Project Status: September 2007

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

Upcoming Events

Learning Assistant Workshop

PTEC is sponsoring a workshop on the University of Colorado's Learning Assistant program on Wednesday, October 24th and Thursday, October 25th in Boulder, Colorado. Workshop participants will observe a session of the Learning Assistant pedagogy course, meet the Learning Assistants, and participate in tutorials. PTEC is providing housing and meals for all workshop participants. To register, email Gabe Popkin at by October 5th.

2008 PTEC Conference

Mark your calendars for the 2008 PTEC Conference, which will take place on February 29th and March 1st in Austin, Texas. This year's theme will be Master Teachers, and the conference will include a workshop on the UTeach Program at the University of Texas at Austin. We are currently inviting speakers and designing the program, and we will begin accepting registrations shortly. The latest information is always available at /features/newsDetail.cfm?id=129.

Teacher Preparation Book

We are currently soliciting contributions for a forthcoming book on the preparation and professional development of teachers of physics and physical science. The book, to be published jointly by the American Physical Society and American Association of Physics Teachers, will include new reports reflecting cutting-edge research and practice, as well as reprints of previously published seminal papers. Printed copies will be distributed to chairs of all physics departments in the United States. The book will also be freely available online. Please see /features/newsDetail.cfm?id=139 for more information and a link to the complete guidelines for submission.


APS has added Monica Plisch to its ranks as Assistant Director of Education. Monica comes to us from Cornell University, where she was Director of Education Programs at the Center for Nanoscale Systems. She joined us on September 4th, and is already busy developing future project initiatives. She is also working with Mary Fehrs to take over responsibility for PTEC activities, including organizing the 2008 and 2009 conferences.

Warren Hein, former co-Principal Investigator on PhysTEC, has taken a leave from AAPT to accept a rotating position as Program Officer at the NSF. Toufic Hakim, AAPT Executive Officer, has become AAPT's official representative to PhysTEC; however, Warren still makes considerable contributions at project meetings and through correspondence.

The project has contracted with David Meltzer to provide help with project assessment. He is currently evaluating appropriate assessment strategies, working to edit and promote the best-practices book scheduled for publication in 2009 (see below), and writing various pieces for publication.

The PhysTEC community suffered a loss last week with the passing of Mike Wolter, who was Teacher in Residence at Ball State University during the 2003-2004 school year. Mike was a distinguished high school physics teacher and an outstanding member of the PhysTEC team. He did significant work on the mentoring component of Ball State's project, and developed the mentoring reference manual "Characteristics of an Effective Mentoring Process," which is used at the new TIR initiation every year. To learn about his contributions to physics teaching, please see his Autobiography.

PhysTEC Site Status

2007-2008 will be a year of significant transition for PhysTEC, as our four new sites - Cornell University, Florida International University, the University of Minnesota, and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill - begin their funding period. Each of these sites has shown significant potential to become a model for teacher preparation programs around the country. Faculty at Ball State University, the University of Arizona, the University of Arkansas, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Western Michigan University will spend the year writing articles and papers with the goal of disseminating their project achievements as well as continuing to contribute project data to help evaluate the effectiveness and sustainability of the project. Seattle Pacific University and Towson University will continue project activities this year.

Meetings in Greensboro, NC

PhysTEC held its annual Project Meeting in July just prior to the AAPT Summer Meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Project Management Team and one or more faculty members from each Primary Program Institution attended, as well as Drew Isola (Western Michigan) as TIR representative, Len Jossem from the PhysTEC Advisory Committee, and Mark Mattson from James Madison University, which has received external funding for its own TIR from the Toyota USA Foundation. We had lively discussions about individual sites' goals, successes, challenges, and dissemination strategies. The meeting also provided an excellent opportunity for project participants to meet each other and share ideas and experiences.

