2014 Physics Teacher Education Coalition Conference Presentation Abstracts

Joint Plenary with UTeach

Joint Plenary with UTeach Conference
STEM Teacher Education: Pressure and Promise   -   Talk

Arthur Levine, Woodrow Wilson Foundation

1:00 PM - 2:45 PM on Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Salon C, Level 3

This talk discusses six forces with the capacity to reshape STEM teacher education- demographics, the economy, government policy, technology privatization and the convergence of knowledge producers. It reports on the lessons learned in seeking to transform STEM teacher education in five states by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.


The Conflict Between Recommendations and Reality: A Short History of U.S. Physics Teacher Education from 1880-2014

David E. Meltzer, Arizona State University

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM on Monday, May 19, 2014
Salon C, Level 3

Physics education in the U.S. has always been sharply conflicted, in that clear and consistent recommendations by physics education experts have been--for more than a century--effectively ignored and rejected in practice. Since the 1880s, U.S. physicists and physics educators have set out specific expectations and recommendations for the education of physics teachers, with many reports, programs, and surveys over the years repeatedly revisiting various common themes. The recommendations have always included a strong emphasis on deep knowledge of physics content, along with special courses that specifically address physics pedagogy and which help to guide prospective teachers to teach physics as a process of investigation and inquiry. However, practical and logistical challenges have prevented the creation of any coordinated and effective nationwide system of physics teacher education in the U.S. The education system has also created obstacles that constrain the effectiveness even of experienced and well-prepared teachers. Consequently, innumerable ad hoc regional and local arrangements have evolved to address perceived teaching needs, and few of these arrangements are consistent with the recommendations of physics educators. State certification requirements, which themselves rarely reflected the full depth of educators' recommendations, have themselves been widely ignored when assigning teachers to actual physics classes. Thus, there have always been enormous gaps between recommendations, "requirements," and reality in terms of preparing those who teach U.S. physics students. I will explore the historical evolution of physics teacher education in the U.S. and try to elucidate the dynamics and conflicting forces that have obstructed desired progress in U.S. physics education.

Community, Inquiry, Leadership: Opportunities that Support STEM Teacher Growth and Sustainability

Nicole Gillespie, Knowles Science Teaching Foundation

Plenary speaker
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM on Monday, May 19, 2014
Salon C, Level 3

Over the past twenty years, the US teacher preparation system has expanded and new teachers entering the workforce come through many more routes, some based in universities, some based in K-12 schools, some coordinated by other entities, including cultural institutions (NAE, 2009). The  proportion of teachers in the US with three or fewer years of experience has increased steadily over the last twenty years: in 1987-1988, the modal experience level was 15 years, in 2007-2008 it was less than 2 years. Because research demonstrates that teachers' effectiveness increases over the first five years of their career (NAE, 2009), a workforce of brand-new teachers poses particular challenges if our goal is to have a teacher in every classroom capable of supporting high-quality student learning.

While a steady stream of beginning teachers is not necessarily a problem, it cannot be expected to sustain or strengthen the teacher workforce. In this presentation, I will share an alternative vision and argue that the US teaching workforce needs "backbone teachers", that is, experienced and expert teacher leaders who are deeply networked and trained from the beginning of their careers to support and strengthen the profession. I will also describe the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation's model for recruiting, developing, retaining, and catalyzing these teacher leaders in the STEM fields and share the results of our programs.

Creating Learning Environments for Future STEM Teachers

Susan R. Singer, Rollins College

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM on Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Salon C, Level 3

From news items on the disruptive force of MOOCs to White House Datajams and Datapaloozas to expert-informed national reports, we are collectively being challenged to rethink and improve the pre-college and college learning experiences.  What are the implications for future STEM teachers? From the perspective of higher education, there is a push to improve the undergraduate STEM learning environment. The NRC's Discipline-based Education Research report baselines the state of research on learning and understanding in science and engineering and the Common Guidelines for Education Research and Development pushes towards coherence and impact in growing the evidence base. Yet the gap between research and implementation remains a challenge, despite the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology push with the Engage to Excel recommendations. The Federal STEM Education 5-year Strategic Plan aims for improved teaching practice and authentic research experiences for teachers. Concurrently, the NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education provides clarity that conceptual understanding and science practices are inextricably interwoven and most effectively taught in concert. A window of opportunity exists for more effectively aligning future teachers' learning environments with the aspirational learning environment for their future students.

