red Supported Site Boston University: Recruitment

Successes

  • Four students were identified this year as future physics teachers (three who should be certified through BU, and a fourth who plans to do an MAT elsewhere), all of whom had teaching experiences as Learning Assistants in the Department of Physics.
  • On April 6th, 2013, six undergraduates accompanied Mark Greenman, the TIR, to the 27th Annual Eastern Massachusetts Physics Olympics, where they served as judges and helpers. Only one of those students had previously been a Learning Assistant; subsequently, the other five students applied to be an LA for Fall 2013.
  • The TIR met individually with undergraduates and graduate students who were interested in learning more about high school teaching, planning out details of programs that would lead to a teaching career.
  • We were awarded a Noyce Scholarship program for science teachers.

Challenges

  • Students enter BU with a declared major and goals that are intense and demanding, and haven't considered teaching as an option.
  • Our best candidates for teaching careers may be physics students who are in Interdisciplinary studies, and we need to target those students more.
  • Students are highly competitive and interested in research opportunities as their additional activity beyond classes within their major.
  • Developing a "doable" teacher certification track that will still allow BU students to graduate as physics majors.
  • Having acceptance from the BU faculty that strong BU undergraduate physics majors might potentially decide to teach high school physics as a career option.
  • Finding meaningful ways to reach out to BU physics graduate students about physics teaching and physics education research.
  • Developing a mechanism for having all physics majors considering changing majors to talk with the TIR prior to making such a change.

Sustainability

  • The Learning Assistant program continues to expand at Boston University, and is having a positive impact on pedagogy and attitudes toward teaching in several departments.
  • The Department of Physics is very interested in developing a Physics Teacher track for physics majors, and we are well on our way to putting a proposal together for such a track. This will be presented to the department in Fall 2013.
  • The Department of Physics is currently in the early stages of exploring ideas aimed at increasing the number of physics majors.

Lessons Learned

  • The TIR will work to promote the BU-PTN to the physics undergraduate major and graduate major population as another avenue to ignite latent interest in teaching.
  • It would be helpful for the TIR to arrange individual and small group field trips to area high school physics classrooms and middle school science classrooms to nurture latent interest in teaching.
  • There exists a subset of BU physics graduate students who have a strong interest in physics education and it is important that the TIR work to develop mechanisms for including BU physics graduate students in a conversation about K-12 physics teaching and learning.
  • The Noyce scholarship program is a good recruiting tool, giving students a financial incentive to become teachers.

Activities

  • The TIR attended a wide variety of BU Physics, engineering and other CAS research presentations and fairs.
  • The TIR participated in Freshmen Friday events in April (for incoming freshmen who are interested in becoming physics majors).
  • Poster displays in Science building and College of Arts and Science building announcing the PhysTEC project.
  • The TIR visited all introductory physics classes, and classes for sophomore physics majors, with handouts and sign-up sheets. These visits focused on raising awareness about teaching physics as a viable career, and spreading the word about getting an early teaching experience through the Learning Assistant program.
  • The TIR followed up each visit to freshman and sophomore introductory physics classes with email information on teaching and learning experiences made available to BU physics majors through the PhysTEC team/grant and new Noyce scholarship opportunity.
  • The TIR met with the Photon group (BU's SPS chapter) and shared the PhysTEC teaching career video and engaged in conversation with its members regarding physics teaching as a career.
  • The TIR attended the LA pedagogy course to engage and develop a stronger bond with the LA physics majors.
  • The TIR invited LA physics majors to the BU-PTN with some limited success.
  • The TIR has met with all physics major LA's and engineering majors LA's who are working in physics courses. The TIR has had multiple meetings and conversations with the LA's that have expressed any interest in secondary school physics teaching.
  • The TIR has developed a draft proposal for a Physics Teacher Track within the physics major options within the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). This proposal will be further worked among the team over the summer and presented to the physics undergraduate committee and physics department in the fall of 2013.
  • The TIR has worked cooperatively with School of Education (SED) faculty to develop a reduced course load of SED courses that do not comprise a SED major but will still allow BU physics majors to likely obtain "initial" licensure within Massachusetts.
  • The TIR has worked closely with the BU Noyce PI to promote this scholarship opportunity to physics undergraduate majors and to graduating physics majors.
  • The TIR is working with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Physics to develop a mechanism for having all physics majors considering changing majors to talk with the TIR prior to making such a change.