Beyond the Transcript: Factors Influencing the Pursuit of Science and Mathematics Coursework



The nation's middle schools suffer from a shortage of qualified science and mathematics teachers. To address this need, one university in the southwest has developed the Modeling Institute, a master's degree program for in-service elementary educators interested in teaching science and mathematics at the middle school level. Identifying the profile of teachers interested in pursuing additional coursework in science and mathematics is necessary to more effectively attract candidates and to better facilitate the program. Thus, we administered an online survey to in-service teachers to uncover needs and influencing factors. Data revealed that the majority (60%) of 324 in-service teachers are interested in pursuing additional education, beyond that reflected on their current transcript, as a route to becoming more competent in teaching and integrating science and mathematics. The present study provides a plausible profile of K-8 certified teachers interested in pursuing a master's degree program or postbaccalaureate coursework to achieve content expertise in science and mathematics. Such a profile can assist universities in designing math- and science-related programs that meet the needs of in-service teachers and districts they serve by increasing the number of teachers who are qualified (by transcript and test scores) and competent in their content.