Project Status: March 2007

Here is a brief synopsis of the actions and efforts of the PhysTEC project and PTEC since December 13, 2006. If you have questions please contact the Project Manager, Gabe Popkin, or the Principal Investigator, Ted Hodapp.

PTEC 2007

The 2007 PTEC Conference in Boulder , Colorado took place on March 3 and 4, with two pre-conference workshops offered on March 2. Registration for the conference attendance had to be capped at the maximum available for the space (115) - a strong indication that increasing numbers of people and institutions are actively working to improve their teacher education programs. Workshop topics included strategies for recruiting specific groups such as engineers and women; the promotion of reformed teaching at the college level; varieties of early teaching experiences; and the mentoring of newly minted teachers. The two plenary speakers were Carl Wieman , Nobel Laureate and advocate for physics department involvement in physics instruction reform and the production of physics teachers, and Cherry Murray , vice president of APS and member of the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP), which authored the Rising above the Gathering Storm Report.

Presentation abstracts and presenter biographies are available on the PTEC website: www.ptec.org . Follow the link to the 2007 Conference.

PTEC 2008

The PTEC 2008 Conference will be held in Austin , Texas and co-hosted by the University of Texas at Austin . Please mark your calendars for February 29- March 2, 2008 . Updated information will be posted on the PTEC website and distributed through the listservs.

New PhysTEC Sites

The American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the American Institute of Physics are pleased to announce the addition of four new sites to the PhysTEC project.

The new set of PhysTEC sites was selected through a review process similar to that used by the National Science Foundation, with a two-stage application procedure and a panel of reviewers. The initial solicitation in October of 2006 resulted in 45 submissions to the first phase of the application review. We were delighted and a bit overwhelmed by the interest in this project - clearly physics and physical science teacher education is gaining momentum among institutions around the country. The initial group of applicants was narrowed to 12 institutions, 11 of which submitted the secondary application materials. The review panel selected four of these to be funded, and we are pleased to welcome these universities as the next set of Primary Program Institutions. The new PhysTEC sites are:

Cornell University , PPI Lead Robert Thorne. Cornell has implemented a number of changes in introductory physics education, and the success of the PI's redesigned pre-med physics course attests to the department's strong potential for and commitment to implementing course reforms. The Cornell proposal was a good mix of the big picture and the details, and there was a sense among the reviewers that there is a top-down motivation for change at the institution, which is a prerequisite for systemic reform. Overall the review panel felt that this could be a successful project with significant implications for other Tier 1 universities. Highlights of the PhysTEC project at Cornell include:

  • An excellent set of recruiting strategies.
  • A modified Learning Assistant program for early field experience that will be based on the Colorado program and the Cornell College of Engineering Academic Excellence Workshops.
  • An undergraduate pedagogical content-knowledge course - The Art of Teaching and Learning - that will be developed in the physics department to supplement relatively small offerings of the teacher education program.
  • Instructional excellence workshops for outreach to regional teachers that will assist in Teacher in Residence (TIR) recruitment and formation of a Teacher Advisory Group.

Florida International University , PPI Lead Laird Kramer. Florida International University (FIU) proposed a strong project that recognizes the importance of both increasing the number of teachers prepared to teach physics, and improving the quality of their early experiences. The project personnel have a record of demonstrated accomplishment in the field and growing interest in the subject of preparing teachers. The PhysTEC project at FIU grows out of and is aligned with a developing reform program at FIU led by individuals who are recognized in the physics community.

Highlights of the PhysTEC program at FIU include:

  • A strong focus on underrepresented minorities
  • PhysTEC as an outreach component of the Center for High-Energy Physics Research and Education Outreach (CHEPREO), a collaborative project based at FIU.
  • A full-tuition scholarship for a Learning Assistant in his or her second year, and immersion of the LA in the learning community.
  • Recruitment of future teachers from the top 20% of freshmen and sophomores.
  • An extensive assessment plan based on Physics Education Research.
  • A new physics education major track with four new physics education courses.
  • Funding for continuation of TIRs.

