Project Status: June 2007

Here is the latest news on the PhysTEC and PTEC projects.

Initial PhysTEC Sites moving beyond project funding

This summer marks the end of PhysTEC funding for the initial round of Primary Program Institutions: University of Arizona , University of Arkansas , Ball State University , University of Colorado at Boulder , and Western Michigan University (Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo reached this milestone last year). These institutions will no longer have Teachers In Residence funded by PhysTEC, and will spend the next year primarily analyzing data and disseminating project results and successes through articles, presentations, and web-based publications. In addition, these PPIs are continuing to work to sustain the successful reforms they implemented under PhysTEC. Some of these institutions have secured long-term departmental funding for one or more TIR positions, and we hope that all will find means of sustaining the mentorship opportunities for undergraduates and the bridges between universities and school districts that PhysTEC helped build.

New Project Staff

Project Manager Victoria Kwasiborski left APS in mid-May for a position with the NSF. We were sorry to see her leave, and we wish her the best in her new job. We would also like to introduce two new staff members who will work closely with the PhysTEC project: Monica Plisch, APS Assistant Director of Education, and Gabe Popkin, Project Manager for PhysTEC.

Monica Plisch comes to us from Cornell University, where she has been serving as Director of Education Programs in the Center for Nanoscale Systems. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois in Engineering Physics and her Ph.D. from Cornell in nanomagnetics. Her position at APS will begin in early September. Monica will direct the PTEC project, and will assume significant responsibility for the operation of PhysTEC.

Gabe Popkin will take Victoria 's place as PhysTEC Project Manager. Gabe earned his B.A. in Physics from Wesleyan University , where he served as an undergraduate teaching assistant for three semesters. Since then, he has worked at a variety of positions, including as an Americorps member at an adult education center, and as a consultant for a project related to farmers markets and food security. Gabe looks forward to meeting and working with the various people who make PhysTEC happen.

PTEC 2008

The PTEC 2008 Conference will be held in Austin , Texas and co-hosted by the University of Texas at Austin . Please mark your calendars for February 29-March 2, 2008 . Updated information will be posted on the PTEC website and distributed through the listservs.

Advisory Committee Meeting

The 2007 Advisory Committee Meeting took place at the American Center for Physics on May 30-31. The Committee reviewed project progress and provided guidance on future project initiatives in teacher preparation. They met with project staff, the heads of the AIP/AAPT/APS, and representatives of the PhysTEC institutions.

Overall, the Committee was very pleased with the progress that PhysTEC has made, and with the quality of leadership that the Project Management Team has provided. The Committee members noted specific successes of the PhysTEC project, including:

  • The growth of PTEC membership to 84 institutions.
  • The high morale and excitement expressed at the meeting by project representatives from PhysTEC institutions, including faculty members, a teacher in residence, and an undergraduate future teacher.
  • The expanded collection of data, including the use of assessments such as the Force Concept Inventory to measure PhysTEC student progress, and the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) to assess the pedagogy of future teachers and recent graduates.
  • The emphasis on proven curricula for course reforms at future PhysTEC sites.

In addition, the Committee discussed the following topics:

  • The potential need to modify the annual PTEC Conference in order to accommodate the growth in attendance.
  • The dissemination of project results and successes through PTEC, journal articles, and the publication of a book (see below).
  • Future roles of the three participating societies in the project.

The project wishes to thank the members of the Advisory Committee for their many years of service to the project:

  • George Trilling, Chair, University of California-Berkeley
  • Robert Clark, Brigham Young University
  • Sandra Harpole, Mississippi State University
  • Leonard Jossem, Ohio State University
  • Lillian McDermott, University of Washington
  • Jill Marshall, University of Texas

PhysTEC Site Visits

Existing sites visited this quarter were the University of Arizona , Ball State University , Seattle Pacific University , and Western Michigan University . In addition, Ted Hodapp conducted two unofficial visits to sites entering the project this coming year: the University of Minnesota , and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill .

The University of Arizona

Ted Hodapp visited the University of Arizona on April 2 nd , and met with the Associate Dean of the College of Science , the PPI lead Ingrid Novodvorsky, additional physics faculty, and TIRs from this year and last year. Arizona is completing its final year of full funding, and much of its efforts next year will be directed towards dissemination projects, including a description of its Teacher Preparation Program and a comparison of this program with UTeach at the University of Texas . The site visit included an eye-opening trip to observe 2002 PhysTEC graduate Erik Herman's classroom, in one of the most challenging schools in the Tucson area. Ted, Ingrid, and Erik discussed the possibility of using RTOP to provide constructive feedback on helping his students, visualize their futures and understand the importance of engagement in their education.

