red Supported Site Arizona State University: Recruitment

Successes

  • The Learning Assistant (LA) program, implemented for the first time this year, has proved to be an excellent method to foster interest in teaching.
  • Student advisors in the Physics Department are knowledgeable about the PhysTEC program and have referred several students interested in teaching to the TIR.
  • The culture of the physics faculty has become supportive of LAs, with several faculty members requesting more information about the impact of the LA program on student achievement.
  • The LA Seminar (PHY 494/598) course (see Course Reform) operated with 13 students, and provided another means of recruitment.
  • The TIR visited upper division physics courses for recruitment purposes, resulting in a list of almost 40 students interested in the PhysTEC program and a career in teaching.
  • The new degree path offering a BS in Physics with a concentration in Secondary Education (see Collaboration) has been publicized to local high school and community college teachers with preliminary positive feedback about potential student interest.

Challenges

  • We typically have more students interested in being an LA than we anticipated when we developed the budget. For example, in Spring 2013 we had about 13 interested and qualified LA candidates with funding only for 6.
  • Fostering physics faculty buy-in about the value of teaching has been difficult.
  • Once students express an interest, there are few mechanisms to get them involved other than the LA program. If they do not become an LA, the momentum to get them involved in physics reduces significantly.

Sustainability

  • The physics department now supports the additional LAs as needed, above and beyond those funded by the grant.
  • The new degree program BS (Physics) with a Concentration in Secondary Education has been approved at the college and university level.

Lessons Learned

  • When recruiting students, we need to have multiple ways for them to become engaged with the program, in addition to the LA option.
  • An expansion of recruitment efforts, possibly through online announcements and brochures, is needed to get more students involved with the program.
  • Undergraduates exhibited significant interest and talent when provided with opportunities to engage in teaching and pursue careers in teaching physics.

Activities

  • Designed and scheduled a new course, PHY 494/598 Seminar in Teaching and Learning Physics, originally intended solely as an LA pedagogy class. Worked with the physics department chair to make this course available for both undergraduate and graduate credit in order to meet the needs of graduate TAs and help them navigate their teaching duties. The course was offered in fall 2012.
  • Met with the physics general studies coordinator and the undergraduate physics advisor to make them aware of the crucial need for physics teachers. They referred several students for mentoring and found funds to hire our first "unofficial" PhysTEC LAs in fall 2012.
  • PhysTEC PI and TIR gave a presentation about the new ASU PhysTEC program to key instructors in courses taken by physics majors, subsequently arranging visits to their courses to promote the program.
  • Supported 4 LAs in fall 2012 and 13 LAs in spring 2013.
  • TIR visited physics courses in Fall 2012 for recruitment purposes, resulting in a list of almost 40 students interested in the PhysTEC program and a career in teaching.
  • With recommendation from the PhysTEC program, the physics department hired a former NSF Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) fellow to teach an Introductory Mechanics course. This PhD subsequently decided to pursue K-12 teaching and accepted a position at a local high school for the next school year.
  • PhysTEC faculty attended local AAPT meetings, subsequently recruiting several local physics teachers (both high school and community college) to attend the physics department "Red Carpet Day".
  • Approximately 6 local teachers accompanied by 16 of their students attended the "Red Carpet Day" event in April 2013. This event targeted under-represented students to consider pursuing a physics degree.