The program offers bachelor’s degrees with STEM education concentrations in the following:
- Computer Science
More information is here: https://www.utc.edu/stem-education/
Two degrees for the price of one.
That’s how officials describe the STEM Education program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Graduates get bachelor’s degrees in science, math or computer science, along with secondary education credentials that qualify them to teach those subjects. If a graduate eventually chooses not to be a teacher, the science, math or computer science degree can open doors to multiple other career options.
With hopes of developing “a pipeline” of students to become future teachers of STEM subjects—Science, Technology, Engineering and Math—UTC has brought about two key developments. First, there’s a partnership with Chattanooga State Community College to recruit talented students and ensure their smooth transition to UTC. Second, there’s the National Science Foundation-sponsored UTC Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program to incentivize those talented students to pursue high school STEM teaching careers.
At least six recipients a year are awarded the one-year scholarship, which offers a minimum of $10,000 each to future teachers of biology, chemistry, earth and space sciences, physics or math. Noyce scholars agree to teach in a “high-needs” school district anywhere in the U.S. for two years in exchange for every year they are awarded scholarship funds. Scholars have eight years to fulfill the requirement. To help ensure success, the awards also include “induction support” for a new teacher’s first three years.
Pascale Haug is a product of the UTC STEM Education program. She was a Chattanooga State transfer, a Noyce scholarship recipient at UTC, graduated in 2018 and now teaches math—algebra and pre-calculus—at Brainerd High School.
“I feel so well-prepared,” Haug said of her first year as a teacher. “I have received a lot of compliments from teachers who have been teaching here for 10 to 14 years, and they’re like, ‘I’ve never seen such a well-organized first-year teacher.’”
Haug credits the rigor and approach of the UTC program with her confident, well-prepared approach to teaching. From taking challenging math courses, to secondary school placements, to advanced planning of five to seven days’ worth of classroom instruction, to a network of UTC support and follow-up, she said she’s equipped with every tool for success.
“They used to have the pre-calculus program (at Brainerd), but they did away with it for a short period of time. So, I am currently re-instituting it, which means that I had to create all of my lesson plans from scratch. There was no co-planner. There was no teacher here to give me guidance,” Haug said, “but because of the STEM Education program and because I was so used to doing those things already, it was really, really easy for me to do that.”
Like Haug, Kelsey Miles was a Chattanooga State transfer and a 2018 STEM Education graduate. Miles just finished her first year as a math teacher at Sale Creek Middle School. Both also are participating in UTC’s Noyce Scholar New Teacher Induction Support program.
“I knew that I wanted to be a teacher—always have,” Miles said, “but I knew I wanted to have a second option, just in case. If there was some way that I could major in math and major in education, that would be awesome. I just searched and found the STEM program, and it offered the best of both worlds.
“The thing about the STEM program, too, is I got to be in the classroom with the kids. I think that’s amazing because that helps you determine whether you want to do this for the rest of your life. When you actually get to interact with kids and teach kids, you really get to figure out, ‘OK, this is what I want to do or this is not what I want to do.’ I really enjoyed that, just getting to actually to do what you’re going to be doing I think is super-important.”
STEM Education at UTC began in 2010. Noyce Scholarship funding was awarded for the first time in the 2011-2012 academic year, according to Jennifer Ellis, program director and associate professor in the School of Education.
“With the NSF Noyce Scholarship grant, we have funding to create a pipeline of STEM students just like these two STEM stars,” Ellis said of Haug and Miles. “What we’re trying to do is make the university education necessary to teach STEM economically feasible.”
In spring 2019, Chattanooga State became a partner in the pipeline by offering STEM 1030, a two credit-hour, introductory course on teaching STEM that includes time in local school classrooms. The course is required for eligibility for a Noyce scholarship at UTC, which also considers GPA and citizenship activities. Plans are for the course to be offered at Chattanooga State each year in spring.
“One of the great things about STEM 1030 is it lets students experience the classroom teaching environment to determine if it’s right for them,” Ellis said. “And it’s possible that Chattanooga State students have had Tennessee Promise cover the cost of their freshman and sophomore years and then, if they transfer to UTC and win a Noyce Scholarship, they can graduate debt-free.”