Member Institution University of Nevada-Reno
University of Nevada-Reno
Professor of Physics
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The Secondary Education Program at UNR is committed to preparing teachers who are able to meet the challenges of today's classrooms. The teacher education faculty provides an educational program that enables students to: develop a strong foundation of knowledge about teaching and learning; display a love of learning; value democracy and pluralism; and engage in reflective practice about one's growth as a teacher. To accomplish this, the program offers students: A strong liberal arts education with emphasis in the particular academic discipline in which the student will be teaching; background in the foundations of secondary education; methods for instruction in the academic disciplines; background in educational psychology and human development; methods for educating culturally diverse and special needs populations; methods for effective use of technology in instructional settings; and experience teaching in public schools. The College of Science and the College of Education are now studying the U-Teach model with the intent to implement programs for teachers in the basic sciences based on the template.
Physics faculty attended several of the learning assistant workshops and the college is currently in the early stages of implementing a program based on this model. Physics faculty will be using 2 physics undergraduate majors in a trial of learning assistant program with summer offerings in 2014.
Undergraduate Course Development
Physics, College of Education, and electrical engineering faculty member have obtained grant funding with the goal of developing an activity based learning courses in physics and other science and technology areas. Physics faculty have developed courses and implemented a new minor program in astronomy with education majors as one of the primary clients. The minor includes a senior thesis requirement which requires sudents to connect the astronomy program to their major which has led to "curriculum development" theses by education majors.
Secondary Science Curriculum Development
The medical school, the college of education, the biology department, chemistry department and the physics department (funded by Eisenhower grant), have collaborated to design a physics course for teachers using more hands on educational techniques and dispelling common misconceptions. The course is still under development and has not yet been offered.
Courses and Services for Local Teachers
A physics faculty member started a collaboration with a local private high school to develop an astronomy offering by working with and training their general science and physics faculty members.
The program "Science Partners" pairs upper division science students with elementary school teachers for one semester. They present all of the science content to their class for the term, working to help the teacher and to help develop the teacher's understanding as well as the students. Some of these students have found that they are "naturals" in the classroom and have considered teaching as a career path (though it is still early to see how many have followed through with those plans).
Some of the above mentioned work is with "inservice" teachers but the workshop and course development will likely be applied more to pre-service teachers as the collaborations develop.
Our department also operates a "Taking Physics on the Road" traveling physics demo show for all levels. The current effort of this program is to increase the participation of undergraduate students in the presentations and this has been met with enthusiasm by many of our majors. We also have initiated an Astronomy student club which has started public and K-12 astronomy events.