Professional Development for Rural Stem Teachers on Data Science and Cybersecurity: A University and School Districts’ Partnership
The professional development (PD) was a six-week long summer-intensive NSF- funded project that took place at a large university in western Texas. It was designed to provide a research-rich learning environment in data science and cybersecurity for STEM teachers in the region, which is mainly rural. Because of geographical isolation, rural teachers lack the resources to prepare their 6th -12th grade students for STEM careers and often find it difficult to bring innovative science teaching into their schools. The team was comprised of nine teachers, five professors, and six graduate students. In analyzing teacher reflections, we found the teachers gradually developing a scientist persona. They acquired sophisticated pedagogical knowledge to integrate complex concepts into their 6th-12th STEM curriculum without sacrificing the state standards, while creating a community of learners. This led to reduced feelings of isolation often experienced by rural teachers. It is clear that partnerships between universities and rural school districts can transform the way STEM disciplines are delivered, creating a strong pipeline for rural students in the STEM workforce.
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