In an effort to address a critical shortage of math and science teachers, Boise State University is re-structuring five undergraduate STEM degrees that lead to a teaching certification.
With the new degrees, graduates will be prepared to pursue careers in their chosen field, teach in their chosen field, or both. The State Board of Education approved the changes today at its meeting in Lewiston.
“By integrating pedagogical components associated with teacher preparation throughout math and science courses in our STEM degree programs, we will provide our students with greater opportunities upon graduation,” said Boise State Provost Martin Schimpf. “These changes give students two career paths within a single degree that can be achieved in a shorter period of time. We also expect the integrated program to attract and retain more students to teaching careers in the STEM disciplines.”
The university will replace five science and mathematics secondary education degrees with bachelor’s degrees in biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics and physics that include an emphasis in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. The program is a collaboration between the colleges of Education, Arts and Sciences and Engineering.
The changes represent a significant revision of the teaching of science and mathematics education at Boise State, aligning it with the university’s new IDoTeach program. IDoTeach is designed to meet a desperate need for Idaho science and math teachers in coming years by recruiting a largely untapped pool of talented college students majoring in STEM subjects into secondary education careers.
Surveys have shown the need for approximately 500 math teachers and 400 science teachers in Idaho in the near term. That number is likely to increase over time due to population growth, expanded academic requirements in these subjects, teacher retirement and the increasingly technical nature of society in general.
“We’ve found that many students majoring in STEM are interested in teaching but do not pursue it as a career,” said Nadelson, an education professor who helped form IDoTeach at Boise State. “We are identifying those students early in their academic careers so we can foster and support any interest in teaching and hopefully guide these technically-minded students into teaching.”
IDoTeach replicates an innovative and highly successful teacher preparation program created at the University of Texas at Austin. It is the only program of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. The program received $300,000 in initial funding from the Micron Foundation, followed by a $799,732 Robert Noyce Program grant from the National Science Foundation that will provide internships and scholarships for STEM students.
Through the IDoTeach program, underclass STEM majors who are interested in teaching are trained and have the opportunity to teach fundamental math and science lessons to elementary and junior high school students. Those interested in obtaining a teacher certificate may then apply for full enrollment in the IDoTeach program, where they will be able to pursue a degree in a STEM discipline and become certified as a secondary teacher.