Member InstitutionMember Institution University of Northern Iowa

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University of Northern Iowa

University of Northern Iowa Website

Institution Contacts

Dr. Lawrence (Larry) Escalada
Jeffrey Morgan
Paul Shand

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The University of Northern Iowa (UNI) is a state-supported university located in the Cedar Falls/Waterloo metro area in Northeast Iowa with approximately 11,000 students. UNI has an emphasis on undergraduate education and excellence in teaching with a strong liberal arts curriculum.

The UNI Physics Department offers undergraduate programs in Physics including a BA Physics Teaching major and contributes to the MA Science Education program for science teachers. The department includes 7 faculty with 2 faculty with a research focus on physics and science education. The 2 Physics faculty with physics and science education research emphasis are members of UNI Science Education Faculty who are responsible for delivering undergraduate BA secondary science and graduate MA Science Education programs. Science Education Faculty is an interdepartmental group within the College of Humanities, Arts, and Sciences (CHAS) including faculty from the various CHAS science departments and the College of Education Department of Teaching. All Science Education Faculty are members of UNI Teacher Education which is a campus-wide collaboration.

The mission of the UNI Physics Department includes the preparation of future high school physics teachers, professional development of existing secondary science teachers, and outreach for schools. UNI has been recognized as being one of the few exemplary programs in the Unites States in providing professional preparation of physics teachers by the Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics. The UNI Physics Department in collaboration with Science Education Faculty and master high physics teachers have been taking the lead in the State of Iowa to address the shortage of highly qualified high school physics teachers through professional development programs funded with external funds. The Physics Department in collaboration with UNI Continuing Education will soon be offering a program for science teachers that will enable them to complete summer and online physics courses that can be used in meeting course requirements for the high school physics teaching endorsement.

The UNI Physics Department is home to the highly successful Physics Resources and Instructional Strategies for Motivating Students (PRISMS) program – a high school physics curriculum and professional development program that utilizes a learning cycle pedagogy. The PRISMS PLUS curriculum, an updated and enhanced version of PRISMS, as well as Modeling Instruction have been used extensively in teacher preparation and professional development. UNI Science Education Update Conference for secondary science teachers is offered each spring in collaboration with all science departments including the Physics Department.

The UNI Physics Department provides various outreach opportunities including the State of Iowa and UNI/Central Rivers Area Education Agency (AEA) Regional Competitions for high school physics students held at UNI each spring. Over 200 students from 20 different schools participate in each competition.

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