2011 Physics Teacher Education Coalition Conference Invited Talks


Opening Plenary   -   Talk

Keynote speaker: Eugene Levy, Rice University

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM on Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Lunch Plenary: The Physics Teacher’s Dilemma   -   Talk

Keynote speaker: Eric Brewe, Florida International University

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM on Monday, May 23, 2011

The dilemma of what to teach today is an ongoing issue among many (teachers, administrators, researchers, standards writers). Modeling Instruction is built on one answer to this question; teach students to build, evaluate and deploy models. Modeling Instruction has become over the past twenty years the largest high school physics professional development workshop in the US.  Adaptation of Modeling Instruction is growing in university physics as well. In this talk I discuss some of the underpinnings and the history of Modeling, then highlight research into Modeling Instruction as a view on the future of Modeling.

Joint Plenary Session with the UTeach Conference   -   Talk

Keynote speaker: Carl E. Wieman, Stanford University

1:00 PM - 2:45 PM on Tuesday, May 24, 2011

In his talk Dr. Wieman highlighted the need for improved science instruction nationwide and discussed what we have learned from research on effective instructional strategies in college physics classrooms.

Click "Additional Details" below to watch a video of Dr. Wieman's talk.

Workshops and Panels

Building Physics Teacher Education Programs

Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics   -   Workshop

Stamatis Vokos, Seattle Pacific University; Michael Marder, University of Texas at Austin; Joseph Heppert, Kansas University

3:00 PM - 4:15 PM on Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics (T-TEP) concluded its two-year investigation of the professional preparation of teachers of physics in the U.S. T-TEP, constituted by APS, AAPT, and AIP, was charged with taking stock of the current state of physics teacher education and articulating recommendations to increase the number and improve the quality of physics teachers in the nation. In this highly interactive session, the recommendations of the T-TEP report will be outlined.  In addition, session participants will brainstorm ways to leverage the report for the benefit of their institutional programs and will be engaged in part of a national conversation to operationalize one of the major T-TEP recommendations, namely the creation of Regional Centers for Physics Teacher Education.  What extant model programs are there, which can serve as nuclei for such centers?  What are the research, policy, and funding implications of the creation of Regional Centers?  What has the nation learned from previous attempts to create centers that prepare excellent teachers?  In what important ways can these Regional Centers serve as models for other discipline-specific efforts to improve teacher education?

PhysTEC 2011 Solicitation For New Sites: Give Us Feedback, and Learn About Intentions   -   Workshop

Theodore Hodapp, American Physical Society

4:30 PM - 5:45 PM on Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) has funding from the NSF for at least one more addition of new sites.  We expect to add an additional half dozen sites again this coming year through a similar procedure that includes pre- and full- proposals, external merit review panel, and site visits.  This session will include two components.  First, we will describe how we have conducted our solicitation process in the past several years and include likely deadline dates, hints on what made proposals stand out at each stage, and how you might shape your program to be competitive.  Second, we will elicit your feedback on how we are targeting new sites, while staying within the guidelines of our project and its national goals.  Please come and bring your good ideas.  If you are new to PhysTEC, find out what we have funded in the past, and how we are working to improve physics teacher education through this process.


Teacher Quality and Poverty   -   Workshop

Michael Marder, University of Texas at Austin

10:30 AM - 11:45 AM on Monday, May 23, 2011

Dr. Marder will consider two competing explanations for the performance of US schools. One explanation is that there are many teachers of low quality, and schools can most effectively be improved by replacing them with superior teachers. The other explanation is that school performance is very sensitive to levels of poverty, and teacher quality is a secondary effect. Data behind each of these explanations will be examined, and data for the effectiveness of charter schools will also be examined.

Physics Boot Camp & Interactive Lecture Demonstrations - A Professional Development Recipe for Success   -   Workshop

Mark Greenman, National Science Foundation

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM on Monday, May 23, 2011

Interactive Lecture Demonstrations (ILDs) provide a pedagogical tool that has been shown to improve college and pre-college student's conceptual understanding of ideas in classical physics.  Teachers in this PD showed fractional gains in concept understanding ranging from .44 to .75 with participants in every comparison group showing strong gains.  Just as encouraging, these gains showed no decay over time.  In this highly interactive presentation we will present our findings and model how the Interactive Lecture Demonstration 8-step methodology is used as a tool to both engage and prepare teachers.

