Project Status: September 2013

This report contains the latest news and updates on the PhysTEC project.

Upcoming Events

2013 Colorado Learning Assistant Workshop, October 27-29

The PhysTEC project is co-sponsoring its fifth workshop focusing on the University of Colorado’s Learning Assistant (LA) program. The workshop will take place on October 27-29, 2013, in Boulder, Colorado. The LA program is a widely supported peer teaching experience that has been shown to improve students’ learning and attitudes toward science in undergraduate lecture classes and to recruit talented science and math students into teaching careers. Registration is open to all PhysTEC members. More information

2014 PhysTEC Conference, May 19-20

The 2014 PhysTEC Conference will be held on May 19-20 in Austin, TX in conjunction with the UTeach Conference. The theme for the conference is “Building Leadership.” Workshop solicitations will begin in November and registration will open mid-February. More information

Science Education News

Physics And Instructional Resources Update

The Physics And Instructional Resources (PAIR) project was a pilot teacher professional development project run by APS and supported by a private donation to the organization. Twenty teams (each including a high school physics teacher and a physicist) were provided with funds to purchase laboratory equipment and travel to a local conference. Each team designed their own project which included topics like integrating tablet computers, field trips to laboratory facilities, large-scale demonstration equipment, and home energy consumption. Approximately one thousand students were directly affected by these awards. Teams have presented at local AAPT, APS, and NSTA meetings, and APS staff participated in the First International Conference on Teacher Scientist Partnerships in Boston in February.

Lotze Scholarship

Applications can now be submitted for the Barbara Lotze Scholarship for Future Teachers. Undergraduate students enrolled, or planning to enroll, in physics teacher preparation curricula may apply. Successful applicants receive a stipend of up to $2,000 for up to four years. The deadline to submit applications is December 1st. Additional information and instructions on how to submit an application.

Distance Education and Online Learning in Physics Workshop

Over 100 participants met at the APS headquarters in College Park on June 1-2 to learn about the opportunities for and implications of online course offerings and distance education in physics. Speakers presented online resources available to enhance the classroom experience and addressed the more contentious topics of distance education and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The majority of participants reported that they anticipate their departments will increase the use of distance education in the next three years; to address this need, sessions were presented on ethics in distance education, assessment, and metacognition in online learning. APS and the APS Committee on Education are considering additional forums for the discussion of distance education and online learning. Workshop presentations

STEM Master Teacher Corps Update

The STEM Master Teacher Corp (STEM-MTC) is a proposal from the Executive branch that is designed to create opportunities for career advancement for STEM teachers. The proposal includes a growth trajectory for teachers to develop within the profession, avenues for them to engage in further professional development, mechanisms by which Master Teachers would be empowered to make broad improvements in STEM education, and significant stipends for Master Teachers. There are multiple paths forward for a priority such as STEM-MTC including realigning existing funding within agencies, public-private partnerships, or a white paper release to state departments of education. Letter in support of the STEM-MTC along with the white paper.

APS/AIP Policy Fellow at Department of Education

APS, AIP, and the Department of Education (ED) have come to a formal agreement to host a Science and Technology Fellow within the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development at ED. The Fellow will be a part of the AAAS Science and Technology Fellows program. While at ED, the Fellow is expected to work on shaping policy priorities and programmatic activities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics education (STEM-Ed). The Fellow will have a chance to work on interagency coordination to achieve ED’s 5-year Federal Strategic Plan, conduct research analysis and develop metrics to assess the impact of various ED initiatives, develop policy priorities for newly proposed programs such as the STEM Master Teacher Corps, perform legislative research and attend Congressional hearings, and identify new ways for ED to deepen its impact in STEM fields. For more information, contact Tyler Glembo.

APS K-12 Education statement

APS is considering a statement on K-12 education that, in short, asks policy makers to provide an opportunity for all students to take a high quality physics course in high school. The statement has just completed the public comment period. Appropriate revisions were made in light of the public comments. The next steps for the statement will be for the Committee on Education to approve the changes, then for the Panel on Public Affairs to approve the new version. It will then head to the APS Executive Board and the APS Council for final approval.

National Research Council Report on Undergraduate Physics Education

On June 24, 2013 the Committee on Undergraduate Physics Education Research and Implementation published recommendations for improving physics education based upon knowledge about learning and effective teaching in a report titled “Adapting to a Changing World --Challenges and Opportunities in Undergraduate Physics Education.” The Committee on Undergraduate Physics Education Research and Implementation was created in 2010 by the National Research Council. The report calls out PhysTEC’s recent national task force report as recommended reading for departments seeking to improve physics teacher education. More information and a copy of the report.

