UCM Team Provides STEM Grant Leadership
Contact: Jeff Murphy
A career education team at UCM has been chosen to provide leadership in Missouri for a multi-state grant that aims to increase participation of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and math, known nationally as STEM and METS in Missouri.
The $2.5 million Extension Services grant is funded by the National Science Foundation. It was awarded to the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity Education Foundation for its Equity Pipeline project. Missouri, California, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin are involved in this collaborative effort, which involves state teams and an extension services group of leading researchers and practitioners in gender equity and STEM education. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education selected the Missouri Center for Career Education at UCM as its partner to provide training and resources for school and community leaders.
At UCM, Michael Wright, dean of the College of Education, and Ben Yates, coordinator of technology education in the Department of Career Education, will assist the state’s work with STEM. They also are involved with Project Lead the Way, a non-profit organization which provides a rigorous curriculum designed to prepare students to be successful in science, engineering and engineering technology. UCM recently became the second university in the nation to meet national certification requirements to provide training for students to teach PLTW courses. Only four universities have met this certification.
“It shows that the Missouri Center for Career Education and UCM are seen as state leaders in career and technical education,” said Nancy Fedorchak, coordinator of professional development at MCCE, commenting on campus involvement in the grant. She is serving as the state project leader.
According to Fedorchak, the project seeks to broaden participation of girls and women in STEM education fields by supporting research, dissemination of research, and extension services in education that will lead to a larger and more domestic science and engineering workforce. Projects will contribute to the knowledge base addressing gender-related differences in learning and in the educational experiences that affect student interest, performance, and choice of careers. They will also look at how pedagogical approaches and teaching styles, curriculum, student services, and institutional culture contribute to causing or closing gender gaps that persist in certain career fields. Projects will disseminate and apply findings, evaluation results, and proven good practices and products.
Although female performance in high school mathematics now matches that of males and is closely approaching male performance in high school science, Fedorchak said females are significantly less likely to pursue postsecondary education or a career in the STEM fields. This is also true of some female adult learners.
“We will also have the opportunity to learn and develop more skills at working with non-traditional students and in encouraging them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math,” Fedorchak said.
MCCE will receive $14,500 over the next two years for its involvement as a state leader in the grant.
“We will have a core team consisting of myself and our eight career education coordinators who are regionally located through the state,” Fedorchak said. “We will be working with a larger state team…a mixture of people who have a stake in getting more women into these (STEM) areas.”
This group will include representatives of DESE, other college and university campuses, career centers, and individuals involved in efforts such as Project Lead the Way. People involved in industry and organizations who have a mission to work with women in STEM fields will also be involved. The state team will participate in three web casts and six webinaires and host the state technical assistant four times each year. MCCE also will host an annual meeting of the state team to work toward these goals.