Member Institution University of California at Riverside
University of California at Riverside
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Since 2007, the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California-Riverside (UCR) has taken an active role in partnering with the K-12 public schools in the Riverside and San Bernardino Counties through a series of activities aimed at:
1) increasing content knowledge and pedagogy competency of high school physics teachers;
2) preparing a pathway for undergraduate students interested in teaching physics; and
3) motivating and inspiring K-12 students to pursue the study of physics.
Faculty members of the Department of Physics and Astronomy have enjoyed a productive partnership with the UCR Graduate School of Education (GSOE) resulting in significant outcomes that have benefited physics education on campus and in the region. These include:
• Submission of four Single Subject Matter Preparation Programs (Biology, Chemistry, Geology, and Physics) to the State of California Teacher Credential in the Winter of 2008 for review and implementation. These programs are designed to create curricula that will enable pre-service (grades 7-12) teachers to be credentialed in these disciplines via coursework alone, thus waiving the requirement to demonstrate competency by passing the demanding and expensive California standardized examination. Submission of these proposals required a three-year, ongoing dialogue between members of the GSOE and faculty members in each of the science majors.
• In parallel, the Department has developed a physics education track, within the Bachelor of Science curricula, specifically designed for students that desire a career in physics teaching. This track, approved by the UCR Academic Senate, is innovative in that it seamlessly blends foundation courses offered by UCR's Teacher Education Program with upper division classes leading to the major. Development of this track required a fully cooperative effort between Physics and GSOE faculty at UCR.
• Several faculty from the Department participated as instructors in the Copernicus Project. This program was funded (2004-2008) by the US Department of Education, Teacher Quality Enhancement initiative, and directed by the UCR Teacher Professional Development Program. The goal of the project is the early identification, recruitment, training and retention of K-12 science educators. Each summer for the 2004-2008 years, the Copernicus Project has designed and implemented a Summer Institute that provides in-service K-12 science teachers with inquiry-based professional development, paying special attention to the integration of science and mathematics, and then supports participants throughout the academic year.
Membership of the UCR Department of Physics and Astronomy in the Physics Teacher Education Coalition will allow strengthening and augmenting capacity within the Department to acquire a leadership role in the preparation of future physics teachers. In addition, the Department believes that the dissemination of best-practices among a community of peers is fundamental for the vitality and the innovation of the teacher preparation programs.