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Messaging, tools, and templates based on data
Insights on changing perceptions about teaching

Facts and data

How was this toolkit developed?

All the resources in this toolkit have been heavily tested in departments that prepare future math and science teachers, reviewed by a panel of teacher education experts (including practicing secondary math and science teachers), used with math and science undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty. All the messaging, tools, and templates are based on data gathered by Dr. Wendy Adams from student interviews and large-scale surveys conducted as part of the development and validation of the PTaP instrument.

This research identified that common misperceptions about the profession were preventing many students from considering teaching as a profession. Many of these were around factual data that could be easily shared with students and the people they are likely to go to for advice about careers (e.g., faculty, parents, peers).

Development and validation of the PTaP instrument followed best practices in the development of formative assessments of instruction. This work included extensive student interviews, expert interviews, large-scale data collection, and statistical analyses including a factor analysis. This work identified the most prominent, empirically determined themes in students’ responses about their perceptions of secondary math and science teaching.

Data collected from twelve institutions are shown in the tables on this page. Here you can see that when comparing students who want to become a teacher with those who do not, there are significant differences between these two populations for each category.

Table 1a. PTaP v2

To identify those who want to teach, we combined those who chose either agree or strongly agree on the statement I want to become a grade 7–12 teacher. For those who do not want to teach, we combined students who chose disagree or strongly disagree with this statement. If a student chose neutral, we did not include them in this analysis.

All scores in Table 1a. are % agreement with what the experts identified as positive and accurate perceptions of the profession.

I want to become a grade 7-12 teacher Neutral No Yes
N=777 156 481 140
Overall (53) 39.4 66.8
Personal enjoyment 12.2 87
As a career choice 37.1 75.8
Support by others 48.1 69
Department values and encourages teaching 35.5 59.7
Department supports me teaching 47.2 64.1
Employee benefits and security 29.4 48.4
Teaching is scientific 50.1 80.7
Nurturer 33 86.9
Back up plan 42.1 49.2
All students can learn 59.3 80

Additional insights on how to change perceptions on secondary math and science teachers were gained by working with the Teacher Advisory Group (TAG) at the Colorado School of Mines. The TAG, which is composed of science and math teachers in addition to
industry professionals and state department of education personnel, were provided data on the profession. This data included information on the state’s retirement system, survey data on job satisfaction of physics majors, and national retention data. The TAG tackled the data, and, in the end, everyone left with a higher opinion about the benefits of the teaching profession. In turn, teachers were surprised at the realities of industry. This conversation served as the basis of the Get the Facts Out workshop.

Table 1b. PTaP v2

A few specific statements of interested are listed in Table 1b. with raw numbers of students who indicated agreement with these statements. The final set of statements listed “I would if...” comprises a group of four statements such as “I would become a grade 7–12 teacher if the pay were equal to my other career options.”

I want to become a grade 7-12 teacher Neutral No Yes
N=777 156 481 140
Pursue teaching cert at my institution 5 85
Pursue teaching cert other route 18 16
I would if… 179 45

Get The Facts Out workshops have been used with multiple audiences over two years, both locally in Colorado and at national conferences. Feedback is continually collected, and modifications are made to continue to refine the content. A year after the first TAG meeting described above, the latest version of the workshop was taken back to the TAG for their feedback on what it had become. They had suggestions to enrich it further and provided fact- checking. The current version can be found in the Toolkit with instructions on how to customize the data for your local region.

Faculty at Colorado School of Mines have given variations of this presentation to a variety of student groups over a two-year span. These groups have included: students taking a required course for their major, student clubs, students employed by residence life, and students who have expressed explicit interest in becoming teachers. The results are generally positive, with the most notable outcome being 12 out of 30 students signing up to meet with a teacher preparation advisor after one such presentation in a required class for Engineering Physics majors. Following success with the Get the Facts Out initiative, Dr. Adams acquired support from 100Kin10 to organize a Project Team, composed of all members, institutions, and societies listed at the front of this book, with the goal of working together to combat myths surrounding teaching.

The team identified a set of positive messages about the profession to combat the misperceptions that were identified by both the PTaP research and the American Physical Society’s Panel on Public Affairs report titled Recruiting Teachers in High-Needs STEM Fields: A Survey of Current Majors and Recent STEM Graduates. These messages were tested through student interviews and a survey of undergraduate and graduate students majoring in STEM disciplines. Only those messages that were perceived as positive by students were retained. These messages comprise the content of the various additional tools and templates, and the tookit you are reading today.