With funding from the National Science Foundation's Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, this project will address the established and growing national need to improve quantity and increase quality of the high school teaching workforce in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, will work closely with partner institutions to build an infrastructure to: (i) recruit and educate students to become highly qualified STEM high school teachers, especially for high-needs schools and (ii) provide several levels of support for future and current STEM teachers. A particular focus will be to educate and support Native American students to become STEM teachers. The Project Team from Augustana College will work closely with personnel from partner institutions, which include tribal colleges Sisseton Wahpeton College and Sinte Gleska University as well as Iowa Lakes Community College to reach out to high-needs high schools in the Sioux Falls Public Schools and surrounding rural and remote districts to provide special opportunities for students from all of these institutions to become STEM teachers and then to place these teachers in high-needs areas. The process will include building capacity to provide educational, mentoring, and financial support for future STEM teachers and networking opportunities for current and future teachers.
The investigators will take a comprehensive approach to restructure the STEM secondary education program at Augustana College to implement initiatives that feature two main components: (1) the recruitment and support of a diverse pool of talented high school and community college students with an interest in becoming high school science and mathematics teachers and (2) the development and inclusion of an innovative interdisciplinary STEM major that will allow any graduate to teach more competently across the STEM disciplines. The support component will include longitudinal mentorship and financial support throughout college training and into the professional classroom, and will also include the creation of STEM Teachers' Network to serve as a mentorship and professional development entity for both current and future teachers. The interdisciplinary program will include significant coursework spanning the STEM fields of biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics as well as a STEM disciplinary emphasis area in one of these fields. A critical aspect of student academic training in this program will be the inclusion of cultural competence for teachers to enhance a teacher's ability to navigate a diverse cultural landscape with empathy and introspection, and to evaluate and interpret cultural encounters with students, to lead to a better understanding of both verbal and non-verbal communication in a learning context. As part of this Robert Noyce Capacity Building project, the Project Team will begin the process of addressing data needs and conducting research on how cultural competency training for pre-service STEM teachers influence teaching and learning outcomes in the high school classroom, especially for rural areas and areas with diverse populations.