NSF Invests in Lewis & Clark to Diversify the Science Teacher Pipeline
Recruiting and preparing a workforce of K–12 science and math teachers for an increasingly diverse group of students is crucial to improving science education. Equally crucial is encouraging and supporting more women and students from underrepresented minority groups to pursue majors and careers in the sciences.
The National Science Foundation, whose Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program helps encourage, steer, and prepare talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors to become K–12 STEM teachers, has announced it will fund $125,000 to support the work of the Lewis & Clark Noyce STEM Teacher Pathways Capacity Building Project.
“Developing a STEM teacher recruitment, preparation, and induction model with collaboration among an undergraduate liberal arts college, a graduate school of education, a local community college, and a large urban school district is an important step in addressing the national shortage of well-prepared STEM teachers, particularly those that come from groups currently underrepresented in STEM fields,” explains the program’s principal investigator and Associate Professor of Education Liza Finkel at the Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling. “Our model ensures that future STEM teachers have the content knowledge and pedagogical skills needed to succeed in today’s diverse classrooms.”
The program will draw from students majoring in biology, biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and physics. Over the next year, Finkel and her team, including coprincipal investigator and Associate Professor of Chemistry Anne Bentley, will be working in three areas: recruitment, preparation, and induction, or providing mentoring support to ensure a pathway for prospective STEM teachers that supports them at every point along the way.
The second coprincipal investigator is Al McQuarters, division dean for math, science, and technical education at Portland Community College (PCC), which is a partner in the project along with Portland Public Schools (PPS). Key aspects of the plan include working with PCC to support the transition of students who begin their education at the community college; developing a menu of financial aid options for Lewis & Clark’s undergraduate and graduate students; creating opportunities for undergraduate students to be mentored by Lewis & Clark’s STEM teacher candidates; and working with PPS to implement a mentoring plan to support new STEM teachers once they begin teaching.
“The development and acquisition of this recent Noyce grant is an example of Lewis & Clark’s commitment to improve the quality of teachers who enter the complex profession of teaching while intentionally supporting the development of teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” says Lynne Shlom Ferguson, assistant codirector of new teacher professional development at Portland Public Schools. “PPS is very excited to be a part of this important work and congratulates Lewis & Clark in their fine design of instructional practice for this first cohort of new STEM teachers.”