red Supported Site University of Colorado at Boulder: Collaboration

Successes

  • The PER group itself spans the physics department and School of Education (in faculty and students). Additionally our collaborative work includes joint papers, grants, and courses.
  • A thriving LA program which involves frequent collaboration among six STEM departments, the School of Education, and the School of Arts and Sciences. For a listing of meetings, events and collaborative papers see:http://per.colorado.edu and
    http://www.colorado.edu/ScienceEducation
  • Regular TAG meetings with local high school teachers.
  • Outreach through the LA program and the "Teaching and Learning Physics" class to local high schools.
  • Nascent efforts in community partnerships to run afterschool programs and offer LAs early-field experience with precollege youth.
  • PhysTEC collaborated with the Physics Frontier Center at JILA, the High Energy Laser Center (E-UV Center), and the CIRTL graduate network. These collaborations provide new learning and teaching opportunities for future teachers, and support the general culture of valuing education within the sciences

Challenges

  • TAG teachers are eager to work with LAs, but their schools are up to an hour’s drive from the campus; we have not been able to coordinate this very well.
  • Support from CU for the LA program is strong but far from complete or permanent—physics could run more LA-supported classes than we have funding for.
  • Without a TIR it is not clear who will lead the TAG program in future years.
  • Cross-listing courses between physics and the School of Education has still not been completed owing to institutional hurdles.

Sustainability/Institutional Buy-In

  • On the negative side, when our TIR leaves, continuing the TAG and outreach components will be particularly challenging.
  • On the positive side, we now have financial support for a number of LAs through the Provost.
  • There is an expectation among the undergrads that the LA program will run, which supports the departments/departmental buy-in.
  • Regular meetings of key players exist at each of the necessary levels of this system: PI meetings (physics and school of education), research meetings of participating faculty in many departments, faculty–student meetings on a weekly basis, TAG meetings, etc.

Lessons Learned

  • Institutionalizing partnerships among different community stakeholders is not well understood, both from practical and theoretical standpoints.
  • Shifting local culture to see these partnerships as a natural and central part of the program identity appears to be key. Physicists must recognize that education is part of their identity and partnerships with the school of education can facilitate their practices. Similarly, as the university shifts (minimally) to support K12 partnerships, including regular meetings of local practitioners is critical --- if only to understand the barriers to the system (e.g. transportation and scheduling).
  • More top-down support (institutional recognition & funding) of the community partnership activities is necessary if the programs are to succeed long-term.
  • Cross-program partnerships can be transformative experiences for participants (e.g., running a summer camp may convince a physics major to be a teacher; or listening to K12 teachers experiences /challenges and success can transform physicists perspectives on the value of teaching).

Activity Summary

CU Boulder has an unusually high degree of collaboration between the Physics Department and School of Education. Our Physics Education Research group spans the two schools. Broader efforts, the LA-TEST and NMSI programs span five math and science departments and the school of education. With protracted efforts of the faculty PIs we have secured the support of the administration to institutionalize (fund and advocate for) some of these efforts.

  • We hold regular DBER (Discipline based education research) meetings, involving a collaboration of a dozen or more faculty in 6 departments/3 schools discussing pedagogy, assessment, mentoring, outreach, and more, with faculty from Physics, Applied Math (in the school of engineering), Chemistry, Biology, Astronomy, and the School of Education.
  • TAG meetings (described under "TIR" section above) have provided us with contacts throughout the local area. TAG team members have become our TIR (twice), and a third works for our PhET research group part time now.
  • CU has put in a NMSI proposal this year, which would expand the connections between the School of Education and the School of Arts And Sciences to include discipline-based pedagogy and science methods courses, as well as more tightly coupling the LA program with certification in the school of Education.
  • Collaboration with PhET research team bringing in local high school teachers to work on PhET simulations.
  • Research collaboration under the LATEST research program with faculty in the school of Education studying the impact of the LA program on the development of students as future teachers.
  • Education faculty guest lectured in Teaching and Learning Class.
  • The Colorado STOMP program is becoming institutionalized where undergraduates, graduate students and staff from CU partner with local area programs to offer afterschool and summer school programming. More information
  • PhysTEC partnered with the Physics Frontier Center at JILA, the High Energy Laser Center (E-UV Center), and the CIRTL graduate network to provide new learning and teaching opportunities for future teachers, and support the general culture of valuing education within the sciences.
  • Regular (roughly weekly) meetings of key players exist at each of the necessary levels of this system: PI meetings (physics and school of ed), research meetings of participating faculty in many departments, faculty-student meetings on a weekly basis, TAG meetings, etc.