red Supported Site Boston University: Goals & Outcomes


  • Work to recruit more future physics teachers, mainly through the efforts of the Teacher-in-Residence (TIR), increasing visits by the TIR to physics classes and following up individually with interested students.
  • Work to increase the number of Learning Assistants (LAs) we draw from our pool of physics majors, and encourage the LAs to consider further teaching experiences and to consider teaching as a career.
  • Initiate a cultural transition in the physics department, to improve faculty attitudes toward (1) physics majors going into teaching careers and (2) PhysTEC program activities that provide training and experience in teaching generally and student-centered learning specifically.
  • Assess the effectiveness of pedagogical reforms, specifically the LA program and the large-scale studio implementation that began in Fall 2013.

Selected Outcomes

  • In December 2013 we obtained by a vote of the physics faculty approval for a full physics major option for students who want to become high school physics teachers. This successful outcome is the culmination of two years of efforts to develop, negotiate and convince the physics department faculty that this track is in alignment with the physics department mission. Implementation of this new physics major track awaits final approval by the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS).
  • We have identified one freshman and one junior who have indicated they intend to become secondary school physics teachers.
  • In May 2014, we graduated one senior physics major (CAS BA) and two graduate physics majors (SED MAT) with certification to teach secondary school physics.
  • Our School of Education Masters of Arts in Teaching (SED MAT) program for 2014-15 includes five students, out of eleven in the program, who will be seeking certification to teach secondary school physics. The TIR emailed each applicant to our MAT program who indicated an interest in obtaining secondary certification in physics with information about the BU PhysTEC program and specifically about our BU-PTN (Boston University Physics Teacher Network) outreach program to area physics teachers. All five of the MAT candidates explicitly mentioned that the BU-PTN program and/or PhysTEC program was an important factor in choosing the BU MAT program over other University MAT programs.
  • We expanded the impact of the Learning Assistant (LA) program in the Department of Physics, both by targeting physics majors to become LAs and by utilizing LAs in the advanced undergraduate physics courses. 25 different students served as physics LAs in 2012-13, up from 20 in 2011-12.
  • Our TIR, Mark Greenman, reached out to undergraduate students about teaching, strengthened ties between Physics and the School of Education, and got the physics faculty to think more about teaching.
  • In 2013-14, we made an impact in changing the culture within the Department of Physics, through (1) holding two Physics Teaching Lunches to discuss teaching-related issues, (2) continuing to build the LA program, (3) starting a large-scale studio physics implementation in the algebra-based introductory physics sequence, (4) initiating discussions about increasing the number of majors, and (5) approving, in the physics department, a physics teacher track for majors.
  • Eric Mazur of Harvard came to give a departmental colloquium in January 2013, titled "The Scientific Approach to Teaching: Research as a Basis for Course Design". Helen Quinn of Stanford gave a departmental colloquium in February 2014, titled "Issues in Science Education."
  • In 2013-14, we strengthened our connections with local physics teachers by holding five on-campus meetings for teachers through the PhysTEC BU-PTN (Boston University Physics Teacher Network) outreach program. Attendance for the five meetings was 40, 30, 30, 32, 31 participants (these totals include secondary school teachers, BU graduate students and BU undergraduate students). The teachers in attendance came from over 30 distinct districts from Eastern Massachusetts with 28 individual physics teachers coming from the Boston Public School system.
  • We began efforts this year first to include graduate students and then also to include undergraduate physics majors as participants in our BU-PTN meetings. Graduate student attendance at the five meetings was 2, 3, 2, 2, 3 and undergraduate attendance at the five meetings was 0, 0, 0, 3, 1).
  • We have increased awareness about PhysTEC in New England, through a poster presentation by our TIR at the Spring meeting of the New England AAPT section.
  • In August 2012, PhysTEC co-PI Peter Garik, Boston University was awarded a Noyce Scholarship program for science teachers. In the first cohort of nine Noyce scholars, three sought certification to teach secondary school physics. The PhysTEC TIR was instructor of record for the capstone science methods course that paralleled the scholars' student teaching practicum. The second cohort of nine Noyce scholars includes three students seeking certification to teach secondary school physics (in addition to two physics MAT students not supported by the Noyce Scholarship).
  • In Spring 2014, four members of the Department of Physics, including three from the PhysTEC team (Duffy, Goldberg, and Jariwala), were awarded the very first Gerald and Deanne Gitner Family Innovation in Teaching with Technology Award, in recognition of years of effort in introducing new pedagogical methods into a number of physics courses, especially introductory physics.