Project Status: March 2014

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

Upcoming Events

Regional LA workshops

In response to high demand for Learning Assistant Workshops, the University of Colorado is offering five regional LA workshops in the spring of 2014. Partners include PhysTEC, the National Science Foundation, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Workshops are scheduled at Boston University (March 21-22), University of Maryland, College Park (Feb. 22-24), Florida International University (Mar. 23-25), Texas State University, San Marcos (Apr. 4-5) and Chicago State University (Apr. 18-19). The workshops support faculty interested in starting, growing, and sustaining LA programs in the STEM disciplines. More information here www.learningassistantalliance.org/regionalworkshops.php

2014 PhysTEC Conference

Registration for the 2014 PhysTEC Conference is open. The conference will be held in Austin, TX on May 19-20, in conjunction with the UTeach Conference. This year's conference theme is "Building Leadership" and features workshops, panel discussions and presentations by national leaders plus a contributed poster session. There will be a PhysTEC-UTeach joint plenary session by Arthur Levine, Woodrow Wilson Foundation. Other plenary speakers include Nicole Gillespie, Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, David E. Meltzer, Arizona State University, and Susan Singer, National Science Foundation. The registration rate for members of PhysTEC institutions is $150, and the rate for non-members is $295. A limited number of travel grants are available for faculty from Minority Serving Institutions.

The UTeach Conference will provide PhysTEC Conference attendees with additional opportunities to network within the science teacher education community. Members of PhysTEC institutions can attend the UTeach Conference for a reduced fee. More information on the conferences here http://www.phystec.org/conferences/2014/

Request for Proposals

The PhysTEC project will open a call for proposals for new sites to create and improve physics teacher education programs on March 31, 2014. There will be an informative webinar on April 22, 2014, 3:00-4:00 pm ET; all coalition members are invited to attend. The deadline for pre-proposals is May 12, 2014 and those invited to submit full proposals will have a deadline of September 8, 2014. Decisions will be made mid November 2014 and funding will begin August 1, 2015. For more information go to http://www.phystec.org/solicitation/

Registration now open for first PhysTEC Online Pedagogy Course

Registration is now open for the first PhysTEC online physics pedagogy course. The course will be offered during the Fall 2014 semester in partnership with the American Modeling Teachers Association. Students at active PhysTEC coalition institutions are invited to register now. Modeling is an inquiry approach to high school physics teaching that incorporates computer technology and insights from physics education research. Emphasis is placed on basic models and modeling in mechanics, developing skills in scientific discourse and presentation and assessment of student learning. Prerequisite: 2 semesters college physics. Additional information and registration can be found at http://www.phystec.org/courses/.

Summer AAPT Meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 26-30, 2014

The 2014 Summer AAPT Meeting will feature a number of sessions related to physics teacher education:

  • Sustainability of Physics Teacher Preparation Programs, presided by Monica Plisch
  • Teachers in Residence, presided by Jon Anderson
  • Translating Teachers' Research Experience into Classroom Practice
  • Teacher Communities: Supporting Beginning Teachers of Physics
  • Preparing Physics Teachers to Teach in Diverse Environments
  • PUM: Physics Union Mathematics
  • Simple Experiments for Learning the Strategies that Mirror Science Practices
  • A Taste of TOPPS (Teachers of Physics and Physical Science)
  • AP Physics 1&2
  • Next Generation Science Standards: Cross Cutting Concepts

Save the date for 2015 PhysTEC Conference in Seattle, WA

The 2015 PhysTEC Conference will be held in beautiful Seattle, WA, on February 6-8, 2015. The conference will feature pre-conference workshops on Learning Assistants and building a teacher community around the Physics by Inquiry curriculum.

Science Education News

UTEACH Request for Proposals

UTEACH is now accepting proposals to fund new UTEACH replication sites for the 2015 - 2016 academic year. University teams who are preparing proposals are encouraged to attend the annual UTEACH conference in Austin, TX, May 20 - 22, which is held in conjunction with this year's PhysTEC conference. The deadline for letters of intent is March 27 and full applications are due July 17, 2014. More information can be found at: http://www.uteach-institute.org/rfp

APS/AIP Fellow at DoEd

The American Physical Society has selected its first fellow, Julia Mundy, to send to the Department of Education as part of the new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education Policy Fellowship. Mundy's diverse experience in physics education includes teaching high school physics and a PhD in applied Physics. She will work with the Department of Education's STEM lead, Camsie McAdams, and will likely work on new initiatives including the STEM Innovation Network, STEM Innovation Hubs, and the STEM Master Teacher Corps.

Horizon report on high school physics

Horizon Research, Inc. released a report on the status of high school physics based on a national survey of science and mathematics teachers. The report highlighted the need for efforts to increase diversity and the preparation of US physics teachers. It found that while nearly all students nationwide have access to one or more physics courses, students from historically underrepresented minority groups are less likely to take physics. The report can be found at: http://www.horizon-research.com/2012nssme/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/2012-NSSME-Status-of-High-School-Physics.pdf

National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) recommends implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

A partner in the creation of The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the National Science Teacher Association (NTSA) encourages states to adopt NGSS and commit the necessary resources for them to be effectively implemented within schools. The NSTA believes the NGSS to be "an effective and research-based way to transform science education, to prepare all students for college and career readiness, and to foster a new generation of evidence-based consumers of science." For more information visit http://ngss.nsta.org/about-the-next-generation-science-standards-2/.

Washington Post average teacher salaries article

Teacher salaries were highlighted in a recent Washington Post blog, "The Answer Sheet." The data, reported for each state, was collected by the National Center for Education Statistics. More information on the teacher salary map can be found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/12/15/how-much-teachers-get-paid-state-by-state/

AP Physics Revisions

Advanced Placement will offer two new physics courses, AP Physics 1 and Physics 2, beginning in fall of 2014 to replace the current courses. The new two-course series better reflects the introductory algebra-based college course sequence at most colleges. More information here http://aphighered.collegeboard.org/exams/sciences/physics-b.

