PhysTEC 2007 Pre-Conference Workshops
Powerful Ideas in Physical Science
Powerful Ideas in Physical Science is an inquiry-oriented, research-based curricular model course for college students intending to become elementary teachers. The course content focuses on those physical science concepts that are typically introduced in elementary science curricula. A structured questioning pattern guides future teachers through a hands-on, inquiry-based course that models the nature of scientific inquiry. This workshop is designed for college professors and master teachers who teach preservice elementary teachers.
University of Colorado's Learning Assistant Program
The CU workshop will discuss the Colorado Learning assistant program and it's three fold mission to: increase the quality preparation and number of undergraduates engaged in teaching, transform undergraduate courses to be more aligned with findings from research, and help shift science culture and faculty beliefs to engage more thoroughly in education.
We will discuss our program's achievements and limitations and spend significant time exploring what it would mean for participants to establish their own programs.
PhysTEC 2007 Plenary Sessions
Science Education in the 21st Century: Using the tools of physics to teach physics
Lunch and Plenary on Saturday, March 3, 2007
12:30pm - 2:00pm in the Century Room
Guided by experimental tests of theory and practice, science has advanced rapidly in the past 500 years. Guided primarily by tradition and dogma, science education meanwhile has remained largely medieval. Research on how people learn is now revealing how many teachers badly misinterpret what students are thinking and learning from traditional science classes and exams. However, research is also providing insights on how to do much better. The combination of this research with modern information technology is setting the stage for a new approach that can provide the relevant and effective science education for all students that is needed for the 21st century. I will discuss the failures of traditional educational practices, even as used by "very good" teachers, and the successes of some new practices and technology that characterize this more effective approach, and how these results are highly consistent with findings from cognitive science.
Rising Above the Gathering Storm
Lunch and Plenary on Sunday, March 4, 2007
12:00pm - 1:30pm in the Century Room
Cherry A Murray was a member of the National Academies Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century, which was created in 2005 to respond to the request by Senators Lamar Alexander and Jeff Bingaman, with endorsement of Representatives Sherwood Boehlert and Bart Gordon to deliniate the top ten actions, in priority order, that federal policymakers could take to enhance the science and technology enterprise so that the US can successfully compete, prosper, and be secure in the global comminity of the 21st century. She will give a summary of the committee's "Gathering Storm" report and follow some of the subsequent response.
PhysTEC 2007 Plenary Panel
Representatives from IBM, Intel, Lawrence Livermore, and ExxonMobil will discuss the corporate/foundation view of the importance of teacher preparation
Plenary Panel on Sunday, March 4, 2007
1:30pm-3:00pm in the Century Room
PhysTEC 2007 Conference Workshops
Attending to More than Content Mastery: assessing student attitudes and beliefs in our classrooms
It is well documented that traditional introductory physics courses often fail to teach our students the basics. Indeed, these same courses often teach students things we don't want. Beyond the usual focus on pure content, there are extensive sets of attitudes and beliefs about science that we teach our students. Some of these messages are beneficial (e.g., that science is a coherent representation of the world) while others are detrimental (e.g., the notion that women cannot be strong physicists). While decades of physics education research have reformed classroom practices to improve conceptual mastery, these same practices often fail to improve student attitudes and beliefs about learning physics. This interactive workshop will discuss the development and structure of a new instrument designed to probe students' beliefs about science and learning science, the Colorado Learning About Science Survey (CLASS) . In addition to exploring the various dimensions of student beliefs that this instrument probes, we examine correlations between student beliefs and class performance, students' understanding of expert beliefs, and gender differences. We conclude with discussion of class environments and practices that support productive beliefs.
 Adams, W. et al, "A new instrument for measuring student beliefs about physics and learning physics: the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey" Physical Review, Special Topics: Physics Education Research. 2,1,010101 (2006).
