2010 Physics Teacher Education Coalition Conference Invited Talks

Plenary Sessions

Educate to Innovate: Addressing a Historic Challenge Through A National Effort   -   Talk

Keynote speaker: Kumar Garg, White House Office of Science & Technology Policy

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM on Friday, Feb 12, 2010
Hampton Room

Findings and Recommendations of the Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics   -   Talk

Keynote speaker: Stamatis Vokos, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM on Saturday, Feb 13, 2010
Hampton Room

The Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics (T-TEP) just completed a two-year effort in which it investigated the current status of physics teacher education in the United States, collected relevant research findings, and identified major local strengths, as well as significant systemic challenges.  The T-TEP Report, which describes the accumulated results of the Task Force investigation, will be distributed to all Physics Departments in the nation and the corresponding Departments of Education.

In this session, the Task Force findings and recommendations in the T-TEP Report will be outlined.  In addition, participants will be given ample opportunity to respond to the Report and to propose dissemination options and ways to implement the far-reaching recommendations in their own contexts.

Workshops and Panels

PhysTEC Proposal Preparation   -   Workshop

Theodore Hodapp, American Physical Society

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM on Saturday, Feb 13, 2010

Guidelines for preparing proposals for PhysTEC funding.

Preparing physics teachers for urban schools

Preparing Teachers to Develop a Successful Physics Program in an Urban Classroom   -   Panel

Panel members: Diane Crenshaw, Florida International University; Vera Ananda, Greenlee ECE, K-8; Shelly Stachurski, Welby New Technology High School; Janice Trinidad, Manor New Technology High School
Moderator: Jon Anderson, Centennial High School

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM on Friday, Feb 12, 2010 Calvert Room

This session will focus on the challenges, opportunities, and unique needs that are associated with building and maintaining a physics program in an urban classroom.  The panel is composed of physics and physical science teachers who have taught in urban school districts.  Among others, the session will address such questions as: "What makes the students in an urban environment unique?" "What are some successful strategies for teaching physics in an urban classroom?" and "What can physics departments and colleges of education do to help prepare future physics teachers to be successful in an urban classroom?"  The session will provide multiple opportunities for participants to interact with one another and with members of the panel.

Educating Physics Teachers at Urban-Serving Institutions   -   Panel

Panel members: Peter Garik, Boston University; Laird H. Kramer, Florida International University; Mel S. Sabella, Chicago State University; Richard N. Steinberg, City College of CUNY
Moderator: John Loehr, Chicago Public Schools

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM on Friday, Feb 12, 2010 Calvert Room

The preparation of physics teachers who are motivated to create student-centered, inquiry-based classrooms presents unique challenges for science and education faculty at all universities.  Teachers prepared at urban-serving institutions, who often teach in urban districts, face unique challenges and require specific support from both the university and the urban district they are a part of to effectively address the specific needs of the populations they serve.   Despite challenges, urban-serving institutions have a number of resources that, when used effectively, can lead to successful, innovative classrooms that promote the learning of physics, and address the need for increasing the number of minority students entering the STEM fields.   Members of the panel will describe their role in the preparation of teachers for the urban environment as well as explore the complex relationship between the urban district and its university partners.

Teaching Physics in Urban Schools: Challenges and Solutions for Broadening Participation   -   Workshop

Angela Kelly, City University of New York

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM on Friday, Feb 12, 2010 Calvert Room

The workshop will focus on two aspects of teaching physics in urban schools: logistical constraints and research-based best practices. First, the limitations of urban secondary physics programs will be discussed through data collected in New York City, where physics course offerings are limited and physics teaching positions are difficult to find. Secondly, the workshop will highlight best practices adopted in an innovative weekend physics program at the Bronx Institute at Lehman College. The program was established as an alternative means to provide physics instruction for those students who attend schools that do not offer physics. The ten-week program emphasizes science in authentic urban contexts and the latest in educational technology. Research findings indicate significant improvements in students' attitudes, knowledge, and appreciation of physics, suggesting that well designed constructivist physics programs are potentially transformative in improving students' academic self-efficacy, confidence and persistence in science, and positional advantage.