Project Updates

Sustainability Study preliminary findings

PhysTEC has supported a study conducted by Rachel Scherr on the sustainability of its sites after project funding ends. The study sought to measure the extent to which programs have been sustained and to identify what features should be prioritized for building sustainable physics teacher education programs. A few sites studied have thriving physics teacher education programs, that is, programs that have continued to substantially increase their production of teachers since the PhysTEC award. All of the studied sites that sustained their production of physics teachers have a champion of physics teacher education and corresponding institutional motivation and commitment. The necessity of the champion was known from the Report of the Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics (T-TEP report) and borne out by this study. The necessity of institutional motivation and commitment is a finding of this study. At some sites, PhysTEC support has precipitated an institutional focus on physics teacher education, leveraging other resources (including both awards and personnel) benefiting physics teacher education. The full report will be published by mid-2014.

2013 Colorado LA Workshop

On October 27-29, 2013, the project co-sponsored the fifth Learning Assistant Workshop. 40 faculty members attended the sold-out workshop, which was held at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The workshop was led by Valerie Otero, Professor of Education, and Laurie Langdon, Learning Assistant Program Co-Director. Participants attended sessions on the LA pedagogy course and faculty development, listened to a panel discussion of LAs, and received copies of curricular materials. The workshop schedule is available here http://www.phystec.org/conferences/cula13/Schedule.cfm. A national organization of LA programs in the STEM disciplines can be found here http://www.learningassistantalliance.org/.

New PhysTEC.org website

The website merge of PTEC.org and PhysTEC.org is complete. PhysTEC.org features many newly reported PhysTEC outcomes that can be found at http://www.phystec.org/webdocs/Outcomes.cfm. Exciting outcomes include increases in physics teacher graduates from PhysTEC supported sites, increases in future physics teachers at currently funded PhysTEC sites and demographic information on PhysTEC graduates. PhysTEC.org contains information on coalition member institutions, supported sites, and special initiatives, along with resources such as a list of current professional development opportunities for physics teachers.

Site visits

On September 29, Ted Hodapp visited site leaders at Chicago State University, a PhysTEC site that is receiving an extension of project funding into a fourth year. Chicago State, a public university that serves a large community of underrepresented minorities, has worked with local community colleges to provide early teaching experiences for students across campuses in Chicago. Chicago State's biggest success has been the creation of a course for preservice high school teachers that provides an early teaching experience in local high school physics classes.

Ted Hodapp and Monica Plisch visited Central Washington University (CWU) on October 15. After its first year of funding, CWU graduated two PhysTEC teachers and has more teachers in the pipeline. CWU's success is due in part to having multiple pathways in place for students to obtain a physics teacher certification. The CWU project also has a strong Learning Assistant program with a concurrent pedagogy course and a dual degree certification program in math and physics.

On October 24, Ted Hodapp visited the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, a PhysTEC site in its second year of funding. UW La Crosse has three future teachers in the pipeline and a Learning Assistant program. The project plans to recruit future teachers from a growing pool of physics majors.

On November 12, Monica Plisch and Ted Hodapp visited Cal Poly Pomona, another PhysTEC site in its second year of funding. Cal Poly Pomona has created a substantial and robust physics Learning Assistant program, which is serving as a model for STEM within the university. The project plans to draw from a large pool of physics majors to graduate three PhysTEC teachers per year.

Ted Hodapp and Monica Plisch visited Arizona State University (ASU) on November 13. Now in its second year of funding, ASU has nine future teachers in the pipeline, a dramatic increase from the prior year. This success is largely due to the creation of a new concentration in secondary education for physics majors that was advertised at a new physics majors orientation. The ASU project also has a highly engaged teacher in residence and an active Learning Assistant program.

PhysTEC Teacher in Residence Update

PhysTEC sites employed a total of 15 Teachers in Residence in 2013. Of the 15 TIRs, 12 worked in their position full-time and three worked part-time. Although the TIR job responsibilities vary depending upon the needs of the site, the demographics of the site, and the strengths of the TIRs, there are several responsibilities shared by all TIRs. An analysis of the 2013 time logs submitted by TIRs shows that, collectively, TIRs spent much of their time engaged in teaching-related activities and job responsibilities, such as tutoring, teaching, and training LAs. Other job responsibilities include contact with other teachers through Teacher Advisory Groups and mentoring preservice and inservice teachers. The 2013 TIRs also participated in four videoconferences and attended a one-day meeting on Friday, July 12 in Portland, Oregon.

PhysTEC Advisory Committee Meeting

The PhysTEC Advisory Committee met on December 15-16 in College Park, MD with a discussion focused primarily on the future of the project. Advisory Committee members include the chair Helen Quinn, Stanford University, Keith Clay, Green River Community College, Janet Coffey, Gordon Moore Foundation, Mary Kirchhoff, American Chemical Society, Jill Marshall, University of Texas at Austin, and Jose Mestre, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Other attendees included project consultant Rachel Scherr, Seattle Pacific University,, TIR coordinator Jon Anderson, Centennial High School, and members of the project management team. The Advisory Committee report commended the project on its success to date, and posed a number of suggestions and questions for the project management team to consider going forward.

New PhysTEC Coalition Member Institutions

The PhysTEC Coalition now has 290 Member Institutions. The newest members are:

  • University of Kansas
  • Union College (affiliate)
  • Southern Arkansas University (affiliate)
  • Millsaps College

Learn about these and other coalition members at http://www.phystec.org/institutions/.