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PhysTEC Announces Seven New Funded Sites

May 02, 2012

The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) recently announced that it would fund seven universities to develop their physics teacher education programs into national models. The new awardees are Arizona State University; California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; Central Washington University; James Madison University; University of Alabama; University of Missouri; and University of Wisconsin–La Crosse.

The winning institutions were selected during a two-stage review process that began with a pool of 35 applicants. Awardees demonstrated a capacity for large increases in the number of physics teachers graduating from their programs, as well as strong departmental and institutional support for teacher preparation efforts. Funding for these sites will begin in Fall 2012.

The seven awardees will join the twenty-two other institutions that have already received money from the project since it began in 2001. Many of these institutions have doubled, or more, the number of high school physics teachers graduating from their programs.

PhysTEC sites have achieved these successes by increasing teacher recruiting efforts; hiring master teachers to work within physics departments; developing engaging early teaching experiences; improving content and pedagogy courses; and fostering collaboration between physics departments, education schools, and local school districts.

Most PhysTEC sites have implemented an early teaching experience called Learning Assistants, that also serves as a powerful teacher recruitment program. Learning Assistants are talented prospective teachers work with faculty members to make large-enrollment courses more collaborative, student-centered, and interactive. All newly awarded sites already implement this program in some form, or have plans to do so.

PhysTEC is a joint project of the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Association of Physics Teachers, and is now funded by a five-year, $6.5-million grant awarded by the National Science Foundation in Fall 2009, as well as APS's 21st Century Campaign.