Project Status: October 2012

This report contains the latest news and updates on the PhysTEC project.

Upcoming Events

2012 Learning Assistant Workshop
The PhysTEC project will co-sponsor its fourth workshop focusing on the University of Colorado's Learning Assistant program October 28-30, 2012 in Boulder, CO. The Learning Assistant program is a highly supported peer teaching experience that has been shown to improve students' learning and attitudes toward science in undergraduate lecture classes and recruit talented science and math students into teaching careers. Partnership travel grants of up to $1,000 are available. Learn more and register for the workshop.

PhysTEC Request for Proposals
The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) project is requesting proposals for new sites to develop model physics teacher preparation programs, beginning in the 2013-2014 academic year. Proposals are requested for comprehensive sites (up to $300k) and targeted sites (up to $75k). Comprehensive sites are expected to implement the PhysTEC key components and show a substantial increase in physics teachers. Targeted sites are an opportunity to explore innovative models for improving physics teacher education.

A webinar on the RFP was held on Oct. 4. The recorded webinar and the 2012 RFP are available online. The deadline for submitting an initial proposal is October 26. Note there are separate solicitations for targeted and comprehensive sites. This RFP will be the last solicitation funded under the current NSF grant.

2013 PhysTEC Conference - Call for Workshop Proposals
PhysTEC invites proposals for 90-minute workshop sessions at the 2013 Physics Teacher Education Coalition Conference being held March 16-17, 2013 in Baltimore, MD. The theme for the conference is Preparing the Next Generation of Physics Teachers, though proposals related to any aspect of physics teacher preparation will be considered. The application requires a 100 word abstract, a list of objectives, the intended audience, an outline of facilitation strategies, and a brief professional biography. The application will be posted on the conference website by the end of October with a due date of November 30.

Effective Practices Book - Call for Manuscripts
The PhysTEC project, the American Physical Society, and the American Association of Physics Teachers announce a call for manuscript proposals for a new peer-reviewed book entitled Effective Practices in Preservice Physics Teacher Education: Recruitment, Retention, and Preparation. Co-edited by Dr. Eric Brewe and Dr. Cody Sandifer, this book seeks to provide a practical guide to innovative, state-of-the-art programs, and will include papers and case studies covering a wide variety of topics in preservice teacher education.  Manuscript proposals are due February 1, 2013.

Teacher Education & Related News

Next Generation Science Standards Update
APS and AAPT provided feedback on the initial draft of the Next Generation Science Standards(NGSS) in the spring of 2012. In addition, Monica Plisch represents PhysTEC as a NGSS reviewer (critical stakeholder). Individuals are encouraged to review and comment on the second draft of the NGSS when it becomes available, anticipated in late 2012. In September, Helen Quinn and Okhee Lee presented a webinar on the NGSS and English Language Learners. The webinar recording and powerpoint presentation are now available.

Physics and Instructional Resources Update
Physics and Instructional Resources (PAIR) is a pilot project in physics teacher professional development designed to support physics teachers in need of content and/or material resources. This effort, funded by an APS member donation, will support about 20 teacher + professional physicist teams to develop and implement new content-rich lessons. Applications were due in September and the selection process will be complete in early October. Teams from urban, suburban and rural schools have applied, and the national distribution is impressive. Funds will be distributed to teachers’ schools in October.

Lotze Scholarship for Future High School Physics Teachers
The American Association of Physics Teachers offers scholarships for future high school physics teachers. Supported by an endowment funded by Barbara Lotze, the scholarships are open to U.S. citizens who are undergraduate students enrolled, or planning to enroll, in physics teacher preparation curricula and high school seniors entering such programs. Successful applicants receive a stipend of up to $2,000 and the scholarship may be granted to an individual for each of four years. All applications and materials, including letters of recommendation, must be received by December 1.

AP Physics Curriculum Revision
The College Board recently announced major revisions to the AP Physics B curriculum for high school.  The new curriculum, to be implemented starting in fall 2014, will stretch over two years instead of one to allow more in-depth exploration of topics as well as a stronger foundation in mechanics. Gay Stewart, PhysTEC Legacy Site leader at the University of Arkansas, and Robert Hilborn, Associate Executive Officer at AAPT, have both been involved in the redesign as members of The College Board’s Consortium of Experts.