Making the Case: The role of data in supporting educational innovations.   -   Workshop

Steven J. Pollock, University of Colorado; Noah D. Finkelstein, University of Colorado-Boulder

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM on Monday, May 23, 2011

One essential element of educational reform is data collection. The forms can be diverse - within and between disciplines, departments, and courses -  but one of the keys to moving educational reforms out of local experimental stages and into general use is convincing academic colleagues, administrators, and funding sources of the value and impact of research-based transformations. The goal of this workshop is to share some of the data from our institution and our own local efforts, and talk about the role it has played, and pitfalls to avoid. We will then collectively discuss the roles data and assessment can play in effecting change at your institution, and what kinds of data collection, and presentation, might be most effective for you.

Sustaining Program Elements

It Takes a University for Science Teacher Preparation: A Discussion among an Education Chair, a Science Dean, and a Provost   -   Panel

Moderator: Howard Gobstein, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
Panel members: Lawrence Abraham, University of Texas at Austin; Sheldon Ekland-Olson, University of Texas at Austin; George Perry, University of Texas at San Antonio

10:30 AM - 11:45 AM on Monday, May 23, 2011

A successful science teacher preparation effort requires commitment and collaboration across the university.  Over 125 universities in APLU, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, have committed to the Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative (SMTI) to significantly increase the number, quality and diversity of the teachers they produce.  This national initiative is designed to galvanize university leadership to work with their faculties in addressing this critical national need.  Come to this informal discussion session for pointers and answers to your questions on how to work with university leadership and education faculty.

Creating a Sustainable Physics Pedagogy Course   -   Workshop

Mel Sabella, Chicago State University; Alice Churukian, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Laura Henriques, California State University, Long Beach; Laurie McNeil, University of North Carolina

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM on Monday, May 23, 2011

One of the most important features of a successful teacher education program is the Physics Pedagogy Course. Because different universities have different constraints and different resources and often must align the goals of this course with College of Education requirements and state licensure requirements, the course takes on different forms in different settings. In this session we describe the Pedagogy Course at three institutions, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, California State University – Long Beach, and Chicago State University. Participants in the session will then discuss possible revisions to their own pedagogy courses or how they might create a Pedagogy Course at their institution, specifically addressing their specific needs, constraints, and resources. Ongoing discussion throughout the session will focus on general principles present at multiple institutions, as well as institution specific components.

Sustaining the Teacher-in-Residence   -   Panel

Moderator: Theodore Hodapp, American Physical Society
Panel members: Chance Hoellwarth, California Polytechnic State University; Gay Stewart, University of Arkansas; Laird H. Kramer, Florida International University; Lane Seeley, Seattle Pacific University; Chuhee Kwon, California State University, Long Beach

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM on Monday, May 23, 2011

Nearly all teacher education efforts recognize the need to involve experienced master teachers in recruiting, educating, and mentoring teachers.  The PhysTEC Teacher-in-Residence (TIR) is one example of this engagement, and it is also the single most expensive component of the project.  How then, to continue to fund this vital position?  This panel will discuss a number of ways in which the TIR has been sustained following funding by the PhysTEC project.  Pros and cons of each arrangement will be discussed and we will invite comments from the audience to explore these and other ideas.

Recruiting Physics Teachers

Recruiting Majors into Physics   -   Workshop

Presenter: Sacha Kopp, University of Texas at Austin
Co-presenter: John Rice, Common Sense Communications

3:00 PM - 4:15 PM on Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Like many colleges and universities around the country, the University of Texas at Austin has a solid physics program that prepares students bound for graduate physics study. For a variety of reasons, the number of students choosing to major in physics is small, just 200 students in an undergraduate population of about 35,000 (0.6%). When compared to other majors on campus, this population was experiencing negligible growth. Retention from freshman to senior year was at 50%. I will describe a campaign launched in our department aimed at recruiting and retention of majors. This campaign includes actual programmatic changes in the curriculum and instruction of majors. Additionally, it includes a direct marketing campaign that attempted to change student attitudes about physics and its relation to their current major. Finally, it includes a program to reach out to local high schools and engage students in a discussion about their career choices before they apply for college. While the campaign is relatively new, it is possible to share some numerical and attitudinal data that suggests positive changes in the student population.

