The headline in USA Today tells the story: “Lack of math, science teachers prompts U.S. alarm.”
But the predicament has a circular nature: The newspaper also reported that U.S. high school students generally score below their international counterparts on math and science tests. Fewer interested students will result in even fewer prepared teachers. Unfortunately, that headline appeared in 2006 and not much has happened since then to reverse the downward spiral.
However, Loyola Marymount University’s Center for Math and Science Teaching (CMAST) aims to provide a remedy. Teachers attending seminar-style classes explore methods to improve the math and science performance of their students. Then, linking theory to practice, the teachers take those new methods to their classrooms. By approaching math and science education in an innovative, collaborative fashion, CMAST is working to reinvigorate educators and energize students.
“CMAST is committed to keeping a laser focus on finding solutions to challenges faced by mathematics and science students, teachers, parents, and faculty. The CMAST teacher is dedicated to increasing student engagement and achievement in mathematics and science,” said Kathy Clemmer, director of the center.
The center, started in 2007 and supported by continuing grants from the Stuart Foundation, offers three programs: MAST, in which science and math teachers learn and experiment with emerging teaching methods; the Transformational Leadership program, which cultivates teacher leaders; and MASAS, which instructs undergraduates to serve as peer tutors to help fellow students who are struggling in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) courses.
CMAST is working with the School of Education, Seaver College of Science and Engineering, and the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools Network to design solutions to convey math and science concepts in ways that get students excited about the subject.
Clemmer hopes that those involved in math and science education adopt an entirely new approach their craft. “Students are at the very core of what we do,” she said. “Our goal is to find solutions that remove obstacles to student achievement in mathematics and science. In the words of Yoda: ‘There is no try, only do.’”
For more information about the center and its programs, go to www.lmu.edu/cmast.