The Center for Science, Mathematics and Technology Education (CSMTE) is an interdisciplinary center that brings together faculty and graduate students from Binghamton University's Graduate School of Education, the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences’ Division of Science and Mathematics, and the Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science.
The primary mission is to develop, implement, and disseminate creative, research-informed approaches to K-12 science and mathematics teacher preparation and career-long professional development. Such approaches seek to both raise the floor on standard practice and the ceiling of best practice by building on a foundation of cognitive learning theory, appropriate use of educational technology, and world class standards in Curriculum-Instruction-Assessment. The ultimate beneficiaries of enhancing teachers' pedagogical content knowledge and expertise include K-12 students (i.e. especially the economically disadvantaged, students of color, students with disabilities, and females who continue to be underrepresented in science and mathematics degree programs and careers), the schools, and society as a whole.
The need for teachers of science, mathematics and technologyFor some time, there have been serious shortages of qualified teachers in all areas of the sciences and mathematics. Because of this, our children are put at risk of poor teaching and limited learning in these essential fields. State, national and international assessments demonstrate that we are not adequately preparing future generations to continue the research and development that has made the United States the world leader in the sciences, medicine, engineering and technology. Over the past 20 years (and in contrast to our key international competitors), relatively fewer American-born women and men are choosing science, mathematics or engineering as their fields of study. College and university professors complain that too many students are ill prepared for college level work in these fields. Additionally, basic scientific and mathematical illiteracy is rising at the same time societal issues and opportunities, demand citizens and leaders who can understand and speak these “languages.” The challenge is to reverse this trend by providing better learning opportunities for teachers who will in turn develop greater science, mathematical and technological literacy in all their students.
Research is part of the equationAnother part of the CSMTE mission is to assist K-12 schools in selecting, using and studying the effects of technology in teaching and learning. For several decades, school districts have made investments in educational technology hardware, software, personnel and professional development. This investment has occurred with very little research or evaluation on what differences if any, the uses of technology have on teaching performance and learning performance. We do know that children have learned to use technology, enjoy using it, and expect to have access to it, but beyond the appearance that it has changed the way children work, we know little else about its effects. Thus, it is important for CSMTE to investigate and disseminate research on the effects of technology on teaching and learning.
Evaluation to be ongoing
It will also be important for CSMTE to conduct longitudinal studies related to individuals who graduate from the teacher preparation programs it developed. In this respect, CSMTE will develop a series of indicators on teaching performance to be assessed on an annual basis. This will enable CSMTE staff to examine the entry-level teaching effectiveness of graduates and their professional development throughout their careers. These investigations will include qualitative studies of children taught by program graduates related to their continued interest and work in the fields of science, mathematics, technology and engineering. Such studies are ambitious and difficult to fund, but can be a powerful method for accurately reporting the effects of specific teacher preparation programs and their eventual impact on children and society.
Housed within the Graduate School of Education, CSMTE seeks to create synergistic partnerships within and across campus units and local school districts that make us both competitive for external funds and place us in a position where we can learn from and with each other.