Improving the Quality and Quantity
of K-12 Teachers of Mathematics and Science: The Collaborative
for Excellence in Teacher Preparation in Pennsylvania
Patsy Ann Johnson, P. James Moser, Robert A. Cohen, and Joan E.
At Bloomsburg University,
Professor James Moser watches a student control an electron beam
by adjusting the accelerating potential, focus, and field current
(photo credit: Keith Boyer, Indiana University of Pennsylvania)
The National Science Foundation (NSF) from 1993 through 2000 provided
funds to start approximately 25 Collaboratives for Excellence in
Teacher Preparation, described as large scale systemic projects
designed to significantly change teacher preparation programs on
a state or regional basis and to serve as comprehensive national
models [1, p. iii]. The typical
award was one million dollars per year for five years. The number
of institutions of higher education in a collaborative has averaged
about ten, but there has been wide variability.
During the summer of 2000, the NSF awarded funds to the Pennsylvania
State System of Higher Education (SSHE) for the Collaborative for
Excellence in Teacher Preparation in Pennsylvania (CETP-PA). The
14 SSHE universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion,
East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield,
Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, and West Chester.
These 14 universities annually have 10,000 12,000 students
completing teacher preparation programs. Almost one-sixth will become
secondary science and mathematics teachers. Almost five-sixths are
planning to teach science and mathematics in elementary grades. About
one-tenth will become secondary teachers not teaching science or
mathematics. In 1998 when the grant proposal was written, the SSHE
universities prepared 29% of the teachers obtaining Pennsylvania
certification in secondary mathematics, 35% of those in secondary
science, and 39% of those in elementary education.
As a demonstration of its commitment to the CETA-PA project, the
SSHE is providing one million dollars in matching funds over the
five years of the project. A SSHE website is used with Blackboard
software to communicate among the campuses about the CETP-PA project.
Calendars, reports, evaluation forms, and other documents are available
on this SSHE website.
The 14 universities have committed physical space to accommodate
mathematics/science/technology education centers, computer equipment
and technician time to maintain CETP-PA websites, faculty release
or reassignments to accomplish CETP-PA work, as well as over one-half
million dollars in hard match and indirect costs for the duration
of the project. The centers will continue to function after the end
of NSF funding for CETP-PA as the means to institutionalize curricular
changes through conducting professional development events, sharing
written resources, and loaning out hands-on and manipulative equipment.
Numerous people are involved in CETP-PA. It is led by the Project
Director and Principal Investigator. He is assisted by five Co-Principal
Investigators. The project has two Community College Coordinators
and one K-12 Coordinator (with an opening for another one). There
are six State-wide Workgroup Chairs and 67 other members of State-wide
Workgroups. Each of the 14 universities has one or two Team Leaders,
for a total of 22. Of the 379 people who are team members, 65% are
university faculty, 22% are K-12 teachers, 5% are community college
faculty, 3% are university students, 2% are business employees, and
3% are other types. Each university has one team member designated
as the Evaluation Liaison. The Advisory Committee has 10 members,
and the National Visiting Committee has six members plus a NSF Representative.
The Steering Committee has 49 members, all of whom have a position
listed above. Three external evaluators from the National Council
for the Improvement of Science Education (NCISE) work on the project's
Four statewide workgroups have been formed to provide descriptions
of teacher education programs at SSHE universities, lists of resources,
and recommendations for curricular change. Both content and pedagogy
courses are targeted for reform. These four workgroups are Elementary
Science, Secondary Science, Elementary Mathematics, and Secondary
Mathematics. Two more workgroups that do not deal with curriculum
also have been formed. One deals with supervision of field experiences
in K-12 schools for university students preparing to be teachers.
The other workgroup seeks to improve science and mathematics teaching
by starting with more and better teacher candidates. The issue of
how the workgroups might be most helpful has not yet been resolved
to everyone's satisfaction. Efforts by local CETP-PA teams have sometimes
placed them ahead of the curriculum and supervision workgroups even
though the latter were intended to provide guidance to the former.
