Research

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Improving STEM undergraduate teacher education and developing the STEM profession through institutional transformation

Primary Investigator(s): Elizabeth Moje

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation

Period: 7/15/2019 - ongoing

Ambitious STEM teaching that engages all students in inquiry, disciplinary participation, critical thinking, and literacy learning requires an extraordinary amount of professional judgment and skill. It is a matter of equity and justice that all young people--including those who have often been underserved by public schooling, such as students of color, students from diverse language backgrounds, and students from low-income families—have teachers of this caliber. To prepare the next generation of STEM teachers for highly competent work at scale will require radically new ways of attracting, preparing, and retaining teachers. To these ends, we—a team of researchers and educators from the University of Michigan (UM) and the Detroit Public Schools Community District—seek to bring about substantive institutional change in how undergraduate STEM majors at UM are recruited and prepared as secondary teachers. We seek to (a) expand the numbers of well-prepared STEM majors who choose careers in urban STEM teaching, (b) prepare those preservice teachers to engage an array of students in STEM inquiry and rich literacy and language learning opportunities; and (c) prepare them more effectively by immersing them in clinical practice in a shared urban school setting throughout their preparation and induction years. At the core of our proposal is a “Teaching School” concept, which draws upon the design and structures of the teaching hospital used to prepare novice physicians for skilled and contextually sensitive professional practice. The Teaching School initiative would directly build on ongoing initiatives to improve (a) UM undergraduate STEM teaching led by a team of STEM university faculty and (b) UM secondary undergraduate teacher education led by a team of Education faculty. This initiative is strongly supported by our University leaders who are eager to enhance undergraduate STEM education, contribute to the strong preparation of excellent educators for the state and nation, and increase the University's engagement with and public scholarship in the city of Detroit.