Augmenting Pre-service STEM Teacher Preparation with Professional Learning Communities

  • NSF Noyce Award #1660679
  • First Name Patrick
  • Last Name McGuire
    • DisciplineOther:: STEM
    • Co-PI(s)

      Rob Block, UCCS,
      Lisa Hines, UCCS,
      Tom Christensen, UCCS,

    • Presenters

      Patrick McGuire, UCCS,
      ; Robert Block, UCCS,


(a) Southern Colorado, like many regions across the United States, is struggling to place and retain STEM teachers in economically and ethnically diverse classrooms. The UCCS Noyce S&S program will help reconcile the STEM teacher shortage in Southern Colorado by increasing the number of highly qualified graduates and making a concerted effort to recruit, train, place and retain these graduates in the districts who are most in need.

(b) This project includes mutual benefits for each partner LEA and UCCS. LEAs will benefit by establishing a more targeted pipeline to UCCS Noyce graduates. Upon program completion, highly qualified and well-trained Noyce graduates will have the opportunity to fill teaching positions in these high needs classrooms. UCCS also reaps significant benefits from this project. The primary benefit is the ability to offer significant scholarship and stipend support to talented juniors, seniors or post-baccalaureate STEM professionals to pursue teaching careers.


Overarching project goals:

Our Noyce S&S program includes three distinct phases, with each phase completed in conjunction with UCCS and the three partner LEA’s. These phases include: (1) strategic recruitment of between 7-10 Noyce S&S candidates each academic year, including both undergraduate teacher candidates and post-baccalaureate STEM professionals, (2) targeted pre-service teacher training as offered by research-based UCCSTeach program, supplementary field-experiences and pre-ternships, and augmented by a series of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) led by in-service mentor teachers from partner LEAs, and (3) on-going support for in-service Noyce S&S graduates through the creation of a Noyce Support Network and additional opportunities for professional development (including both online and face-to-face opportunities) offered during the first three years of teaching.

(a) Goals for each phase of the project are outlined below.

Phase 1 – Strategic Recruitment Goals

1. Leverage a series of strategic recruitment activities to attract at least 20 new teacher candidates to explore teaching as a career at UCCS each year of the grant period

Phase 2 – Pre-Service Teacher Training Goals

1. Augment UCCSTeach program courses with additional field-teaching experiences in high-needs classrooms and structured PLCs led by experienced in-service mentor teachers from partner LEAs

Phase 3 – Noyce Support Network Goals

1. Establish a supportive and comprehensive infrastructure designed to support Noyce S&S alumni during their first three years of teaching in high-needs schools

(b) Activities for each phase of the project are outlined below.

Phase 1 – Strategic Recruitment Activities

1. Pre-ternships for freshmen and sophomores
2. UCCSTeach Step 1 and Step 2 recruitment courses
3. Targeted marketing for transfer students or pre-collegiate programs
4. Military and industry recruitment to attract post-bacc teacher candidates

Phase 2 – Pre-Service Teacher Training Activities

1. 32-credit hour UCCSTeach course sequence. Includes five field-based experiences and over 800 contact hours with K-12 students

2. Noyce scholars will have additional contact hours in high-needs classrooms (with partner LEAs) during upper division UCCSTeach coursework

3. Professional Learning Communities to supplement UCCSTeach course sequence. Noyce scholars will attend monthly PLCs co-facilitated by in-service mentor teachers from the partner LEAs.

Phase 3 – Noyce Support Network Activities

1. Establish a summer workshop ‘STEM Days of Summer’ to provide current and former Noyce scholars with additional professional development and networking opportunities

2. Work in conjunction with partner LEAs to improve induction programs and include targeted mentoring from in-service teachers involved with Noyce program


(a, b, and c) UCCS Noyce senior personnel and UCCSTeach faculty/staff will work with three partnering school districts (Colorado Springs School District 11, Falcon School District 49, and Harrison School District 2) to implement the UCCS Noyce program and make a concerted effort to achieve project goals in each phase. Project goals are achieved by measuring the effects of recruitment efforts (phase 1) efficacy of the pre-service teacher training activities, focusing primarily on the effects of the PLCs (phase 2) and retention & induction support efforts established through the Noyce network (phase 3).

New phase 2 project innovations, the focus of this poster, include a description of the Professional Learning Community (PLC) model. The PLC model associated with this project will serve as the primary mechanism to provide Noyce scholars with the relevant cultural pedagogical knowledge, and dispositional skillset required to be a successful teacher in a high-needs classroom.


(a) Over a five-year period, this program will provide up to 43 scholarships or stipends (S&S) award. Critical outcomes include the training of a diverse, culturally sensitive and skilled STEM teaching workforce with the necessary support systems to function in high needs school districts with higher retention and lower turnover rates than is currently the case.

(b) Key deliverables will include a series of curricula (tied to the Professional Learning Communities) co-generated by in-service mentor teachers from the partner LEAs and UCCS Noyce senior personnel.

(c) The first year of our project! Short term goals include recruiting our first cohort, in-service mentor teachers from the partner LEAs, and establishing pre-ternships to begin recruiting freshmen & sophomore undergraduate STEM majors for future years of the Noyce program.

Broader Impacts

(a) Local school districts stand to benefit from a more clearly established pipeline between the UCCS Noyce S&S program and open STEM positions in high needs schools. This will help to reconcile some of the local STEM teacher shortages in high need areas. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, middle and high school students in various STEM courses will reap significant benefits as a result of this program.

(b) We anticipate the UCCS Noyce S&S program will directly impact between 10,000-12,000 secondary-level (grades 7-12) students over a five-year period as Noyce scholars graduate and begin their teaching careers.

(c) We will disseminate the results of our S&S program model related to each phase of the program to other pre-service teacher programs across the country and will continue to actively share our results at the annual Noyce Summit.

Posted on July 6, 2017