red Member Institution Southern Oregon University: Initiatives to Improve SOU’s Teacher Preparation Program

Southern Oregon University

Introduction
Initiatives to Improve SOU’s Teacher Preparation Program

Improvements to SOU's physics teacher preparation program are new and will be introduced during fall quarter 2006.  The improvements are designed to address the following issues:  providing interested students with consistent access to informative resources in teacher preparation, developing greater collaboration with the School of Education, paying particular attention to the development of students' communication skills, bringing knowledgeable speakers into the classroom, and increasing the number of opportunities for students to interact with the community as a knowledgeable physicist.  In addition, there will be considerable effort to include students who are traditionally underrepresented in the physics community through outreach efforts.  For instance, SOU physics student demonstrations/tutoring at local high schools having a larger proportion of traditionally underrepresented students will hopefully inspire these students to pursue a degree, and perhaps a teaching career, in physics.

A description of our specific plans is outlined below.
1. Provide Teacher Advising:  Create a clearly defined advising program within the physics department for majors wanting to become high school physics teachers.  Meet with the students individually and as a group once per quarter.
2. Periodically Re-assess and Strengthen Ties with the School of Education:  Establish annual meetings with the School of Education.  Such meetings will be a chance for evaluating the progress of newly admitted master's students (from SOU's physics department), to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the physics department's preparation initiatives, for an exchange of ideas, and for finding points of collaboration.
3. Emphasize Communication Skills:  Emphasize clear communication, and encourage all students to engage in a teaching exercise.
4. Invite Informative Speakers:  Invite high school physics teachers from the community and School of Education representatives to speak to the students on possible career paths in physics teaching.
5. Encourage Volunteer Work:  Encourage students to work with the community, offering physics demonstrations to high school students and the general public, and interacting with the local ScienceWorks Museum.