STEM Ed Centers: A National Conversation > Center Profiles > Center for Science and Mathematics Education (CSME), University of Utah
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Center for Science and Mathematics Education (CSME)

The mission of the CSME is to build programs, provide resources, and foster partnerships between academia and the community at large that promote understanding and enthusiasm for science and mathematics.

University of Utah
Established: 2009

Profile submitted by Nalini Nadkarni

Vision and Goals

The mission of the CSME is to promote understanding and enthusiasm for science and mathematics in the present and into the future by building programs, providing resources, and fostering partnerships between academia and the community at large in Utah and around the country.

Specifically, the CSME:

Center Structure

The CSME is an independent center located between the College of Science and the College of Education. It supports a small but diverse staff and has grown dramatically since 2009. At the leadership level, the CSME currently has 3 full-time faculty members. Additional CSME management, program and support staff (approximately 13 FTE) is comprised of faculty members, administrative staff, program staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students. The Center also collaborates with many researchers, faculty members, organizations, and contractors.

Description of Programming

The CSME integrates programs that address both formal and informal science education needs for our state and our country. The CSME emphasizes K-12 science and math teacher preparation programs, professional development opportunities, and curriculum development. Teacher preparation programs include Math for America (MfA) and Master of Science for Secondary School Teachers (MSSST). Currently, there are 34 students enrolled in MfA and 52 enrolled in MSSST. Teacher professional development opportunities include the annual Navajo Teacher Training Workshop and monthly Utah Teachers' Math Circle meetings.

The CSME believes that excellent K-12 teaching and learning cannot stand alone, but must be supported by additional programs and projects that engage a variety of learning communities. CSME programs which address this need include: Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair - engaging over 700 grade school students and 150 judges each year; performance assessments and research to determine key factors for undergraduate retention in the sciences; the REFUGES program to increase the number of refugee, minority, and underrepresented students prepared to enter and succeed in college; and public engagement opportunities that connect scientists with underserved public audiences – including senior citizens, sports fans, faith-based communities, and incarcerated men and women. All programs at the CSME are accompanied by rigorous evaluation.

Successes and Impacts

The CSME's greatest successes have been in the Master of Science for Secondary School Teachers (MSSST) and Math for America (MfA) programs. MSSST is a two-year degree for in-service secondary school teachers, while MfA is a five-year program awarding a Master's degree and teaching licensure to pre-service teachers. MSSST has graduated 47 students since the CSME began in 2009. Since the MfA program is five years in duration and began in 2010, no students have graduated yet. However, there are currently 34 enrolled MfA students who are student-teaching in Utah. Students enrolled in MSSST and MfA teach in a variety of schools, from charter schools to high-need Title 1 public schools. These programs are grounded in research and pedagogy and generate high-quality math and science teachers for Utah.

The CSME's structure – including a balance of both informal and formal science education - is a contributing factor to the success of the CSME because it empowers the Center to bring science learning to a wide variety of audiences within and outside the University. Strong administrative support and alignment of programs with the CSME's mission have also been instrumental in the rapid growth of the center.

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