Cultivating Our Physics Community and Reaping the Next Generation of Physics Teachers
Even if today's physics and physical science teacher has been fortunate enough to graduate from an excellent college or university teacher preparation program, as this teacher begins a career teaching high school physics, he or she is typically: 1) the only physics or physical science teacher on the campus, 2) teaches physics as only one of several course responsibilities, 3) has inherited low tech, ancient (enigmatic), broken or inadequate equipment with which to carry out necessary labs and 4) has little contact with a physics mentor or other physics teachers on a regular basis. Add to this dilemma a lack of the possession of anything like an experienced teacher's "bag of tricks" or other resources to help in planning a coherent curriculum for student learning, the new or cross-over physics teacher has a difficult road ahead. University and college faculty, if aware of this situation may want to help but may be at a loss to know where to begin. Mentoring requires time and resources with a plan of action behind it. There are many excellent formal mentoring programs in place as exemplified by TIR and PTRA. But, it is through the many informal support mechanisms and ready online resources that can be offered to the many needy and isolated high school physics teachers that the greatest national impact may be made. The Physics Front and other online libraries and collections can be a lifeline and a means of communication and support between college faculty and public school teacher alike.
The development of scientific reasoning skills in a Physics by Inquiry course
Physics by Inquiry (Wiley, 1996) is a set of laboratory-oriented modules intended to provide K-12 teachers with the subject-matter background needed to teach science effectively. The modules have been developed on the basis of extensive classroom experience and many years of research on the learning and teaching of physics. Thorough class-testing has taken place at the University of Washington and at other institutions. The modules emphasize the scientific reasoning skills. Starting from their own observations, students develop basic physical concepts, use and interpret different forms of scientific representations, and construct explanatory models that have predictive capability. The modules do not teach by telling; students are required to take an active role. Workshop participants will gain direct experience with the approach and view excerpts from a video made during an NSF Summer Institute for K-12 teachers.
Direct Practices for Physics Teacher Candidate Recruitment
One of the best ways to recruit physics teacher candidates is to do so directly - by having high school physics teachers inspire, identify, and ask prospective teacher education majors to consider a career in science teaching. This workshop will begin with the review of one statewide program that is beginning to make a difference in the number of science teacher education majors. The discussion starts with how this model can be adapted to other states. The workshop concludes with a discussion of physics departments' recruitment practices that work and don't work.
Do student accommodations only mean I need to give them more time for the test?
Educators from elementary through college often feel unprepared to effectively teach students who are disabled or who need academic accommodations in their courses. This workshop will explore issues and solutions for teaching those diverse learners in your science courses. A variety of strategies will be investigated, as well as the theory behind them. Typical cases will be investigated and specific useful interventions and methods will be presented and modeled. This workshop will be interactive and practical!
From Research to Practice: Why hasn't educational research had more of an influence on teachers and what can we do about it?
Reform-minded science educators have expended significant effort developing and testing high quality curricular materials and techniques with the expectation that science instructors will recognize the superiority of these materials and adopt them. Adoption is assumed to be a relatively unproblematic process and the expectation is that the number of instructors using these materials will naturally expand, eventually leading to a critical mass of instructors teaching in a fundamentally new way. Unfortunately, current and historical evidence does not indicate promise for this approach to reform. This workshop will focus on some of the reasons why educational reform is so slow and difficult. It will also identify shortcomings of standard approaches to reform and explore alternative models that may be fruitful in overcoming these weaknesses. Participants will be encouraged to reflect on their experiences in promoting change in their own teaching and/or in the teaching of their colleagues, students, etc.
Impacting the Achievement of Underrepresented Minorities in Science and Engineering: Insights from the CU Multicultural Engineering Program
This workshop will provide an overview and description of the academic learning community offered through the Multicultural Engineering Program (MEP). Participants will gain insights into the 'collaborative learning model for student development and retention', which fosters academic achievement among underrepresented minority students (African-American, Hispanic/Latino and Native American) in engineering. The workshop will describe the value of various extra-curricular activities such as: supplemental instruction, peer group collaborative learning, and leadership development experiences; which have proven to dramatically increase the first-year performance and the freshmen-to-sophomore return rates (within Engineering) of MEP students (85% for participants vs. 50% for non-participants). Additionally, participants will hear first-hand accounts from MEP students about their own experiences with the transition from high school to the university as science and engineering students. Participants will gain insights into how they can facilitate extra-curricular learning experiences that will reinforce classroom learning and help their students develop their own identities as future science and engineering professionals.