Workshops and Panels

Recruiting and Retaining Future Physics Teachers

Building Thriving Programs   -   Workshop

Robert Hilborn, American Association of Physics Teachers

Recruiting and Retaining Future Physics Teachers
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM on Monday, May 19, 2014 Room 107, Level 1

This workshop will provide a quick and (relatively) painless introduction to developing plans to enhance your undergraduate physics program. For most departments, "enhancing" means recruiting and retaining more physics majors, including those interested in K-12 teaching. Through a series of interactive exercises, participants will analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their current undergraduate programs and share ideas and strategies for enhancing those programs. Each participant will leave the workshop with concrete plans to share with their home department colleagues.

Panel: Recruiting Through Multiple Pathways   -   Workshop

Panel members: Gay Stewart, West Virginia University; Ron Henderson, Middle Tennessee State University; Stamatis Vokos, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo; Kathleen M. Koenig, University of Cincinnati

Recruiting and Retaining Future Physics Teachers
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM on Monday, May 19, 2014 Room 107, Level 1

In the "Findings and Recommendations of the Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics" (http://www.phystec.org/taskforce), recommendation 12 is on building capacity. This panel presentation will be built around this recommendation. "Physics departments and schools of education should design pathways for multiple populations to become well-prepared physics teachers: undergraduate students who have not yet chosen a major, undergraduate STEM majors, graduate students in STEM disciplines, STEM teachers who may not yet be prepared to teach physics, and STEM professionals such as engineers, scientists, and laboratory technicians." Each of the panelists will discuss a particular area of strength at his or her institution, and in collaboration with the audience we will seek to answer the following questions: What are some of these pathways at our institutions? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? How can the distinctiveness of each institution's special mission be harnessed by that institution's physics department? Where are areas of growth?

Building a Community of Future Physics Teachers   -   Workshop

Co-presenters: Kurt Fletcher, SUNY Geneseo; Matt Cooper, SUNY Geneseo; Michael Eisinger, SUNY Geneseo

Recruiting and Retaining Future Physics Teachers
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM on Monday, May 19, 2014 Room 107, Level 1

What is the impact of  "community'' on the recruitment and retention of future physics teachers? In this workshop we will discuss this question, reflect on the experiences at PhysTEC sites, and consider how such communities can thrive in various department cultures. We will also discuss ways in which communities of future physics teachers can be strengthened.

Pedagogical Training for Physics Teachers

Developing Pedagogical Content Knowledge   -   Workshop

Co-presenters: Stamatis Vokos, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo; Eugenia Etkina, Rutgers University

Pedagogical Training for Physics Teachers
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM on Monday, May 19, 2014 Room 104, Level 1

This workshop illustrates the roles Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) and Content Knowledge for Teaching (CKT) play in the professional education of teachers of physics.  One can think of PCK and CKT as unique knowledge domains that distinguish teachers of a particular subject from content specialists. They both are amalgams of content and pedagogy. The former is a more theoretical construct and the latter is something we can observe and assess in the classroom.  We will provide a general framework of thinking about PCK and CKT, examples of tasks of teaching in which CKT can be clearly identified, and assessments that allow us to evaluate the development of CKT in pre-service and in-service teachers.

Using a Flight Simulator in Preparation of Physics Teachers   -   Workshop

Eugenia Etkina, Rutgers University

Pedagogical Training for Physics Teachers
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM on Monday, May 19, 2014 Room 104, Level 1

Flight simulators prepare pilots in training for the routine and extreme situations.  The simulators also allow flight instructors to assess how new trainees can fly the plane in a regular situation, how they respond to the changes of the conditions and to provide instant feedback. How can we use the concept of a simulator to help future teachers prepare for the challenges of a high school physics classrooms? In this workshop the participants will learn how one can use microteaching (microteaching happens when pre-service teachers teach lessons to their peers who play the role of high school students, the word micro does not mean short duration of the lesson) for this purpose. The microteaching involves multi-week planning, creating a lesson plan, assembling and testing equipment, and enacting the lesson in the classroom. Formative assessment of each step that pre-service teachers undertake in this process allows for instant feedback, corrections and improvements in the lesson.

