January 17, 2020

SIU receives approval for chemical education specialization

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale this year will begin training more students directly for the job of teaching chemistry in high schools.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education recently approved SIU’s new specialization for the Bachelor of Science in Chemistry in chemical education. The approval represents the culmination of more than seven years of effort by university personnel.

Future graduates from the Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry with a specialization in chemical education will meet Illinois' documented need for trained chemistry educators in grades 9 through 12.

Students can begin enrolling in the program this summer.

Demand for secondary science teachers

Senetta Bancroft, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction and chemistry and biochemistry, said a fall 2016 survey of more than 300 undergraduate SIU students enrolled in chemistry courses revealed a strong interest in a specialization that would lead to both a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and an initial license to teach high school chemistry. Additional statewide surveys showed a high need for science teachers in secondary education.

“The new program supports the career goals of SIU students and will help to meet a demand within the Southern Illinois region and the state for qualified chemistry teachers,” Bancroft said.

Combines chemistry with educator courses

Students in the specialization will be required to complete courses similar to those of any chemistry major at SIU, Bancroft said, as well as advanced courses in education and student teaching for a total of 132 credit hours.

“A unique feature of SIU’s program is that it includes a course in which each student in the program will be mentored by a chemistry faculty member to engage with a research project,” Bancroft said. The required courses align with American Chemical Society guidelines for undergraduate programs as well as the National Science Teaching Association standards for chemistry teachers.

The new specialization joins another, similar specialization offered, the Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences with a specialization in biology education at SIU.