Aug. 26, 2020
CWU Professor Continues Efforts to Improve K-12 STEM Education
Central Washington University received a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help ensure university graduates are fully prepared to lead science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in any K-12 setting.
Anne Egger, CWU professor of geological sciences and science education, said the four-year grant will enable future teachers to experience science investigation and engineering design in introductory undergraduate STEM classrooms. It also will allow CWU to remain at the forefront of preparing the best STEM classroom teachers.
“The burden is really on us [higher education] to teach science—especially in these introductory college science classes—in a way that engages future teachers in the same way that we want them to be engaging their students once they get into their own classrooms,” Egger explained.
The new work is related to the eight-year, NSF-funded “InTeGrate, Interdisciplinary Teaching About Earth for a Sustainable Future” project. Egger also played a key role in that effort, leading faculty teams in the development, testing, and implementation of free curricular resources across the undergraduate curriculum.
“I consider this current project to be a direct follow-on to InTeGrate, because, as a fundamental component, we are utilizing the curriculum-development process that we originated through the previous grant,” she said. “A big difference between the two projects is the development of student materials and student reading, whereas the previous project focused on faculty materials.”
Egger also recently served on a National Academy of Sciences committee, charged with determining how to implement the Framework for K-12 Science Education in middle and high school science classrooms. That assignment further piqued her interest to ensure CWU pre-service teachers and their peers nationwide are fully prepared to enter K-12 classrooms.
“It further strengthened my own understanding that a lot of future teachers don’t currently learn science, at least in college, the way that we want them to teach it,” she added. “And, at the same time, college faculty may not even know they have future teachers in their classes. At CWU, because he have a big education program, we are really conscious that future teachers are enrolled in our introductory science classes. But, at a lot of other institutions, that’s not the case.”
Education in STEM fields is becoming even more important, as the Commerce Department projects related career opportunities significantly will outpace non-STEM job creation within the US economy.