Supported Site Ball State University: Collaboration

Successes

  • Throughout the duration of the PhysTEC project, science educators (from the Biology Department) were members of the Physics and Astronomy Department’s PhysTEC Team.
  • Science educators provided valuable leadership when a Teacher Advisory Group (TAG) was formed. Members of the TAG included representatives from the Teachers College, middle school science and physics teachers from the immediate area, and representatives from the Indiana Department of Education.
  • A key Ball State science educator who was with the project between 2003 and 2006, was Dr. Walter Smith, the director of the university’s Ed.D. programs in Science and Science Education. He provided valuable insight to PhysTEC faculty on major current issues in science education. He also taught the gateway course for all preservice science teachers. He was also responsible for forming the Cardinal Association of Teachers Student organization (CATS) and assisting the department in working with area inservice middle school science teachers in Saturday workshop sessions.
  • The Director of the Office of Teaching Services has also been a key contact in the Teachers College for the PhysTEC project.
  • One of the Associate Deans of the College of Sciences and Humanities was extremely helpful in keeping the Dean of the College of Sciences and Humanities informed of the PhysTEC project; in turn, the Dean kept the Provost informed of progress throughout the project.
  • In 2007, a new faculty member joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy with experience as a high school physics teacher and a background in physics education. He has made many connections this year with science education faculty and members of Ball State’s Teachers College.

Challenges

  • Effective collaborations with area teachers and the university’s Professional Development Schools require regular communication and activities with these colleagues, so faculty must make a substantial time commitment.
  • There were many changes in the PhysTEC team members this year due to retirements, etc. Given the smaller cohort of participants, it was challenging to carry out the same number of activities as in past years.

Sustainability/Institutional Buy-In

  • For the past six years, teacher training activities during the academic year have expanded through the PhysTEC program. Physics Department faculty must continue to collaborate with other disciplines producing teachers for STEM education and, in addition, keep their departmental colleagues informed of progress in this area.
  • The College of Sciences and Humanities and the Physics and Astronomy Department have adopted the philosophy that whatever is good pedagogy for preservice teachers is good for departmental majors and will lead to a growing department. This type of philosophy will continue to facilitate departmental buy-in.
  • Through its long-term support for the summer program for updating and retraining physics teachers, our department has shown its willingness to sustain efforts to increase the number of physics teachers.
  • There will be a continued collaboration between departments in the College of Science and Humanities and Teachers College during the administration of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation program.

Lessons Learned

  • In the Department of Physics and Astronomy, there needs to be more than one science educator who is interested in and responsible for teacher education programs.
  • A TIR can be a valued colleague to faculty who are working with teachers through recruiting efforts, assisting in teaching methods, and mentoring preservice and inservice teachers. The TIR’s accomplishments may be beneficial in keeping the university leadership aware of science teacher preparation activities. Administrative support at the college level and above is crucial in sustaining teacher education programs.
  • Keeping a well-planned calendar that provides for TAG meetings, department Open Houses for area teachers and students, and active participation in state AAPT and NSTA meetings are key to keeping a program energized and connected to the activities and needs of Indiana’s science classrooms.

Activity Summary

  • Continued collaboration between the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Teachers College, University administrators, and local public school systems.
  • The Department of Physics and Astronomy has played a leadership role in the Indiana AAPT and thereby has built strong relationships among the physics teachers in the state.
  • The department has also provided Indiana science teachers, and physics teachers in particular, a summer updating/retraining program since 1984.
  • Walter Smith, a science educator and biology professor, played a significant role in forming CATS (Cardinal Association of Teachers of Science), and also he developed the gateway course for all secondary preservice science teachers.
  • Another PhysTEC team member, Melissa Mitchell, Professor of Biology and science methods instructor, revised, “Science as Inquiry," the methods course for elementary preservice students.
  • During 2005-2006, TIR Neil Anthony brought together community college faculty, Muncie Public School administrators, Ball State administrators, and community/vocational workforce representatives to attend state education (DOE) conferences on STEM education. Collaborative grants were submitted; although no funding has been awarded up to this time, these relationships continue to exist and collaborative grant programs continue to be investigated.
  • The Society of Physics Students has performed outreach activities in local middle schools for the past several years. They have won several national awards for this outreach. Several of the SPS members are preservice teachers, and SPS activities provide opportunities to promote physics teaching.