Supported Site Seattle Pacific University: Recruitment

Successes

  • We created an online application for our LA program and encouraged students to consider the LA program if they were interested in teaching physics. We follow this up with personal conversations with promising future teachers. This and other recruiting efforts consistently produced a good turnout (~20 students) interested in serving as LA’s for the upcoming year. At present, 3 former LA’s are teaching physics in a pre-college classroom, 1 former LA is a teacher intern, 2 current LA’s are finishing their undergraduate degree with support from a PhysTEC Noyce Scholarship and at least 2 current LA’s are planning to apply for PhysTEC Noyce Scholarships.
  • We have recruited several non-science majors to serve as Learning Assistants in science courses. We see this as a first step toward recruiting students with a strong aptitude for teaching and physics to consider science teaching as a career.

Challenges

  • Physics students who have served as Learning Assistants develop a fairly sophisticated level of pedagogical content knowledge. When these students enter introductory education courses, they may not be sufficiently challenged.
  • We need to work to ensure that every component of advising and guiding physics majors is done with a high degree of intentionality.

Sustainability

  • The LA program has been our most effective tool for recruiting undergraduates to careers in physics teaching. This program is a shared departmental priority.

Lessons Learned

  • At the end of the day, recruitment is about relationships. There is no substitute for personally telling someone that you think they would be a good physics teacher.
  • Elevating the level of intentionality with which departmental functions are performed can have a significant impact on the outcome of those functions.

Activity Summary

  • The physics faculty along with the Visiting Master Teachers presented K12 physics teaching as a career option in each of the introductory physics courses.
  • Members of our Teacher Advisory Group identified the student-teaching experience as the single most important component of a teacher preparation program.
  • We have established a weekly physics department tea (AKA ‘Tea Naught’). This provides students and faculty with an opportunity to build informal relationships and discuss career goals and ambitions.
  • SPU is partnering with local two year colleges to identify and advise prospective physics teachers.