Building support for teacher education programs

NSF Noyce RFP & mock review panel   -   Workshop

Bert Holmes, National Science Foundation

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM on Friday, Feb 12, 2010

The National Science Foundation's Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program seeks to encourage talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors and STEM professionals to become preK-12 mathematics and science teachers. This workshop is designed to foster an understanding of the features of the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program in order to assist interested participants in developing their ideas for projects and proposal preparation. Following an overview of the major elements of the program, including the new NSF Teaching Fellowships and Master Teaching Fellowships track, a sample funded proposal will be used to launch discussion of the features of an effective proposal. The session will conclude with a brief look at additional funding opportunities offered by the NSF in support of teacher education.

Raising Funds for Teacher Preparation Efforts   -   Workshop

Co-presenters: Stamatis Vokos, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo; John West, Seattle Pacific University

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM on Friday, Feb 12, 2010

Updates on NSF’s Math and Science Partnership Program: Optimism and Opportunities   -   Workshop

Co-presenters: James Hamos, National Science Foundation; Gay Stewart, West Virginia University

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM on Friday, Feb 12, 2010

During this session, a member of the Math and Science Partnership (MSP) Program Staff from NSF's Division of Undergraduate Education and the Principal Investigator of an MSP project entitled "College Ready in Mathematics and Physics Partnership" will share origins of the broad program and specific project. Participants will learn about several outcomes emanating from the NSF investment in the MSP program. In addition, we will discuss future opportunities for funding and features of successful proposals in the highly competitive MSP competitions. A significant part of the session will be devoted to participants brainstorming and sharing MSP-like ideas.

Teaching physics-specific pedagogical knowledge

Pedagogical Content Knowledge Needed to Teach Physics   -   Workshop

Eugenia Etkina, Rutgers University

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM on Friday, Feb 12, 2010

In this workshop the participants will learn about the concept of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) and how this concept relates to the preparation of physics teachers. PCK is what distinguishes a content expert from an expert teacher of that content. Some aspects of physics PCK include knowledge of student ideas in different areas of physics, knowledge of effective instructional methods that help students master fundamental physics ideas and ways of reasoning, and knowledge of assessment of student learning.  The participants will also learn how to design a course/a sequence of courses for future physics teachers where they start building their physics PCK.

Introduction to the Colorado Learning Assistant Program   -   Workshop

Presenter: Valerie K. Otero, University of Colorado at Boulder
Co-presenters: Noah D. Finkelstein, University of Colorado-Boulder; Vera Ananda, Greenlee ECE, K-8; Shelly Stachurski, Welby New Technology High School

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM on Friday, Feb 12, 2010

This session is intended for faculty who are new to implementing the Colorado Learning Assistant (LA) model.  In this session, participants will be introduced to the general philosophy of the program and to the nuts n' bolts of running the program. Participants will work through content and pedagogical materials that are used in the physics department and in the School of Education to support LAs. Finally, we will present data to support claims about the efficacy of the program including presentations by teachers about how the LA program has enriched their professional lives. The LA program is an experiential learning program; learning is embodied in the experience of serving as an LA. It has demonstrated success in recruiting more and better physics teachers and in impacting the general philosophy of education in a university setting.

Implementing the Colorado Learning Assistant Program at Other Universities   -   Workshop

Valerie K. Otero, University of Colorado at Boulder

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM on Friday, Feb 12, 2010

This session is intended for faculty who have participated in an introductory LA session and/or have already begun the scaling effort at their universities. In this discussion-based session, participants will be exposed to issues that emerge throughout the implementation and scaling process and faculty experienced in implementing the LA program will discuss how these issues have been addressed at their universities. Using a "fishbowl" structure, experienced faculty will sit in a discussion circle surrounded by the other session attendees. Experienced faculty will then respond to, and discuss, questions posed by the moderator and by other participants. In the ensuing discussion, attention will be given to distilling common critical elements of the program and context-specific adaptations that are necessary and desirable. Please come prepared to ask questions, participate in lively discussions, and listen to other people who like to participate in lively discussions. This should be fun!

