red Supported Site Florida International University: Recruitment



  • We awarded 7 Noyce Fellowships this year to students who plan to teach after graduating. Last year we had one physics education graduate.
  • The FIU PhysTEC project Learning Assistant (LA) program is the primary pathway for recruiting top students into the teaching program at FIU. The project has expanded to include Chemistry, Earth Science, Mathematics, and Physics. The departments collaborated in Spring 2010 to run a recruitment campaign and to create a common LA application.
    • Faculty regularly provide top 20% student lists for LA recruiting drive, and allow team to recruit during class time.
    • LAs actively recruit during their LA sessions.
    • 100+ students attended the LA informational meeting in Spring 2010, which is a 200% increase compared to previous years.
    • We have received 107 LA applications for Fall 2010 (40 in Chemistry, 8 in Earth Science, 43 in Mathematics, and 62 in Physics, applicants could select more than one area). This is an increase of 50% for physics applications over Spring 2010.
    • There were 43 LA applications for Spring 2010, an increase of 50% over the 29 applications for Fall 2009.
    • The LA Seminar (PHY 3012 / MAE 3893) (see Course and Lab Reform) operated with 30 students in Spring 2010. This included 13 math LAs, 13 physics LAs, 1 astronomy LA, and 3 students interested in education.
    • The LA Seminar (PHY 3012 / MAE 3893) operated with 24 students in Fall 2009. This included 10 math LAs and 14 physics LAs.


  • Coordinating recruitment across 4 departments is complex. Faculty in other departments are still learning the process, but are making significant progress.
  • LAs from other departments are finding that their needs aren’t fully met, especially compared to physics LAs. We strive to ensure that LAs have excellent experiences. They should have weekly training sessions, faculty support, and curriculum that support reformed, student-centered pedagogy. They also need a “go-to” person, such as multidepartmental TIR, for questions about teaching.

Sustainability/Institutional Buy-In

  • The FIU PhysTEC model for teacher preparation is utilized for the new mathematics and science education degree programs at FIU in the departments of Chemistry, Earth Science, Mathematics, and Physics. Biology is currently developing a program as well.
  • FIU’s Noyce fellowship project now supports LAs that choose to pursue teaching careers. We awarded seven Noyce Fellowships to three science and four math LAs in Fall 09.

Lessons Learned

  • Now that the LA programs have grown dramatically, we need to have a clear plan to foster collaboration between all participating departments.
  • Faculty need to be informed of the new programs and trained in advising students who want to become teachers. Removing the remnants of the old program from the institutional memory is challenging, but is occurring.


Activity Summary

  • Fall 2009 Learning Assistant recruitment: Faculty teaching calculus-based Physics I and II were asked for lists of the top 20% in their classes. All faculty sent such lists, resulting in over 100 students being emailed invitations to the PhysTEC informational meeting held November 2009. The TIR and Physics Education Research faculty and grad students also visited all of the classes, provided students with information about PhysTEC and the LA project, and handed out paper copies of the invitations. TAs and LAs were asked to recommend students for the LA program. Those students were emailed invitations to the PhysTEC informational meeting. LAs advertised the LA program in their LA sessions and handed out paper copies of the invitations. Invitations were also posted on bulliten boards in the physics department.
  • Spring 2010 Learning Assistant recruitment: Chemistry, Earth Science, Mathematics, and Physics collaborated to run an LA recruitment campaign. In physics, all of the actions noted above were repeated. The departments ran a joint LA informational session in March 2010 with 100+ attendees.
  • The TIR coordinates the recruitment campaign.