Emporia State University: Initiatives to Improve Teacher Education
Implicit in the preceding are points related to changes - ostensibly improvements - that have been incorporated in preservice teacher education, both for physics teaching aspirants, or for those who will draw on physics content in other teaching contexts. Examples include the following:
- The NASA-funded ESU Project NOVA enabled relevant faculty to reform the course material from the physical sciences (much of which is grounded in physics), mathematics, and teacher education so that it is more integrated, aligned with national standards, utilizes appropriate and available technology, and which is derived as possible and practical from hands-on, inquiry-based activities.
- The Hestenes modeling pedagogy has "rubbed off" on colleagues. It has been utilized by some physics colleagues at the introductory-course levels (both the algebra/trigonometry and calculus-based course sequences), and is in evidence by the presence of white boards!
- A rather aggressive program assessment plan (Outcomes Assessment) has provided continuous feedback to either reinforce what we are doing, or to target course and program changes. Examples of changes driven in part by OA feedback from physics and physics education students in the last 10-15 years include the following: provision of a more-supportive atmosphere and environment (including tutoring assistance, more explicit program guides, and rejuvenated student organizations and activities, for example), development of a one-semester first-year experience course for declared first-semester physics students, interdisciplinary student project opportunities, and incorporation of more computer technology throughout the physics/physics education curriculum.
- It should be understood that the preparation of middle- and secondary-level preservice teachers at ESU is a shared responsibility of the college of education (Teachers College) and the academic disciplines in the arts and sciences. Appropriate faculty appointees in the discipline with content background and science education credentials and/or experience(s) serve as advisors for the preservice teaching aspirants, teach the pedagogy course(s), and otherwise are respected as valuable, contributing colleagues to the collective goals of the academic departments of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ESU. Although this seems to be somewhat of a recent trend at other institutions, this was at one time a rather unique attribute.