Member Institution Illinois State University

Illinois State University

Outreach, Professional Development, and Local Alliances


Dr. Carl J. Wenning
Education Specialist
Physics Teaching Program
Department of Physics
Illinois State University
Normal, IL  61790-4560
(309) 830-4085 (cell)

Illinois State University Website

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Physics Teacher Preparation Program

The Physics Teacher Education program at Illinois State University prepares students to teach physics at the high school level using a broad-field preparation model. This program provides a thorough study of representative fields of physics, plus training in astronomy, chemistry, biology, and mathematics. Program graduates are certified to teach all courses in high school physics, as well as all other introductory science courses. Students may earn a middle school endorsement by completing two optional courses.

This program of study integrates a strong physics content major of 40 semester hours (s. h.) and 14 s.h. of chemistry, earth & space science, and biology with a professional education sequence of 22 s. h., and the University's general education requirement of 45 s. h. Physics Education courses begin with the autumn of the sophomore year, and continue unabated through the senior year. The program has one full-time PTE coordinator and a 0.25 FTE education specialist. The required content major courses can be found on the Physics Teacher Education program web site.

The Physics Teacher Education program at Illinois State University is constantly working to improve the quality of its offerings. Since 1994 the program has grown from about 5 PTE majors and two required Physics teaching methods courses to more than 40 PTE majors and six required Physics teaching methods courses – making the ISU program among the largest and most innovative in the United States.

Journal of Physics Teacher Education Online

The Journal of Physics Teacher Education Online, published by Carl Wenning of the Illinois State physics department, is dedicated to investigating and documenting significant issues and challenges in the education of physics teacher candidates. With a focus on the scholarship of teaching, the journal seeks to generate discussion and promulgate sustainable, long-term changes in educational research, policy and practice.


The ISU Physics Teaching Program coordinator is the driving force behind the Pipeline Project sponsored by the Illinois Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers (ISAAPT). The Pipeline Project is becoming a national model for recruitment of high school physics teacher candidates, having produced a brochure for high school physics students (Become a High School Physics Teacher: Think about it! and science teachers Recruiting the Next Generation of Middle and High School Science Teachers.) Both publications can be found at the following website.

Research opportunities for undergraduates (REUs)

The American Physical Society (APS) has awarded Illinois State's physics professors Rainer Grobe and Professor Q. Charles Su the 2006 APS Undergraduate Research Prize. The award cites "their outstanding effort at creating a successful and renowned optical theory program at Illinois State University, and for their exemplary involvement of undergraduates in this research." Many PTE majors are actively involved in cutting-edge scientific research.

Scholarships for preservice physics and physical science teachers

The ISU Physics Department provides support to physics teacher education majors who are willing to teach in Chicago Public Schools. Support is provided with the assistance of a Robert Noyce grant that pays dividends for junior- and senior-level students. The Department also has a number of competitive grants ($500 to $1,000) available only to incoming freshman. The PTE program also directs student attention to a number of non-university scholarship opportunities.