Immediately prior to the project meeting was the annual TIR Gathering, at which new TIRs receive their induction into their unique role as the hub of the PhysTEC project at their particular site. Project Consultant Paul Hickman presided, with assistance from 2006-2007 Ball State TIR Elaine Gwinn and Western Michigan Education Professor Marcia Fetters. As always, the TIRs enjoyed the opportunity to get to know each other, and gave very positive responses to program evaluation questions. All participants indicated that the program strengthened their connections with other educators who support future physics teachers, and deepened their understanding of PhysTEC as well as the TIR's role within the project.

PhysTEC had a major presence at the AAPT Summer Meeting, which drew 1,285 participants. Some highlights include:

  • Paul Hickman collaborating with Kathleen Falconer on a workshop on the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP), which all project sites use to mentor their teachers and assess pedagogical development.
  • Drew Isola leading a series of presentations by PhysTEC TIRs on their experiences, followed by a lively question-and-answer session.
  • Faculty from Colorado presenting a half-day workshop on their Learning Assistant program.
  • Faculty and students from Arkansas, Colorado, Florida International, and Seattle Pacific joining members from other universities in a poster session about Learning Assistant programs
  • Faculty from Arizona and Western Michigan giving presentations on the early teaching experiences in their teacher preparation programs.
  • A PTEC booth in the exhibition hall. The booth sparked significant interest in the Coalition, and also served as a gathering place for PhysTEC and PTEC participants during the meeting.

PTEC-North Carolina

Following the AAPT Summer Meeting, PTEC held its first regional workshop in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for institutions in North Carolina interested in developing teacher preparation programs. The workshop was inspired by the UNC system President Erskine Bowles' recent call to action on science teacher preparation. Faculty from 14 institutions attended presentations by Ted Hodapp of APS, Eugenia Etkina of Rutgers University, Valerie Otero of Colorado, Paul Hickman of the PhysTEC project, and Jill Marshall of the University of Texas at Austin. Participants then spent the last few hours of the workshop developing action plans to implement at their schools starting this year. The workshop agenda and materials are available at /conferences/NC07/index.cfm for all participants. PTEC intends to hold future regional workshops to catalyze change in other states with large university systems.

New PhysTEC Website

APS PhysTEC staff are hard at work on the new PhysTEC website, due for launch in late Fall. The new site will be a radical redesign of the current site, with content organized by both key component and by program institution. The goal is to make the site an attractive and user-friendly source of information on all the critical elements of a successful teacher preparation program. All continuing PhysTEC sites submitted summative reports of project outcomes and activities this summer, and we are also preparing these to go up on the new site. In addition, we will make available the annual report we submitted in September to the NSF.

Plans for 2009 PTEC Conference

We're already thinking about the 2009 PTEC Conference, which will take place in Pittsburgh on March 13th and 14th, 2009, in conjunction with the APS March Meeting. We will be doing a site visit to Pittsburgh in early November to secure a hotel and meeting space. Stay tuned!

Project Funding Status

We are pleased to report that we received a generous no-cost extension from the NSF through December, 2008, to continue PhysTEC and PTEC activities. In the meantime, we intend to build on the current and future successes of the project, and are pursuing additional public and private funding to support these efforts.

Education and the Doubling Initiative

The APS and AAPT boards have approved a resolution to work to double the number of undergraduate physics majors in the United States. Embedded within this effort are initiatives to increase the number of high school physics teachers around the country, increase the representation of women and minorities in physics, and update the undergraduate physics major. PhysTEC and PTEC will be the primary vehicles through which APS and AAPT work to recruit and prepare physics teachers, and the project will also be involved in an effort to develop and promote a three-year physics degree with the intent of making the subject more attractive to a wider audience that, we hope, will include future teachers.


Ted Hodapp, the peripatetic prophet of physics teacher preparation, delivered presentations at College Misericordia in Dallas, PA, at the NSF DRK-12 Meeting in Arlington, VA, and at the PTEC-NC workshop in Chapel Hill, NC.

View All of Ted's Presentations

New Coalition Members

The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PTEC) welcomes Loyola College in Maryland, our 86th member institution.

View complete list of members with profiles on PTEC website

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