Program Initiated to Support Those Pursuing Teaching Careers

NSF and Georgia Tech Fund Tech to Teaching Program

While Georgia has a shortage of K-12 math and science teachers, fortunately the Georgia Institute of Technology is a top destination for students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Now Georgia Tech students who are interested in teaching, at either the collegiate or K-12 level, will be able to enhance their pedagogical skills, learn about pathways to teaching and participate in teaching internships through a new program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Known as 'Tech to Teaching,' the program integrates existing NSF-funded projects that provide instruction and support for faculty and students who are interested in teaching. The goal of the program is not only to support Georgia Tech students who choose teaching careers at any level, but also to help supply qualified K-12 teachers, with an emphasis on STEM fields, to Georgia classrooms.

"Georgia Tech is in a unique position to be a leader in this area and to assume the responsibility of educating more teachers at all levels in the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines," says Anderson Smith, senior vice-provost for Academic Affairs. "Georgia imports a large number of science and math teachers. It makes sense for these teachers to be home-grown."

The Tech to Teaching program creates an infrastructure at Georgia Tech that encourages and enables students to pursue careers in K-12 or college teaching, according to Donna Llewellyn, director of the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL).

"It is Georgia Tech's responsibility to help solve the shortage of math and science teachers in Georgia," explains Llewellyn. "We not only need to supply top-quality teachers to support an educated workforce in our state, but we also need to provide our K-12 schools with teachers equipped to fully prepare students to pursue a higher education here at Georgia Tech."

The Tech to Teaching program will also reinforce existing collaborations between Georgia Tech and schools such as Georgia Perimeter College and Spelman College, where Georgia Tech graduate students will gain teaching experience by serving as instructors in introductory STEM courses. In addition, a partnership with Kennesaw State University provides the opportunity for undergraduate students to receive National Science Foundation stipends while completing their undergraduate degrees, and while working toward their Master's degree in chemistry or physics teaching. Finally, nearby Georgia State University serves as the provider of professional training and licensure through convenient cross-registration options.

"An increasingly popular educational path for students interested in K-12 teaching is to get their four-year bachelor's degree in a particular content field, and then pursue a one-year Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree to earn their teacher certification," says Marion Usselman, senior research scientist at the Institute's Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC). "Georgia Tech students interested in STEM teaching are perfectly positioned to complete their teacher education training at one of the many colleges and universities in Georgia offering MAT degrees. Given the shortage of high school math and science teachers, they are very likely to quickly land a job, even before they are fully certified."

"We aren't going into the education degree business, but we are sending our exceptional students to our colleague universities that offer advanced education degree options," says Llewellyn. "We also hope to initiate and develop partnerships with other universities as the program evolves."

Tech to Teaching, led by Georgia Tech Interim President Gary Schuster, is an initiative funded by a $1 million NSF grant combined with a $1.67 million commitment from Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech is one of six institutions that received NSF funding via the Innovation through Institutional Integration (I3) program, an effort intended to link institutions' existing NSF-funded projects in STEM education and to leverage their collective strengths. The goal of I3 is threefold: to broaden participation of underrepresented minorities in STEM; to focus on critical educational junctures; and to integrate research and education resulting in a more globally engaged workforce.

"Our goal is to add a new stanza to the Georgia Tech fight song," says Usselman. "Students can come to Georgia Tech to be a 'helluva teacher,' not just a 'helluva engineer.'"

The Tech to Teaching program will formally begin in January 2009. For more information, please contact Donna Llewellyn at donna.llewellyn@cetl.gatech.edu.