Supported Site Virginia Tech: Goals & Outcomes


  • Increase recruitment into the physics major.
  • Implement a PhysTEC program and increase recruitment into program.
  • Develop and implement one or more SCALE-UP sections of our calculus-based intro physics sequence for physics majors.
  • Enhance the Seminar for Physics Majors freshman sequence as part of Virginia Tech's First Year Experience program.
  • Develop and implement a Physics Teaching and Learning course.
  • Initiate early teaching experiences for PhysTEC students by providing an enhanced physics outreach course and the Robotics experience course.
  • Develop and implement a Physics Learning Assistant Program.
  • Increase discussion of physics teaching and learning within the department, in part by providing guest speakers for the faculty and students.
  • Increase awareness of the PhysTEC program across the university.

Selected Outcomes

  • We have increased enrollment in the physics major each year.
  • In Fall 2013, the incoming class of physics majors tripled, due to a change in the university application process for prospective engineering students. We are working on a plan to retain many of these new majors.
  • In the first year, we recruited five PhysTEC students from among current or former physics majors at Virginia Tech. These students graduated from the Masters of Education (MAED) program in the second year, in May 2013.
  • All five MAED PhysTEC graduates accepted a jobs teaching high school physics. Two are with prestigious Virginia Governor's Schools, and one is with a boarding school.
  • We have successfully initiated and continued a SCALE-UP introductory physics sequence for physics majors, with measured improvement over traditional lecture sections on the Force Concept Inventory.
  • We have promoted modern teaching methods within the department. As a result, the instructors in large lecture sections use such methods as Peer Instruction.
  • We have successfully initiated an enhanced Seminar for Physics Majors, obtaining internal funding for each year to cover a graduate Teaching Assistantship, and field trips to physics facilities.
  • We have successfully developed the course PHYS 2404 Physics Teaching and Learning, enrolling PhysTEC students, graduate teaching assistants, and other interested students. Various guest speakers from other departments have participated (a professor of Theatre Arts, the Director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, speaking on the learning psychology, and the director of the Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research). In addition to the students in the course, physics faculty and other students have attended the presentations by guest speakers.
  • We have successfully developed the course PHYS 3254 Enhanced Physics Outreach providing PhysTEC students with interaction with high school teachers on lesson planning.
  • We have successfully integrated PhysTEC students into the EDCI/ME 4454 Engineering Leadership and Management course which provides students with the early teaching experience of leading and mentoring teams of high school students in developing a robot for regional competitions.
  • In the first year, our first PhysTEC graduate accepted a job teaching high school physics in Colorado.
  • We have initiated a Physics Learning Assistant Program.
  • We created the Virginia Tech PhysTEC webpage: