Watson Chronicle


Watson College News

UNCW to Offer Integrated STEM Programs in 2017

Sunday, January 08, 2017

UNCW will offer an Integrated STEM (iSTEM) certificate program for educators beginning in summer 2017, and an iSTEM minor with teaching licensure will be offered in fall 2017 to incoming freshmen pursuing a B.S. degree in the STEM disciplines of biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental studies, mathematics or physics.

The Watson College of Education and UNCW’s College of Arts and Sciences will jointly offer the programs. They are designed to meet a growing need for secondary science and math teachers, and a future need for professionals qualified to teach in the integrated areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The National Science Foundation (NSF), through the Noyce Foundation, funded the two-year program development effort, led by WCE and CAS, with support from engineers at NC State University and STEM professionals and educators in the field.

iSTEM Certificate Program

The iSTEM certificate program is designed for secondary mathematics, science and computer science teachers who would like to learn how to successfully integrate important concepts across STEM disciplines in the high school classroom. The program will teach educators how to emphasize the rich connections between STEM disciplines, break the curriculum silos, and develop effective inquiry and project-based instruction.

“The iSTEM certificate program is one of the first of its kind in the country, seeking to develop highly competent STEM teachers who can use an integrated approach to teaching and learning,” said Mahnaz Moallem, professor in the Department of Instructional Technology, Foundations and Secondary Education at the Watson College and iSTEM program coordinator.

Candidates will complete 18 credit hours of graduate-level courses, field placements and projects in a cohort-model blended format program designed to accommodate working professionals.

UNCW’s Graduate School is currently accepting applications for the first cohort of the program, scheduled to begin in the first summer session with a schedule adjusted to accommodate the public school schedule.

iSTEM with Teaching Licensure Minor

An iSTEM minor will be introduced in fall 2017. The program is designed for UNCW freshmen pursuing a B.S. degree in the STEM disciplines of biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental studies, mathematics or physics. Upon successful completion of the program, students will graduate with a bachelor of science degree in their chosen field of study and secondary teaching licensure.

“The program provides a great opportunity for students to learn about the interconnectedness of STEM disciplines, and having teaching licensure will give students additional career options,” said Gabriel Lugo, associate professor of mathematics and statistics and program coordinator for the iSTEM minor. “We hope the program will attract students who had not previously considered teaching as a career path.”

Students who choose to pursue an iSTEM minor will have a dedicated iSTEM advisor and participate in courses that integrate content from two or more STEM disciplines. They will also take secondary education and instructional technology courses at WCE.

“Understanding how STEM disciplines interact and reinforce each other fosters scientific thinking with approaches such as modeling, experimentation, simulation, optimization, computation and invention,” Lugo said. “This, combined with valuable knowledge and experience in the field of education, will give students vital credentials for their future careers.”

Program Design and Development

A large team comprised of faculty from across the university and STEM professionals and educators in the field was assembled to assist in program development and ensure that the new iSTEM programs will address needs in schools and in the workplace.

In addition to Moallem and Lugo, Carol McNulty, Chris Gordon, Sridhar Narayan, Gene Tagliarini and Amy Reamer were also principal investigators on the grant. McNulty is associate dean for Academic and Student Affairs at WCE, Gordon is assistant director of UNCW's Center for Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (CESTEM), Narayan and Tagliarini are professors in UNCW's Department of Computer Science, and Amy Reamer is engineering adjunct faculty at NC State.

Additional scientists and educators on the UNCW curriculum design and development team were Sridhar Varadarajan, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry; Jeff Hill, department chair and professor of environmental studies; Russ Herman, professor of physics and mathematics; Stuart Borrett, associate professor of biology and marine biology; Dennis Kubasko, associate professor of secondary science education; Angelia Reid-Griffin, associate professor of middle grade science education; and Shelby Morge, associate professor of middle grade mathematics.

UNCW academic leaders including Ron Vetter, Martin Posey, Cecil Willis and Sue Kezios also provided strong support for the project.