Supported Site University of Minnesota: Collaboration

Collaboration among the College of Science and Engineering (formerly Institute of Technology), College of Education and Human Development, University Administrators, and Local Public School Systems

Successes

  • The PhysTEC team at the university was composed of an outstanding group of faculty from the School of Physics and Astronomy (SPA), Post-Secondary Teaching and Learning (PSTL), College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) and area high schools. The commitment of each individual involved was critical to the success of the four years of the program.
  • We have a cohort of 12 area science teachers who are willing to serve as mentors to our prospective science teachers and host them for field experiences in our courses. They are members of the Teacher Advisory Group (TAG).
  • The Physics Force, a physics demo road show, has provided a strong connection between the physics department and local schools, and teachers involved in this program have made excellent Teachers-in-Residence (TIRs).
  • The PACES program, an outreach group from the physics department composed of Physics Force members, has provided opportunities for future physics teachers to participate in the program in local schools.
  • Faculty in CEHD, in addition to the two who are formally involved with PhysTEC, have provided important support in the process of grant-writing for continued funding for PhysTEC activities.
  • We have worked with other College of Science and Engineering (CSE) faculty to write grants to continue support for PhysTEC-related programs.
  • The TIR and PI have worked with the CEHD Noyce PI in selection of Noyce fellowship recipients.

Challenges

  • Coordination of schedules for semester meetings of the PhysTEC committee often proved difficult. It is imperative that members make this meeting time a priority and that the meeting be conducted such that it is a productive use of people's time.
  • Issues related to differences in budgetary situations between CSE and CEHD can complicate coordination of programs and joint grants.
  • Current economic climate complicates getting long-term continued funding.

Sustainability/Institutional Buy-In

  • To continue building the bridge between the university and area high school physics teachers we have begun offering two physics courses through the "College in the Schools" program (CIS). The non-calculus based Introductory Physics is offered through the School of Physics and Astronomy. The non-math based Physics by Inquiry is offered by the school for Post Secondary Teaching and Learning. It is intended that future physics teaching graduates will be prepared to teach for CIS and a career-long link will be sustained between these teachers and the university. These teachers will also be a growing cohort of mentors for future teachers. The first two years of this program have been very succesful.

Lessons Learned

  • Coordination with the CEHD DirecTrack Program has been very effective and appreciated by future PhysTEC teachers.

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Activity Summary

  • CEHD began a new program, DirecTrack to Teaching, in fall of 2008. DirecTrack allows students to begin taking CEHD course as undergraduates. One LA was enrolled and participated in the program this year. At least two will participate next year.
  • The Project PI and Co-Is met with both the Institute of Technology (now the College of Science and Engineering) and College of Education and Human Development deans and with the Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy to obtain funding for continuation of the program for the next academic year.