Development of a 4-Year Undergraduate Bridge Program for Pre-Service STEM Teachers

PI: Richard Arum
Co-PIs: Ken Janda, Phillip Collins
Participating Faculty: Virginia Panish, Elizabeth van Es, Rachel Baker, Jessica Pratt, Amanda Holton, Kris Houston, Therese Shanahan

Funder: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing
Duration: 1.5 years
Amount: $230,000

Rationale: From 2009 to 2014, there was a decrease of 26% in the number of initial teaching credentials issued annually (Suckow & Purdue, 2015), and the shortage is particularly acute in the areas of science and math (Ellison & Freedberg, 2015). Acute teacher shortages can exacerbate existing concerns about teacher preparation; many teachers enter the classroom without advanced content preparation or adequate pedagogical preparation. Nationwide, fewer than half of math teachers have a college degree in math and just over 70% of science teachers have a college degree in science. In order to respond to the critical shortage of skilled math and science teachers in California and the particular lack of math and science teachers from racially, ethnically, and socio-economically diverse backgrounds, there is a clear need for programs that provide pathways that are accessible to and structured for a wider and more diverse group of potential STEM teachers.

The CalTeach program was launched in 2009 to allow undergraduate students to complete majors in mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics, earth systems science or environmental science and earn a Single Subject Preliminary Credential in mathematics or science (general science, chemistry, biological sciences, physics, geosciences) within a standard 4-year timeline. This blended pathway is made possible through the collaborative efforts of the School of Education, School of Physical Sciences, and School of Biological Sciences. The pathway enables candidates to complete all of the coursework required in their majors as well as credential coursework by enrolling in cross-listed courses and by completing general education requirements through their CalTeach coursework.

Bridge Program Goals: The Bridge program will enable community college students to transfer into UCI’s nationally recognized undergraduate blended program in math and science (CalTeach) to complete a Bachelor of Science degree and teaching credential in four years. UCI will partner local community colleges to develop a robust bridge program that provides the coursework and fieldwork that transfer students need to complete prior to entering UCI’s CalTeach blended program. The end goal of this program is to increase and diversify the California teaching force by increasing the number of future STEM teachers who start at a community college and earn their teaching credential at UCI.