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Title: Have a passion for teaching? Consider high school teaching
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Award ID(s):
1821710 1821462
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
American Journal of Physics
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
328 to 329
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Couch, Brian (Ed.)
    There is a national need to recruit more science teachers. Enhancing pathways to teaching for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors could help to address this need. The Learn By Doing Lab is a course in which STEM undergraduates teach hands-on life science and physical science to local third- through eighth-grade schoolchildren visiting the campus. To measure the impacts of this teaching experience on the undergraduate participants, we administered a version of the Science Teaching Efficacy Belief Instrument-Preservice survey at the start and end of the course. Significant gains were observed in the students’ belief in their personal ability to effectively teach science (self-efficacy). Furthermore, qualitative and quantitative analysis of student reflections revealed that they perceived the Learn By Doing Lab experience to have helped them develop 21st-century competencies, particularly in the areas of collaboration, communication, and adaptability. Finally, the students’ overall awareness and positive perception of science teaching careers increased. This indicates that providing a low-barrier course-based teaching experience for STEM undergraduates is a promising strategy to help recruit pre-service teachers, and a step toward alleviating the national STEM teacher shortage.
  2. ABSTRACT Evidence-based teaching practices (EBTP)—like inquiry-based learning, inclusive teaching, and active learning—have been shown to benefit all students, especially women, first-generation, and traditionally minoritized students in science fields. However, little research has focused on how best to train teaching assistants (TAs) to use EBTP or on which components of professional development are most important. We designed and experimentally manipulated a series of pre-semester workshops on active learning (AL), dividing subjects into two groups. The Activity group worked in teams to learn an AL technique with a workshop facilitator. These teams then modeled the activity with their peers acting as students. In the Evidence group, facilitators modeled the activities with all TAs acting as students. We used a mixed-methods research design (specifically, concurrent triangulation) to interpret pre- and post-workshop and post-semester survey responses. We found that Evidence group participants reported greater knowledge of AL after the workshop than Activity group participants. Activity group participants, on the other hand, found all of the AL techniques more useful than Evidence group participants. These results suggest that actually modeling AL techniques made them more useful to TAs than simply experiencing the same techniques as students—even with the accompanying evidence. This outcome has broad implicationsmore »for how we provide professional development sessions to TAs and potentially to faculty.« less