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Preparing STEM Educators

Shelley Jaye, Northern Virginia Community College

The Noyce Scholarship Program
George Mason University (GMU) NSF Program Award
Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) Research Subaward

NOVA Annandale has entered into a partnership with George Mason University (GMU) to promote the education and licensure of secondary education teachers in STEM. GMU offers paths to licensure through both undergraduate and graduate programs in their College of Education and Human Development. Few NOVA students have been able to follow the path to licensure through the GMU undergraduate program because GMU requires that students apply to the Teacher Preparation Program during the second semester of their sophomore year. Once transferred to GMU, NOVA students discover that they are a semester or more behind in declaring teaching as a major and opt for a major in a STEM discipline instead. If they still want to teach following completion of their bachelor's degree, they must enroll in the GMU graduate program path to licensure. By this time, many potential teachers have been lost.

GMU was awarded a five year NSF grant in September 2012 to establish a "Noyce Scholarship Program". The program aims to identify potential STEM secondary education teachers while still at NOVA. The program provides funds to establish student paid "Learning Assistant" positions within the STEM disciplines of Geology, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Math. The "Learning Assistants" at NOVA act very much like teaching assistants at universities. They are identified by MSE mentor teachers in each of the disciplines. The NOVA students selected as Learning Assistants will work with their mentor teachers in the classroom to gain valuable experience and insight into their potential profession as STEM educators. The students will work approximately ten hours per week spending their time divided between the classroom, in weekly discussions with their mentors, and participating in workshops and weekly meetings with GMU Learning Assistants also a part of the Noyce Scholarship Program at GMU. NOVA students will also have the opportunity to apply for a $10,000 per year Noyce Scholarship to continue their studies at GMU. This funding will be available to the selected Noyce Scholars for a period of three years taking into consideration that selected NOVA students may need to spend some extra time at GMU completing all of the requirements for graduation and licensure. It is anticipated that approximately six Noyce Scholars will be elected from NOVA per year.

Currently, NOVA Math, Science and Engineering has hired six students as Learning Assistants (two each in Biology, Geology and Math). These students have been working with their mentor NOVA faculty during the Spring 2013 semester. Our first student is awaiting admission to GMU for the 2013-2014 school year. NOVA faculty in Physics and Chemistry are actively looking to recruit potential Learning Assistants for the Fall 2013 semester.

Downloadable version of this essay

Noyce Grant STEM Educators (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 12kB May7 13)