The University of Central Arkansas is among three state universities selected to start a program designed to change teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The university’s program, STEMTeach, will begin this fall and is meant to put more math and science teachers into Arkansas schools, said Steven Runge, interim vice president for academic affairs.
STEMTeach is part of STEM Works, an initiative of Gov. Mike Beebe’s Workforce Cabinet, and is modeled on UTeach, a program developed by University of Texas at Austin to prepare secondary science, math and computer science teachers. UTeach has expanded to 33 universities in 16 states.
STEM Works recently awarded UCA $216,666 to support the program, Runge said. That same amount will be available next year, but afterward, UCA plans to create endowments to generate money and keep the program going, he said.
The program allows students to explore teaching, obtain licensure and earn a degree in math or science disciplines, Runge said.
“This is a very positive change that we anticipate will significantly grow the number of licensed teachers we graduate from the science and math education programs at UCA,” he said in the news release.
Increasing the number of teachers and workers who are STEM trained is critical to building a knowledge-based economy, Runge said. The teachers will be trained to deliver “very exciting” science and math courses to Arkansas students. Hopefully, that will result in more students pursing a college education and careers in science, technology, engineering or math, Runge said.
Steve Addison, interim dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and co-director of the UCA program, said in the news release that the UCA program will make a difference.
“We will be able to prepare students to compete in the emerging global economy, and these students will be prepared to adapt to the changes they will experience over their careers,” Addison said. “This focus will enable teachers to develop classrooms that are learning-centered rather than teacher-centered.”