Cal State Long Beach will lead a two-year project to ease the transition of future teachers into the classroom thanks to a $200,000 grant awarded to the California State University (CSU) system by the W.M. Keck Foundation. The project, “Developing Engaging and Effective Practice: Advancing STEM Education via University-Community Collaborations” will strengthen STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teaching and learning by fostering partnerships between local after-school programs and informal science education institutions.
“There is still a need for good, passionate science teachers, but we need to give them more authentic and more positive experiences before they walk into a classroom for the first time,” said CSULB science education associate professor James Kisiel, who serves as the lead for the grant.
Along with the CSU Chancellor’s Office, CSULB will be collaborating with Cal State L.A. (CSULA) and working with four community partners—the Boys and Girls Club of Long Beach, the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) Beyond the Bell after-school program, the California Science Center in Los Angeles and the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.
“We want to help new teachers, both elementary and secondary level, to feel more confident when they get to the classroom,” said Kisiel. “This is an extraordinary supplemental experience that we hope not only makes them feel more confident as a future teacher, but also helps them to become more confident and comfortable teaching science.”
Three collaborative models will be implemented and studied to determine benefits that come from providing future teachers with out-of-classroom science experiences used to develop their hands-on science teaching expertise. The evaluation will also examine challenges to such cross-institutional partnerships and how to overcome them.
The first model, an early field experience, will be in partnership with the Beyond the Bell program and aligned with a science course for STEM undergraduates. The experience will not only help undergraduate students learn the science well-enough to share the ideas with local youth, but will also expose them to teaching as a viable STEM career.
The second model, a teaching practicum experience, will be conducted with the Boys and Girls Club and will involve elementary and secondary teacher candidates. It will be incorporated into the pedagogical methods course that is a central part of teacher preparation.
The California Science Center and the Aquarium of the Pacific will help develop the third model, a paid informal science internship for new teachers before they get into a classroom. In this model, recently credentialed teachers will be provided 15-week internships as they work with youth and families while gaining experience in active learner engagement in science.
The CSU hopes to implement all three models on an expanded basis throughout its 23 campuses, which prepare the majority of California’s new teachers.
Co-leaders of the project are science education professor/chair Lisa Martin-Hansen and educational technology professor Stephen Adams, both from CSULB; and Paul Narguizian, a biology education professor at CSULA.
Overall, Kisiel estimates that as many as 150 future teachers and thousands of young students involved in after-school programs and visits to the local science center or aquarium will interact with this program.
The gift is part of the $225 million Campaign for California State University, Long Beach is the first comprehensive fundraising campaign in the history of the university and one of the largest in the California State University system. It also represents a cultural shift that encourages all community members to pro-actively participate in achieving the university’s mission: to provide highly-valued educational opportunities through superior teaching, research, creative activity and service.
Based in Los Angeles, the W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late W. M. Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Company. The Foundation’s grant making is focused primarily on pioneering efforts in the areas of medical, science and engineering research. The Foundation also maintains an undergraduate education program that promotes distinctive learning and research experiences for students in the sciences and in the liberal arts, and a Southern California Grant Program that provides support for the Los Angeles community in the areas of health care, civic and community services, education and the arts, with a special emphasis on children and youth from low-income families. For more information, visit www. wmkeck.org.