red Supported Site University of Alabama: Early Teaching Experience

Successes

  • 12 LAs served as teaching assistants in Studio Physics classrooms during the fall and spring semesters in each of the first two years. Almost all of the LAs and their faculty mentors rated their experiences very positively.
  • Several of the LAs also served as teaching assistants one hour each week in a local high physics classroom. Both the LAs and the host HS physics teachers were enthusiastic about these experiences.

Challenges

  • There are a limited number of local high school physics classes. Some schools don't offer physics and most only offer one or two classes each semester.
  • Student schedules often conflict with the times that high school physics classes are taught.
  • Travel is an issue. Some high schools are distant from the university and some students don't have personal transportation.

Sustainability

  • The University has committed to extend support for the LA program for three years beyond the PhysTEC funding period. If this continues to be a success, then hopefully the program will be continued indefinitely.
  • The department will make use of the TAG, TIR contacts, and Alabama Science in Motion to build up a network of local physics teachers who can host a UA student to assist in their classroom.

Lessons Learned

  • More effort needs to be made to encourage good mentoring and effective use of LAs by faculty in the Studio Physics classes.
  • LAs can be effective in helping faculty reform upper-level physics courses.
  • Because of scheduling conflicts and travel limitations, alternative models need to be explored to provide students with early teaching experiences in local schools.

Activities

  • 12 LAs assisted in Studio Physics classrooms during the fall and spring semesters.
  • Several of the LAs also assisted one hour each week in a local high physics classroom.