PhysTEC Announces New Funded Sites

National teacher preparation program awards grants to five universities to focus on physics teacher education.

Contact: Ted Hodapp
Director of Education and Diversity
American Physical Society
301-209-3263
Website: www.PhysTEC.org

The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) recently announced that it would fund five universities to develop their physics teacher education programs into national models. The new awardees are California State University, Long Beach; Chicago State University; Middle Tennessee State University; Towson University, and the University of California, Davis.

The winning institutions were selected during a two-stage review process that began with a pool of 52 applicants. Awardees demonstrated a capacity for large increases in the number of physics teachers graduating from their programs, as well as strong departmental and institutional support for teacher preparation efforts. Funding for these sites will begin in Fall 2010.

The five awardees will join the thirteen other institutions that have already received money from the project since it began in 2001. Many of these institutions have doubled, or more, the number of high school physics teachers graduating from their programs.

PhysTEC sites have achieved these successes by increasing teacher recruiting efforts; hiring master teachers to work within physics departments; developing engaging early teaching experiences; improving content and pedagogy courses; and fostering collaboration between physics departments, education schools, and local school districts.

Most PhysTEC sites have implemented an early teaching experience called Learning Assistants, that also serves as a powerful teacher recruitment program. Learning Assistants are talented prospective teachers work with faculty members to make large-enrollment courses more collaborative, student-centered, and interactive. All newly awarded sites already implement this program in some form, or have plans to do so.

Theodore Hodapp, Director of Education and Diversity at APS and PhysTEC project leader, says, "We look forward to supporting a new cadre of physicists who are engaged in these issues. We are also excited that two of our new sites-Chicago State and Cal State-Long Beach-serve large minority populations that traditionally have not had access to a high-quality physics education."

PhysTEC is a joint project of the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Association of Physics Teachers, and is now funded by a five-year, $6.5-million grant awarded by the National Science Foundation in Fall 2009, as well as APS's 21st Century Campaign.

The Physics Teacher Education Coalition is a joint project of the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers, with National Science Foundation and APS Campaign for the 21st Century funding.