Essays on Teacher Preparation by Workshop Participants

Ronald Narode

Associate Professor, Math and Science Education
Portland State University
Portland, Oregon

Secondary Math and Science Preservice Graduate Teacher Education:
This year, at the conclusion of the five-year NSF grant to the Oregon Collaborative for Excellence for the Preparation of Teachers [OCEPT] headquartered at PSU, and with the beginning of the NSF Center for Learning and Teaching West [CLTW], there are many new and promising developments in mathematics and science education in the Graduate School of Education in collaboration with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. This year marks the first dedicated secondary math and science cohort with 28 prospective math and science teachers in a year-long graduate teacher preparation program. Many of these teachers are completing their MST degrees in mathematics and in the sciences while they are in the cohort. Several have taught courses in the Center for Science Education and University Studies, or in the Mathematics Department and Chemistry Departments. They joined Portland Public School teachers this past summer in the math and science summer academies sponsored by PPS, in conjunction with the professional development supported by CLTW. CLTW Research Coordinator and Diversity Triad Leader, Dalton Miller-Jones, taught "Diversity, Multicultural and Urban Education" to this cohort during summer and fall 2002. The students engaged in community service with minority and poor students throughout Portland as part of their education and reflection as future educators of diverse student populations. They also taught in urban and suburban schools in Portland throughout the academic year.

One of the most important changes in pre-service teacher education at PSU, is the focus on math and science instruction in ALL of the courses that lead toward licensure. This is a departure from the general education courses that must accommodate all disciplines. Within their disciplines, students in the cohort are currently conducting research into the cognitive processes of their students solving math and science problems that examine conceptual understanding and knowledge relevant to instructional design. Several of our students presented their findings at the annual meeting of the Oregon Academy of Science. All of the students will receive training from the national program, Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement [MESA], to become MESA teachers at their schools. They will teach low-income middle school and high school students this summer in MESA and as part of their research toward the Masters of Education degree, and they will lead MESA clubs during the academic year.

The lead CLTW PI at PSU is the current chair of the Geology Department, Michael Cummings. He advises prospective science teachers and decides which courses they need for admission into teacher preparation. He also teaches several courses on topics in Earth Sciences for pre-service teachers. As coPIs on our campus, Dr. Cummings and I work closely on teacher education programs, grant proposals, doctoral committees for science education, professional development coursework for local teachers, etc. He advises the Graduate School of Education on preservice teacher preparation, while I assist his faculty in developing research proposals that incorporate educational components.