University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Project Report 2009
Collaboration among the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education, University Administrators, and Local Public School Systems
- UNC Baccalaureate Education in Science and Teaching (UNC-BEST) is a fast track program designed to allow biology and physics majors to earn both their high school teaching license in their respective fields and their science degree in four years. It is a collaboration between the School of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences.
- Our Steering Committee for the UNC-BEST program, composed of the Senior Associate Dean and Assistant Dean of the School of Education, the Chairs of Physics & Astronomy and Biology, and faculty from all three units, continues to develop and manage the program as a full partnership. We are expanding the committee to embrace the Geological Sciences and Mathematics Departments.
- Three of the founders of our program (Laurie McNeil of Physics & Astronomy, Steve Matson of Biology, and Jill Fitzgerald of Education) presented a very well-attended and well-received workshop on intra-institutional cooperation (entitled “Playing Well With Others”) at the PTEC 2009 conference.
- We continue to have the strong support of the University administration at the highest levels. UNC-BEST is frequently mentioned in the “stump speeches” of the UNC System President, Erskine Bowles, and his senior management.
- Our Teacher Advisory Group made up of local physics and math teachers have served as excellent mentors for field experiences for the physics pedagogy students. They are assisting us with planning for a small conference on current advances in physics and pedagogy that we will host in December 2009.
- The first graduating class of UNC-BEST was highlighted in the University’s May Commencement program, and in a news release from the College of Arts & Sciences.
- We continue to experience a significant administrative turnover. We have a new Dean of Education and (as of 1 July 2009) a new Dean of Arts & Sciences (an internal promotion). Our Provost will depart in August 2009; the Interim Provost will be the former Interim Dean of Arts & Sciences (and former Chair of Physics & Astronomy). Our concerns focus specifically on the Provost position, which is likely to be filled by an external hire. Since current funding for the education specialists in our program is granted by the Provost, it will particularly crucial that we convince the new Provost of the value of the program.
- Although the Mathematics Department is joining UNC-BEST, its faculty has not agreed to count the mathematics pedagogy course toward the requirements for the math major. We anticipate that this will prove to be a barrier to recruitment, since students will be less likely to take the pedagogy course if they are not sure they want to be teachers.
- Communication with some of the partner school districts included in our Teachers for a Competitive Tomorrow grant has so far proved difficult. This is especially true of the smaller, more rural districts located farther from Chapel Hill.
- We were successful in obtaining funding from the Teachers for a Competitive Tomorrow program of the US Dept. of Education. This provides partial support for the mathematics and geology education specialists, with the rest coming from the Provost. This provides external validation of the quality of our program, which should help convince the administration to continue to support it.
- Our Chancellor continues to be a firm supporter of the program, as does the new Dean of Education.
- It is vital that we have a concise, convincing “sales pitch” with appropriate documentation to convince new administrators of the value of our program and to allow them to make a similar pitch to external constituencies.
- The success of our departmental Teacher Advisory Group leads us to conclude that each department in UNC-BEST should establish such a group. The groups could cooperate with one another as appropriate.
- Our program is now fully in place in physics and biology, and we have graduated our first teachers.
- We are expanding the program to include mathematics and geology, and have requested permission to certify teachers in those fields from the NC Dept. of Public Instruction.
- We have been successful in obtaining external funding from the US Dept. of Education. This allows us to expand into mathematics and geology, and to develop an induction program for new teachers and to partner with high-needs school districts to place teachers in those schools.
- We have obtained funding to host a small conference for high school teachers, with the strong participation of the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center.