PhysTEC Supported Sites

Sustainability Study
The PhysTEC project will be conducting a study on the sustainability of its Supported Sites after project funding ended (legacy sites). The study seeks to answer:

  1. To what degree have teacher education programs at PhysTEC legacy sites been maintained, grown, or productively evolved over the years since funding?
  2. What are the mechanisms by which teacher education programs have been sustained?

The study will be conducted during 2012-2013 by phone interviews, site visits, and collection of quantitative data. The findings will be synthesized in a report that will also include case studies of teacher education programs at PhysTEC legacy sites.

SUNY Geneseo Forum on Education Newsletter Article
PhysTEC site leader Kurt Fletcher at State University of New York at Geneseo published an article in the APS Forum on Education Newsletter about the first year of physics teacher preparation efforts at this Targeted Site. The Geneseo PhysTEC Site is reinvigorating a long-established physics teacher education program through special attention to early teaching experiences, an enhanced recruitment program, and the efforts of a well-qualified part-time Teacher In Residence (TIR).

Project Updates

PhysTEC News
The Fall 2012 edition of PhysTEC News is now available. This newsletter introduces the new Supported Sites, profiles a PhysTEC teacher and a PhysTEC Teacher in Residence, features project activities and outcomes, and provides perspectives on broader issues surrounding physics teacher preparation. Download a pdf of the newsletter.

Building a Thriving Undergraduate Program Workshop Follow-up
On June 10, 2012, APS and AAPT held a two-day workshop at the American Center of Physics to tackle the issue of building physics programs with sustainable, healthy physics enrollments. Key parts of the workshop were four planning sessions in which small teams of institutions met with consultants who offered their expertise and advice as institutions developed action plans to strengthen their own physics programs. The action plans are now available online at
/phystec/search/advanced.cfm - search for “Action Plan.”

PhysTEC Noyce REU and Professional Development
In addition to receiving scholarship support of up to $15,000 per year, PhysTEC Noyce Scholars are also eligible to apply for a summer REU in physics education research. This summer three scholars received REU funding and conducted research at Florida International University and The University of Maine.

As graduates, PhysTEC Noyce Scholars may apply for summer professional development funding. This summer two graduates, who are now in their second year of teaching, were funded to attend the University of Arkansas’s College Ready workshops for physics teachers where they received professional development in physics content, inquiry-based pedagogy, and teaching to Advanced Placement Physics standards.

Alabama's Alliance for Physics Excellence
PhysTEC Supported Site the University of Alabama is a partner in Alabama A&M University's Alliance for Physics Excellence (APEX), which was recently awarded a five-year, $8 million grant from the NSF to enhance physics teaching in Alabama's high schools. APEX aims to integrate the latest teaching practices into secondary physics programs via pre-service and in-service teacher education, ultimately impacting a quarter of the physics teachers in the state's school systems and more than 40,000 students. AAPT's Physics Teaching Resource Agents (PTRA) Program also plays a major role in the project. PhysTEC anticipates that APEX and PhysTEC will work together on teacher preparation and that APEX will serve as a model for other large-scale state-wide physics teacher initiatives.

Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics Update
The full report of the Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics is now being prepared for printing and distribution. A pre-release of the Executive Summary is currently available. A printed copy of the report will be sent to all physics departments and schools of education, and a PDF version will be made freely available on the PhysTEC website.

People Update & Job Announcement
Jacob Clark Blickenstaff will be moving with his family to Seattle, WA in early 2013. Jacob joined the APS as the Teacher Education Programs Manager in June 2011. His time at APS has been spent working on the PhysTEC project and teacher professional development programs, which includes managing the PhysTEC Coalition, including the annual conference, directing the PhysTEC Noyce Scholarship, and designing and implementing the new Physics and Instructional Resources project (see the Education News section for a PAIR update). Jacob will continue to lead the organization of the 2013 conference. He will be missed and we wish Jacob the best in his new endeavors.

APS is accepting applications for the Education Programs Manager position. See the job posting for more information.

New Member Institutions
The PhysTEC Coalition now has 270 Member Institutions. The newest members are:

  • Research Corporation for Science Advancement (Affiliate member)
  • Grove City College
  • Columbus State University
  • Arkansas State University
  • Pomona College
  • Benedictine University
  • University of West Geogia
  • Georgia College & State University
  • Colorado Christian University (Affiliate member)
  • Harvey Mudd College
  • University of North Texas
  • University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
  • University of West Georgia

Learn more about these and other coalition members.