UTeach Meets Challenges and Celebrates Milestone

October 6, 2022

UTeach at The University of Texas at Austin is celebrating 25 years of preparing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers. The program combines rigorous subject matter work with secondary teaching certification without adding time or cost to four-year degrees. This makes it uniquely qualified to meet the current educational crisis, which is marked by a shortage of well-prepared teachers who both know their subject matter and are committed to teaching as a long-term, professional career.

“The best way to create enthusiastic STEM teachers is to start with STEM majors and inspire some to become teachers,” said Jeff Kodosky, Cofounder and Business and Technology Fellow, National Instruments, who inspired and supported the early development of UTeach. “This simple but brilliant idea made a lot of sense to me. It is exactly what UTeach does and why it is so successful.”

To mark the 25th anniversary, there will be a year-long campaign, which began with UTeach Austin student-led events on World Teachers’ Day, October 5, and continues with a 25th Anniversary Kickoff Celebration highlighting the UTeach Austin program on October 12. The Kickoff Celebration will feature a reception and showcase of UTeach initiatives and programs, as well as three panel presentations spotlighting how the program started, how it’s going, and what’s next.

“UTeach began in 1997 as a partnership between master teachers, STEM education faculty, and scientists and mathematicians. We have learned a lot since then about preparing teachers, but some of the first insights were right from the start: People who consider teaching should get to try it out right away. They need to know both what to teach and how to teach it. And some of the strongest students will choose teaching not as a backup but as their passion in life,” said Dr. Michael Marder, UTeach Executive Director and Professor of Physics at UT Austin.

Teachers trained using the UTeach model confer significant learning gains in mathematics and science to their students when compared to students of non-UTeach teachers. An independent research study found that secondary students taught by UTeach graduates outperformed all students in Texas by an additional 4 months of learning in math and 5.7 months in science over the course of one academic year.

Paige Roberts, a UTeach Austin graduate and high school science teacher, said, “One of the strengths of the UTeach program is that it’s extremely content focused and that it teaches you pedagogy through the lens of content.”

In addition to improving student learning outcomes, UTeach programs have increased the number of secondary STEM teachers produced by universities across the U.S. The program is currently being implemented at 56 colleges and universities in 23 states and the District of Columbia. In the past 25 years, UTeach programs have produced more than 7,600 STEM teachers. This significant growth has occurred despite overall national decreasing trends in teacher production.

The program has also generated a number of STEM education initiatives, all supporting the improvement of STEM education and the public education system overall. UTeach offers professional development, a Computer Science pathway, and accelerated certification programs; supports a national network of UTeach alumni; supports a professional organization, the UTeach STEM Educators Association; and hosts a yearly national conference. More information about UTeach is available at uteach.utexas.edu.

UTeach envisions a public educational system where all students regularly encounter high-quality STEM teachers with whom they identify and who engage students in inquiry-based, personally relevant, and rigorous STEM coursework that prepares them to pursue a variety of post-secondary STEM disciplines and careers. The UTeach motto is “We prepare teachers. They change the world.”

Please direct inquiries to Amy Winters at winters@uteach.utexas.edu.