Supported Site Towson University (Secondary): Collaboration

Successes

  • The project team established an open line of communication with four surrounding school districts (Baltimore County, Carroll County, Howard County, Harford County) and Towson's Department of Secondary Education.
  • Ron Hermann, project PI, is on the UTeach steering committee and serves as department liaison to UTeach.
  • Planning and implementing UTeach has required the cross-department and cross-college collaboration of faculty and administrators, which has resulted in the establishment of common goals and stronger communication across the university.

Challenges

  • Secondary program structures within the College of Education have been in place for decades and have taken time (and will continue to take time) to alter due to administrative inertia.
  • With the recent adoption of the UTeach program, several courses offered by the Department of Secondary Education have been replaced with UTeach math/science specific courses. This continues to cause friction between the Colleges of Education and Science & Mathematics.
  • The co-teaching of UTeach courses by a math or science education faculty and a college of education faculty is logistically challenging.
  • The time that faculty dedicate to implementing the new UTeach program comes at the expense of other necessary faculty activities.
  • Occasionally, administrators make programmatic decisions about STEM programs without consulting the faculty who are involved in these programs.

Sustainability

  • The Deans of the College of Education and the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics will continue to structure and support cross-college collaboration.

Lessons Learned

  • It is important to maintain open communication with the Department of Secondary Education so that future program changes do not come as a surprise, as well as to provide input on the proposed changes.
  • College of Education leadership and faculty are open and willing to work with science educators to serve students' best interests.
  • In the beginning, more faculty involvement would have been useful in the planning of the UTeach program.
  • Certain UTeach collaboration requirements do not mesh well with Towson's unusual faculty structure, in which science education faculty are housed in content departments rather than education departments.

Activities

  • Ron Hermann met frequently with faculty from the Department of Secondary Education about the secondary program requirements and possible changes to the program.
  • Ron Hermann attended monthly Teacher Education Executive Board meetings.
  • Project personnel attended many UTeach planning and steering committee meetings.
  • Project personnel met with the UTeach project directors to discuss how to sustain the PhysTEC project successes.
  • The UTeach Master Teacher has worked with PhysTEC future teachers and has maintained open communication with the project PIs.
  • The project PIs collaborated with other education faculty on NCATE reporting requirements.
  • The project PIs and a faculty member from the College of Education submitted and were awarded an 18-month grant to provide physics professional development for middle school teachers in Baltimore City Public Schools.
  • Ron Hermann (PI) and the Chair of Secondary Education submitted an NSF proposal to analyze physics students' classroom practices.