Closing the achievement gap

Developing Teacher Leaders: Educational change-agents, looking to the future, making a difference   -   Panel

Moderator: Theodore Hodapp, American Physical Society
Panel members: Gay Stewart, West Virginia University; Valerie K. Otero, University of Colorado at Boulder; Jim Overhiser, Cornell University; Tom Clark, Teach for America

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM on Saturday, Feb 13, 2010

Addressing the many issues that confront science education in this country requires more than just educating more teachers.  Many of the teachers we work with must become leaders to help bring about systemic reform.  Examples include: changing the pedagogical paradigm within a school or district (e.g., using Modeling in several science disciplines); becoming a school leader (e.g., unit head, principal, science supervisor, etc.); providing discipline-specific professional development activities; and working with a university to improve teacher education programs.  For high-achieving future teachers, finding the appropriate height of "the bar" for them to reach will allow them to see their role as agents of change in improving science education at both the individual and system levels.  Our workshop will help participants understand the many definitions and potential paths of teacher leaders, and discuss ways to envision shaping your program to help potential or current teachers prepare for their role as they advance in their careers.

Achievement Gap in Texas   -   Workshop

Michael Marder, University of Texas at Austin

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM on Saturday, Feb 13, 2010

I will discuss data, mainly from Texas, and mainly from high-stakes mathematics tests, that illustrate the very different educational outcomes for well-off and low-income students. I will begin with a range of descriptive statistics that describe student performance within a single year. Then I will examine longitudinal data, examining the places along the educational path where low-income students fall behind the more affluent. In addition to average measures, I will also display results for all schools in Texas. Some of the questions addressed:

• What are the grades at which low-income students fall behind the fastest?
• Do ethnic background and low income have independent effects on student outcomes?
• How do charter schools compare with ordinary public schools?
• Which students are disappearing from the school system, and when does it happen?
• Is the pressure of the accountability system having an effect on college readiness?
• Which are the high-performing schools and forward-looking educational policies that will increase, for example, the numbers of research physicists?

Developing Measures of Teacher Effectiveness   -   Workshop

Co-presenters: Monica Plisch, American Physical Society; Jennifer Presley, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM on Saturday, Feb 13, 2010

How do we develop reliable and informative measures of teacher effectiveness? How do we apply what is already known about teacher effectiveness to teachers of physics? How do we use measures of teacher effectiveness to inform teacher education programs? The session will begin with a presentation from Jennifer Presley, former Director of the Illinois Education Research Council (IERC). Under Presley's leadership, the IERC developed a school Teacher Quality Index (TQI), and conducted studies that show a clear relationship between TQI and student achievement and college readiness. TQI distribution is strongly linked to school poverty levels and very high percent minority schools, implicating teacher quality as a major factor in the achievement gap. The IERC results will inspire and inform a discussion on the posed questions led by Monica Plisch, co?PI of the PhysTEC project.

Diversity in physics teacher recruitment

UTeach Replication   -   Workshop

Michael Marder, University of Texas at Austin

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM on Saturday, Feb 13, 2010

UTeach is a program for the preparation of secondary science and mathematics teachers at The University of Texas at Austin. It is currently being replicated at 17 universities across the United States with funding sources that include grants from the National Math and Science Initiative and state sources in Texas and Tennessee. I will discuss the design of the replication process, progress of replication to date, and provide suggestions both on how to respond successfully to new calls for proposals and how to help generate new calls for proposals.

Preservice STEM teacher recruitment: Experiences from a UTeach replication effort   -   Workshop

Joseph Heppert, Kansas University

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM on Saturday, Feb 13, 2010

The supply of secondary math and science teachers has become a critical concern in most states around the nation. This is particularly true in the physical sciences (chemistry, geology and physics), where the modest numbers of bachelor's degree majors produced annually results in the production of a commensurately small number of secondary teachers. The UKanTeach program, designed as a replication of the UTeach licensure program developed at the University of Texas at Austin, represents a model that could help to address this shortage of secondary math and science teachers. UKanTeach allows students to pursue a B.A. or B.S. major in any area of science or mathematics while completing the coursework required for teacher licensure. This entire program is designed to be completed in four years. Now at the beginning of its third year of implementation, the program has more than doubled the size of cohorts of preservice secondary math and science teachers at the University of Kansas. The program makes use of extensive recruitment through mailings, information tables at freshman orientation and direct appeals to students enrolled in introductory science and mathematics courses. Juniors and seniors enrolled in UKanTeach now act as peer recruiters, presenting 5-minute introductions to the program prior to science and math sections. Approximately 150 individual presentations are made each semester. This combination of strategies has helped UKanTeach consistently outpace its recruitment goals over the past two years.

