red Supported Site Middle Tennessee State University: Recruitment

Successes

  • The number of physics majors pursuing a career in physics teaching increased from 3 to 15 during the second year of funding.
  • Fourteen high school physics students visited MTSU during a physics open house during fall semester. The open house is becoming a yearly event.
  • Several mathematics education majors changed to physics teaching due to increased attention, and "customer service" in recruiting and advising.
  • Testimonials of recent graduates have been placed on the department website to make our communication of career options more impactful (http://www.mtsu.edu/physics/StudentTestimonials.php).

Challenges

  • Of non-major physics students that identify themselves as being interested in physics teaching, fewer than 50% show up for follow-up information meetings.
  • Scheduling of visits to introductory physics sections for recruiting is time consuming and labor intensive.
  • Website design and development is difficult for faculty to maintain due both to time constraints and lack of expertise.
  • Managing surveys and pre/post exams in multiple sections of several courses is administratively challenging, and can be burdensome to faculty.
  • Growing popularity of physics teaching leads some students to enter the program before they have demonstrated success in junior level physics courses.

Sustainability

  • Advertising campaign from CommonSense Communications was developed and implemented in spring 2013.
  • Physics faculty and/or students visit every introductory physics course at least once per semester to advertise both major and teaching concentration.
  • Physics open house will become a recurring event each semester.
  • New PER faculty member provides a renewed commitment to course reform of introductory physics courses and physics pedagogy courses.
  • Early successes with a TAG of local high school teachers will support recruitment as they share positive experiences with their students.

Lessons Learned

  • College students need to hear about physics careers and physics teaching several times before acting on their interests.
  • High school students are interested in physics once career options are made known.
  • Careers of recent physics graduates from MTSU form a compelling case for physics as a viable major.

Activities

  • Marketing study was performed by John Rice of CommonSense Communications.
  • Physics faculty visited both Calculus-based and Non-calculus-based Introductory Physics classes to discuss careers in physics.
  • Half-day open house is offered for area high school students each fall.
  • Recruiting material sent to 500 Tennessee high school students within a targeted ACT range and that had expressed interest in physical science or science teaching. Approximately 65 students submitted follow-up information.