red Supported Site University of Arkansas: Collaboration

Successes

  • Physics classes are required for future elementary and middle-level teachers. (High school teachers need a degree in the content area).
  • Involvement of faculty from physics (College of Arts and Sciences) and CoEHP on committees related to science education in the other college.
  • The two colleges are jointly seeking external funding for the preparation of future teachers, with university administrative support (including financial).
  • Methods classes taught by physics faculty are cross-listed in physics and curriculum and instruction, and are strongly recommended by the (CoEHP) for entering science/math MAT students.

Challenges

  • It is hard to work together as closely as we would like, for instance on classroom observations, just from trying to juggle multiple hectic schedules.
  • Despite greatly increased familiarity, some education faculty are still less than totally comfortable with physics faculty.
  • Ensuring that only reform-minded physics faculty interact with education faculty. (in the same way that reform-minded physics faculty teach the introductory courses)

Sustainability/Institutional Buy-In

  • The graduate school is willing to support student committees in physics chaired by education faculty, and vice versa.
  • The university nominates PhysTEC physics and education faculty to work on NSF proposals that represent the institution.
  • The president of our state’s university system, Alan B. Sugg, applauds our leadership in helping to improve educational programs for preparing K-12 teachers, and states that “There is not a better cause.”
  • Follow the links below to find out how some of our faculty and other administrators feel about the project:
    • Bob Smith, Provost, Vice Chancellor, Chief Academic Officer, UArk
    • Surendra Singh, Chair, Department of Physics
    • Tom Smith, Chair, Department of Curriculum and Instruction
    • Sharon Hunt, Interim Dean College of Education and Health Professions (2001)
    • Bobby New, Superintendent of Fayetteville Public Schools (2005)
    • Mike Wavering, Secondary Science Education on collaboration with Arts and Sciences.

Lessons Learned

  • Familiarity is important. Get involved in the other college as much as possible.
  • After a meeting where a decision is made, follow up with a broad communication as soon as possible, thanking everyone for their efforts. Sometimes institutional memory is lost, or a conclusion is not interpreted the same by all parties, and then the entire argument has to be repeated.

Proposals

  • The PhysTEC faculty were chosen by the University of Arkansas administrators to represent the institution in the NSF Robert Noyce Scholarship Program for Mathematics, Science and Engineering K-12 Teachers competition. ($750,000)
  • A joint proposal (College of Education and Health Professions (CoEHP) and Physics) was written to the state of Arkansas in anticipation of the PhysTEC project, after the intial site visit to allow us to get some things ready so we would be poised to take advantage of the PhysTEC funding, since many program changes take considerable time to gain state approval. This was through the Teacher Quality Enhancement Program and ran from 1 July 01-30 June 02. ($32,000).

Two other projects that were not funded, but brought together PhysTEC education and physics faculty with other departments in related efforts were:

  • 2005: (with mathematical sciences and CoEHP) Standards and Assessments for Quantitative Literacy (SAQL, Not funded).
  • 2002: TEACH TOGETHER: Integrating High School and College Science and Mathematics with Applications, Pedagogy and Technology (Not funded)

Committees

  • A physics faculty member served on the search committee for the endowed Parks Chair in Science Education in the College of Education and Health Professions (CoEHP)
  • A physics faculty member was on a PhD thesis committee for Deborah Korth, Dept. of Curriculum and Instruction, CoEHP
  • A CoEHP faculty member served on the Master of Science in Physics committee (education research topic) for a future physics faculty member
  • A CoEHP faculty member served on the Master of Arts in Physics committee for 2 PhysTEC teachers