Some focus on chemistry. Some specialize in biology or geology. Others have an expertise in physics.
But what happens when, as a new science teacher, you enter a classroom and are expected to teach in a subject area that's not your specialty? This is the issue faced by nearly two-thirds of all new science teachers, according to new research by Julie Luft, Athletic Association Professor of Mathematics and Science Education, and her former student, alumnus Ryan Nixon. This research was recently mentioned in the Teacher Beat blog on Education Week's website.
Luft and Nixon found that 64 percent of new science teachers taught at least one course out of field in their first five years in the classroom, while 40 percent taught mostly or entirely out of field during that period. They also found that out-of-field teaching was more prevalent in rural and urban schools, and in schools with high numbers of English-language learners.
"It's just adding to the challenges these students are already facing to be given these teachers who aren't prepared to teach the things they're teaching," said Nixon.
Related links: Department of Mathematics and Science Education