HHMI Science Education Alliance awards grants to UTeach

UTeach, a PhysTEC partner, is an exemplary program helping to meet the nation’s need of secondary school teachers in all STEM disciplines. UTeach recently received a $22.5 million grant from The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to support the expansion of the UTeach program into 10 leading research universities. The grant also includes over $2.5 million for UTeach to further develop curricula and assessment resources and to offer course-based authentic research experiences to UTeach students through the HHMI Science Education Alliance. The ten universities that are in the process of being selected to implement the UTeach program are expected to produce over 1,700 math and science teachers over the next decade. UTeach enables STEM majors to receive both a degree in their major and a full teaching certification in four years with no extra time or cost. Five PhysTEC legacy sites have also adopted the UTeach model: the University of Colorado Boulder, Middle Tennessee State University, the University of Arkansas, and Towson University. Additional information about the HHMI to UTeach grant.

Project Updates

NSF report to Congress Features PhysTEC

The PhysTEC project was highlighted in the 2014 National Science Foundation’s budget report to Congress. PhysTEC was one of eleven highlighted projects and the only one related to education. The PhysTEC highlight can be found on page 14 of the full report. View Report

T-TEP Publicity

Since the publication of the report of the Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics (T-TEP), a subcommittee of T-TEP members and others has been working to publicize the report. A copy of the report of the Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics (T-TEP) has been sent to all physics departments. In addition, the T-TEP editors (David Meltzer, Monica Plisch, and Stamatis Vokos) wrote an article for The Back Page of the August/September issue of APS News. Earlier there was an editorial by T-TEP chair Stamatis Vokos in The Hill blog. Full text of the T-TEP report

PhysTEC at the 2013 AAPT Summer Meeting

PhysTEC led many activities at the 2013 AAPT Summer Meeting. On the Friday before the conference, 15 TIRs and Visiting Master Teachers attended a one-day meeting where they discussed the role of the TIR and participated in a session on invention tasks and how these tasks promote proportional reasoning. The following day, 23 PhysTEC site leaders met to give an update on their programs and to share strategies on sustainability, course reform, and creating effective teacher certification pathways. During the Summer Meeting, PhysTEC TIR Coordinator Jon Anderson led a session composed of eight talks contributed by Teachers in Residence and Master Teachers. PhysTEC was also featured at the APS Education, Diversity, and Careers booth, which promotes department projects and serves as a hub of networking and community building among existing Member Institutions.

PTEC.org and PhysTEC.org Website Merge

The project is phasing out the PTEC acronym, and subsuming all activities under the project name PhysTEC. The PhysTEC.org and PTEC.org websites will be merged-look for the rollout of the new PhysTEC.org this fall. The new website will include all content from the two existing sites, as well as updated project results, statistics and photos. The PhysTEC library will continue to collect physics teacher preparation materials.

Three Legacy Sites receive Association of American Universities Grant

Three PhysTEC legacy sites have been awarded a prestigious grant from the Association of American Universities (AAU). Last June AAU announced that it is investing in STEM education in eight universities and will implement proven, evidence-based teaching practices and provide faculty support and training. The three PhysTEC legacy sites selected are the University of Arizona, the University of Colorado Boulder, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The University of Arizona grant will redesign five introductory STEM courses to implement active pedagogy, promote information and quantitative literacy, and integrate real-life applications in problem solving. The University of Colorado Boulder’s grant will create cultural change by establishing community support structures within departments, including designating faculty “anchors” to sustain support for evidence-based educational practices. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a network of “mentor-apprentice” relationships between faculty will facilitate the widespread adoption of student-centered, active pedagogy techniques in courses that were traditionally lecture based. More information about the AAU STEM education grants

Chemistry Teacher Education Coalition Update

In spring of this year, the American Chemical Society (ACS) submitted a proposal to NSF to fund an effort parallel to PhysTEC. The proposed Chemistry Teacher Education Coalition (CTEC) project would have a grant competition and a national conference. NSF conducted an external review of the CTEC proposal and it received relatively good ratings. However, NSF requested ACS to revise and resubmit the proposal. PhysTEC PI Theodore Hodapp and co-PI Monica Plisch participated in a day-long meeting in July to discuss revisions to the proposal, and also participated in a teleconference with the CTEC advisory board. ACS plans to resubmit the proposal to NSF shortly. Chemistry departments can join CTEC

PhysTEC Advisory Committee Meeting

On December 15-16, the PhysTEC Advisory Committee will meet at the American Center for Physics in College Park, MD. The committee will provide advice to the project and engage in strategic discussions focused around future PhysTEC activities. Members of the PhysTEC Advisory Committee include: Helen Quinn (Chair), Stanford; Jill Marshall, University of Texas, Austin; Jo Anne Vasquez, Helios Education Foundation; Jose Mestre, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Keith Clay, Green River Community College; and Mary Kirchhoff, American Chemical Society. The committee met last in January 2012.

New PhysTEC Member Institutions

The PhysTEC Coalition now has 287 member institutions. The newest members are:

  • Montana State University
  • Hampton University (Affiliate)
  • Northwestern University
  • People’s Prep Charter School (Affiliate)