- The GEMS (Get Educators in Mathematics and Science) project at Florida International University (FIU) is building a model for recruiting, preparing, and successfully inducting STEM discipline majors into the teaching profession. FIU's status as a minority-serving institution offers the unique opportunity to develop this model within a diverse community of traditionally under-represented minorities and women. GEMS is opening new pathways into science and mathematics teaching while supporting 7 undergraduates per year (totaling over 34 during the lifetime of the project). Most GEMS graduates teach in South Florida's diverse public school districts, where they have a significant impact on high needs schools. GEMS is recruiting talented undergraduate Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Mathematics, and Physics majors into the teaching profession. In addition to providing strong pedagogical content knowledge, the project offers the Noyce fellows further incentives through stipend support and an integrated pre- and in-service support community, ensuring a high likelihood for success and retention in the profession. As a member of the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC), FIU's Physics Department and College of Education are deeply engaged in the enterprise of producing more and better-prepared elementary, middle, and high school teachers who are committed to interactive, inquiry-based approaches to teaching. The GEMS program offers Noyce fellows: (1) a mentor network including faculty mentors at FIU and in-service teachers in local public schools; (2) enhanced early field teaching experiences both on campus and in high school classroom; (3) dedicated on-campus space serving as a central meeting place for the fellows' community; (4) access to guided inquiry-based workshops as part of ongoing in-service teacher programs; (5) regular meetings and events for pre- and in-service teachers; and (6) web-based community access email lists and central web resources for asynchronous support. The project is investigating factors that bring participants to the program, critical factors for teacher preparation, and factors necessary for successful induction into the teaching profession. GEMS is providing insight into basic education research topics such as the benefits and challenges of implementing a new teacher education program in a diverse urban environment, the pedagogic development and shift in attitudes towards K-12 teaching by STEM discipline majors, and the changes by faculty in their engagement with and beliefs of supporting teacher education programs. The project's broader impact includes building an effective model for universities contributing to the production of K-12 STEM teachers, strategies developed within that model, as well as the direct impact of the scholarship recipients on their future students.
- January 1, 2009 - September 30, 2013
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