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Rutgers University: Physical Science Teacher Preparation Program
Physical Science Teacher Preparation ProgramThese five characteristics are the features of the physical science teacher preparation program at Rutgers. In the state of New Jersey all certification programs require a major in the subject being taught. Rutgers has two teacher preparation programs that both result in the same master's degree and a certificate to teach physics and/or physical science. One is a post baccalaureate program and the other is a 5 year program. In the 5 year program students begin taking courses in the school of education in their 4th year of undergraduate studies and then continue in the 5th year. Both are 45-credit programs that can be completed in a minimum of two full academic years. The majority of the students are post baccalaureate. The distribution of the course work is as follows:
-- Physical science methods courses where students acquire physics PCK, the knowledge of using technology and how to bring authentic science into learning physics: 18 credits
-- General education courses where students acquire the knowledge of learners: 12 credits
-- Clinical practice where students observe teaching and teach physics: 9 credits
-- Graduate level (300-400) physics courses: 6 credits.
Fine-tuning the preparation of physics teachers: how the Rutgers Program is uniqueThe main threads running through physics-related methods courses and clinical practice are the epistemology of physics, physics reasoning, formative assessment (assessment of student work in the process of learning), and reflection on learning. Although students have (or are finishing) an undergraduate degree in the discipline, they usually learned the subject through traditional lecture-based instruction and not through the methods that they will need to use when they themselves teach. Thus in all courses pre-service teachers re-learn (re-examine) physics ideas via the methods that they can later use with their students. For example, future teachers learn how to select phenomena for their students to first observe and later explain. They learn how to perform experiments to test predictions and to see whether the explanation survived empirical testing. In other words, they engage in scientific investigations and by doing this learn how to engage their future students in similar activities. They participate in a learning process that we want them to model in the future. There is a serious focus on formative assessment and feedback; when a student completes any assignment, she/he receives feedback suggesting improvements and subsequently revises the assignment. In all courses students teach a lesson in class – the lesson plan receives multiple feedback before it is conducted. In each class meeting, students reflect on the teaching methods that helped them learn.
For more information, see the program website.