College and university science departments are increasingly taking an active role in improving science education. Perhaps as a result, a new type of specialized science faculty position within science departments is emerging--referred to here as science faculty with education specialties (SFES)--where individual scientists focus their professional efforts on strengthening undergraduate science education, improving kindergarten-through-12th grade science education, and conducting discipline-based education research. Numerous assertions, assumptions, and questions about SFES exist, yet no national studies have been published. Here, we present findings from a large-scale study of US SFES, who are widespread and increasing in numbers. Contrary to many assumptions, SFES were indeed found across the nation, across science disciplines, and, most notably, across primarily undergraduate, master of science-granting, and PhD-granting institutions. Data also reveal unexpected variations among SFES by institution type. Among respondents, SFES at master of science-granting institutions were almost twice as likely to have formal training in science education compared with other SFES. In addition, SFES at PhD-granting institutions were much more likely to have obtained science education funding. Surprisingly, formal training in science education provided no advantage in obtaining science education funding. Our findings show that the SFES phenomenon is likely more complex and diverse than anticipated, with differences being more evident across institution types than across science disciplines. These findings raise questions about the origins of differences among SFES and are useful to science departments interested in hiring SFES, scientific trainees preparing for SFES careers, and agencies awarding science education funding.


The final publication is available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23589844

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