2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 10:30 AM

Building Sustainable Teacher Preparation Programs at Research Universities: The Math and Science Teaching Program at UC Davis

DAY, Howard W., Department of Geology, U. C. Davis, Davis, CA 95616, GOLDMAN, Barbara G., School of Education, U.C. Davis, Davis, CA 95616 and STEVENSON, Mary-Betty, Department of Geology, U.C. Davis, Davis, CA 95616, day@geology.ucdavis.edu

Declining scientific literacy and the critical lack of science and mathematics teachers arguably are two faces of one of the great social crises of our generation. Among the institutions in our society, only universities have the permanence, standing, and capability to address these long-term problems. However, in the face of compelling needs and the demonstrable capability to address them, research universities generally have devoted few resources to the mission of preparing math and science teachers. In 2005, the University of California began a Science and Mathematics Initiative (UC-SMI) to prepare highly qualified math and science teachers. The effort is challenging because education is a graduate discipline at UC, certification requires a fifth, post-baccalaureate year, and scholarships for post-graduate work are scarce.

Our experience at UC Davis suggests general principles for the development of undergraduate teacher preparation programs. Compromising the quality of teacher preparation in order to increase the supply of teachers is self-defeating. Programs should be rooted in the subject matter disciplines, but active involvement of the faculty in education is essential. Without the enthusiastic support of math and science faculty supervising the formative education of prospective teachers, interest in a teaching career is difficult to sustain. Teachers need a broader perspective than provided by a typical science major, but they should take pre-professional science courses in order to preserve their career options. Students should have structured opportunities to explore their interest in teaching and to prepare for a credential program. Permanent allocations of fiscal, faculty, and scholarship resources by the university are critical. Short-term funding by outside agencies is beneficial for starting new programs, but continuity demands a permanent commitment from the institution. Finally, geology departments can play a major role in increasing science literacy and meeting the needs for broadly trained teachers of integrated science.