The 5+ Club Supported SiteThe 5+ Club Supported Site Boston University: Early Teaching Experience


  • Learning Assistants were integrated into significant roles in discussion sections of four physics courses in Fall 2011 and seven in Spring 2012. This expanded to nine physics courses in Fall 2012, and nine more, plus an LA in three of our ITOP classes for physics teachers, in Spring 2013. In 2013-14, we focused on increasing the number of physics majors serving as LAs, with a dozen majors being LAs one semester, including three in the large studio physics classes.
  • The LAs in the studio sections of PY105 and PY106 (algebra-based introductory physics) also developed worksheets and activities, materials for remediation and review, and led a review session.
  • STEM majors, including one Physics major in the Spring of 2012 and another in Spring 2013, were enrolled in our Introduction to Teaching course (CT 375) and placed in high-needs schools where they observed, participated, and taught.
  • A physics major took the pre-practicum course in science teaching (SED CT375), in which he worked with a classroom teacher at Braintree High School just outside of Boston, where he himself had graduated from. CT375 is described on the School of Education webpage: Another physics major took SED CT 375 and had a supervised field experience (pre-practicum) at Lexington High School.
  • An Engineering major also took SED CT 375, and worked in a Physics classroom at Brookline High.


  • Learning Assistants who discover that they enjoy teaching need additional encouragement to enroll in CT375, to get a field experience in a school.
  • It is challenging to develop a course sequence for BU undergraduate physics majors that enables them to obtain pre-practicum and full practicum experiences while still completing their BU physics major Interdisciplinary Track and/or Research Track in 4 years.


  • The website for the Learning Assistant Program is a great tool for keeping a record of all students who apply to become an LA.
  • Collaboration with the School of Education and presence on their website will sustain the pre-practicum program and increase recruitment.

Lessons Learned

  • Our Learning Assistant program is a powerful recruitment tool, so we should get as many physics majors to apply to be LAs as possible, as early as possible (this is something we have been acting on this year).


  • Students in the pre-practicum course (CT375) completed final projects outlining lessons they delivered, and reflections on their observations and teaching experiences.
  • Learning Assistants completed final projects for the STEM pedagogy course, outlining education research topics. The projects culminated in a poster presentation and reception, inviting current, past, and future program participants, as well as University faculty.
  • The TIR participated in outreach activities with high school girls (Science EngineeringTechnology in the City), Spring 2012.
  • Six students served as judges for the Eastern Massachusetts Physics Olympics in Spring 2013.
  • Several GWISE (Graduate Women in Science and Engineering) students served as volunteer judges for the Runkel School K-8 Science Fair in March 2014.
  • High school classroom visits took place, as part of the STEM Pre-practicum course.
  • Manher Jariwala led a Physics Education Research Learning League for experienced Learning Assistants. The Learning League met three times during the Spring 2013 semester.
  • The TIR has developed a draft spreadsheet to house data on all physics LAs. This data source will allow the PhysTEC team to track and eventually make claims about how the LA program and other early teaching related experiences has impacted recruitment into physics teaching of both physics majors and engineering majors.
  • The TIR has created and is maintaining a spreadsheet/database of local physics teachers who are receptive to hosting BU physics majors in their classroom for pre-practicum experiences.
  • Ten students (mostly undergraduate physics majors) ran a 90-minute physics demonstration show for visiting middle school students from Amistad Academy (Connecticut) in May 2014.