James Madison University
James Madison University
Associate Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy
Harrisonburg, VA 22807
Physics Department Initiatives in Physics Teacher Education
1. PhysTEC-Supported Comprehensive Site (2013-2016)
As a PhysTEC-Supported Comprehensive Site, JMU Physics is implementing many of the key components of the PhysTEC model, including hiring a Teacher in Residence to mentor students and provide a critical voice of experience, incorporating undergraduate Learning Assistants to implement course reform and offer early teaching experiences, and forming communities for both our majors interested in teaching and area physics teachers.
In fall 2011, we began offering a physics pedagogy course, co-taught by a member of the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Department of Psychology. Concurrently, we started a Learning Assitant program in which phyics majors, enrolled in the course, served in Tutorial sessions for the introductory, calculus-based sequence. These are significant increases in opportunities for students interested in pursuing education.
2. Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies program and Related Outreach
Members of the physics department have an active role in the instruction of the University's Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies majors, the curriculum at the University designed for students planning to teach grades K-8 as well as special education. Scott Paulson has worked independently with Andy Jackson to introduce area high school students to an Atomic Force Microscope. Along with Professor Paulson, Chris Hughes and Brian Utter have also worked with the Governor's School, introducing those students to the research members of the department perform along with equipment used in this pursuit. Also, Ioana Niculescu has also recently initiated an outreach program that would allow area high school students in general the opportunity to observe the different venues of the department's research programs.
3. Professional Develoopment for Current Teachers
Each summer, in conjuction with Dr. David Slykhuis in the JMU College of Education, we offer professional development for in-service teachers through the Content Teaching Academy (CTA). As one example, a CTA focused on Modeling was coordinated by the current TIR, Joseph Mahler. Offered in Summer 2013, this is likely to be repeated in 2014 based on this year's success.
Previously, JMU has served as host for PTRA training (Physics Teaching Resource Agents). Initially as a pilot program for rural institutions and then with funding provided by the Toyota USA Foundation, JMU provided week-long summer workshops with follow-up sessions in the fall for dozens of high school physics and middle school physical science teachers across the state of Virginia.