red Supported Site University of Colorado at Boulder: Goals & Outcomes

Goals

The Goals of the Colorado PhysTEC project are to:

  • increase the number of highly qualified teachers of physics
  • improve the quality of preparation of these teachers and all students enrolled in physics courses
  • study the effects of institutional transformation in order to both measure impact and understand why activities do and do not succeed.

Selected Outcomes

  • Colorado PhysTEC has been recruiting and supporting the development of future teachers through the Learning Assistant program, which supports the transformation of undergraduate introductory courses, and increases access into teaching for physics majors.
  • The Colorado program has increased the number of physics and astrophysics majors enrolled in teacher certification from less than one per year to six in 2006-2007 (with four more PhysTEC grads recently certified).
  • Simultaneously the program has supported the transformation of five undergraduate courses (introductory, non-major, and second-year courses). With these transformations students post learning gains as high as three times the national average for traditionally taught courses.
  • All faculty involved in the two-semester introductory calculus-based physics sequence for the past 2 years have chosen to participate in Peer Instruction methods of lecturing (using electronic personal response systems), as well as using Tutorials supported by LAs, in lieu of more traditional recitations. This is a dramatic change from previous years, when only PER faculty (or a small number of faculty especially sympathetic to PER) would consider such changes in their courses.
  • Colorado PhysTEC has established a variety of partnerships with the local K12 community (from Teacher Advisory Group meetings to summer camps and afterschool programs). The project has brought together a broad array of researchers and educators at Colorado and supports the broader efforts in other science disciplines at achieving similar goals.
  • From the outset a primary focus of the Colorado PhysTEC program has been to study how and why these educational initiatives are effective at increasing student interest and ability in teaching as well as in physics. Current studies are examining what allows these programs to stick (how do new participants adopt effective educational practices) and what makes the Colorado PhysTEC student different from other physics majors or future teachers.