Dakota Wesleyan University partners with PAST Foundation to offer STEM instruction

Friday, March 21, 2014

For the first time, teachers can acquire an applied Master of Arts in Education degree in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) instruction – and the first cohort of students begin this June at Dakota Wesleyan University.

STEM instruction is a 39-credit program which focuses on the practice of using Transdisciplinary Problem-Based Learning (TPBL) as an instructional strategy coupled with community-relevant strategies. The STEM instruction program is designed for educators who already hold state teaching certification and can be useful to educators outside of the sciences, as well as within.

“The South Dakota Department of Education and the state legislature strongly encouraged the integration of STEM into all facets of the K-12 educational experience,” said Derek Driedger, the associate dean of digital learning at DWU.

A partnership with the PAST Foundation of Ohio to deliver an online M.A. with STEM instruction positions the university as the primary provider of this training in the state and region.

This program at DWU was developed as an educational partnership between the PAST Foundation and Dakota Wesleyan University.  The PAST Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making education better by promoting transdisciplinary, problem-based science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning.

“Several years ago, Dakota Wesleyan University committed itself to being the leader in science education in the region; when we were able to secure the funding to build the $11.5 million Corrigan Health Sciences Center, we took our first step toward that goal,” said Dr. Rocky VonEye, DWU provost and former dean of the Donna Starr Christen College of Healthcare, Fitness and Sciences. “Partnering with the PAST Foundation to create STEM instruction at DWU is another step in that commitment and confirms that the university isn’t afraid to take innovative measures to be a leader in education.”

Through this partnership, K-12 teachers will explore contemporary instructional practice as related to STEM disciplines. The lead faculty members for this online program are from the PAST Foundation, who are also members of The Ohio State University Department of Anthropology.

“DWU Online programs provide relevant, applied, anytime learning to support the personal and professional goals of the adult learner,” Driedger added. “The STEM instruction program will equip existing teachers with the mindset and tangible skills necessary to apply new methods of instruction and excite students with hands-on learning; it’s designed to help educators become leaders in their schools and in their school districts.

Combined with existing DWU courses, graduate students will emerge from this master’s program with strong practical experience and a well-grounded understanding of how to successfully implement TPBL, how to clearly demonstrate the practice, and what to share as evidence of effectiveness.

All courses have a strong online component, but can be connected to and/or affiliated with school professional development for both in-service and pre-service teachers. STEM instruction will open for the inaugural cohort this June. 

Categories: News
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