Most of the recruitment activity currently being done is occurring
at the statewide rather than the local level.
The NSF funded the Collaboratives nationwide based on the following basic
premise: The mathematics, technology, and science that
prospective teachers learn as part of their undergraduate education,
and the manner in which the courses are presented, have a critical
influence on the quality of their teaching [1,
p. iii]. The SSHE proposal for the CETP-PA project stated, "Constructivist
teaching practices are recognized by current research as the most
consistent with how individuals learn." The proposal went on
to say that constructivist teaching involves finding out what students
already know and then teaching in ways that help students link, in
their own individual learning styles, new information to their already
existing cognitive frameworks and knowledge.
The first CETP-PA conference was held August 21 25, 2000,
at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Jim Gallagher from Michigan
State University was the main presenter. He explained the categories
used in three Teacher Analysis Matrices that contrast didactic and
constructivist teaching. Participants in breakout groups viewed videotapes
of classes and analyzed them using these matrices. The projects
external evaluators also presented information and raised issues.
A smaller conference at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania on
March 9 10, 2001 focused on the use of inquiry and learning
cycles in teaching science. Advice and examples were given in physics
by Lillian McDermott and Paula Heron from the University of Washington,
in chemistry by James Reeves from the University of North Carolina,
Wilmington, and in biology by Anton Lawson from Arizona State University.
Dr. Lawson also talked about project evaluation using the Reformed
Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP).
During the Western Region conference at Butler County Community
College on April 28, 2001, presentations were given about three sets
of recommendations   . Each participant
was given a copy of the third publication, which is a report of a
NSF invitational workshop held in 1998. Small group discussions on
that Saturday were followed by reporting of recommendations concerning
community college participation in the CETP-PA project.
On May 9 10, 2001, at Millersville University of Pennsylvania,
James Gallagher was again the primary presenter at a CETP-PA conference.
His topic was teaching science for understanding and application
The second CETP-PA summer conference was held August 16 - 18, 2001,
at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. The following presenters
each gave a plenary address and led a workshop: Priscilla Laws from
Dickinson College about teaching physics, Deborah Ann Moore from
the University of Puerto Rico about teaching mathematics, Judith
Scotchmore from the Museum of Paleontology at University of California
Berkeley about teaching earth science, Gordon Uno from the University
of Oklahoma about teaching biology, and Dorothy Waninger from Lakeview
School in Ridley Park, PA, about teaching elementary school science
and mathematics. Many meetings were held for groups within the CETP-PA
project, such as center directors and workgroup chairs. Local teams
displayed posters highlighting their accomplishments during the first
year of the project
On November 29 30, 2001, the Indiana University of Pennsylvania
CETP-PA team ran a conference about constructivism and the Pennsylvania
K-12 standards for mathematics and science. Participants in breakout
sessions discussed these topics. James Stith, from the American Institute
of Physics, spoke in the final session of the conference about the
need for education reform.
The next CETP-PA conferences occuring this year will be the Western
Region conference at the Community College of Allegheny County on
April 27, the Eastern Region conference at Bucks County Community
College on May 31 June 1, and the third summer conference
at Millersville University of Pennsylvania on August 15 17.
At the local level, the main CETP-PA efforts have been content course
revisions, K-16 professional development activities, curriculum materials
purchased and made available for loan, pedagogy course revisions,
recruitment of K-12 teacher candidates, and supervision of student
teachers shared by content and pedagogy university faculty. This
list is in descending order for the level of involvement at the present
time on the 14 campuses.
Physics 101 class at
Slippery Rock. The students are using string telephones to observe
the difference in the speed of sound through the air and through
(photo credit: Keith Boyer,
Indiana University of Pennsylvania)
Each type of activity was incorporated into the project to strengthen
what might be a weak link in the teacher preparation process. The
content course revisions, for example, try to get content faculty
to improve their instructional methodologies. The rationale is that
they should model the type of instruction that their students should
later utilize. At the same time, they should improve the pre-service
teachers understanding of mathematics and science. Pedagogy
course revisions are being done with the intention of incorporating
more content. To improve courses generally, local CETP-PA teams have
sponsored discussion groups, loaned materials, and held faculty workshops.