Video Analysis with Preservice Teachers and Learning Assistants   -   Workshop

Co-presenters: Angela Little, Michigan State University; Lauren A. Barth-Cohen, University of Maine; Eleanor W. Close, Texas State University – San Marcos

Pedagogical Training for Physics Teachers
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM on Monday, May 19, 2014 Room 104, Level 1

How can we support pre-service teachers and LAs in developing their capacities to examine and understand the diversity of ways people think? Drawing on the facilitators' experiences teaching courses for these populations of students, we will explore types of video data collection and analysis projects that have aided this development. Our focus is on students' first experiences with education-related courses though the workshop will be broadly applicable. We will engage workshop participants in discussion around video data, develop principles participants can adopt/adapt in their local contexts, and present data around what our own students have taken away from these experiences.

The Future of Physics Teacher Preparation

The Politics of Teacher Preparation   -   Workshop

Michael Marder, University of Texas at Austin

The Future of Physics Teacher Preparation
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM on Monday, May 19, 2014 Room 103, Level 1

University faculty can take for granted that they have very broad authority to decide on the best educational programs for students and to implement them without much interference.  Unless they are preparing future teachers.  Suddenly many people care about program details, and it becomes essential to interact with groups within and without the university, particularly at the State level.  I will discuss some of the developments that led to and influenced the UTeach preparation program I co-direct, including a Texas law abolishing secondary education majors, benefits of partnership with education colleagues, what comes of a highlight in the Gathering Storm report, the Texas move to require physics in the default high school graduation plan, elimination of Texas physics programs, and the recent Texas reversal that stopped requiring physics, chemistry, or algebra 2 in default high school graduation plans.

Introduction to the Ideas of Quantum Physics for High School Students and Teachers   -   Workshop

Co-presenters: Paula R. L. Heron, University of Washington; Marisa Michelini, Udine University, Italy

The Future of Physics Teacher Preparation
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM on Monday, May 19, 2014 Room 103, Level 1

The Physics Education Group at the University of Udine (Italy) has developed materials suitable for introducing high school students (and teachers) to the ideas of quantum physics in which the principle of superposition plays a central role. The materials engage students in experimentation and discussion in the context of polarization as a quantum property of light. Students explore this phenomenon through ideal simple experiments involving interactions of single photons with polaroids and birefringent materials (calcite crystals). The states of polarization of light are described in quantum terms by two-dimensional vector spaces (as it is possible for spin). This description offers a simplified way to understand their vector nature that describes the properties of quantum states. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to conduct simple experiments and learn about the instructional path and research results that support its effectiveness.

Designing the Future of PhysTEC   -   Workshop

Monica Plisch, American Physical Society

The Future of Physics Teacher Preparation
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM on Monday, May 19, 2014 Room 103, Level 1

You are invited to participate in a discussion on the future of PhysTEC, in which we will discuss a number of possible new directions. The underlying theme will be "solving the problem," or how do we collectively work together to graduate 800 more highly qualified physics teachers per year and address the severe national shortage of high school physics teachers? Topics will include engaging effectively with different types of institutions, including small liberal arts colleges, research intensive universities, regional comprehensives, and others. Another area for discussion will be capacity building initiatives, which could include recruiting tools, online courses, information for building effective certification pathways, and tools for advocacy, for example. A major focus for the discussion will be on increasing the number of physics teachers, identifying barriers to doing so, and outlining strategies to overcome these barriers.

Learning Assistants

Learning Assistants in Advanced Courses   -   Workshop

Co-presenters: Bennett Goldberg, Boston University; Manher Jariwala, Boston University

Learning Assistants
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 Room 107, Level 1

Learning Assistants (LAs) are now being used in smaller, advanced courses, often with specialized populations, not just in large introductory STEM classes.  In this workshop, we describe the use and impact of LAs in courses throughout our undergraduate physics curriculum at Boston University.  We will engage participants in the workshop to help identify advanced courses in their institution for using LAs, as well as effective approaches to targeting LA candidates for these courses.  We will discuss how to recruit and support faculty teaching these upper-division courses in a reformed, LA-supported format, and work with participants to develop a plan to assist them in implementing these objectives.  Finally, we will discuss the important roles the PhysTEC program and Teacher-in-Residence have in creating a supportive environment for LAs in advanced courses and thus in building a vibrant, vertical learning community among our undergraduate majors.

