Member InstitutionMember Institution Tennessee Tech University

Tennessee Tech University

Tennessee Tech University Website

Institution Contacts

Paula Engelhardt
Steve Robinson

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Traditional Physics Teacher Preparation Program

Physics licensure at Tennessee Tech (TTU) is one of four 7-12 secondary science licensure areas.  The program requires a year of calculus and a year of calculus-based general physics before completing additional physics courses in modern physics, mathematical physics, thermal physics and either classical mechanics or a course requiring an independent research project.  The program also includes an astronomy course and a special topics course in physics education. With suitable course substitutions, it is possible to exit with licensure in both Physics 7 – 12 and Mathematics 7 – 12 either as a regular teacher education candidate or as part of a post-baccalaureate licensure and masters program. Satrting in 2013 all students in the program must complete a 2-semester teaching residency in their final year.

Prospective elementary (K-6) and middle school (5-8) teachers must take specially designed science content courses in physics, chemistry, earth science, and biology. These courses focus on content and pedagogy that is aligned with the state standards in these areas.

TTU-SMaRT Noyce Scholarship Program

In 2011 the TTU STEM Majors for Rural Teaching (TTU-SMaRT) program was awared a 5-year Phase I  Noyce Scholarship grant to support Science and Engineering majors as they complete their STEM degrees and also obtain 7-12 teaching licensure in Math, Physics, or Chemistry via a 1-year post-bac program of study. As well as scholarship support, the program has an early teaching experience for students to see whether they wish to pursue teaching as a career, as well as an internship at the TTU STEM Center, and significant support during their induction year. We currently have two students in the 'pipeline' pursuing licensure in physics.

Physics and Everyday Thinking Curriculum

The physics course for prospective elementary teachers uses the NSF-supported Physics and Everyday Thinking curriculum. (PET - the curriculum formerly known as Physics for Elementary Teachers.) Co-developed by one of the physics faculty (Steve Robinson) this curriculum is the outcome of an NSF-funded project carried out in collaboration with co-developers at San Diego State University and the University of Colorado, boulder.

Learning Environment for Algebra-based Physics (LEAP) curriculum

With NSF support two faculty members (Paula Engelhardt and Steve Robinson) are developing a guided-inquiry algebra-based physics course sequence, based on the PET pedagogical structure. Students in course sections using these materials have exhibited significantly higher learning gains and more favorable attitudinal shifts than those in traditionally-taught sections.

Professional Development

Physics faculty regularly participate in and lead professional development workshops in physics and astronomy for a broad range of teachers. In particular, the LEAP curriculum materials (see above) are currently being used in professionald evelopment workshops for high-school math and science teachers seeking an additional endorsement to teach physics.


The TTU physics department is an active participant in the programs of the Millard Oakley Center for the Teaching and LEarning of Sceince, Math, Engineering and Technology (STEM Center), holding several classes in the newly constructed state-of-the-art facility and assisting in proefssional development and outreach activities. The 2012 TN-AAPT meeting was hosted here by the TTU Physics Dept.

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