Directorate for Education and Human Resources
Division of Undergraduate Education

Teacher Preparation Awards
NSF Collaboratives for Excellence in Teacher Preparation Awards



The National Science Foundation (NSF) is undertaking a major effort to improve significantly the mathematics, technology, and science education of prospective elementary and secondary teachers. A basic premise of the Foundation's efforts in this regard is that the mathematics, technology, and science that prospective teachers learn as part of their undergraduate education, and the manner in which the courses are presented, have a critical influence on the quality of their teaching. Knowledgeable teachers who are excited about the subjects they teach will ensure that their students in K-12 are well prepared in science and mathematics and are technologically literate. Because of the great importance of this undergraduate experience, the design and implementation of teacher preparation programs require leadership from faculty in all science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (SME&T) disciplines working in partnership with their colleagues in education and teachers in the K-12 community, each providing their special expertise.

The Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) manages two major programmatic efforts in teacher preparation:

In addition to these programs, NSF also promotes national leadership through activities such as conferences and workshops. For example, in FY 96 two important conferences focusing on issues in teacher preparation were funded by DUE: Seizing Opportunities: Collaborating for Excellence in Teacher Preparation, an invitational forum on teacher preparation for deans of science and education, jointly sponsored with the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and Symposium on Improving Teacher Preparation and Certification Consistent with the National Science Education Standards, jointly sponsored with the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Summary of Awards

NSF Collaboratives for Excellence in Teacher Preparation

Collaborative projects typically involve cooperative efforts that include science, mathematics, and education faculty and their departments working in consort with school personnel and appropriate institutional administrators. Since attention to introductory science and mathematics courses is essential, the Collaboratives feature strong leadership by the faculty and departments responsible for these courses. Each year the program expects to fund three to five projects to a level of $500,000 to $1,000,000 per year for up to five years.

New Projects: Each of the three collaboratives newly funded in FY 96 serve a broad region of their state and include a diverse set of two-year, four-year, and comprehensive institutions. A total of 20 institutions of higher education are involved. The San Francisco Bay Collaborative serves a large urban area. Participating institutions include: City College of San Francisco, the College of San Mateo, Evergreen Valley College, San Francisco State University, San Jose City College, and San Jose State University. The Oklahoma Teacher Education Collaborative includes a broad set of institutions within the state: Cameron University, Langston University, Northeastern State University, Oklahoma State University, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, the University of Central Oklahoma, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Tulsa. The Virginia Urban Corridor Teacher Preparation Collaborative also involves a broad urban area and includes: Longwood College, Mary Washington College, Norfolk State College, J. Sargeant Reynolds, Tidewater and Germana Community Colleges, Virginia Commonwealth University and the Central Virginia Mathematics and Science Center.

These projects feature participation of groups and settings not previously intimately involved with teacher preparation in SME&T. Student groups targeted include such unique populations as those preparing to be teachers aides (para-teachers). Key participants in the projects' efforts to incorporate creative methods of teaching in SME&T course reform include master K-12 teachers, actively involved as equal partners both in course and program development and in faculty enhancement. Institutions involved in project activities include such informal, but rich settings as museums, research laboratories, and zoological parks. Activities include: summer academies to engage all stakeholders, including students, in course design, implementation, and assessment; integrated capstone courses designed by faculty from multiple disciplines; and systems to identify and support a cohort of students preparing to be teachers from their freshman experience through their first three years of teaching.

Continuing Projects: The 10 Collaboratives first funded in FY 93 through FY 95 continued to be supported in FY 96. More than 110 institutions are involved. The projects represent a rich diversity of approaches to comprehensive change in teacher preparation, offering different models for educational reform in mathematics and the sciences. Each project differs from the others in its needs, resources, participating institutional types, population, geography, and cultural and political traditions. Six of the projects those from Arizona State University, California State University at Dominguez Hills, the City University of New York, Harvard University, Temple University, and the University of Texas at El Paso are urban centered; three projects in Louisiana, Maryland and Montana encompass institutions distributed throughout the state; and one from northern Colorado is regional in character. All include strong leadership and participation from faculty in mathematics and science departments working collaboratively with faculty from departments of education.

The projects represent a variety of approaches. The Arizona Collaborative is designing an interdisciplinary course examining the nature of matter. The Los Angeles Collaborative is organizing its students in cohort groups and is creating strong ties across two year and four year institutions within the Los Angeles Basin. The El Paso Collaborative is closely integrating its activities with those of other systemic initiatives in its region. The City University of New York is designing materials for its courses which reflect the urban setting of the institutions involved. The project in Boston/Cambridge is developing new interdisciplinary courses over a range of campuses and is establishing strong ties with professional development schools. Participants in the Colorado project are cooperating to integrate courses in pedagogy with mathematics and science courses. The cooperating institutions in Philadelphia are designing new courses in science and cognitive psychology for inclusion in a new five year program leading to teacher certification. Louisiana is experimenting with ways to encourage campuses throughout the state to design programs which answer the needs of each institution but are integrated into the overall state plans for reform of mathematics and science education. Maryland is pioneering ways to use telecommunications to facilitate joint curriculum reform throughout the state and has integrated an interesting set of research laboratory and science museum internships for pre-service teachers. Montana is concentrating on introducing hands-on science courses and the Harvard calculus model throughout the state university system. The project has expanded its outreach to include seven tribal colleges within the state and many model school sites with a high population of Native Americans.

