College of Education enters into T-STEM partnerships with Rice, UTMB-Galveston

By Marc Speir
University News Service
April 24, 2007

The College of Education at Texas State University-San Marcos will be teaming up with Rice University and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB-Galveston) to provide guidance in teaching the sciences and educational leadership for a new T-STEM (Texas- Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) funds the recently approved Southeast Regional T-STEM Center, housing it in the heart of the gulf coast region on the campus of UTMB-Galveston.

The 15-month starting budget of the center is approximately $1.25 million with an option to renew funding in the future. One of seven centers established statewide in the past year, the Southeast Regional T-STEM Center will serve as a primary resource and support for science education in the area. The purpose of the center is to facilitate learning in the sciences and increase the number of individuals interested and prepared for science-based careers.

Rice University and UTMB-Galveston will offer expertise on the cutting edge of scientific research, while the College of Education will contribute by providing training for teachers in the most effective methods of science pedagogy for the intermediate, secondary and high school levels.

The T-STEM office will engage a variety of business, industry, community and educational partners in carrying out its mission. Its broad activities will include integrated stakeholder involvement, educator leadership, professional development, research-based curriculum design, assessment and evaluation, and materials support.

Serving as project director is Clifford Houston, current president of the American Society for Microbiology along with co-directors Rosalinda B. Barrera, dean of the College of Education at Texas State, and Roland Smith, Jr., associate provost and adjunct professor of education and sociology at Rice University.

“The College of Education is pleased to participate in this project for a number of different reasons,” Barrera said. “One, this project is an ambitious response to a critical educational need in the state and nation. Two, T-STEM will allow for interdepartmental collaboration within the college and inter-institutional collaboration across the state.  Three, the center will provide opportunities for the college to strengthen its science education base through interactions with diverse stakeholders throughout Texas.”

The center will have a number of faculty associates from all three higher education institutions, including three faculty members from the College of Education: Julie Jackson, assistant professor of science education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Miguel Guajardo, assistant professor of educational and community leadership in the Department of Educational Administration and Psychological Services, and Larry Price, associate dean for research in the College of Education. Marsha Ricks, a former science education program director at UTMB-Galveston, will oversee the day-to-day operations of the center.

School district partners include Houston, Cypress-Fairbanks, Galveston, and La Marque. Other project partners include Regional Education Service Centers III and V, Galveston College, Houston Museum of Natural Sciences, NASA Johnson Space Center, Galveston County Regional Mathematics and Science Collaborative, Gulf Coast Workforce Board, East Texas Area Health Education Center, Galveston County Economic Alliance, Galveston Economic Development Partnership and the Bay Area Houston Alliance.

Barrera said the ultimate aim of the project is clear and attainable.

“We will work toward this goal (of increased STEM careers) by building an extensive network of highly qualified STEM-trained teachers that can affect systemic change and increase the STEM interest and learning of their students,” Barrera said. “Especially students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds and female students.”

For additional information, contact Betty Boyd in the College of Education at (512) 245-2150.