Record Attendance at the 5th Annual UTeach Institute-NMSI Conference

June 14, 2011

A record 443 participants from 50 universities across 20 states attended the 2011 UTeach Institute-NMSI Conference.

A record 443 participants attended the fifth annual UTeach Institute-NMSI Conference, hosted May 24-26, 2011, at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin). In addition to faculty, staff and students representing universities currently implementing the UTeach program, a record number of universities interested in or planning to implement UTeach programs were represented. They were joined by funders, education policy makers, conference sponsors, and others interested in UTeach and UTeach replication.

Overall, 50 universities across 20 states and Washington, DC were represented, including the original 13 universities that began replicating UTeach in Fall 2008, another 8 that began in Fall 2010, and 28 other institutions considering or planning to implement UTeach programs in the future.

Each year, the UTeach Institute-NMSI Conference offers individuals around the country the opportunity to come together to learn about UTeach and discuss replication of the successful teacher preparation program and other issues in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teacher preparation through a variety of interactive presentations, workshops, roundtables, panels, and other meetings.

Edith Ekilson, a master teacher for the UKanTeach program, explained, “What I appreciate about the UTeach conference is the opportunity to learn from the growing community of master teachers and faculty from across the country. The conference offers a valuable opportunity to assess your own program from a national perspective. Our team returned home re-energized and excited to share what we learned. For me, the energy gained at the conference was not lost upon our return home, as is often the case, but instead sparked an exploration of possible changes and improvements to the UKanTeach program with engaged colleagues. Attendance at this year’s conference was a very worthwhile experience for me.”

This year, a total of 88 sessions were offered, both by UTeach Institute staff and individuals involved in UTeach programs nationwide. Students, faculty, and staff also presented 26 posters in a competitive poster session. Three posters were honored by an independent panel of judges as best in their categories. Joel Smith, a VolsTeach student at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, won the Open Topic (Student) category with his poster, “Technology Based Lesson on Weather Predictions and Data.” Shannon Phillips and Kristen Bentley, CSUteach students from Cleveland State University, won the Course Exposition (Student) category with their poster, “Learning About Teaching in Functions and Modeling.” Middle Tennessee State University’s MTeach program coordinator, Leigh Gostowski, and master teacher, Sally Millsap, won the Instructor/Staff poster category with their submission, “Maybe There Is a Free Lunch!”

Nobel Prize winning physicist and Associate Director of Science for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Dr. Carl Wieman, delivered the opening plenary in conjunction with the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) Conference. Wieman highlighted the need for improved science instruction nationwide and discussed what we have learned from brain research on effective instructional strategies in college physics classrooms.

Chief Executive Officer of Change the Equation, Dr. Linda Rosen, delivered the keynote address, discussing the critical role of STEM education in the context of future workforce needs in the U.S. and highlighting her group’s mobilization of the business community to improve the quality of STEM teaching and learning.

Closing plenary speakers, Drs. Jere Confrey and Alan Maloney from the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation in the College of Education at North Carolina State University, challenged the national UTeach community to re-examine the critical elements of the UTeach model in light of advances in the learning sciences and technology.

Highlights for the 60 students and recent graduates in attendance included the National Math and Science Initiative’s session launching the WeTeach Network, a place for students and graduates of UTeach affiliated programs to stay connected, share best practices, develop a learning community to foster innovation in STEM teaching, and search for jobs. Students from the existing WeTeach Student Association unanimously decided to join the efforts of the WeTeach Network and were enthusiastic about the network website, which provides a useful infrastructure in helping facilitate communication and collaboration among students, graduates, groups, and district partners. The WeTeach Network is governed by a student and graduate led board of directors. The pilot phase of the WeTeach Network website was launched at the conference, and all student and graduate conference attendees were invited to join the network during this pilot phase.

This year’s conference was made possible by the generous support of ExxonMobil Corporation, the National Math and Science Initiative, National Instruments, Siemens Foundation, and SMART Technologies.

Currently, 4,767 students are enrolled in 22 UTeach programs across the country. For more information, visit our Publications page.