red Supported Site University of Wisconsin - La Crosse: Early Teaching Experience

Successes

  • Four students served as learning assistants in introductory physics courses.
  • Physics faculty teaching reformed courses were very willing to mentor learning assistants.
  • The science methods course was reformed to include an embedded classroom experience in local high schools.
  • Discipline-based education faculty in science and math worked with the School of Education's Office of Field Experience to place teacher candidates with appropriate cooperating teachers for this field experience.

Challenges

  • Recruiting learning assistants on short notice (August 2012) proved difficult; some interested students did not leave time in their class schedule to attend introductory physics courses while others opted to receive course credit rather than payment.
  • Completing the necessary paperwork to pay learning assistants proved more difficult than anticipated.
  • There was no common time when all learning assistants could meet for a pedagogy course.

Sustainability

  • The science methods course will continue to have an embedded clinical field experience as part of the course.
  • Discussions are underway to determine additional early experiences for teacher candidates earlier in the secondary teacher education program.

Lessons Learned

  • We discovered we needed to recruit learning assistants a semester in advance, so that undergraduate students would leave time slots open in their schedule for their learning assistant responsibilities.
  • Due to increased enrollment at UW-L, competition for courses is high and students are unwilling or unable to change their class schedule after registration.
  • Faculty who teach large lecture classes were generally hesitant about having learning assistant(s) in their classes. This option will need to be explored further.

Activities

  • Students were recruited to serve as learning assistants in introductory physics courses.
  • The science methods course was reformed to include an embedded classroom experience in local high schools.
  • Science and math education faculty worked with the School of Education Office of Field Experience to identify appropriate placements for teacher candidates.