Educating physics teachers at UTeach replication sites   -   Panel

Panel members: Ron Henderson, Middle Tennessee State University; Alan Dorsey, University of Florida; Michael Marder, University of Texas at Austin;
Moderator: Jill Marshall, University of Texas at Austin
Panel members: Valerie K. Otero, University of Colorado at Boulder;

4:30 PM - 5:45 PM on Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Panelists will describe key features of physics teacher preparation as determined and enacting at their respective institutions. The panel will explore synergies between PhysTEC and the UTeach replication effort to promote collaborations.

Learning Assistants

Introduction to the Colorado Learning Assistant Program   -   Workshop

Valerie K. Otero, University of Colorado at Boulder

3:00 PM - 4:15 PM on Tuesday, May 24, 2011

This session is intended for faculty who are new to the Learning Assistant (LA) Alliance and are just beginning their efforts in implementing (or thinking about implementing) the Colorado LA model at their universities.  In this session, participants will be introduced to the general philosophy of the program and to the nuts n' bolts of running the program. Participants will work through content and pedagogical materials that are used in the physics department and in the School of Education to support LAs and to transform their large-enrollment courses. Data will be presented to support claims about the efficacy of the program demonstrating its impact on student performance in LA-supported courses, on the learning and preparation of the LAs themselves, and on the dramatic increases in the recruitment of physics teachers. Data that demonstrate the LA program's impact on teacher performance in the K-12 classroom will also be presented and discussed. The LA program is an experiential learning program; learning is embodied in the experience of serving as an LA. It serves as a supplement to standard teacher preparation programs in which disciplinary faculty and departments play a large role in ensuring content-specific pedagogical preparation. Because it is situated partially in disciplinary departments, the program has also impacted the general philosophy of education in a university setting.

Cultivating Learning Assistants' interest in physics teaching with clinical interviewing   -   Workshop

Hunter G. Close, Texas State University – San Marcos

4:30 PM - 5:45 PM on Tuesday, May 24, 2011

In this workshop, we journey in depth into the use of the clinical interview as a central activity of the pedagogy component of a Learning Assistant program. We science teacher educators want intelligent and talented undergraduate science students to choose careers in K-12 science teaching. To engage those students, we need to provide objects on which their intellects and talents can act, in ways that are meaningful and specific to the discipline of science teaching. Where does the greatest intellectual challenge for science teaching lie? We at SPU believe the greatest challenge is in understanding student thinking in science and the associated interactions between humans, objects, and concepts.  On this premise, we have designed the Physics Interview Project, in which Learning Assistants interview physics students and study the interview records for evidence of thinking. Our goal is to provide deep, direct contact between the potential future teacher and the complex phenomena that form the basis for physics education research and daily teaching practice. This workshop will examine the clinical interview itself and will provide a window into the experience of the LAs as they reflect on their own work and the teaching profession. Workshop participants will become able to replicate a physics interview program for LAs at their own institutions and will reflect on the value of attention to student thinking for their own teaching.

Preparing Teachers in the Physical Sciences

Hands-on Science – An Inquiry-based Approach to Elementary Education   -   Workshop

Co-presenters: Antonia Chimonidou, University of Texas at Austin; Randi Ludwig, University of Texas at Austin

10:30 AM - 11:45 AM on Monday, May 23, 2011

The process of scientific discovery is an exciting and engaging one! How do we teach science to future elementary teachers, while simultaneously giving them the tools they need to engage their own students? In the Hands-on Science program at UT Austin, a typical lesson is designed to lead college students through a set of hands-on activities in the desired topic. In so doing, students experience phenomena through observation and experiment, and learn to explain or articulate their ideas based on the collected experimental data. The Hands-on Science program is a four-semester integrated science course that develops core concept knowledge across the Natural Sciences: physics, chemistry, geology, biology, astronomy, and Earth climate. The program has been designed to train future elementary teachers through the process of guided inquiry, while emphasizing evidence-based reasoning. Our courses are modeled after the groundbreaking work by Fred Goldberg et al. (Physics in Everyday Thinking), as well as the group at Western Washington University, who were the first to apply it to other disciplines. Our curriculum extends this model further, adding geology, astronomy, and Earth science to the subjects addressed. Additionally, Hands-on Science has been built on the experience gained in UT Austin's UTeach program for secondary teacher preparation in the sciences. As indicated by the program's name, this way of teaching aims at putting the students in charge of their own learning while engaging them early in the process of translating that knowledge into their own teaching methodologies. In this workshop, we will present the framework on which a typical lesson is based.

