Supported Site Central Washington University: Early Teaching Experience

Successes

  • The PI developed PHYS 292 and PHYS 392 (Exploring Physics Teaching I and II), courses for new and advanced learning assistants
  • The PI taught PHYS 292 and PHYS 392 all three quarters of the school year
  • The department hired and trained seven learning assistants the year one and 21 learning assistants, including 16 first time learning assistants, the year two.

Challenges

  • There is only one physics class offered regularly in the five high schools in our county (with an area about the same as Delaware) so it is difficult to incorporate high school classroom visits into the LA curriculum.
  • Since the LA course and experience is still fairly new, it does not have a regular place in the department schedule or culture. The instructor must actively recruit students and develop a class time based on the schedules of the students enrolled in the course.
  • Not all faculty members in the department are effective practitioners of reformed teaching techniques so LA time is often wasted in the classroom.
  • There are not enough faculty members who can use LAs successfully.

Sustainability

  • The LA courses are on the department teaching schedule for the foreseeable future.

Lessons Learned

  • The department needs to engage in professional development for faculty members to help them better utilize LAs.