red Member Institution Brigham Young University: Collaboration

An Effort to Collaborate

One question that seems to come up many times as BYU is beginning to understand the uniqueness of the numbers of Physics Majors choosing Secondary Teaching Licenses, is why are so many students choosing physics majors and teaching at BYU?

We at BYU have our ideas, but really only can infere a reason. It could be that our
students are guided by BYU mission statement "Enter to Learn Go Forth to Serve". Many students at BYU have completed two years of missionary work for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, BYU's sponsoring religion. During this service students teach others of the values and tenants of the church. While they are teaching their religion they find that they enjoy the opportunity to teach. Teaching begins to become apart of who they are. But other schools draw students with these attributes and don't seem to have the numbers of physics majors seeking teaching licenses.
Perhaps the major reason BYU has high number of physics students seeking teacher licensure is the same reason that the Physics Department at BYU graduates so many students. The tradition of students being mentored and valued in the physics department is apparent and felt by the students. Physics students often mention that the reason they have chose physics majors is the challenge physics offers and the unique learning environment that is found in the physics department. Physics professors seem to truly care about students and learning. This combination of students feeling that they are valued and that professors care about the students leads to many students not being turned away from teaching, but being turned on to teaching.

The physics teaching program visit the  physics careers class during students freshman years, does demonstrations for new students orientation and generally makes an effort to be as visible in the department and on campus as possible.

Under the guidance of Scott Sommerfeldt, Dean of College of Physical Science, Ross Spencer, Department Chair Physics, Robert Beck Clark and Duane Merrell all BYU, the physical science teaching program at BYU has joined the PHYSTEC organization and looks forward to insights and help on a national level on preparing Physics Teachers.