Indirect Practices for Physics Teacher Candidate Recruitment
In order to effectively recruit physics teacher candidates, physics departments must offer quality teacher education programs. One cannot market the physics teaching degree effectively unless there is a suitable program to promote. Of what does a quality teacher education program consist? This workshop will begin with a review of one large and successful physics teacher education program. The workshop concludes with breakout sessions followed by reports about what essentials constitute a quality physics teacher education program.
Investigative Science Learning Environment: Using the processes of science and cognitive strategies to help students learn physics
This workshop will introduce you to an ISLE curriculum: an inquiry-based interactive way of helping students learn introductory physics. Students in the Investigative Science Learning Environment (ISLE) learn the content by actively engaging in processes that mirror methods that physicists use to discover physics knowledge. In every conceptual unit they start by observing simple phenomena and looking for patterns, develop explanations for these patterns, use these explanations to make predictions about the outcomes of testing experiments, conduct the experiments and decide whether the explanations need revisions based on the outcomes of these experiments. They also learn to represent physical processes in multiple ways, which helps them reason qualitatively and quantitatively about physical phenomena. These features are applied to every conceptual unit in the ISLE learning system.
The workshop participants will learn about the motivation behind the ISLE curriculum (which comes from the needs of future workplace and cognitive studies), the differences between ISLE and some other reformed curricula, and will experience a brief version of one of the ISLE cycles.
Just Can't Be Done: Four Year Degrees Plans, Full Internal Funding, and Other Secrets for Doubling Science and Math Teacher Graduates.
In thinking about how to increase the number and quality of teachers universities produce, there is usually a tension between actions that seem necessary in order to benefit future teachers and the realities of how large universities work. This workshop will build on experience building the UTeach program at UT Austin to explore ways to change institutional realities and find more teachers. Discussion topics will include assembling qualified personnel, persuading administrators to provide needed resources, constructing degree plans that allow students to obtain certification and a major at the same time, and dealing with the huge range of student attitudes and qualities one inevitably encounters both in undergraduates and post-baccalaureate candidates.
Modeling Instruction in Physics: An Appetizer
Modeling instruction began in the mid-to-late 80's via a collaboration between a high school physics teacher (Malcolm Wells) and a university physics education researcher David Hestenes). Now, nearly 20 years later, Modeling has spread nationally, internationally, and to other science disciplines, particularly chemistry. It was one of only two K-12 science education efforts to be designated "exemplary" by the Department of Education in 2001. At this time, approximately 2000 high school and 375 junior high teachers have taken at least one in-depth Modeling workshop. Twenty states have hosted workshops. It is important to note that most of the dissemination occurs directly from teacher to teacher, testifying to Modeling's impact and flexibility.
The purpose of this workshop is to give participants a taste of Modeling, which is not a specific curriculum, but rather a philosophy for curriculum design. Participants will work through a condensed Modeling Cycle (based in part on the work of Karplus) and discuss the larger picture of an entire Model-based high school physics course.
The Nuts and Bolts of designing a Pedagogical Course for Learning Assistants
This workshop is targeted at faculty who are planning to implement a Learning Assistant (LA) program at their universities. The LA experience consists of (1) teaching undergraduate students in small group settings, (2) meeting weekly with their lead faculty member for planning and reflection, (3) submitting online weekly logs of their own teaching, and (4) attending a special seminar that focuses on pedagogy and learning theory and serves as a mechanism for recruiting new teachers. In this workshop we will introduce the Mathematics and Science Education seminar that has been held at the University of Colorado at Boulder since Fall 2003. Workshop participants will investigate the topics covered in this seminar, engage in specific activities that are used during the seminar, explore the reading list, and discuss how this seminar can serve as a teacher recruitment tool. We will also discuss "lessons learned" from implementing this seminar for over 3 years and how our decisions regarding the content of the seminar were revised according to our evolving understanding of how the LA population tends to view teaching and learning and how they tend to respond to educational research-based ideas that are presented in the course.