Learning Assistants Teaching in High Schools   -   Workshop

Karen King, University of Missouri

Learning Assistants
3:00 PM - 4:15 PM on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 Room 107, Level 1

Like many physics education programs, the University of Missouri's BS path to certification was greatly under-enrolled -- that is, until recently. We have seen a tremendous growth in the number of physics education majors, from a total of only 2 graduates over a 9 year period, to over 10 graduates expected over the 5 year time span since we began reforms in 2012. Our new high school based Learning Assistant (LA) program appears to have a strong impact on recruiting. As a high school LA, physics education and physics majors can explore teaching as potential career through a paid learning assistantship, similar to a paid undergraduate research experience. College students assist in local high school physics classes approximately 4 hours per week, working with the same group of students almost daily. They gain experience in physics modeling pedagogy, mentored by master teachers who have partaken in MU's "Physics First'' professional development program. After participating in our high school LA program, 87% of students report being either "very interested'' (53%) or "interested'' (33%) in becoming high school physics teachers. Our physics majors appreciate the opportunity to explore teaching, and our physics education students report that the experience has been more far more valuable than their previous education field experiences. In this session, we'll consider how partnering with local high schools might benefit your program, and generate ideas for building such a collaborative effort based on your institutional resources.

The Real-time Instructor Observing Tool for Future Teachers   -   Workshop

Cassandra A. Paul, San Jose State University

Learning Assistants
4:30 PM - 5:45 PM on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 Room 107, Level 1

Current educational research shows that students achieve higher learning gains in science classrooms when interactive techniques are used. As a result, we are seeing more high schools and institutions of higher education adopt interactive courses.  Unfortunately, it's difficult for future teachers to envision interactive science courses because their experience as students has been dominated by traditional lecture.  New educators need to know what interactive science classrooms look like, so that they can model this experience in their own classrooms. The Real-time Instructor Observing Tool (RIOT), a computer application that allows an observer to quickly categorize classroom interactions, can help with this. In this workshop you will learn how the RIOT can be used as a professional development tool in courses supporting learning assistants, teaching assistants and pre-service teachers. Please bring a laptop or tablet if possible.

Leading Professional Communities

Building Communities of Practice among Inservice and Future Teachers   -   Workshop

Michael C. Wittmann, University of Maine

Leading Professional Communities
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 Room 104, Level 1

As part of the Maine Physical Sciences Partnership, we have built a community of middle school, ninth-grade, and pre-service teachers who share the common interest of improving STEM education in their schools. We use common classroom materials to facilitate professional development activities attended by all members of the MainePSP. "Collaboratives'' span grades and disciplines, "cohort meetings'' bring together only those using a specific set of materials, and "task forces'' bring together teachers to solve a particular problem. In addition, some teachers have joined our "Leadership Academy'' and are now working in small teams to address project-wide needs. Shared professional experiences have created a community of teachers spanning 20 school districts (each with its own school board and requirements of teachers). But, this community is in serious danger of splintering. There are pressures to work within, and not across, districts. After a brief move toward statewide common science standards, districts are meeting the legal requirement of proficiency-based graduation requirements each in their own way. Unsurprisingly, in a rural state, teachers are more likely to work with local colleagues than with those far away. Further issues are related to changing school administrations, the needs of state testing, and more. We show our design, provide data suggesting some success, and discuss the pressures pulling us apart, as well.

Extended Professional Development and the Growth of a Community of Practice   -   Workshop

Co-presenters: Paula R. L. Heron, University of Washington; Donna Messina, University of Washington

Leading Professional Communities
3:00 PM - 4:15 PM on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 Room 104, Level 1

The Physics Education Group at the University of Washington offers an intensive 5-week Summer Institute for both new and veteran teachers. Participants gain first-hand experience with the process of inquiry as they acquire a deep understanding of the subject matter they are expected to teach. In conjunction with the Institute, the PEG also offers an academic-year course for local participants, providing a rich environment for extended professional development. Collaborations between the teachers as they work toward implementing inquiry in their classrooms establishes a community of practice with a common professional development experience and a strong desire to improve the teaching and learning of science at its foundation. This session will address the ways in which similar opportunities for teachers can be provided in conjunction with teacher preparation programs and ongoing professional development for inservice teachers.

