red Supported Site Towson University (Secondary): Goals & Outcomes

Goals

Physics Program

  1. Refine, enhance, and expand the amount of active-learning pedagogy in introductory and upper division physics courses.
  2. Provide professional development and mentoring for full- and part-time physics faculty new to active learning instruction.
  3. Increase the extent to which physics majors engage in ongoing discussions regarding secondary teaching as a possible career option.
  4. Provide early teaching experiences for physics majors to get them interested in secondary teaching as a possible career option.

Physics Secondary Education Program

  1. Clarify, reorganize, and disseminate the description and requirements of the secondary physics education program to help with recruitment of secondary education majors.
  2. Modify the secondary science teaching methods course such that secondary education majors increase their depth and breadth of physics-specific pedagogical content knowledge.
  3. Create organizations and activities that will help secondary physics education majors develop feelings of belonging to an educational community.
  4. Provide education-based internships to help declared secondary physics education students maintain an interest in teaching as a career.
  5. Work with the College of Education, its Center for Professional Practice, and neighboring school districts to select appropriate mentor teachers and provide orientation workshops to ensure that active learning approaches are valued and implemented in the student teaching semesters.
  6. Increase the amount of financial support offered to secondary physics education majors.
  7. Maintain communication with and provide mentoring for recent secondary physics education graduates.

Selected Outcomes

  • Seventeen new PhysTEC future teachers were recruited into the program. Eleven were undergraduate students and six were graduate MAT students.
  • The total enrollment in the physics secondary education program remained a steady 10-12 students for the duration of the project, which is a dramatic increase from the enrollment of 1-3 students in pre-PhysTEC years.
  • Thirty-four learning assistants worked with thirteen physics faculty to implement research-based pedagogical reforms in calculus- and algebra-based physics courses. Learning assistant activities impacted 39 course sections and 2,737 physics students.
  • The TIRs established a mentoring network by maintaining frequent communication with secondary physics education majors, other physics majors, learning assistants, and recent graduates.
  • Two recruitment and early teaching PhysTEC activities were unique to Towson University: (1) the creation of a new third-semester early teaching course that focused on high school instruction, and (2) TIR communication with local teachers that focused on high school student recruitment.
  • The culture of the physics department changed such that faculty are more likely to suggest teaching careers to physics majors and refer interested majors to education faculty.
  • The greatest success of our TIRs was the creation of an energetic teaching community of undergraduate learning assistants and physics faculty who have gained an interest in reform- and research-based physics pedagogies.
  • Under the supervision of PhysTEC faculty, a new National Science Teachers Association student chapter was created, with future teachers serving as president and director of member services.
  • The number of outreach and induction activities increased dramatically, including (a) increased TIR, faculty, and future teacher involvement in high school Physics Olympiads, visits to local schools, and campus visits from interested high school students, and (b) future teacher participation in local and regional teaching conferences.
  • Towson University is now a UTeach replication site, and efforts are underway to sustain our PhysTEC successes under UTeach.