Supported Site University of Wisconsin - La Crosse: Recruitment

Successes

  • The number of students majoring in Physics Education rose from six in 2011-2012 (with one graduate) to nine in 2012-2013 (with three graduates) and seven in 2013-2014 (with two graduates).
  • Three of the four new students in 2012-2013 and two of the three new students in 2013-2014 were recruited from the pool of physics majors. These recruitment efforts can be primarily attributed to focused academic advising and having a "point person" for secondary teacher education within the Physics Department. Each semester, five physics or physics education majors are recruited to serve as Learning Assistants in introductory physics courses. In 2013-2014 one of these Learning Assistants decided to change from a physics major into a physics education major track.
  • A Physics Education student (Ben Sturomski) was selected as the recipient of the 2013 Strzelczyk Award in Science and Health, which recognizes an outstanding senior for academic achievement and service to the campus and community. Another Physics Education student was selected to speak at the Fall 2012 Commencement ceremony.

Challenges

  • The physics education major includes a substantial number of education courses which cannot be taken concurrently, which lengthens the degree completion time for students who switch majors late in their program.
  • The GPA requirement for being admitted into the School of Education impacts the progress of some students through the teacher program.

Sustainability

  • Many of the PhysTEC recruitment activities were already part of the Physics Department's efforts to recruit physics students, but materials were revised to highlight the physics education major.
  • The Physics Department received the 2013 APS Award for Improving Undergraduate Physics Education, which will aid in publicity and recruitment efforts.

Lessons Learned

  • It is not meaningful to include freshmen in the "future teacher" list of physics education majors due to the instability of this population. Both freshmen who started in Fall 2012 with a declared major in physics education either changed majors or transferred to a different institution.
  • Students were generally unwilling to sign up on a list to receive more information about teaching physics after or during recruiting events, but were likely to send an e-mail or stop by a faculty member's office once they knew who to contact.

Activities

  • The recruitment letter and Physics Department brochure sent out to high school students was revised to highlight the physics education major. The Physics Department is in the process of creating separate marketing materials (e.g. posters) to encourage students and prospective students to consider a career in physics teaching.
  • One PI gave a presentation about physics teaching and physics education research at the freshmen physics majors' seminar.
  • Three physics faculty members gave presentations and/or Department tours during the Campus Close-up events for visiting high school students and parents.
  • Physics faculty coordinated the public Distinguished Lecture Series which annually brings a Nobel Laureate and a prestigious Women in Physics speaker to UW-L. Local physics teachers and their students were encouraged to attend.
  • Faculty advisers for physics majors identified prospective teacher candidates and directed them to speak to the physics education program adviser.
  • The Physics Department has expanded its outreach events to K-12 schools, which encourages physics major volunteers to consider teaching as a possible career choice.
  • The School of Education has formed a task force on marketing and recruitment, is revising their web site, and held a technology showcase on "21st Century Teaching at UW-L" to showcase teacher education programs on campus.