WGU-AMNH PARTNERSHIP PILOT PROGRAM: YEAR 1 RESULTS
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.