Teacher Preparation Supported Through Other Division of Undergraduate Education Programs

Proposals that seek to improve the science, mathematics and technical preparation of prospective teachers are given high priority in all DUE programs. Projects with a focus on teacher preparation benefit from and add to the research base concerning student learning of SME&T. Supported projects may affect courses specifically designed for pre-service teachers or courses in which prospective teachers are part of a larger student population. The Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program supports initiatives which benefit students seeking preparation as technicians in science and engineering fields. Included are projects to prepare teachers for secondary and associate degree level technological education. Design of new courses or modification of existing courses is supported by the Course and Curriculum Development (CCD) program. The Instrumentation and Laboratory Improvement (ILI) program supports the purchase of laboratory equipment and exemplary use of laboratories. Workshops and educational activities for faculty concerned with science, mathematics, engineering, and technology courses which enroll prospective teachers are supported by the Undergraduate Faculty Enhancement (UFE) program.

Projects supported in FY 96 feature: courses and curricula in mathematics, engineering, and the sciences; students preparing to be elementary, middle, and secondary teachers; and recruitment of undergraduates to teaching careers. A great range of activities is represented by these projects. A CCD project at Duke University is developing a pilot program for encouraging engineering students to enter and become certified for secondary school teaching careers. At San Diego State University, a series of biology modules combining hands-on activities and computer-based activities for use with prospective elementary school teachers is also being developed with CCD program support. This work includes the creation of laboratory exercises to promote understanding of fundamental ideas in evolution and ecology.

Of the numerous ILI projects receiving teacher preparation funding, many provide equipment which supports courses primarily enrolling pre-service teachers and include the use of technology in ways that model how students will use it in their future school settings. Laboratories to support such courses are being developed at the College of Notre Dame (MD) (chemistry), University of Evansville (IL) (interdisciplinary), Harris Stowe State College (MO) (life sciences), Southwestern Missouri State University (mathematics), and Portland State University (OR) (geosciences), among others. As part of an innovative ILI project in interdisciplinary science at Grand Valley State University (MI), undergraduate science majors and prospective science teachers design and carry out experiments aboard a floating laboratory and classroom. This vessel, the W.G. Jackson, is also used as a regional science resource at various port cities around Lake Michigan. At the University of Northern Iowa, laboratory facilities are being upgraded to include Computer-Integrated Manufacturing technology with full-sized machine tools. Access to this equipment will improve the laboratory experiences for students preparing for technician teaching careers.

A UFE project at the University of Southern Mississippi hosts workshops for two-year college faculty who teach mathematics courses for pre-service elementary teachers. The workshops provide experience with approaches to mathematical content and pedagogical activities called for by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Standards.

The focus on teacher preparation is also evident in the large, comprehensive projects funded by DUE in FY 96. In the Systemic Changes in the Undergraduate Chemistry Curriculum initiative, a new project at the University of California, Los Angeles addresses the preparation of primary and secondary science teachers by involving them as active participants in the lower division courses of the molecular science curriculum. By working with the modules, associated learning methods, and electronic delivery system that undergird the project, these students obtain a practical perspective on science teaching as well as the ability to utilize current technology to direct learning activities. All four projects funded in the Mathematical Sciences and their Applications throughout the Curriculum initiative receive partial funding for teacher preparation activities. An important component of the project spearheaded by the State University of New York at Stony Brook involves faculty reworking all aspects of the curriculum for future mathematics teachers to reflect the needs of the NCTM Standards. Likewise, the comprehensive curricular reform projects led by Indiana University, the Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications, and the University of Nebraska include attention to the needs of pre-service teachers.

Two ATE centers include a focus on teacher preparation. An important component of the South Carolina Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence features efforts at Clemson University and other four-year colleges to help prepare the middle and secondary school technology teachers of the future. The Maricopa Advanced Technology Education Center (MATEC), which is focusing on technician education for advanced semi-conductor engineering, is partnered with Arizona State University to help prepare the grades 7-12 school teachers of tomorrow.

Continuing Projects: All four projects begun in FY 95 in the Systemic Changes in the Undergraduate Chemistry Curriculum initiative (based at Beloit College [WI], University of California at Berkeley, University of Wisconsin at Madison, and at City University of New York's City College) include a focus on teacher preparation with activities and learning experiences designed specifically for teachers, as well as providing a model for teaching chemistry using current pedagogical techniques. All three projects funded in FY 95 in the Mathematical Sciences and their Applications throughout the Curriculum initiative receive partial funding from teacher preparation. At Dartmouth College (NH) and the University of Pennsylvania, sweeping interdisciplinary curriculum reform based upon the learning and applications of mathematics at all levels of the undergraduate curriculum includes attention to the needs of prospective teachers. Input is included from expert consultants and practicing teachers. The project based at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (NY) includes a significant teacher preparation component at two partner schools, the University of Delaware and Siena College (NY).

Two other ATE Centers for Excellence also include a focus on teacher preparation: At Chemeketa Community College (OR) an important activity of the Center is a program to prepare teachers of technology for high school programs and the Center at Middlesex County College (NJ) is working with Trenton State College's technology education program to prepare secondary teachers for the schools of tomorrow.

Workshops and Conferences

In FY 96, DUE supported two working conferences devoted to teacher preparation issues. In early February of 1996 the Council for Chief State School Officers convened a symposium to consider improvements in teacher preparation and teacher credentialing in light of the National Research Council's recently released National Science Education Standards. This symposium was jointly supported by NSF (the Division of Undergraduate Education and the Division of Elementary, Secondary and Informal Education) and the National Research Council Fund. Participants included nearly forty state teams comprised of higher education faculty, school superintendents and administrators, and representatives of other stakeholders in K-12 education. In March of 1996 the American Association for the Advancement of Science conducted a Dean's Forum to consider how to design, develop, and implement university-based collaborative efforts to improve teacher preparation programs. Most of the participants attended as teams of two, which paired deans of science with their cross-campus counterparts in education.

Map of National Impact: FY 96 CETP/TP Collaboratives and Projects

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