SUPPORTING A BETTER EDUCATION IN MATH AND SCIENCE (SABE MAS) AND THE MASTERS OF ARTS IN TEACHING SCIENCE (MATS) AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT EL PASO
The MATS program was approved by the Coordinating Board shortly after we started SABE MAS in 2008. Serpa became the director of that program which was entirely within the College of Science. The focus of the MATS program was to increase content knowledge of in-service High School teachers in one of the following areas: Biology, Chemistry, Geology, or Physics. We had approximately 100 teachers go through SABE MAS and many of them stayed to earn the MATS degree as well.
Because the MATS program was a new program and the college had not given much thought to what would be required for the degree, the only classes regularly taught at night when teachers were not working were in the Geology Department. As a result, many of the teachers ended up in the Geology option despite the fact that ~80% of the teachers had a BS degree in Biology or a non-science area. We incorporated ideas from SABE MAS to increase the math and physics competency of the teachers. We also developed introductory classes that were suitable for traditional graduate students in geology. We taught the introductory class material in a “discovery” mode—i.e. the teachers were tasked with putting together the evidence that led to scientific breakthroughs, such as the Theory of Plate Tectonics. They were required to demonstrate understanding of the evidence and controversies that are at the base of nearly all major scientific ideas. One outcome of these programs is that there are more teachers in El Paso who are qualified to teach geoscience at a high school level than in most other areas of Texas. A few high schools have added Earth and Space Sciences as a 4th year course for their students and we anticipate more classes in the future.