Promise and Pitfalls of Reformed Instruction for Female Students
In this workshop, we will examine how reformed instruction can both help and potentially hinder female students, depending on exactly how it is implemented. In the first segment of the workshop, the workshop leaders will review pertinent research on the origins of the underrepresentation of women in the physical sciences and factors promoting the success of female students in science and mathematics classrooms. In the second portion of this workshop, participants will discuss how to structure learning in their classrooms based on insights from existing research, and will also identify implementation issues in need of further research. If time permits, workshop participants will also discuss how such research might be conducted.
Recruiting a New Generation of Physics Teachers: The Role of Mentoring in the Learning to Teach Continuum
This workshop will take a discussion-oriented approach and will focus on such topics as: the impact of mentoring & induction programs on teacher recruitment and retention, viewing teacher preparation as a 'learning to teach continuum', and the various dimensions of mentoring.
Recruiting Females into High School Physics Teaching: Issues, Actions, and Results
About one-half of all students in the United States taking physics courses are female. However, only about one-quarter of all their teachers are female. Why do people want to study physics while in high school? Why do people want to teach high school physics courses? What has caused this discrepancy in the proportions of female students and female teachers? Is anyone hurt by this discrepancy? In what ways are people harmed? If this discrepancy is a problem, will it be solved over time as people continue to act as they do now? If the status quo is maintained, how long will it take for the problem to be solved? If people wish to increase the rate of change, what can they do to encourage females to become high school physics teachers? Discussion in this workshop will be focused on these questions. Demographic statistics will be provided to help answer these questions. Recommendations based on education research will be summarized. Resources for further learning will be shared.
A research-based approach to helping students understand mechanical waves
The Physics Education Group at the University of Washington is developing two sets of research-based instructional materials. Tutorials in Introductory Physics (Prentice Hall, 2002) is intended to supplement instruction in standard introductory calculus and algebra-based courses. Physics by Inquiry (Wiley, 1996) is a set of laboratory-oriented modules intended to provide K-12 teachers with the subject-matter background needed to teach science effectively. Portions of a new Physics by Inquiry module on mechanical waves are being adapted from the related tutorials. In addition to developing a strong conceptual framework, the PbI module helps teachers become aware of common student difficulties with the material. Workshop participants will gain direct experience with the materials. Pretest and post-test results will be presented to illustrate how ongoing research is guiding the development of both tutorials and PbI.
Resources and tools that can help you implement the Investigative Science Learning Environment
In this workshop participants will learn about the resources and tools that are available for those who wish to implement the Investigative Science Learning Environment in their classrooms. Investigative Science Learning Environment (ISLE) is a curriculum that helps students learn the physics content by actively engaging in processes that mirror methods that physicists use to discover knowledge physics and that uses various cognitive strategies to help students approach problems as experts. ISLE as a method of instruction can be used in any science or physics course: in large and small enrollment college introductory physics courses; high school classes and AP B courses; physics methods courses for pre-service physics teachers; science methods courses for pre-service elementary teachers; professional development programs for in-service elementary, middle school and high school teachers, etc. The resources that we provide include The Physics Active Learning Guide with 30 or more activities per textbook chapter for use with any textbook in lectures, recitations and homework; a CD with over 200 videotaped experiments and associated questions for use in lectures, recitations, laboratories, and homework; and a set of labs that can be used to construct, test and apply concepts to solve practical problems.
Retaining a New Generation of Physics Teachers: The Role of Physics Departments in Effective Mentoring Programs
This workshop will continue the discussions of our previous workshop with a focus on such topics as: various models for implementation of mentoring programs, styles of mentoring, the importance of mentor training and various models for training implementation, difficulties in implementation.
TIR'S and Teacher Preparation; The What, When, Why and How!
