A Comparison of STEM vs. non-STEM Majors as Career Changer Teachers in the Middle School Math and Science Classroom

  • NSF Noyce Award # 1540623
  • First Name Lienne
  • Last Name Medford
  • Email lienne@clemson.edu
  • Discipline Other:: middle level
  • Co-PI(s)

    Barbara Speziale, Clemson, bjspz@clemson.edu

  • Presenters

    Lienne Medford, Clemson,, Lienne@clemson.edu
    Michelle Fowler, Clemson, mefowler@greenville.k12.sc.us


This project responds to a gap in the research that examines the differences in success between STEM and non-STEM middle level math and science teachers. It looks at how background and preparation affect teacher and K-12 student success. This project benefits NSF as it provides information about what types of teacher preparation programs and candidates may experience the most success in the public schools.


We gathered data in a longitudinal student comparing STEM and non-STEM career changers. We gathered data based on interviews and then based on interviewees’ K-12 student scores.


Survey was sent to all available STEM and non-STEM graduates of program who were still teaching in middle schools. A stratified sampling was done to choose survey respondents to interview. Data shows clear success of both STEM and non-STEM program graduates compared to state K-12 student averages. Research was conducted by PI and doctoral student funded by grant.


Data shows that program graduates in longitudinal study are doing for better than the state average in both math and science standardized K-12 test scores. Now that research has been completed, we are moving on to dissemination and writing.

Broader Impacts

The impact of the project seems to be to show that career changers overall produce good results in the classroom. Further research may be required, but program graduates, both STEM and non-STEM, have higher scores than the state average in both math and science. It might encourage NSF to fund more MAT-type programs. Several proposals have been sent out to present findings, including one for this conference.

Posted on July 6, 2017