They have also targeted their efforts at specific courses, usually
based on the willingness of the faculty to work on course revision.
According to evaluation guidelines adopted by this project, each
campus should provide data on changes in at least one pedagogy course
and at least one content course. Currently more attention is being
devoted to the content courses.
K-12 professional development first of all tries to improve the
quality of the teaching by cooperating teachers with whom university
students are placed for student teaching and other field experiences.
By being an example and by giving advice, cooperating teachers have
great influence on university students. K-12 professional development
also is aimed at affecting the teaching environments in which graduates
begin their careers.
Credible and timely evaluation information is being used to monitor
and adjust CETP-PA activities as part of formative evaluation of
the project. Baseline data will be compared to subsequent data to
measure the projects progress toward accomplishment of its
long-range goals. Summative evaluation will begin in 2004. The methods
being used for data collection include document review, survey questionnaires,
individual interviews, focus groups, and classroom observations.
University students, faculty, and administrators are among the people
being interviewed by telephone or in person. Observations of student
teachers, cooperating teachers, and university faculty are being
recorded on the CETP-PA Protocol for Classroom Observation. Multiple
data collection activities involving personal and documentary sources
are being used to counteract problems associated with respondent
bias and self-report data. Responsibility for data collection is
shared among the Project Director, Co-Principal Investigators, project
staff, campus Team Leaders, campus Evaluation Liaisons, Center Directors,
and NCISE external evaluators. Analysis of both qualitative and quantitative
data is done mostly by the NCISE external evaluators.
Science Foundation, Division of Undergraduate Education. (1996). Teacher
preparation awards: NSF collaboratives for excellence in teacher
preparation awards. NSF 96-146. Arlington, VA: Author.
Research Council, Committee on Undergraduate Science Education.
(1999). Transforming undergraduate education in science, mathematics,
engineering, and technology. http://www.nap.edu/catalog/6453.html
Research Council, Committee on Undergraduate Science Education.
(2001). Educating teachers of science, mathematics, and technology:
New practices for the new millennium. http://www.nap.edu/catalog/9832.html
Science Foundation, Division of Undergraduate Education. (1998). Investing
in tomorrows teachers: The integral role of two-year colleges
in the science and mathematics preparation of prospective teachers.
NSF 99-49. Arlington, VA: Author.
Slippery Rock University Center for Mathematics, Science,
and Technology Education http://www.sru.edu/depts/cmste/
The East Stroudsburg
University MaSTER Center (Math, Science and Technology Educational
The Bloomsburg University Mathematics and Science Learning Center http://orgs.bloomu.edu/msc/index.html
for Excellence in the Preparation of Teachers http://www.ecept.net/
Patsy Ann Johnson is a Professor at Slippery Rock University of
Pennsylvania in the Department of Secondary Education/Foundations
of Education and is the Director of SRU's Center for Mathematics,
Science, and Technology Education. She serves as a Co-PI and Western
Coordinator of CETP-PA. She teaches courses offered by the Department
of Chemistry and Physics. She was a high school teacher of physics
P. James Moser is a Professor and Chair in the Department of
Physics and Engineering Technology at Bloomsburg University of
Pennsylvania. He serves as a Co-PI and Eastern Coordinator of CETP-PA.
Previously, he worked as an electrical engineer and as a government
Robert A. Cohen is an Associate Professor of Physics at East
Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania and is the Director of ESU's
Math, Science and Technology Education Resource Center. He teaches
a secondary science methods course. His research is on the structure
of winter storms.
Joan E. Mackin is an Assistant Professor at East Stroudsburg
University of Pennsylvania in the Department of Professional and
Secondary Education. She was a teacher of physics, physical science,
and mathematics; a science department chairperson; and a science
coordinator in K-12 school districts.