Ball State University

Ted Hodapp and Warren Hein visited Ball State University on March 19 th and 20 th . They met with the Provost, the Dean of the College of Science and Humanities, numerous faculty including PPI leads Dave Ober and David Grosnick, and TIRs from this year and last year. They observed a class taught by Aaron Debbink, a young and well-liked physics and chemistry teacher at a local high school. Aaron is the replacement for BSU's current on-campus TIR Elaine Gwinn, who is mentoring him for the course of the school year. This mentorship arrangement may help new sites to obtain a TIR from districts that may be reluctant to donate a valuable experienced physics teacher for an entire year. The visiting team also discussed publication possibilities with physics faculty and past TIRs, including an article on the mentorship component of Ball State 's TIR program. There was also a discussion of modifying major requirements among the Math, Physics, and Astronomy Departments to allow for cross-certification of teachers majoring in those subjects.

Western Michigan University

Ted Hodapp and Warren Hein visited Western Michigan University on March 20 th and 21 st . They met with the dean, the chair of the Physics Department, members of the Physics and Education Departments, and the current on-campus TIR Drew Isola. Ted and Warren observed a new PhysTEC teacher, Lindsey McConney, who is teaching in a local high school and gave significant credit to her TIR's mentorship for her perseverance thus far in the physics teaching profession. The visiting team also observed a science methods course taught by Drew and Education professor Marcia Fetters. There was considerable discussion of the future of the PhysTEC efforts at WMU, and the question of sustainability, in light of recent budget cuts that have put the entire university under considerable strain. Support for the program exists from the dean and the department, and the current TIR has expressed interest in continuing working with WMU in mentoring future teachers.

North Carolina Regional PTEC Conference

Erskine Bowles, President of the University of North Carolina system, has recently noted that the sixteen-institution UNC system has only produced 3 certified high school physics teachers over a period of three years, and has vowed to "attack this problem head-on here in North Carolina ." Following the AAPT Summer Meeting in Greensboro , the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in partnership with PhysTEC will host a one-day conference on August 3 rd for representatives from the UNC institutions that have teacher preparation programs. Each institution will be represented by a dean or equivalent from the college housing the physics department, a physics faculty member interested in teacher preparation, and a dean or equivalent as well as a faculty member from the College of Education or Education Department. PTEC will provide presenters who will speak on best practices and initiatives in teacher preparation programs that have proven successful in the PhysTEC project and at PTEC institutions. Breakout sessions and panels will engage the workshop participants in discussions of how the education and science departments at the participating institutions can work together to improve their preparation of pre-service physics and physical science teachers, as well as increase the number of certified physics and physical science teachers that graduate from UNC system institutions.

Editorial Advisory Board

PTEC will be announcing guidelines for publication in a best-practice book on physics teacher education later this summer. The guidelines are being reviewed by the editorial board, which includes the following members:

  • David E. Meltzer, Editor (University of Washington)
  • Peter Shaffer, Associate Editor (University of Washington)
  • Bob Beichner (North Carolina State University)
  • Karen Cummings (Southern Connecticut University )
  • Andy Elby (University of Maryland)
  • Fred Goldberg (San Diego State University)
  • Daniel Kulp (APS, Editorial Director)
  • Jill Marshall (University of Texas-Austin)
  • Valerie Otero (University of Colorado-Boulder)
  • Gene Sprouse, (APS, Editor-in-Chief)
  • Richard Steinberg (City College of New York)
  • Jan Tobochnik (Kalamazoo College)
  • Stamatis Vokos (Seattle Pacific University)


Ted Hodapp delivered his presentation " The Role of Colleges and Universities in the Preparation of Future Teachers " at the Renaissance Group meeting at Kennesaw State University in Georgia on April 19 th . The Renaissance Group is a consortium of institutions committed to preparing education professionals. Ted's presentation is available on the PhysTEC website:

New Coalition Members

The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PTEC) welcomes Millersville University and the University of Pittsburgh . These two additions bring PTEC membership to 84 institutions. A complete list of members with profiles is available at

For further information, please contact the Project Manager, Gabe Popkin (, or the Principal Investigator, Ted Hodapp (