Preparing and Supporting Pre-Service High School Chemistry Teachers   -   Panel

Moderators: Terri Taylor, American Chemical Society; Mary Kirchhoff, American Chemical Society
Panel members: Jackie Bortiatynski, The Pennsylvania State University; Greg Rushton, Kennesaw State University; Christine Pastorek, Oregon State University; Laurie Langdon, University of Colorado at Boulder

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM on Monday, May 23, 2011

According to the 2008 Educator Supply and Demand in the United States Report by the American Association of Employment in Education, chemistry is one of several fields, along with special education, mathematics, and physics, facing serious shortages of qualified teachers at the secondary level.  Additionally, according to 2003-2004 data reported by the U.S. Department of Education Schools and Staffing Survey, only 33.3 % of teachers of chemistry in public high schools have majors and certification in chemistry. There are a number of programs across the country designed to engage disciplinary departments with Schools of Education in preparing pre-service teachers for the K-12 classroom. This workshop will highlight programs which are working to recruit, prepare, and support chemistry majors in pursuing careers as K-12 teachers, especially high school chemistry teachers.  During this workshop, participants will also discuss and explore the creation of CTEC (Chemistry Teacher Education Coalition); a project designed to promote and encourage high quality pre-service education of high school chemistry teachers and modeled after the very successful PTEC (Physics Teacher Education Coalition) project.

Helping future physics teachers write and implement lesson plans   -   Workshop

Jim Flakker, Rutgers University Graduate School of Education

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM on Monday, May 23, 2011

A lesson plan is a vital instrument in a life of a teacher. It guides her/his thinking about the goals of the lesson, activities and assessments, provides the scaffolding for the implementation, and allows her/him to improve when teaching the lesson next time. What are the essential elements of a good lesson plan and how do we help future physics teachers learn about them and be able to put them into practice? What are different ways to write a lesson plan and which one is used in the state/district where your graduates will teach?  What are some of the pitfalls that are common for lesson planning? After one writes a lesson plan, how hard is it to "let is go" in a classroom situation? The present workshop will provide a framework to help the participants think about the issues and start developing a plan of how to help their students develop the skills in writing physics lesson plans.

Course Reform

A Blended Approach to Teaching and Learning   -   Workshop

Alison Ahlgren, University of Texas at Austin

9:00 AM - 10:15 AM on Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Finite Mathematics at The University of Illinois has been taught in a blended format for the past two years with half of the content delivered online and half delivered in the classroom. The online component consists of short video lectures that are viewed prior to class and post - video questions. The in-class component is ac-
tive learning through group activities. The group activities are designed to promote conceptual understanding of the material covered in the video lectures. The primary role of the instructor is to guide the students. As a result, the students, rather than
the instructor, are the moving force in the classroom leading to better understanding of the material than a lecture-only approach. Student success rates and learning outcomes increased. The videos and activities were created in-house, allowing for control over the content and costs. The workshop will provide a forum for discussing and learning how to design a blended course with the goal of increased student success with small upfront costs.

Open-source Tutorials implemented with Learning Assistants   -   Workshop

Co-presenters: Laird H. Kramer, Florida International University; Renee Michelle Goertzen, Florida International University

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM on Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Instructors inevitably need to adapt even the best reform materials to suit their local circumstances. We offer a package of research-based, open-source, epistemologically-focused tutorials, along with the detailed information instructors need to make effective modifications and provide professional development to teaching assistants. In particular, our tutorials are embedded with comments from the developers, advice from experienced instructors, and video clips of students working on the materials. These tutorials have been implemented at FIU with the help of LAs as part of our PhysTEC Project. Impact includes improved conceptual understanding in lecture classes and a positive result on a physics and physics learning surveys. We will offer suggestions on how to effectively introduce and use tutorials using LAs, based on FIU's experiences. Participants will take home a DVD that includes tutorials, homework, instructor's guides, pretests, exam questions, solutions, captioned video episodes, and video workshops that integrate tutorials with video episodes.
Bring a laptop if it's convenient.

