Florida International University Project Report 2009
- We have one physics education graduate in our second year, for a total of two in the past two years. Until last year, FIU had not produced a single physics education major in the past decade.
- The FIU PhysTEC project Learning Assistant (LA) program continues to be the primary pathway for recruiting top students into the teaching program at FIU.
- The second and third recruitment cycles of the LA program resulted in 20-25 applications per semester. Roughly half are selected as LAs, depending on department needs and placement availability.
- The LA Seminar (PHY 3012) course (see Course and Lab Reform) operated with 25 students – 12 math LAs and 13 physics LAs.
- Faculty regularly provide top student lists for LA recruiting drive, and allow team to recruit during class time.
- Over fifty students regularly attend the LA informational meeting each semester.
- To meet the needs of our project’s reform efforts in the introductory Physics I labs we will need almost 20 LAs for Fall 2009. We expect to be able to meet the demand, as many LAs have expressed interest in continuing.
- Communication to recruits needs to be improved, and recruiting meetings simplified to focus on the “why” of being an LA, as opposed to the “how to” aspects.
- The FIU PhysTEC model for teacher preparation is utilized for the new mathematics and science education degree programs at FIU. Twelve math LAs participated in Spring 2009; chemistry and earth science are expected to participate in Fall 2009.
- Project faculty have been awarded an NSF Noyce fellowship project that will support LAs that choose to pursue teaching careers. The program began in January 2009 and expects its first fellows in Fall 2009.
- We need to expand our recruiting efforts through online and brochures to propagate information to students so they may better evaluate the programs.
- Students quickly develop an appreciation of the education discipline but that alone may or may not be sufficient to change their career paths. The addition of the new education track in physics and the possible Noyce program will offer incentives to continue in the program.
- Fall 2008 Learning Assistant recruitment: Faculty teaching calculus-based Physics I and II were asked for lists of the top 20% in their classes. All faculty sent such lists, resulting in 104 students being emailed invitations to the PhysTEC informational meeting held November 2008. The TIR also visited all of the classes, provided students with information about PhysTEC and the LA project, and handed out paper copies of the invitations.
- Spring 2009 Learning Assistant recruitment: Faculty teaching calculus-based Physics I and II were asked for lists of the top 20% in their classes. Eight faculty and several graduate assistants sent such lists, resulting in 77 students being emailed invitations to the PhysTEC informational meeting held in early April 2009. The TIR also visited all of the classes, provided students with information about PhysTEC and the LA program, and handed out paper copies of the invitations.
- The TIR maintains contact with project participants and actively supports them in their navigation of university procedures and snags.