The need to recruit, train, and retain well-prepared science teachers has never been higher. In this session we will explore how a Teacher in Residence (TIR) program can enhance and improve a teacher education program. TIR's are experienced local science teachers, brought on to a university campus to address teacher preparation. We will discuss the roles TIRs can play in; methods courses, supervision of student teachers, liaison with the college of education and local schools, formation and guidance of a teacher advisory group, and the development of innovative courses to draw in new science teachers. Finally we will look at how a program like this can work at your particular site, and we will examine how programs like these can be sustained at the university level.
An Undergraduate Teacher Education Program For Engineering Students
The Division of Engineering and Department of Education at Brown University recently established an Undergraduate Teacher Education Program (UTEP) for students concentrating in the engineering ScB or AB programs. Graduates will be granted Rhode Island certification for teaching physics at the secondary (7-12) level. The program builds on the strong commitment of the engineering faculty students to our ongoing outreach programs in K-12 education. In this workshop the structure of our program, and its strengths and weaknesses will be discussed. The mechanics of getting approval for the program from all constituents ranging from the engineering department to the university administration to the Rhode Island Department of Education will also be described.
Why having a theory of learning changes what I do in class on Monday: Helping students build physical intuition
Learning how to teach is a skill typically learned by doing. For more than 30 years, I struggled, through trial and error, to improve the help I gave my students. After switching my research effort from nuclear physics to physics education more than a dozen years ago, I have studied (and developed) theories of learning and education. The focus of my research has been on understanding my students' cognitive (how they think) and epistemological (how they know) behaviors. In this workshop, I will discuss my theoretical model and how the day-to-day activities of my teaching practice have changed as a result of my looking at teaching from a theoretical perspective. The workshop will include demonstration exercises of some new pedagogical methods developed using this perspective.
"Why Should I Care?": Teaching Physics to Non-Believers
Introductory physics courses for life science and premedical students are dreaded by students and faculty alike. Students perceive them as boring, challenging and irrelevant obstacles whose sole purpose is to destroy their GPA. Faculty perceive students in these courses to be grade-obsessed, analytically challenged, demanding and impossible to please. They feel strong pressure from colleagues in the life sciences to deliver a high quality product, and can invest far more time and energy in them than in their courses for physics majors. Yet these often heroic efforts are invariably "rewarded" by far harsher student evaluations, largely independent of lecturer and pedagogical style, and even when PER-tested methods including polling, peer instruction, cooperative learning and interactive laboratories are used. This state of affairs is troubling, not least because the diversity of the students in these courses most closely resembles the diversity in our high school physics classrooms.
I will argue that these courses are in fact the "canary in the coal mine" signaling the failure of our traditional modes of instruction. Unlike majors and other "true believers", who are able to achieve subject mastery with little guidance or motivation and who may respond well to "monomaniacal" pedagogical approaches, connecting with non-believers requires a much broader attack. This workshop will describe and demonstrate a variety of strategies to more fully engage non-believers, to convey to them the power and excitement of physics, and to address common psychological issues that affect student attitudes to and performance in physics.
PhysTEC 2007 Focused Discussions
How to most effectively use a master teacher
Gay Stewart, Facilitator
Session 4 Focused Discussion on Saturday, March 3, 2007
4:00pm-5:30pm in Suite 231
Ways to provide an early teaching experience
Cody Sandifer, Facilitator
Session 4 Focused Discussion on Saturday, March 3, 2007
4:00pm-5:30pm in Suite 331
What should a definitive volume on Teacher Preparation Include?
David Meltzer, Facilitator
Session 4 Focused Discussion on Saturday, March 3, 2007
4:00pm-5:30pm in Suite 431
PhysTEC 2007 Post-Conference Sessions
Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP): Providing Feedback to Improve Science Instruction
Paul Hickman, Facilitator
Post-Conference Focused Discussion on Sunday, March 4, 2007
3:30pm-5:00pm in the Century Room
National Task Force on Teacher Preparation
Stamatis Vokos, Facilitator
Post-Conference Focused Discussion on Sunday, March 4, 2007
3:30pm-5:00pm in the Millennium Room