Academic journal article Journal of STEM Education : Innovations and Research

Alternative Certification Programs & Pre-Service Teacher Preparedness

Academic journal article Journal of STEM Education : Innovations and Research

Alternative Certification Programs & Pre-Service Teacher Preparedness

Article excerpt

Abstract

This explanatory seguential mixed methods research study investigated motives and purpose exhibited by professionals transitioning from careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to secondary education. The study also analyzed personal perceptions of teaching preparedness, and explored barriers to successful teaching. STEM career changers were surveyed and interviewed. Study participants without industry experience and graduate degrees perceived themselves as being more prepared than study participants with industry experience and graduate degrees when developing lesson plans. Additionally, study participants without graduate degrees felt more prepared than those with graduate degrees in the area of classroom management. Overall, participants perceived themselves as most prepared in assessment and their content area and least prepared in classroom management and handling the psychological needs of their students. Specific recommendations for STEM alternative teacher education programs, instructors within these programs, and STEM career changers are included.

P-12 education has a large number of stakeholders and is often a topic for discussion and debate covered regularly In local, state and national news media. With students, parents, teachers and legislators all concerned about the educational system, K-12 education reform will always be a topic worthy of deliberation. Like industry, education has experienced many transforma- tions over the years leaving stakeholders constantly adapting and implement- ing new strategies to accommodate constant change (Cuban, 2001). Recently, because of the lack of gualified individuals with appropriate teaching certifi- cation, many school corporations increasingly deal with recruiting and hiring Issues (Cohen-Vogel & Smith, 2007; Gimbert, Cristol, Wallace, & Sene, 2005; Jacob, 2007).

Although teaching shortages exist in many subject areas in schools throughout the nation, high-needs urban school administrators have special difficulty in staffing positions In Science, Technology, Engineering and Math- ematics (STEM) areas (Jacob, 2007; MetLife Foundation, 2007; Ng & Thomas, 2007). Recently, many national, state and local government education initia- tives have been STEM-focused (Cavanagh 2008,2009; Garrett, 2008). As a result, states have continued to Increase the number of STEM reguirements that students must complete before graduating high school, and many uni- versities have increased STEM entrance reguirements (Garrett, 2008). As the number of STEM graduation and entrance reguirements continues to Increase, demand for P-12 educators certified to teach STEM subjects has also increased (Cavanagh, 2008).

Many actions directed at addressing teacher shortages and increasing government support of STEM educational initiatives have been Implemented. For example, In collaboration with state legislators, many universities offer transition-to-teaching programs that allow individuals with baccalaureate degrees to become certified teachers after completing minimal coursework (Cohen-Vogel & Smith, 2007). Additionally, many organizations offer Incen- tives (e.g., loan forgiveness and tuition waivers) to Individuals willing to teach STEM subjects in high-needs rural and urban schools (Cavanagh, 2007; Ng & Thomas, 2007). These alternative certification programs take many different forms and offer various incentives for participation.

Although many programs effectively recruit experienced individuals Into sec- ondary education, recruitment Is only half the battle. Retention of new teach- ers can be a daunting task. Therefore, retaining and rewarding employees is also a growing concern for secondary school corporations (Hundley, Jacobs, & Drizin, 2009).

Significance and Purpose of the Study

Secondary school administrators continue to face Increased staffing pres- sures as state legislators increase the number of STEM graduation reguire- ments and as many new teachers leave education careers. …

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