Member Institution West Virginia University
West Virginia University
Dr. Paul M. Miller
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West Virginia University began a Learning Assistants program, beginning in the fall of 2011, in our 1st semester calculus-based physics course. This program is a replication of the Colorado model in most ways.
In the first year of implementation, we had six learning assistants. In the fall of 2012, we will expand this to include the second semester course and increase our total number of LAs to ten, with three returning and seven newly added. Each of these students takes an introductory education course to learn basic pedagogy and reflect on their LA experiences.
The setting for our LA program is the physics department at West Virginia University. It consists of 24 tenure-track or equivalent faculty, three research faculty, and four faculty on temporary appointments. Current research funding levels exceed six million dollars; spread primarily through four main research areas: astrophysics, plasmas, condensed matter, and nanoscale physics.
The Department of Physics recently moved to White Hall, a completely renovated building. We have an enrollment of 67 graduate students and 90 undergraduate majors. Recent graduating classes range in size from 9 to 14 students but are climbing steadily.
We recognize that our department must play a crucial role in the preparation of future physics teachers. Only a modest fraction of the secondary science teachers in West Virginia are currently certified to teach physics. To address this challenge, and to improve the physics knowledge of future West Virginia school children, it is vital to not only to encourage students with a strong background in physics to become teachers, but to actively recruit these talented students.