West Virginia University: 2016 Outcomes
- Implemented and Modified Physics for Everyday Thinking (PET) – During the summer of 2015, the instructor of Physics 105 met with curriculum developer and physics education researcher Dr. Fred Goldberg, and switched the course over to the Next Generation Physics for Everyday Thinking curriculum. The version used was a hybrid of the large classroom implementation and the small classroom (i.e., lab-based) implementation. This hybrid version has not been released yet, and its use at WVU is a first. Since many other sites have lecture/lab formats for similar courses, the WVU implementation can serve as a model.
- Revised Introductory Calculus-Based Physics Sequence – The introductory physics sequence was completely modified from a four 50-minute lecture, one 2-hour lab format where lecture and lab were essentially decoupled to a three 50-minute lecture, one 3-hour lab format with strong coordination between the lab and lecture segments. Substantial conceptual content was infused in all segments of the class. All instructors used peer-instruction in the lecture segment of the course and the laboratory segment was modified to enhance the levels of student inquiry.
- Implemented Teacher Friendly Degree Plans and Tracks – Degree plans were approved by the department that allow both BA and BS physics majors to graduate in four years with a degree in physics and a certification to teach physics through the newly launched (Fall 2015) WVUteach program, West Virginia University’s UTeach replication site. The department also approved an Area of Emphasis (degree track) in Physics Teaching to support future teachers.
- Funded National Science Foundation Grant to Study Retention – STEM-R: Modeling STEM Retention and Departure across Physics, Mathematics, and Engineering will investigate the decision to join and leave STEM majors including physics majors. This partnership between physics and mathematics will develop a detailed picture of the evolution of a student’s career decision state through the first two years of college.
- Developed Multi-Level Recruiting Plan – Physics students were recruited to teaching through a variety of methods including classroom visits to the large lecture classes by WVUteach master teachers and the PhysTEC Teacher-in-Residence, visits to the Freshman Seminar class required for all physics majors, integration of WVUteach materials into the course learning management systems for the calculus-based physics sequence, and a “teaching interest” get together.
- Identified Students Interested in Teaching – The above efforts identified interest in physics teaching at all levels of the institution from graduates of the program, to advanced undergraduates, to incoming freshman.
- Improved TA Pedagogical Training – The Teacher-in-Residence led an effort to improve the understanding of inquiry-based methods and their proper implementation in the lab setting.
- Supported WVUteach – The PhysTEC program supported the successful launch of WVUteach beginning in the fall 2015 semester.