UMass Offers Science Degrees For K-12 Teachers

UMass Offers Science Degrees For K-12 Teachers

In an effort to address the national shortage of qualified K-12 science teachers, UMassOnline, the online arm of the University of Massachusetts system, has begun offering an online master’s program to develop science teachers for elementary and middle schools. The new master’s degree in education for science teachers, established with a National Science Foundation grant, is taught by education, science and engineering faculty members from the UMass-Amherst and the UMass-Lowell campuses. The online program includes hands-on coursework and science education courses.

“Many school districts nationwide are facing critical shortages of science teachers at the middle-school level. At the elementary level, science is now a prominent part of the curriculum; supply and demand is a real issue,” says Dr. Anita Greenwood, the faculty chair at the UMass-Lowell Graduate School of Education.

Policy experts have estimated that the United States will need between 2.2 and 2.4 million new teachers in the next 10 years. That figure translates to between 150,000 and 250,000 new teaching jobs for elementary and middle school teachers. Many of the openings will be for certified science teachers, experts say. A 2002 National Center for Education Statistics report revealed that 49 percent of middle school science teachers did not major in science as collegiate undergraduates and nearly 19 percent are not certified in the field of science.

“The UMassOnline program engages teachers in their own inquiries, which they then discuss online with their peers. It’s a powerful way to learn about the nature and content of science,” says Dr. Kathleen Davis, associate professor of science education at UMass-Amherst.

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