Built to Last: Professional Development Through Teacher Community   -   Workshop

Colleen Megowan-Romanowicz, American Modeling Teachers Association

Leading Professional Communities
4:30 PM - 5:45 PM on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 Room 104, Level 1

Modeling Instruction was developed almost 30 years ago by a teacher who was looking for a more effective method of teaching physics to his high school students. The method he developed was so successful that the NSF funded a series of grants over a 16 year period to develop and disseminate Modeling Instruction.  In 2005 when grant funding ended, about 2000 teachers had attended a Modeling Workshop.  Teachers were adamant that this pedagogy, the workshops that taught teachers how to practice it, the curriculum resources that supported it and the online community of practice that connected Modeling Teachers must not be allowed to fade away.  Each of the founders contributed $25-$125 seed money, drafted bylaws and articles of incorporation and founded the American Modeling Teachers Association to continue the work that the Modeling Instruction Program had set in motion.  AMTA has grown slowly but steadily.  As of 2013, over 6000 teachers have completed one or more Modeling Workshops.  Currently AMTA boasts almost 1600 members, coordinates over 50 Modeling Workshops nationwide that reach over 1000 teachers each summer and hosts an extensive repository of curriculum resources that grows daily.  It is self-sustaining.  In this workshop I will share with you the mission, vision and essential characteristics of this teacher professional development community that have allowed it to grow, prosper and stand on its own, independent of both university and NSF support.

Leading Through Sustainability

Panel: The Part-time TIR model   -   Panel

Panel members: Chuhee Kwon, California State University, Long Beach; Jon Anderson, Centennial High School; Kurt Fletcher, SUNY Geneseo; Brian D. Thoms, Georgia State University; Katie Beck, Bolsa Grande High School

Leading Through Sustainability
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 Room 108, Level 1

The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) has identified a Teacher-in-Residence (TIR) as one of the key components that is shared by successful teacher preparation programs across the country. In the early PhysTEC sites, a TIR was to be a one-year, full-time appointment of an accomplished in-service physics teacher. The TIR would fill multiple roles including recruiter, advisor, instructor, course and curriculum developer, LA/TA leader, mentor, professional community leader, program coordinator, professional development facilitator, Ambassador to School of Education, and Ambassador to School Districts. Due to various reasons, PhysTEC sites at the University of Minnesota, California State University Long Beach, State University New York Geneseo, and Georgia State University have implemented a part-time TIR model. Site leaders and/or TIRs from each campus will discuss their part-time TIR model. This discussion will include how the TIR is recruited and selected, the arrangements that are made with the TIR's home school district, the roles that a part-time TIR can be expected to perform, and how a part-time TIR will be sustained.

Sustaining Programs in Physics Teacher Education: A Study of PhysTEC Supported Sites   -   Workshop

Rachel E. Scherr, Seattle Pacific University

Leading Through Sustainability
3:00 PM - 4:15 PM on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 Room 108, Level 1

For over a decade, physics teacher education programs have been transformed at a number of institutions around the country through support from the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC), led by the American Physical Society in partnership with the American Association of Physics Teachers. In 2012-2013, PhysTEC supported an independent study 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. Most PhysTEC legacy sites studied have sustained their production of physics teachers. Some 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. 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 study also documented the sustainability of components of physics teacher education programs, such as recruitment, early teaching experiences, and a teacher in residence. The number of sustained components does not appear to correspond to teacher production; that is, sites that have sustained more (or fewer) components do not produce larger (or smaller) numbers of teachers. This result further supports the finding that the presence of the champion and corresponding institutional motivation and commitment are the key features of successful physics teacher education programs.

Panel: Building Leadership Teams   -   Panel

Panel members: Laird H. Kramer, Florida International University; J.W. Harrell, University of Alabama; John Simonetti, Virginia Tech University; Patrick LeClair, University of Alabama

Leading Through Sustainability
4:30 PM - 5:45 PM on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 Room 108, Level 1

Sustaining PhysTEC reforms, programs, and institutional commitment is facilitated through developing leadership teams. Those teams develop ownership by key stakeholders, lever resources to keep the program vibrant, and keep PhysTEC at the forefront in an ever-changing institutional landscape. This interactive panel features leaders from three PhysTEC sites who will provide insight into developing leadership teams within their institutional context. Participants are encouraged to bring their institutional challenges and opportunities to the forefront in the discussion.