Member Institution East Central University

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East Central University

Research and Professional Development
Recruitment and Outreach


Karen Williams
Professor of Physics
Tel: 580/559-5394

East Central University Website

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Description of ECU Teacher Preparation Program
ECU is a premier comprehensive student-centered regional university in Oklahoma.  ECU located in Ada, OK has about 4500 students.  

The ECU Physics Teacher Education Program requires 30 hrs of professional education courses, 30 hours of physics, 23 hours of other sciences, and 16 hours of mathematics as well as a minimum of 45 hours general education courses.

The ECU physics teacher education program is based on the ECU Education Dept.’s Prime Model that idealizes the prescriptiveness with regard as to what should be taught, reflectiveness regarding what was taught, and integrativeness regarding the curriculum.  Prescriptive teachers think about the needs and backgrounds of their students, they are familiar with theories of learning and development, they are sensitive to diversity, are analytical in their analyses, and adapt their teaching methods as necessary.  Reflective teachers think critically about content, pedagogy, and the appropriateness of content; they are committed to students in their discipline, and continually assess their effectiveness in the classroom. Integrative teachers are aware of relationships between concepts in their content, they are aware of the importance of technology and how it aids in instruction.  

ECU Physics Education Majors are ready to become certified as ‘highly qualified’ in that they have the rigorous physics and science coursework backed by the Prime Model educational philosophy.  ECU had one of the most active Student Chapters of the National Science Teacher’s Association.  Our students made outstanding presentations during ITV national meetings of NSTA.  Student NSTA members include both elementary and secondary teacher prospects which is an excellent opportunity for our physics secondary students to teach physics to hesitant elementary teachers. We also have an 15 time nationally recognized Society of Physics Students chapter that does outreach in the public schools and for the community.  Students have a well rounded experience with physics content and teaching before student teaching. 

Description of Initiatives to Improve Preservice Education

The Physics Dept. has taken the role of modeling excellence in teaching physics.  Our Physics Education majors are required to take 30 hours of physics.  The physics faculty have adopted a ‘teach physics the way it should be taught’ philosophy.  Faculty members have been very active in American Association of Physics Teachers for decades, have received Eisenhower physics and physical science teaching grants, and bring forth excellence in physics education based upon physics education research to each physics course.  We teach content using Modeling, Learning Cycles,  Beyond Question, active research and design of experiments, cooperative learning and other methods.  In this way we model the way we want our physics teacher interns to teach hoping that our students follow our example.   ECU Physics Education has joined with PTEC (Physics Teacher Education Coalition).  PTEC's goal is to "improve the education of future physics & physical science teachers".  Dr. Karen Williams is a member of NSTA (National Science Teachers' Association) and the OSTA (Oklahoma Science Teacher's Association) and very active in the AAPT (American Association of Physics Teachers). 

In the Summer 2014 ECU partnered with other universities endorsing teacher education and won a PTEC Grant:  

This is a proposal for a statewide recruitment grant to increase enrollment in physics programs in Oklahoma’s existing PhysTEC institutions. Recruitment efforts focus on junior and senior high school students and undergraduate STEM majors. The effort will market high school physics teaching as a viable career option among junior and senior high school students through promotional materials and site visits. Departments will be encouraged to promote high school science teaching as a rewarding and important career by supporting physics education speakers and disseminating PhysTEC program materials targeting undergraduate students. Grant funds will support bringing speakers to Oklahoma PhysTEC institutions to promote physics education careers among current undergraduate students. Faculty and undergraduate student travel to physics education events will also be supported. Oklahoma’s PhysTEC institutions include ECU, NWOSU, OSU and SWOSU.

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