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Bradley Hilltopics

Spring 2009 • Volume 15, Issue 2  



New master's for teachers promotes math, science education

We need to refocus on science, mathematics, and innovation in order to compete effectively with other nations. Dr. Kelly McConnaughay


Bradley has a solution to recent reports calling for increased science and math preparation in K-12 schools across America. One of only five such programs in Illinois, the University now offers a Professional Master of Arts degree (PMA) in science, technology, and elementary math education (STEM). A PMA is a terminal degree, the highest degree attainable in this field, designed to address specific workforce and educational needs. Bradley’s program was developed to help increase elementary teachers’ knowledge and skills in those disciplines, enable them to better prepare students for success in science and math, and to develop a cadre of teacher leaders in elementary-level STEM education. The master’s degree program is for teachers currently licensed to teach in elementary schools in Illinois.

The PMA program was developed through a collaboration among Peoria School District 150, external consultants from NASA, the Illinois State Board of Education, the International Society for Technology in Education, the Illinois Math and Science Partnership, and Bradley faculty and staff in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, mechanical engineering, teacher education, and the Graduate School.

The program requires 33 hours of coursework taken over 32 months. Most is completed in three successive summers, and teachers take one course per semester during the two intervening academic years. They are also required to complete a capstone project. Much like an executive MBA, the rigorous courses focus on building content expertise so teachers can make applications to K-5 learning, and build knowledge and skills to meet specific educational needs in the context of the professional discipline.

The program is designed to meet the accreditation standards of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and is approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. All courses are taught by members of the graduate faculty from the colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Technology, and Education and Health Sciences.

The inaugural group of 25 teachers began classes last June. A second PMA program in environmental science education that is geared toward middle school and high school teachers is slated to start this summer. “We are very impressed by the dedication to improving student learning that the teachers demonstrated in their first summer’s work,” states Dr. Bob Wolffe, professor of teacher education.

The National Academy of Sciences, the National Governors Associations, and other groups have issued reports stating that America’s ability to succeed in the global economy is lagging.

Dr. Kelly McConnaughay, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and professor of biology, stresses, “We need to refocus on science, mathematics, and innovation in order to compete effectively with other nations.”

Visit to learn more about the new Professional Master of Arts degree.