Supported Site Ball State University: Recruitment

Successes

  • Beginning in the fall of 2003, the Teacher-in-Residence (TIR) has actively recruited department majors and minors and preservice teachers. This recruitment was implemented through class visits, teacher fairs, and prospective student visits, which also included minority student recruitment.
  • Department faculty continually encourage their students to consider physics teaching as a career.
  • Former TIRs have promoted physics teaching as a career in their high schools.
  • In 2007, there were six physics certifications, including one crossover teacher.

Challenges

  • New state certification program requirements decreased the number of secondary science teachers that completed certification programs.
  • Effective recruitment requires a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach; no single strategy will accomplish the objectives of an effective recruitment plan. Just as departmental atmosphere has been shown to be critical in growing a physics major program, prospective preservice teachers must be connected to the department as early as possible and mentored by faculty and upper division majors.

Sustainability/Institutional Buy-In

  • The department recognizes that the training of science teachers (and physics teachers in particular) is an important part of the department’s mission and responsibility. Approximately one-third to one-half of the department’s faculty has taught in the summer updating/retraining programs for science teachers and crossover physics teachers, providing evidence of the sustainability and department’s buy-in.
  • Although the department has made repeated requests to make the TIR’s salary a permanent university budget item, such allocations have not yet been provided. Without the TIRs’ recruiting efforts, it will be difficult to sustain the progress that was made during the project.

Lessons Learned

  • An active Society of Physics Students (SPS) benefits from having preservice teachers as members, and an active SPS can be helpful in recruiting and retaining prospective preservice teachers.
  • If the faculty conveys to students that teaching and the preparation of teachers are important tasks in our profession, the recruitment and retaining of preservice teacher is enhanced.

Activity Summary

  • As a university with a reputation and long history for training teachers and school professionals at all levels, over 25% of Ball State’s students are enrolled in professional education programs. Therefore, the University and the Teachers College target their recruitment toward prospective teachers. The average number of freshmen recruited as physics teaching majors for the past 15 years is three per year, with an average of four freshmen per year enrolling as prospective physics teachers during the past three years.
  • In addition to this source of prospective physics teachers, the department has implemented three additional strategies to recruit prospective physics teachers:
    • A summer updating/retraining program, initiated in 1984, which provided certification opportunities to crossover science teachers;
    • Promotion of career opportunities in physics and physics teaching to students in the General Education Astronomy classes (about 800-900 students per semester) and the introductory physics classes (conceptual, algebra, and calculus-based); interested students are invited to meet with departmental advisors; and
    • Presentations given each fall to mathematics teaching majors and minors about the shortage of physics teachers and the career opportunities available if they were to add a physics teaching minor.
  • The department utilizes four methods to recruit (and produce) certified physics teachers. They are as follows:
    • Recruitment of students who choose Ball State University by the University, Teachers College, and Department of Physics and Astronomy, through the positive reputation of the university for producing physics teachers;
    • Recruitment each semester from the department’s more than 1200 General Education students taking introductory physics and astronomy courses;
    • Contacting mathematics secondary education teaching majors each semester; and
    • Production from conducting a summer updating/retraining program for inservice science and mathematics teachers.

The department’s summer workshop offerings are an important source of crossover physics teachers, who as inservice science and mathematics teachers are able to gain certification/licensure by taking classes for one or two summers.