red Supported Site Towson University (Secondary): Recruitment

Successes

  • The average number of future physics teachers in the program increased dramatically from three (pre-PhysTEC baseline) to ten. In 2009, the Chancellor of the University System of Maryland called for a tripling in the number of physics teachers produced in USM institutions, and our recruitment efforts achieved this goal.
  • The TIRs maintained a positive working relationship with Towson faculty and physics students to bolster undergraduate recruitment.
  • The TIRs maintained and expanded a pipeline with Baltimore County high schools wherein physics teachers are identifying high school students interested in teaching physics.
  • We now implement a number of different recruiting activities that did not exist prior to PhysTEC.
  • The Step 1 and Step 2 courses - which were originally PhysTEC courses, and then became UTeach courses - provided undergraduates with an opportunity to determine if teaching is a possible career option. These courses were successful at encouraging students to maintain an interest in education, and also met an important need of helping some students realize that teaching is not a good career option for them.
  • Six PhysTEC future teachers were also Noyce Scholars.

Challenges

  • The Towson UTeach and PhysTEC programs are directed by different faculty, so TU may not achieve the same level of physics success as those institutions where both programs are directed by the same faculty.
  • In Towson's new UTeach program, the emphasis is shifting towards recruiting all STEM education majors rather than a narrow focus on physics teaching. This may negatively impact the recruitment and retention of future physics teachers.
  • It can be difficult to help university faculty, undergraduates, high school teachers, and high school students understand the value of physics teaching, especially as compared to other possible careers. Even high school teachers might counsel physics students to seek industry jobs rather than teaching positions.
  • Not all high school teachers are motivated to actively participate in the recruitment of the next generation of physics teachers.
  • Time and effort limitations prevent establishing fully developed recruiting pipelines in Carroll, Harford, and Howard counties.
  • Identifying the most effective recruiting strategy is difficult, as most students in the teaching track were not influenced by one specific strategy.

Sustainability

  • Marketing materials have been developed that can be reused in the future.
  • The Towson UTeach website (http://www.towson.edu/uteach/) provides a substantial amount of information for prospective and current physics secondary education majors.
  • Connections with our Teacher Advisory Group, local teachers, and school administrators will remain intact.
  • Many PhysTEC activities may find a home under the UTeach umbrella. PhysTEC project faculty will continue to work with the UTeach co-directors and Master Teacher to recruit physics secondary education majors.

Lessons Learned

  • It is key for the project PIs, TIR, and high school teachers to have one-on-one meetings with undergraduates and high school students to raise interest in teaching as a profession.
  • High school teachers need to become more heavily involved in identifying high school students who have a good understanding of physics and have good communication and "people" skills, and therefore might make good physics teachers.
  • Although both broad and targeted recruitment strategies should be employed, we have found it to be especially productive to meet with individual students with a teaching interest rather than speaking with large groups of students who may or may not have a teaching interest.

Activities

  • In alignment with nationally advocated PhysTEC recruitment activities, the Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences department now displays teaching posters in its hallways, holds information meetings for physics majors interested in education, and has intense one-on-one advising sessions with incoming, newly-declared, and continuing secondary education majors.
  • Our first TIR visited 27 physics lab sections to present information about early teaching experience courses, pathways to become a secondary physics teacher, and the learning assistant program.
  • The TIRs and future physics teachers visited the Baltimore County and Carroll County Physics Olympics to informally meet with small groups of students and make teaching-related presentations to 1200+ students.
  • For years 1 and 2, monthly open information sessions were held to inform potentially interested science majors about teaching careers and Towson's secondary education programs. Large and small posters were developed, printed, and posted to inform students about opportunities to learn more about teaching physics.
  • Four groups of Baltimore County and Baltimore City high school physics students (24 students per group) visited Towson University for a full day to discuss physics careers with the faculty and SPS members, participate in laboratory activities, lectures, and planetarium shows, and tour faculty lab spaces and discuss undergraduate research opportunities.
  • Our third-year TIR visited local schools to showcase interesting physics demonstrations, inform students how to obtain physics teaching certification, and hold teaching-related discussions. A Powerpoint presentation was generated for this purpose, which will be utilized in future visits to schools.
  • Our third-year TIR talked with the SPS chapter to provide an overview of her position, describe the shortage of physics teachers, and show the PhysTEC recruitment video on physics teaching.
  • Project personnel ran a seminar in the Introductory Seminar course (PHYS 185) dedicated to physics teaching as a career option.
  • Ron Hermann (project PI) now officially advises undergraduate physics majors in the secondary education track.