The 5+ Club Supported SiteThe 5+ Club Supported Site University of Minnesota: Teacher-In-Residence


  • The Teacher-in-Residence (TIR) and the PhysTEC team refined and continued to utilize the unique model for the use of Learning Assistants (LAs) in a large lecture format introductory physics course. LAs were added to a new class (Physics 1302-Electricity and Magnetism).
  • The TIR recruited and hired Learning Assistants to work with the PhysTEC program in a Fall 2010 section of Physics 1301 (calculus-based) and in the Spring 2011 semester offerings of Physics 1301 and Physics 1302.
  • The TIR hired four former Learning Assistants to work with the PhysTEC program in the Fall 2010 semester offering of Physics 1301 (calculus-based) and seven former Learning Assistants to work in the Spring 2011 semster offering of Physics 1302.
  • The TIR continued discussions with and began recruiting undergraduate physics majors who have an interest in teaching physics.
  • The TIR organized and implemented a seminar for Learning Assistants that focuses on pedagogy and on getting the LAs prepared for their roles in the upcoming week of lectures. In the second semester, the TIR prepared two groups of LAs for the two different courses.
  • The TIR collaborated with School of Physics and Astronomy faculty member to teach the Physics and Everyday Thinking course to elementary education majors.
  • The TIR participated in a "Physics Force-The Upcoming Generation" outreach group of LAs to perform approximately five small physics shows to student groups ranging from elementary to high school age.
  • The TIR worked with SPA faculty to develop the in-service training for College-in-the-Schools Physics teachers.
  • The TIR maintained connections to the College of Education and Human Services to help improve the movement of Learning Assistants into the licensure program.


  • A tracking system for PhysTEC graduates needs to be implemented and maintained. The TIR would be the best person to do this since he/she has the most contact with PhysTEC graduates.
  • Maintaining communication with the LAs and the CEHD needs to be improved.
  • The information required for providing a seemless path to transferring responsibilities to a new TIR needs to be updated.

Sustainability/Institutional Buy-In

  • Currently, we have no institutional support for Teachers-in-Residence beyond the first 3 years of the program. Our fourth year was supported by funds from the University. Funds have been patched together for the first semester of the fifth year. We are exploring options to obtain long-term support.
  • A retired teacher was hired for the fourth year and will continue as a TIR in the fifth year. Hiring a retired teacher helps reduce the overall cost of the program.  

Lessons Learned

  • Returning LAs need to sign a contract that obligates them to increase their responsibilities in the program. These responsibilities should be of a teaching nature and lead them towards choosing education as a path.
  • The experience of the Teacher-in-Residence helped provide knowledgeable guidance to the LAs as well as realistic and tested approaches to course reform in both the introductory physics course and the PET course.


List of TIRs over the Project

  • 2007-2008: Nancy Koch Bresnahan - physics teacher at Hopkins High School, Hopkins, MN - 26 years teaching experience
  • 2008 spring and 2008-2009: Jon Anderson - physics teacher at Centennial High School, Circle Pines, MN - 22 years teaching experience.
  • 2009-2010: Steve Olsen - physics teacher at Simley High School, Inver Grove Heights, MN - 33 years teaching experience.
  • 2010-2011: Steve Brehmer - retired physics teacher from Mayo High School, Rochester, MN - 33 years teaching experience

Finding and Hiring a TIR

  • The first twoTIRs were recruited from the Physics Force. This is a UMn outreach program that has been active for over 10 years.
  • The third TIR was recruited from QuarkNet at the University of Minnesota. This is an annual summer workshop for MN physics teachers that is conducted on the UMn campus.
  • The fourth TIR was also a member of the QuarkNet group.

Typical TIR activities

  • Co-teach science pedagogy courses; 5 hours/week. This is a weekly meeting with the LAs designed to prepare them for the upcoming week of lectures and to give them pedagogical background in teaching and, specifically, teaching physics.
  • Teach one section of "Physics and Everyday Thinking" for elementary education majors; 15 hours/week. The other section is taught by a SPA Professor with whom the TIR closely collaborates.
  • Work with physics faculty members to develop materials for reformed physics courses; 10 hours/week. These materials include the use of LAs in both lecture and weekly discussion sections.
  • Facilitate and participate in meetings of the UM PhysTEC team; 1.5 hours/every other week
  • Colaborate with the team that provides training for first year TAs; 2 hours/week
  • Develop, schedule, and perform in Physics Force and PACES(Parents and Children Experiencing Science; outreach programs; when requested
  • Collaborate with the Professor supervising high school teachers for the College in the Schools program in preperation for their training workshop.
  • Develop materials for PhysTEC and Outreach web sites
  • Communicate with Physics Department, College of Education and Human Development, Learning Assistants and Teaching Assistants; 5 hours/week
  • Recruit and meet with undergraduates who are considering a career as a physics teacher; 1 hour/week