red Supported Site University of Alabama: Early Teaching Experience

Successes

  • 12 LAs served as teaching assistants in Studio Physics classrooms during the fall and spring semesters. Almost all of the LAs and their faculty mentors rated their experiences very positively.
  • Several of the LAs also served as teaching assistants one hour each week in a local high physics classroom. Both the LAs and the host HS physics teachers were enthusiastic about these experiences.

Challenges

  • There are a limited number of local high school physics classes. Some schools don't offer physics and most only offer one or two classes each semester.
  • Student schedules often conflict with the times that HS physics classes are taught.
  • Travel is an issue. Some high schools are distant from the university and some students don't have personal transportation.

Sustainability

  • The University has committed to extend support for the LA program for three years beyond the PhysTEC funding period. If this continues to be a success, then hopefully the program will be continued indefinitely.
  • The department will make use of the TAG, TIR contacts, and Alabama Science in Motion to build up a network of local physics teachers who can host a UA student to assist in their classroom.

Lessons Learned

  • More effort needs to be made to encourage good mentoring and effective use of LAs by faculty in the Studio Physics classes.
  • LAs can be effective in helping faculty reform upper-level physics courses.
  • Because of scheduling conflicts and travel limitations, alternative models need to be explored to provide students with early teaching experiences in local schools.

Activities

  • 12 LAs served as teaching assistants in Studio Physics classrooms during the fall and spring semesters.
  • Several of the LAs also served as teaching assistants one hour each week in a local high physics classroom.