red Supported Site Middle Tennessee State University: Early Teaching Experience

Successes

  • 8 physics majors assisted in an introductory physics course by enrolling in Physics Practicum during AY 10-11, and this number grew to 14 during AY 11-12 and 19 for AY 12-13.
  • 2 physics majors completed a more extensive Learning Assistant experience in The Teaching of Physics during AY 10-11, 7 took the class during AY 11-12, and 9 in AY 12-13.
  • Over 20 physics majors have completed the UTeach replication course Step One: Inquiry Approaches to Teaching.
  • About 15 physics majors have completed the UTeach replication course Step Two: Inquiry Lesson Design.

Challenges

  • It was difficult to justify offering a class for only 2 students (first offering of The Teaching of Physics).
  • Physics faculty with a passion for physics pedagogy are not as prepared to engage students in addressing physics content knowledge as faculty trained in physics education research.
  • It was initially difficult to have influence over the placements for physics majors in the early teaching experiences due to a long history of decision making by faculty outside the science college.

Sustainability

  • Physics Practicum is required of all MTSU physics majors.
  • The Teaching of Physics is required of all physics majors in the Physics Teaching concentration, but open to all majors.
  • Step One and Step Two is required of all STEM majors seeking endorsement to teach at the secondary level and, therefore, all future physics teachers.
  • The Physics and Astronomy department is committed to growing our involvement in PER, as evidenced by hiring our first PER faculty member.

Lessons Learned

  • Interactions with current and past high school teachers are greatly valued by majors in the Physics Teaching concentration.
  • The earliest teaching experience, Step One, can be a tool for recruiting physics majors.

Activities

  • All physics majors at MTSU are required to take Physics Practicum as a graduation requirement, where they act as Learning Assistants in introductory physics labs.
  • Physics majors in the Physics Teaching concentration take The Teaching of Physics, where they are allowed have more responsibilities in an introductory physics laboratory.
  • Students enrolled in The Teaching of Physics visited the high school classroom of a local high school physics teacher that uses the Modeling approach.
  • As a UTeach replication site, MTSU offered two courses with early teaching experiences as the fundamental activity, Step One and Step Two. Step One students teach lessons in the K-5 environment, while Step Two students teach in grades 6-8.
  • Step One was offered for the first time in fall, 2011 and is now offered every semester.
  • Step Two was offered for the first time in spring, 2011 and is also offered every semester.