Graduate Teaching Fellows Enhancing STEM Education in South Carolina Schools
University of South Carolina
The impact of the program on the graduate students has been researched by examining assessment records from all three years of our Track 1 program. Qualitative and quantitative data was collected from Fellows, their advisors, and university records. Fellows and advisors all report that Fellows benefit from improved teaching skills. Interestingly, many Fellows reported that participation improved their research skills. For example, one Fellow said, “I have a new perspective on my research. I have different questions and more fundamental questions. The kids always ask me ‘Why? What are you doing? What is this?’ So, I’m asking the same kinds of questions when I make decisions. I analyze things at a more fundamental level.” Many advisors agree. One said, “He’s a lot more mature. He seems to have an understanding of education’s importance—his own education as well as the education of others. That translates over to his work with me. When I ask him to do something, he understands that he needs a certain background, and he goes off and learns it, finds ways to deal with that so he can do a better job of educating himself and solving problems.” We are currently in the first year of our Track 2 program. We will continue to examine such benefits as we expand from a program focused exclusively on engineering problem solving to one that emphasizes authentic inquiry in all NSF-supported disciplines.