Associated Presentation Documents

Compass at Berkeley: Underrepresented Student Retention   -   Workshop

Presenter: Angela Little, Michigan State University
Co-presenters: Joel C. Corbo, University of Colorado Boulder; Hal Haggard, University of California, Berkeley; Felicitas Hernandez, University of California, Berkeley

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM on Saturday, Feb 13, 2010

In this workshop we will discuss ways to support underrepresented undergraduates in physics, especially at the critical freshman transition, in the context of The Compass Project, a program we created at the University of California, Berkeley four years ago.  Drawing on physics education research, we had two major goals in creating a two-week summer program for incoming freshman:  building community and helping students develop productive beliefs about what physics is and how to learn it.  Recently, we've also  developed an innovative semester-long course on physics problem-solving to help the Compass students develop their critical thinking skills (and continue to build community) throughout the academic year.  Starting with our first seed group of eleven students, we've mentored and encouraged our undergraduates as they continue to make a positive impact on the Berkeley physical science departments by bringing other students into the Compass community, volunteering at inner-city schools, and even running a lecture series aimed at an undergraduate audience.

Educating teachers in the physical sciences

Educating Teachers for Multiple Subjects in Small/Rural Schools   -   Workshop

Duane Merrell, Brigham Young University

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM on Saturday, Feb 13, 2010

This workshop will address the task of physics teacher preparation in a rural school setting.  The challenges the schools and teachers encounter, the efforts BYU and Utah State Office of Education have implemented to the preparation and mentoring of new physics teachers will be discussed.  Examples of young teachers and their efforts will be discussed and the methods that they are learning to teach with will be highlighted.  Finally a look at how BYU addresses this issue and the comparison between the two types of teacher preparation tracks will be reviewed.

Seeing the Science in Children’s Thinking   -   Workshop

David Hammer, University of Maryland

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM on Saturday, Feb 13, 2010

This work is motivated by two well-established findings.  First, by the time children reach elementary school, they've grown rich in intellectual resources for learning science.  Consider it: They know that if you throw a rock it keeps moving, but if you throw a balloon it doesn't; that it would hurt to kick a bowling ball, what it feels like to ride in a moving vehicle, that you cannot suck peanut butter through a straw, and so on and on:  It is a vast amount of knowledge.

Second, by the time students reach college they have mostly learned to set that knowledge aside.  Extensive evidence shows students in introductory physics courses treating the material as divorced from their experience.  There is not smoking-gun evidence for why, but one conjecture seems likely: Time and again, science instruction systematically ignores or, worse, disdains students' experiential knowledge.

Much of the challenge is in recognition. In its unrefined form, the beginnings of science in children's thinking can be difficult to notice.  It's something like walking through a lush forest looking for food: If you know how to recognize it, there's plenty! If you don't, you'll walk right by it, or, worse, you'll trample it down.

We have developed the start of a "field guide" to the beginnings of science as it shows up in children's thinking, using video from 1st-8th grade classes. For this workshop, I'll show examples of children's thinking and discuss how we use these materials in elementary teacher education.


Hammer, D., & van Zee, E. H. (2006). Seeing the science in children's thinking:  Case studies of student inquiry in physical science  (Book and DVD). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Chemistry Teacher Education Coalition   -   Workshop

Co-presenters: Mary Kirchhoff, American Chemical Society; Terri Taylor, American Chemical Society; Theodore Hodapp, American Physical Society

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM on Saturday, Feb 13, 2010

Chemistry plays a pivotal role in STEM education. However, as in physics, there is a considerable shortage of highly qualified high school chemistry teachers in our nation. The American Chemical Society (ACS) and its Society Committee on Education (SOCED) recognize the critical role of the chemistry community in preparing the high school chemistry teachers of tomorrow and are exploring the creation of CTEC (Chemistry Teacher Education Coalition), modeled after the very successful PTEC project.  What should be the strategic goals, objectives, and activities for CTEC? What are the elements of a successful CTEC project for supporting and improving chemistry teacher education?  How can CTEC partner with PTEC to further our mutual objectives? Join us in a discussion of a proposed nationwide effort in promoting and encouraging high quality pre-service education of high school chemistry teachers.