MD