Supported SiteSupported Site University of Alabama: Program Data

The project collects data on the number of PhysTEC Graduates, PhysTEC Future Teachers, PhysTEC Learning Assistants, and PhysTEC Mentors; these PhysTEC terms are defined here. The project also collects data on physics pedagogy courses, early teaching experiences, and enrollment in K-8 physical science courses for future elementary school teachers.

PhysTEC Graduates (Years funded 2012-2015)
BaselineProject Funded
Year -2 Year -1 Year 0 Year 1 Year 2
0 0 0 0 0

Commentary on Secondary Graduates data:
We began our PhysTEC program with a base of no students in the pipeline. We now have 6 students (with at least one more expected this fall) and anticipate our first graduate in 1 to 1.5 years from now.

Future Physics Teachers
Year -2 2009/10 Year -1 2010/11 Year 0 2011/12 Year 1 2012/13 Year 2 2013/14 Year 3 2014/15
0 0 0 6  6  

Definition of a Future Teacher at the University of Alabama:

Any of the following -

1. An undergraduate student pursuing a physics major or minor and general science certification (Alabama class B – certification with an undergraduate degree only).

2. An undergraduate physics major or minor committed to seek masters level alternative certification (Alabama class A – certification with a graduate degree) in physics or in general science. Examples of a commitment include being in the physics education track major, or being an LA and taking general education courses and physics courses related to teaching such as physics pedagogy, HS physics labs, and physics for science teachers.

3. A student with an undergraduate major or minor in physics enrolled in the masters alternative certification (class A) program in physics or in general science.

Commentary on Future Physics Teachers data:

Learning Assistants in Physics Courses
Year -2 2009/10 Year -1 2010/11 Year 0 2011/12 Year 1 2012/13 Year 2 2013/14 Year 3 2014/15
0 0 0 14  13  

Commentary on Learning Assistant data:
There were 12 LAs in Fall 2013 and 12 LAs in Spring 2014. One LA did not continue from Fall to Spring and was replaced by a new LA, so in total there were 13 LAs. Additionally, two students (Baade, Benenati) that were employed as laboratory assistants for the Spring 2014 semester (but who were not in the LA program) will enter the LA program in the Fall 2014 semester.

 PhysTEC Mentors
Year 1 2012/13 Year 2 2013/14 Year 3 2014/15
PhysTEC Mentors (current and prior TIRs) 1 1  
Mentored PhysTEC Graduates 0 0  
Mentored non-PhysTEC Teachers 1 1  

Commentary on Mentors data: Tara Gernhardt was the TIR's replacement at Hillcrest HS. She has a BS in physics at UA and 1 year of graduate physics study at UAB, but was not certified and had no prior teaching experience. The mentoring focused primarily on classroom interactions, lesson plans, operating within the school’s organizational system, and things of this nature – all of the ‘non-physics’ things a teacher needs to know. The mentoring of Tara by the TIR was critically important to not only Tara’s success, but also the viability of keeping the TIR at UA. Had Tara not performed well, it would have cast a poor light on our program and made maintaining a TIR problematic at best. Evidence of success of the mentoring is that the principal asked Tara to return for a second year. Tara taught physics full-time - both AP-B and non-AP.

We also note that our full-time TIR is providing mentoring for 8 pre-service teachers.


Course Number Course Name Semester Credit Hours Primarily for college physics teaching (Y/N) Primarily for secondary physics teaching (Y/N)
PH482/582-I High School Physics Labs I 1 N Y
PH482/582-II High School Physics Labs II 1 N Y
PH482/582-III High School Physics Labs III 1 N Y
PH482/582-IV Physics Pedagogy 1 Y N
PH405/505 Physics for Science Teachers 3 N Y

Commentary on Pedagogy Course Data (include a brief description of each course):
PH482/582-I, II, and III provide training in Alabama Science in Motion (ASIM) physics labs. (PH482 is for undergraduate credit and PH582 is for graduate credit.) Courses I and II provide training for all ASIM labs. Course III includes assisting with ASIM activities in HS physics classes and working with practicing teachers in developing lesson plans using these activities. Students completing the three HS physics labs courses are certified by the Alabama State Department of Education to participate in the ASIM program upon graduation as practicing teachers without additional ASIM training. The HS physics labs courses are taught by our TIR (Penni Wallace), who is an experienced and certified ASIM user.

PH482/582-IV is similar to the Colorado LA pedagogy course, but places more emphasis on physics teaching. It is required of all of our LAs and first year graduate teaching assistants. The course is team-taught by a physics faculty member (Patrick LeClair) and our TIR (Penni Wallace).

PH482/582 I, II, III, and IV were developed for the PhysTEC program. PH482/582 is our generic special topics course number. We are in the process of obtaining unique course numbers for these courses.

PH405/505 is our Capstone course for our pre-service physics teachers. It is team-taught by a physics faculty member (Rainer Schad) and our TIR. The course covers best-practices in HS physics instruction, including the use of technology, and gives students experience in preparing and presenting lessons.


Course Number (if applicable) Name of course (or program/ experience) Typical hours per semester Teaching college students (Y/N) Teaching K-12 students (Y/N)
PH482-IV Physics Pedagogy/LA program 48 Y N
PH482-III Physics HS Labs III 13 N Y

Commentary on Early Teaching Experiences in Physics (include a brief description of each):
Students receive early teaching experiences as LAs primarily in introductory physics courses. Most LAs assist in Studio Physics classes, although two assisted in lecture classes and one assisted in a junior level E&M course. Our LAs are required to take our Physics Pedagogy course. A student with an LA position spends 1 hour per week in the pedagogy course, 1 hour meeting with the instructor outside of class, and 4 hours in the classroom. This amounts to 6 hours per week for a 13 week semester, or about 48 hours in total.

Some students also receive early teaching experiences by assisting once a week in a local high school class. They mostly assist with Alabama Science in Motion (ASIM) labs. Some, but not all, of these students take our HS physics labs (ASIM) courses. Assisting in HS classes is a required part of our HS Physics Labs III course (but not in the HS Physics Labs I & II courses).


Course number Course name Name of research-based curriculum Enrollments
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
PH115 Conceptual Physics PET (yr 1), Studio (yr 2) 26 30  

Commentary on K-8 Physical Science Courses data (include a brief description of each course):
PH115 is entitled "Conceptual Physics". It is taught each year during our 3 week Interim semester during late May and is taken almost entirely by elementary education majors. Enrollment is typically about 30. In 2012 and 2013 it was taught using the Physics for Everyday Thinking (PET) curriculum. However, in 2014 we taught it using our own internally developed curriculum which uses the Studio Physics format because of some dissatisfaction with the PET curriculum. We felt that the PET curriculum was sometimes too redundant and did not sufficiently emphasize activities that could be directly implemented in elementary school classes. In the Studio Physics format, students work interactively in small groups, as with PET. However, many of the activities were more appropriate for group work or demonstrations in elementary classes. The instructors (Prof. Stan Jones and TIR Penni Wallace) who team-taught the course using PET in 2013 and our own Studio Physics curriculum in 2014 felt that the latter course was more successful (even though the FCI gains were a little lower).