red Supported Site Arizona State University: Recruitment

Successes

  • The Learning Assistant (LA) program, in its second year of implementation, has proved to be an excellent method used to foster student interest in teaching. The largest indicator of success of the LA program is improved success of students in courses with LAs.
  • Student advisors in the Physics Department are knowledgeable about the PhysTEC program and have referred several students interested in teaching to the TIR, who has discussed possible degree/career options for the students to consider.
  • The culture of the physics faculty has become supportive of LAs, with several faculty members requesting more information about the impact of the LA program on student achievement.
  • The LA Seminar (PHY 494/598) course (see Course Reform) operated with 13 students, and provided another means of recruitment in fall 2012.
  • The TIR continues to visit upper division physics courses for recruitment purposes, which has resulted in a list of students interested in the PhysTEC program and a career in teaching. The students on the list receive information regarding PhysTEC and department opportunities.
  • Several upper division physics students developed an interest in high school physics teaching as a career, and they will pursue post-graduate certification.
  • The course PHY 480 Methods of Teaching Physics was offered in Spring 2014. Normally, it is a challenge to attract a sufficient number of students, but this time it was taken by 20 students, including several students from other STEM majors, a few graduate students, and several international teachers.
  • The new degree path offering a BS in Physics with a concentration in Secondary Education (see Collaboration) has been publicized to local high school and community college teachers with preliminary positive feedback about potential student interest. As of May 2014, 8 students are currently enrolled in the degree, including 3 incoming students enrolled.
  • Three Physics Red Carpet Days have been held and have proven to be extremely helpful by building a bridge between high school physics classrooms and the university's physics department, while also encouraging students to enroll in ASU's physics program. Local HS teachers have become increasingly interested in PhysTEC.

Challenges

  • We typically have more students interested in becoming LAs than we anticipated when the budget was developed. For example, in spring 2013 we had about 13 interested and qualified LA candidates with funding only for 6.
  • The interest in the LA program is growing rapidly, but a lack of additional funding restricts the amount of LAs we can put into the classrooms - restricting the recruitment of potential teachers. For the fall 2014 semester, 28 students applied to become LAs, but only half could even be considered due to budgetary restrictions.
  • Fostering physics faculty buy-in about the value of teaching has been difficult.
  • Once students express an interest, there are few mechanisms to get them involved other than the LA program. If they do not become an LA, the momentum to get them involved in physics reduces significantly.

Sustainability

  • The physics department now supports the additional LAs as needed, above and beyond those funded by the grant.
  • Three new pathways for physics students to become teachers are in the pipeline.

Lessons Learned

  • When recruiting students, we need to have multiple ways for them to become engaged with the program, in addition to the LA option.
  • An expansion of recruitment efforts, possibly through online announcements and brochures, is needed to get more students involved with the program.
  • Undergraduates exhibited significant interest and talent when provided with opportunities to engage in teaching and pursue careers in teaching physics.

Activities

  • Designed and scheduled a new course, PHY 494/598 Seminar in Teaching and Learning Physics, originally intended solely as an LA pedagogy class. Worked with the physics department chair to make this course available for both undergraduate and graduate credit in order to meet the needs of graduate TAs and help them navigate their teaching duties. The course was offered in fall 2012.
  • Met with the physics general studies coordinator and the undergraduate physics advisor to make them aware of the crucial need for physics teachers. They referred several students for mentoring and found funds to hire our first "unofficial" PhysTEC LAs in fall 2012 and 2013.
  • PhysTEC PI and TIR have given presentations about the ASU PhysTEC program to key instructors in courses taken by physics majors, subsequently arranging visits to their courses to promote the program.
  • Supported 4 LAs in fall 2012, 13 LAs in spring 2013, 14 in fall 2013, and 14 in spring 2014.
  • TIR continues to visit physics courses in the beginning of each semester for recruitment purposes, resulting in a list of students interested in the PhysTEC program and a career in teaching. Students on the list are sent emails regarding possible opportunities with PhysTEC (i.e. LA recruitment).
  • PhysTEC faculty continues to attend local AAPT meetings, subsequently recruiting several local physics teachers (both high school and community college) to attend the physics department "Red Carpet Day".
  • Approximately 6 local teachers accompanied by 16 of their students attended the "Red Carpet Day" event in April 2013. In November 2014, 8 local teachers attended with 18 of their students. In April 2014, 5 local teachers attended with 14 of their students. This event targets under-represented students to consider pursuing a physics degree.