Southeast Missouri State University now has the only Master of Natural Science in STEM Education program in Missouri, and with it comes revised coursework to appeal to teachers of mathematics and polytechnic studies alongside teachers of biology, chemistry, earth science and physics.
The updates come as the Board of Regents today changed the name of the option on the Master of Natural Science (MNS) from science education to STEM Education.
The program aligns with the Educate to Innovate initiatives put in place by President Obama and Missouri’s efforts to integrate engineering across the science disciplines, according to Dr. Karl Kunkel, Southeast provost.
The previous MNS Science Education program was an interdisciplinary program focusing on the needs and issues science teachers face. Historically, the program’s students were teachers of biology, chemistry, earth science and physics. Recently, math teachers and teachers from the polytechnic studies master’s program were added to the MNS Science Education program.
In light of this change, courses in the program have been revised to be interdisciplinary in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), he said. The program’s name will now reflect the updated content and the added disciplines of the teachers in the program.
Dr. Rachel Morgan Theall, associate professor of chemistry, says “We revised all of our coursework within the MNS Science Education program so we could both include the new disciplines and reflect the interdisciplinary nature of STEM. These changes meet the needs of many of the teachers within the program who teach more than one science and sometimes mathematics at their schools. We want to help teachers to see the connections between science, technology, engineering, and math and to discuss the issues teachers face in an interdisciplinary manner.”
In an effort to appeal to educators and those interested in teaching dual credit courses, the revised curriculum places a larger emphasis on the teaching of the content rather than the content itself. Students in the program will now take a course titled “Leadership in STEM Education,” allowing teachers to learn about and to begin to see themselves as leaders in grant writing, curriculum design and development, and club advisors.
“We are trying to make the program more interdisciplinary so teachers aren’t forced into content specific programs,” she said.
In related action, the Regents today also changed the title of the Graduate Certificate in Heritage Education to Heritage Interpretation, and changed the title on the option on the Master of Arts in Public History from Heritage Education to Heritage Interpretation.