Supported Site University of Missouri-Columbia: Recruitment

Successes

  • Visits to physics and education courses and placement of recruiting posters have proved effective; almost all of the Learning Assistants for 2012-2013 and the new hires for Fall 2013 reported seeing a flyer, poster, or having experienced a course visit.
  • Open house for recently admitted physics majors resulted in a new physics education student and PhysTEC scholar starting Fall 2013.
  • Invitation of a local high school student to Science Teachers of Missouri conference with other physics education students resulted in his applying (and being accepted) to program in Fall 2014.
  • 81% of participants in high school Learning Assistant program report being "very interested" or "interested" in being a high school teacher after participating in the program, compared to 57% before participating in the program.

Challenges

  • It has proved more difficult to recruit education students into physics than to recruit physics students into education. Students who have not completed the prerequisite mathematics courses by the start of their freshman year find it nearly impossible to complete the necessary physics coursework in a reasonable timeframe.
  • Recruiting high school students from Columbia is more challenging than anticipated; the students who are interested in physics also tend to be interested in leaving the area. We will target new schools in St. Louis, Kansas City and surrounding areas next year.
  • We had tried to partner with high school students in a peer tutoring program, but scheduling issues proved insurmountable. Next year we plan to send recruiting literature to the high school coordinators for A+ scholars program, a statewide peer-tutoring program.

Sustainability

  • MU physics department funds open houses, and will continue to fund these recruiting activities.
  • Classroom visits, other local presentations and website maintenance are no cost; these responsibilities will be continued by PI and/or new 0.5 FTE teaching professor (who will sustain the Teacher in Residence duties).

Lessons Learned

  • Visits to other higher education institutions to recruit for the MS program need to be followed by an event at MU 3-4 weeks later. We lost the interest of students with whom we did not have immediate follow-up contact.
  • Open houses and other recruiting can be a lot of work with minimal "reward" for recruiting into physics education degrees. Instead of taking on this task by ourselves, partner with other colleagues who have interest (e.g. recruiting engineering and/or physics majors, college of education events) and other "low-hanging fruit" (e.g. send flyers at local science teacher conferences, peer tutoring program, etc.).

Activities

  • A website (http://topteacher.missouri.edu) and a Facebook page ( www.facebook.com/MUTOPteacher) were created for our TOP Teacher community.
  • Recruiting posters and flyers advertising the TOP teacher program and degrees were created and distributed or posted. Many students have told us that this is how they discovered the program.
  • Recruiting visits were made to four higher education institutions for the MS program ( http://smar2t.missouri.edu).
  • Three new open houses were held to advertise the physics major and new special opportunities for physics education. These were aimed at currently enrolled MU undergraduates, prospective transfer students from a nearby community college, and recently admitted high school students.
  • Attended Science Teachers of Missouri conference with both pre-service and in-service physics teachers.
  • We have presented multiple times to ninth grade Missouri physics teachers involved in the NSF-supported "A TIME for Physics First" ( http://physicsfirstmo.org/) professional development program. Teachers were encouraged to help recruit future teachers from their own pool of talented students. We have started to gather names of prospective MU students.
  • Presented information about program to MU students (Society of Physics Students, Physics and Astronomy Graduate Student Association, MU National Science Teachers Association student chapter).