University of Minnesota , Twin Cities , PPI Lead Cynthia Cattell. The University of Minnesota is well positioned as a PhysTEC site with its history of excellence in Physics Education Research, its R1 status, its role as a leader in Minnesota education, and its long history of outreach to the community. Through these outreach efforts, the university has already identified teachers who are well qualified to become Teachers in Residence. Another strength of the program is that Minnesota allows prospective teacher until their junior year to decide to become certified, giving them great flexibility. Specific highlights of the PhysTEC project at Minnesota include:

  • The selection of the first TIR from an existing teacher mentoring program.
  • A pre-existing physics education track.
  • Grouping of pre-service PhysTEC teachers into a cohort.
  • An excellent recruitment plan including a freshman seminar on inquiry-based learning and the Physics Force.
  • Research Experience for Teachers (RET) and Quarknet as components of a mentoring program for PhysTEC graduates.
  • Active Teacher Advisory Group and Teaching and Learning Assistant programs already in place.
  • History of using recruiting Learning Assistants in Physics for Elementary Teachers.
  • Project assessment as a primary concern of a graduate student in Physics Education Research.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill , PPI Lead Laurie McNeil. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has designed an excellent program for four-year physics teacher certification. All the elements PhysTEC describes as critical for a successful program have been included and integrated in their plan; for example, UNC's proposal to connect a new course on the learning and teaching of physics with the Learning Assistant experience teaching seemed especially worthwhile and well considered. And as in the Minnesota program, a UNC undergraduate need not make the decision to become a teacher upon entering college - the program allows for several points of entry. Specific highlights of the PhysTEC project at UNC include:

  • An existing NSF-funded plan to reform introductory courses along the University of Illinois model (providing a set of standard and well-prepared resources for each course).
  • The adoption of University of Minnesota collaborative problem solving and the use of University of Washingon tutorials in recitation.
  • Three new proposed education courses plus a new course in physics pedagogy developed with the aid of the TIR; this course is paired with an introductory course for the Learning Assistant to observe and participate in to some extent.
  • Certification of the TIR by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), faculty rank of Lecturer, and sustainability of the position through a clinical fixed term faculty position in the School of Education.
  • Recruitment using a one credit hour course in science education taught by the TIR.

PhysTEC Activities

PhysTEC at the AAPT Winter Meeting. The following PhysTEC Members gave presentations or chaired sessions at the AAPT 2007 Winter Meeting in Seattle, Washington in January 2007.

  • American Physical Society: Ted Hodapp
  • American Association of Physics Teachers: Warren Hein
  • Ball State University : Elaine Gwinn, Robert Hill
  • PhysTEC: Paul Hickman
  • Seattle Pacific University : Lane Seeley, Stamatis Vokos
  • University of Arizona : Julia Olsen
  • University of Colorado : Noah Finkelstein, Steve Pollock
  • Western Michigan University : Marcia Fetters, Charles Henderson, Bob Poel

PTEC Activities

Many resources that had already been catalogued have now been added to the online collection. The new editor is redesigning the site to better serve its users.

In the last quarter, consultant Ann Deml performed the following tasks on PTEC.org:

  • Added new PTEC member institution pages
  • Created pages for research opportunities for teachers at Department of Energy labs
  • Tagged teacher preparation articles for submission to the PTEC collection

New Coalition Members. Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PTEC) now has 82 members, and the complete list of member institutions along with profiles is available online. We would like to welcome the institutions that have joined recently:

  • Anderson University
  • Boston University
  • Casper College
  • College Misericordia
  • DePaul University
  • Eastern Illinois University
  • Fairmont State University
  • Francis Marion University
  • Hillsdale College
  • Hofstra University
  • Hope College
  • King College
  • North Carolina State University
  • Radford University
  • St. Joseph 's University
  • Tufts University
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • University of California , Davis
  • University of Maryland Baltimore County
  • University of Missouri-Columbia
  • University of Northern Iowa
  • University of San Diego
  • Winona State University