red Supported Site Western Michigan University: Recruitment

Successes

  • While WMU has consistently had high numbers of physics majors and minors, over the course of the project the number of physics teachers produced per year has gradually increased to a high of 14 in 2006, including 4 females.
  • Currently WMU has approximately 44 undergraduate students in the physics teacher preparation pipeline, including 14 females. These students are predominantly juniors and seniors, so we are fairly confident that last year’s results are a trend.

Challenges

  • Keeping an accurate count of preservice teachers ”in the pipeline” is more challenging than we originally anticipated because of the lag time before student changes in major are reported to the department.
  • Recruiting individuals to the School of Education (SED) program is time-intensive and requires one-on-one interactions with students.

Sustainability/ Institutional Buy-In

  • It has been difficult to generate institutional “buy-in” when university budgets are so strained, especially during a time when Michigan has a surplus of teachers.
  • Activities necessary for successful recruitment will have to be performed by faculty without compensation.
  • Recruitment now occurs in Introduction to American Schools and Adolescent Development. The instructors in these course now routinely highlight the need for physics, chemistry, mathematics and special education teachers

Lessons Learned

  • We found that the best way to determine how many teachers were “in the pipeline” was to use major/minor enrollment records along with surveys of students in classes and cross check these two data sets. Cross checking needs to be done 2 or 3 times a year.
  • Recruitment was best done on campus among students in introductory classes. There are many students in these classes who are possibly interested in being physics teachers and who haven’t determined their major . Sharing information about what teaching is like and having students sign up for an email newsletter on physics teaching are non-threatening ways to inform students about teaching careers..

Recruitment Activities

  • The TIR visited introductory and upper-level physics classes, usually twice a semester, to briefly discuss the physics teacher preparation program and physics teaching as a career. Many students asked questions about both. A sign-up sheet for interested students was used to send out information about the program or teaching in general, make individual contact with students, and to keep an updated record of students who may be interested in teaching. It needs to be cared for, utilized and updated frequently to remain an effective tool.
  • Another important aspect of recruitment is not losing pre-service teachers from the program once they decide to enter it. To keep pre-service teachers in the program, the TIR is available for students who are having academic difficulties and monitor students progress through the program to the extent possible.
  • The TIR team-teaches or assists in many of the physics classes that are required for physics teacher preparation. This helps make the TIR a familiar face among the students and helps the TIR become knowledgeable about what material is being covered in class and what the potential difficulties are.
  • Outreach to area schools, in the form of physics teacher support services, is also an important component of recruitment. Local physics teachers who view the physics department as a valuable source of physics teacher support are more likely to recommend that program to any students interested in majoring or minoring in physics, especially if the student is thinking of becoming a physics teacher.