Getting Your Students Involved
Getting Your Students Involved


Getting undergraduate and graduate students into K-16 classrooms is powerful in several ways:
  • the students get valuable training in teaching and communicating, thus furthering NSF's (and other institutions') goal to "encourage the development of a cadre of professionally educated and trained teachers to ensure excellence in school education for every student and learner" (Directorate for Education and Human Resources Mission Statement

  • when the collaboration involves K-12 classrooms, the teachers involved can mentor the undergraduate and graduate students, who, in turn, bring cutting-edge science to the classroom; and

  • the students in the classroom, no matter what age, get exposed to good science and real, live scientists. Often students find it easier to bond with an undergraduate or graduate student closer in age to them than a teacher or faculty member.

  • Involvement can happen at several levels. You may want to have your graduate and undergraduate students help with the classes you are teaching. Perhaps you develop a relationship with the local school district or a single classroom and your students work with a teacher or group of classrooms. There may be NSF-sponsored programs at your institution or districts in which you and your graduate and undergraduate students can become involved.

    How does this connect to polar research? Depending on the scope of the project, your research could form the basis for, or a component of, the materials brought into the classroom. Consider using polar science as the foundation of an integrated undergraduate science course. Perhaps develop, with teachers, polar science units that can meet classroom learning goals.

    Funding Opportunities

  • Find out what exists and take advantage of it. Are there programs in which your university or institution is involved? Is an Education Department on campus? What do they have going?

  • If you are interested in working with K-12 classrooms, find out what already is in place in the local schools and districts. Inquire about where undergraduate and graduate students would have the greatest opportunity to learn and have impact.

  • Find out what TA training is offered; often these programs offer good ideas for teaching in the classroom.

  • As you develop, or become involved in a program, be aware of time commitments and the roles and expectations of parcticipants. Some of the commitments are extensive; to achieve its goals of preparing a cadre of science education leaders, the GK-12 program has graduate students spending considerable hours in K-12 classrooms.

  • If you are developing a program for your graduate and undergraduates, consider other partners. If you and your students are working with K-12 classrooms, involve the teachers in the planning. If you are working with undergraduate classes and labs, contact your Education Department to involve specialists who have ideas for best teaching practices.
  • Help your undergraduate and graduate students not only with the content, but also share best teaching practices. Generate ideas for active learning. Don't let your students be part of another generation that relies predominantly on "lecturing at" rather than "investigating with" the class.

  • Encourage your undergraduate and graduate students to seek feedback from the classroom and colleagues. Discuss the feedback with them; act on it.

  • Funding Opportunities

    NSF's Division of Undergraduate Education

    NSF's Division of Graduate Education

    Graduate Teaching Fellowships in K-12 Education (GK-12)
    ".....In order to strengthen K-12 science and mathematics education, provide pedagogical training and experience for graduate students, and enhance links between K-12 and higher education levels, NSF initiated the Graduate Teaching Fellowships in K-12 Education (GK-12) Program in 1999. GK-12 projects support graduate and advanced undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (SMET) students as content resources for K-12 teachers. These Fellows assist teachers in the science and mathematics content of their teaching; demonstrate key science and mathematics concepts; and gain pedagogical skills necessary at all education levels. The activity links the acknowledged excellence of U.S. graduate education with the excitement and critical needs of K-12 learning and teaching, and promotes interest in teaching and learning practices among graduate level institutions. Proposals may be submitted only by academic institutions that grant master's or doctoral degrees in SMET fields. GK-12 fellows, selected by awardee institutions, must be citizens, nationals, or permanent residents of the U.S. They must be graduate students enrolled in SMET programs or advanced undergraduate SMET majors who have demonstrated a strong proficiency in mathematics and science....."

    Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement
    ".....The Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) Program supports projects that are expected to improve undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education (SMETE) by increasing the availability and use of high-quality educational materials and the employment of effective pedagogical strategies. Proposals that address all levels of undergraduate education are encouraged; proposals to improve introductory-level courses, curricula, and laboratories are especially welcome. NSF invites proposals to improve undergraduate SMETE in a broad spectrum of institutions, including 2-year colleges, 4-year colleges, and universities. Projects may involve a single institution, a collaborative effort among several institutions, or a collaboration with business and industry partners. Note: While getting graduate and undergraduate students into the classroom does not directly tie into this program, it could include aspects....."

    Postdoctoral Fellowships In Science, Mathematics, Engineering And Technology Education (PFSMETE)
    ".....The National Science Foundation (NSF) recognizes that Ph.D. graduates in science, mathematics, engineering and technology (SMET) must help the Nation in addressing challenging issues in education across a broad spectrum of institutions and educational levels. NSF anticipates that, in the future, growing numbers of these graduates will assume leadership roles in contributing to the Nation's education enterprise ...... The PFSMETE program is aimed at recent Ph.D. graduates in science, mathematics, engineering or technology and seeks to draw broadly on the diversity of talent available in the U.S. population. Goals include:
  • to prepare Ph.D. graduates in science, mathematics, engineering and technology with the necessary skills to assume leadership roles in SMET education in our Nation's diverse educational institutions, and
  • to provide opportunities for outstanding Ph.D. graduates to develop expertise in a facet of science education research that would qualify them for the new range of educational positions that will come with the 21st century....."

  • Resources
    University of Toronto, T.A. Training Programme. Great resources and ideas for surviving teaching.

    Teaching Resource Center of the University of Virginia Reflections on Teaching: Personal Essays on the Scholarship of Teaching Edited by J. Jenry Morsman IV, William B. McAllister, and Marva A. Barnett. Selected essays by TA's and faculty about teaching aspects. This series would be more useful, perhaps, if the nuggets of information embedded in the essays were presented as a list of recommendations by topic......

    Preparation for Effective Teaching . . . a Web site created by the Center for Teaching and Learning of Western Kentucky University.

    Check out the educational sessions at the next meeting you attend. AGU, GSA, etc. often have education sessions that deal with undergraduate and graduate teaching.

    There's No Place Like Home....