Institutional Change and Sustainability

Adopting and Sustaining Course Reforms in Introductory Physics   -   Panel

Moderator: Noah D. Finkelstein, University of Colorado-Boulder
Panel members: Sacha Kopp, University of Texas at Austin; Chance Hoellwarth, California Polytechnic State University; Theodore Hodapp, American Physical Society; Stamatis Vokos, Seattle Pacific University

9:00 AM - 10:15 AM on Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Through decades of research we now know a great deal about educating students in introductory physics, and know of many research-based practices that support student learning – However a grand challenge in physics education remains: how might we sustain and scale these educational reforms?   This panel explores the questions of adoption and maintenance of effective educational programs. We explore and to begin to answer the White House's new call for Widening Implementation and Demonstration of Evidence-based Reforms (WIDER) and noting what sort of research will be needed on, "how to achieve widespread sustainable implementation of improved undergraduate instructional practices and student outcomes at major universities" (OSTP, Feb 2011).

Applying for Noyce I, II   -   Workshop

Presenter: Gay Stewart, University of Arkansas
Co-presenter: John Stewart, University of Arkansas

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM on Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The National Science Foundation's Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program seeks to encourage talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors and STEM professionals to become P-12 mathematics and science teachers. In this workshop, Gay Stewart, PI of a Noyce at the University of Arkansas and adviser on several other Noyce projects, will help participants gain an understanding of the features of the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program and assist them in developing their own ideas for projects and proposal preparation. Her funded proposal, with reviewer comments and project responses, will be used to help participants consider their own programs and data, and how to prepare a potentially successful proposal. Those interested in this workshop may email Gay Stewart in advance for her proposal materials.

K-12 Teaching Experiences

Mentoring and Induction of First Year Physics Teachers and Physics Student Teachers at Brigham Young University   -   Workshop

Duane Merrell, Brigham Young University; Alec Hrynyshyn, Brigham Young University

9:00 AM - 10:15 AM on Tuesday, May 24, 2011

From 2008-2010 Al Hrynyshyn (Teacher-in-Residence) and Duane Merrell mentored 39 students, 27 who were certified to be secondary physic teachers. This effort has brought about some interesting insights when it comes to the mentoring and induction of new teachers. From traditional student teacher (mentor teacher placements), to dual placement of student teachers with one mentor teacher, with placement from Washington State to Washington DC, each mentoring experience has brought increased understanding for mentoring. We have traveled to mentor in places like Montezuma Creek, Utah; Encampment, Wyoming; Washington DC and the local schools in and around Provo, Utah. During this mentoring time we continue to mentor former students and help with the induction process of becoming a successful young teacher.

We will look at some real life scenarios from our students and show excitement for our successes as well as some humility in our failures, as they have helped shape the mentoring and induction models used at Brigham Young University. We are still learning and are willing to share our ideas in return for your feedback and ideas in hopes that perhaps we can help be better mentors for our students. The efforts of the Physics Department in supporting the mentoring of students, the ability to travel to do mentoring, and the efforts to reach each student we mentor every week will be highlighted.

Outreach as Early Teaching Experience   -   Workshop

Jon Anderson, Centennial High School; Ronald Hermann, Towson University; James Selway, Towson University; Becky Thompson, American Physical Society

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM on Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Panelists will discuss outreach opportunities broadly and how such activities can be used to provide early teaching experiences to pre-service teachers. The University of Minnesota School of Physics and Astronomy involves prospective physics teachers and recent graduates of licensure programs in several outreach programs with the intent to provide the prospective teachers with a positive experience and allow them to see another aspect of the profession of teaching physics. QuarkNet is a multi-day workshop providing an opportunity to interact with experienced physics teachers while learning about particle physics topics.  Physics Force is an opportunity for students to participate in auditorium-scale physics demonstration shows, and PACES provides a smaller, more hands-on environment for the students to work with the participants.  

Towson University has developed and implemented UTeach-inspired courses that combine efforts to provide undergraduate students with early teaching experience with outreach efforts directed at elementary and middle school students in informal settings.  The courses are designed to provide Towson University students with a fun, low stress, supportive environment with the aim of recruiting students to teach science and maintain the interest of those already in the secondary education track.  An overview of the program along with successes and limitations will be provided.