2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 242-3
Presentation Time: 2:00 PM


METLAY, Suzanne T., Teachers College, Western Governors University, 4001 South 700 East, Suite 700, Salt Lake City, UT 84107, HUDON-MILLER, Sarah E., Teacher's College, Western Governors University, 4001 South 700 East, Suite 700, Salt Lake City, UT 84107, DUNCAN, Robert, Product Development, Western Governors University, 4001 South 700 East, Suite 700, Salt Lake City, UT 84107 and RANDLE, David, Seminars on Science, American Museum of Natural History, National Center for Science Literacy, Educ & Technology, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024, suzanne.metlay@wgu.edu

In 2014, Western Governors University (WGU) entered into a pilot program with the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) to allow specific students to take Seminars on Science as part of their required coursework. This presentation reviews the challenges, opportunities, and benefits of this WGU-AMNH partnership pilot program.

Seminars on Science is AMNH’s online graduate-level teacher professional development program, offering 13 different courses in the Life, Earth, and Physical Sciences. Each course provides practicing and pre-service teachers with six weeks of online instruction designed to increase their science content knowledge and their ability to teach a given subject. Experienced classroom educators are teamed with working scientists to facilitate each course.

In 2004, AMNH and WGU initially partnered to offer SoS courses to science education students. While over 200 WGU students enrolled during the first ten years, completion and participations levels were low, presumably because students were not required to pass courses and registration was optional. Expectations and supports changed in 2014, resulting in a dramatic increase in the numbers of WGU Teacher’s College students taking, completing, and successfully passing two selected courses, Climate Change and The Ocean System.

A recent Eduventures report noted that WGU has 5% of total national conferrals of Bachelor’s degrees and 15% of Master’s degree conferrals with “the largest [Teacher’s College] enrollments and the greatest TC degree conferrals, at both the BA and MA levels, of any college or university awarding degrees in STEM education in the United States” (1). 2013 data revealed that WGU provided “50% of the total national conferrals in Earth Science at the graduate level” (1).

Opportunities for improvement at WGU included peer-to-peer learning and a more structured learning environment for certain content. Two AMNH Seminars on Science Climate Change and The Ocean System – are now required components of the Chemistry Education and Geosciences Education degree programs at WGU, and the participating students are reporting positive outcomes as a result in their academic work and in their classrooms.

(1) Personal communication (4 Nov 2014) from WGU Teachers College Dean Phil Schmidt to Rob Duncan.

  • Metlay et al_WGU-AMNH Partnership_SessionT86_3Nov15.pptx (2.7 MB)