Preparing STEM Teachers to Support ELs During COVID
A substantial achievement gap between K-12 English learners (ELs) and non-ELs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) content areas exists, as indicated by national assessments of student outcomes. Determining methods to generate more equitable participation in STEM and address this achievement gap, especially during the time of COVID-19, is of immediate concern. Research has indicated this gap may be exacerbated by lack of adequate teacher preparation, specifically in STEM fields, to effectively teach students who are culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD). Founded in previous research about effective teacher preparation, the current project pilots a model of early STEM pre-service teacher training that generates a positive impact for pre-service teachers and their students.Five STEM pre-service teachers participated in a year-long supplemental training program focused on adapting STEM instruction for ELs. Components of the supplemental program included: (a) coursework extending teacher knowledge of EL languagedevelopment, (b) fieldwork providing early exposure to research-based teaching experiences with EL students, and (c) professional development guiding the creation of hands-on science/math curriculum for diverse learners. Qualitative and quantitative data suggest that pre-service teachers who participated in the supplemental programming had an increased sense of self-efficacy in STEM instruction with ELs, increased motivation for teaching STEM in schools serving underrepresented populations, and greater growth in STEM instructional practices. Study results will provide educational models for improving STEM education for all students, specifically through distance learning modalities during COVID-19, thereby addressing a crucial need to serve the growing national population of underserved students.
NSF Awards: 1852890
Presented in: 2021 (see original presentation & discussion)