Master of arts in science teaching (MAst) celebrates first six years

Lincoln North Star High School science classroom image.
Former broadcast meteorologist and MAst graduate Tony DeGrand in his Lincoln North Star High School science classroom.

Master of arts in science teaching (MAst) celebrates first six years

21 Apr 2017    By Brad Stauffer

Sixty new middle and high school science teachers over six years. Sixty people who likely would not be teaching science today had it not been for the College of Education and Human Science’s Master of Arts with emphasis in science teaching (MAst) program. Established in 2010, the MAst program undertook the task of recruiting science majors and professionals to become science teachers. 

The program’s development was initially supported by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Robert Noyce, Track I, Phase I grant (2010-2016) that also provided 60 stipends to pay for the full cost of the master’s degree with initial teacher certification. MAst is a 14-month program in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education (TLTE) that prepares post-baccalaureate science majors and professionals in science fields to teach in Nebraska secondary schools and elsewhere.

Elizabeth Lewis
NSF Noyce grant Principal
Investigator Elizabeth Lewis.
The project team, led by principal investigator (PI) Elizabeth Lewis, associate professor in TLTE, was also awarded a second $800,000, three-year Noyce grant in September 2015 to support 30 more individuals to become science teachers, along with funding to continue to research the practices of beginning science teachers. The MAst program engages science professionals in a research-informed program of study that supports them in developing the knowledge, skills and dispositions necessary to meet the challenges of the modern American secondary science classroom.

Co-PIs, Dan Claes, professor and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences; Tiffany Heng-Moss, professor of entomology and associate dean in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources; and David Harwood, professor of earth and atmospheric sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, work with Lewis to identify promising new science teachers.

“It is with pride that we can say many of our MAst preservice science teachers who were the first to graduate in 2012 and 2013 are now in their fourth and fifth years of teaching,” said Lewis. “Many of these Noyce-supported alumni science teachers are now department chairs and mentoring their own student teachers.”

With Noyce grant funding, students in the program receive $16,000 stipends that cover their tuition costs. The program strategically addresses national and state shortages of science teachers. In turn, these teachers will inspire their students to pursue further education and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)—future professionals that the United States urgently needs to remain competitive on an ever-changing global stage.

In addition to serving recent bachelor degree graduates from science fields, the MAst program has also successfully helped individuals who have been working in STEM professions transition into secondary science teaching careers. MAst graduates include, among many different types of scientists, a medical doctor, a broadcast meteorologist, and a veterinarian.

The second Noyce grant is continuing to support the MAst program’s history of success. Candidates who enroll in the MAst program and receive Noyce stipends agree to teach for two years in a high-needs school district in the U.S. Over 95 percent of participants complete the program and acquire their teaching certificate. In the first five cohorts of students, about 70 percent have stayed in Nebraska to teach science. Additionally, 93 percent of those teachers who finished their two-year commitment in high-needs schools continued working in those schools.

A new report of the MAst program’s first six years with the NSF Noyce, Track I, Phase I grant is available at http://go.unl.edu/noycereport. It features a history and overview of the program and highlights many of the accomplishments. The report also profiles Nebraska MAst graduates and introduces a longitudinal research study, led by Lewis, involving MAst participants and the effectiveness of teaching practices of beginning science teachers.

“This project has been an exciting time for all of us here at Nebraska,” said Lewis, “and we are delighted to continue our efforts to raise the bar in science education. We appreciate NSF’s vote of confidence with the second Noyce grant and just awarded 10 stipends to support more individuals to become science teachers starting in May.”

For more information about the MAst science teacher preparation program please visit the MAst webpage.


College of Education and Human Sciences
Teaching, Learning & Teacher Education