Monday, February 16, 2009

M/S/T Major at TCNJ Increases Technological Knowledge in Future Teachers

One of the fastest growing majors at TCNJ is the Math/Science/Technology (M/S/T) major. It is a unique multi-disciplinary program that prepares teachers who wish to specialize in math and science in early childhood education, elementary education, special education, and education of the deaf and hard of hearing.

The M/S/T major encourages future teachers to integrate technology and engineering principles into the curriculum that they will use. Steve O’Brien, a Technology Studies Professor at TCNJ, says that the M/S/T major is “one of very few, if not the only, undergraduate majors that ties math, science and technology together with education." Brian Rawlins, a recent TCNJ graduate who majored in M/S/T, says that the M/S/T courses provided him with “multiple strategies in developing lesson plans and increasing student understanding."

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills are severely underrepresented in early education right now. Schools must keep up with the rapidly increasing technology of today’s world. In order for schools to produce students with a working knowledge of today’s technology, the curriculum must instill technological principles at an earlier age. It is very important for teachers to be M/S/T literate in order to prepare their students for the world.

In the Department of Labor’s most recent job outlook for educators, it was found that, “employment of teachers is expected to grow by 12 percent between 2006 and 2016”, which will create more than 479,000 new positions. There is a definite shortage of teachers in STEM fields, so a student with a degree in M/S/T should have no trouble finding employment upon graduation. Rawlins, now teaching 6th grade math, says that the M/S/T major allowed him to apply for a variety of jobs and be more valuable to employers. TCNJ has had over 150 graduates and current majors in this field since 2000.

The M/S/T major provides further training which is equal to a minor in one of five specializations: mathematics, technology, biology, chemistry and physics. The M/S/T major is relatively new, but based on its success at TCNJ, it should begin to spread to other major national institutions.

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