CIRTL-UTA is part of the national Aspire Alliance, a program designed to diversify STEM faculty in higher education and improve their ability to be effective teachers. Aspire is funded by the National Science Foundation’s INCLUDES program (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science). The ultimate goal of the Aspire Alliance is to improve participation of underrepresented minorities in STEM education. An important component of the ASPIRE Alliance is to provide professional development for Ph.D. students who want to become teachers at community colleges. Community colleges are where many underrepresented minority students in STEM start their path through higher education.
CIRTL-UTA is now providing support and professional development for graduate students who want to become STEM teachers at community colleges. We work in partnership with Tarrant County College (TCC) to encourage PhD students to consider teaching science and mathematics courses at community colleges.
As part of this project CIRTL-UTA provides workshops on faculty careers at community colleges, and classroom visits for graduate students, to see what classes are actually like at TCC. The program will also support some of the UTA doctoral students to do a longer teaching practicum at TCC under the guidance of mentor teachers. Similar programs are being conducted around Texas, and in California, Florida, and Iowa. At UTA, over 30 graduate students have made classroom visits at TCC, and 10 Aspire Teaching Fellowships have been awarded to support the practicum experience at TCC.
The Aspire Alliance is a consortium of the national CIRTL Network, and the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU), North America's oldest higher education association. UTA is a member of both organizations.
For more Information about ASPIRE Alliance, please visit: http://www.aplu.org/projects-and-initiatives/stem-education/aplu-aspire/