Project Status: July 2010

This report contains the latest news and updates on the PhysTEC and PTEC projects.

Upcoming Events

PhysTEC Topical Workshop: Learning Assistants

The PhysTEC project is sponsoring a second workshop focusing on the University of Colorado's Learning Assistant program (the first took place in Fall 2007). The Learning Assistant program is a highly supported peer teaching experience that has been shown to improve students learning and attitudes toward science in undergraduate lecture classes and recruit talented science and math students into teaching careers. The workshop will take place on October 13 and 14 and is open to representatives of PhysTEC Member Institutions (i.e. PTEC members; see "Branding" below). Housing and on-site meals will be provided. For more information, see

PhysTEC Request for Proposals Coming Soon

The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) project is planning a request for proposals for new sites to develop model physics teacher preparation programs, beginning in the 2011-2012 academic year. Proposals will be solicited for two types of sites:

Comprehensive sites, which will receive up to $100k per year for three years. These sites will implement the full PhysTEC program.

Focused sites (designation tentative), which will receive up to $25k per year for three years to implement specific elements of teacher preparation programs.

Institutions wishing to apply must submit a pre-proposal by November 1. More details will be posted on by late September. Only applications from institutions that are Coalition members will be considered. Minority-serving institutions are strongly encouraged to apply.

2011 PhysTEC Conference

The 2011 PhysTEC Conference will be held in Austin, TX on May 23 and 24, 2011, with the theme of "Building Sustainable Programs." The 2011 Conference will be held jointly with the UTeach Institute Annual Conference.


Sara Webb has joined APS as the Education and Diversity Projects Coordinator, with a substantial amount of her time devoted to work on PhysTEC. Webb's responsibilities will include communication with sites and Coalition members, meeting planning, and data gathering and analysis.

Warren Hein, AAPT Executive officer, became a PI on the project for the third time, upon Philip Hammer's departure to AIP in May.

Paul Hickman, project consultant from 2005-2009 and advisory committee member from 2001-2005, has retired from the project. Paul made major contributions to the Teacher in Residence (TIR) portion of the project, including facilitating summer professional development days, organizing sessions at summer AAPT meetings, and managing the TIR email list. Jon Anderson, the 2008-2009 TIR from Minnesota, has taken on the major responsibilities of coordinating activities and communication with the project's TIRs and graduates.

Project News


Since shortly after its inception in 2003, the Coalition has been known by the acronym PTEC. Recently, project management decided that the dual acronyms PhysTEC and PTEC were causing confusion, and that PTEC would be phased out over the next year. The project has initiated efforts to combine the PhysTEC and PTEC websites, which will be the major challenge in retiring the PTEC acronym. Consequently, throughout this report and in future writings of the project we will refer to PhysTEC rather than PTEC to reflect the unified "branding" of project activities. We will use the term PhysTEC Member Institutions to refer to PTEC members, and PhysTEC Supported Sites to refer to institutions to which we have provided signficiant funding.

PhysTEC Site Selection

The project announced in April that it would fund five new sites: California State University, Long Beach; Chicago State University; Middle Tennessee State University; Towson University; and the University of California, Davis. Two of these (CSU Long Beach and Chicago State) are minority-serving institutions, and two (UC Davis and Middle Tennessee) will leverage existing science and math teacher preparation efforts. Towson is funded for the second time. It was previously funded for an elementary teacher preparation effort, and is now funded for secondary education.

The institutions were selected during a two-stage review process that began with a pool of 52 applicants, which were evaluated based on their capacity for significant increases in the number of physics teachers graduating from their programs, as well as strong departmental and institutional support for teacher preparation efforts. The review panel was composed of external reviewers as well as representatives of APS and AAPT.

Funding for the awardees will begin in Fall 2010 and will last for up to three years. Sites are in the process of completing their MOUs and hiring TIRs for the upcoming academic year.

Noyce Video Released

The PhysTEC project has produced a video introduction to the NSF's Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship, as told by two Noyce Scholars and a Noyce Program Coordinator. This two-minute video highlights some of the benefits of the scholarship, which is intended for science, math, and engineering majors who want to become teachers. The video is intended to be screened in university classrooms, department open houses, scholarship information sessions, or other places where potential future teachers meet. It was shown at the Noyce Conference in July, and a copy was provided for each of the approximately 400 attendees.

The video can be viewed and downloaded at

Teacher/TIR Gathering

The third annual PhysTEC Teacher and TIR Gathering took place in Portland, OR on the Friday before the AAPT Summer Meeting. Six teachers and ten TIRs attended the one-day meeting. The morning included a conversation on TIRs' and teachers' experiences and a presentation on an online assessment instrument designed by the education nonprofit Facet Innovations. The afternoon included a discussion of Learning Assistant programs for the TIRs, and a mini-workshop on the Modeling Instruction Program for the teachers. Reviews of the gathering were positive, and project management plans to discuss how to attract more teachers in the future.

Site Leader Meeting

The PhysTEC new and current site leaders met for a full day at the AAPT Summer Meeting in Portland, OR to discuss progress and, in the case of currently funded PhysTEC sites, prepare to transition off of project funding. Topics of discussion included Learning Assistant programs, which have been implemented in various forms at all currently funded sites, and sustainability of project successes post-funding. New sites discussed their plans for getting their programs going, and planned research projects. Project leaders also emphasized the importance of teacher tracking and data collection. Several current sites are signing MOUs for 2010-2011 using unspent funds, and it appears that all sites will continue to employ a Teacher in Residence (TIR) post-funding.

PhysTEC at the AAPT Summer Meeting

The PhysTEC booth made an appearance at the AAPT Summer Meeting in Portland, OR. The main purpose of the booth is to promote the project to the physics community and recruit new members; however it also serves as a hub of networking and community building among existing Coalition members.

The Summer Meeting also featured two sessions focusing on PhysTEC activities. One was entitled "National Task Force in Teacher Education: Case Studies" and featured exemplary physics teacher education programs. The other, entitled "Once a TIR, Always a TIR," consisted of presentations by PhysTEC Teachers In Residence. These presentations are available on the PTEC website.

PhysTEC Teacher Survey

The project has contracted with the American Institute of Physics' Statistical Research Center to administer a survey to all PhysTEC graduates from all sites and all years, to collect information on employment and career paths, teaching methods, and attitudes. This survey went out in late April, and PMT members as well as AIP staff have conducted follow-up to ensure a good response. As of this writing, 79 project graduates have responded to the survey. AIP projects the data to be available by late summer, and the report to be available by late fall. This will be the first attempt to comprehensively survey all PhysTEC graduates.

Programmatic Review Board

In the first years of the project a group called the PTEC Steering Committee met occasionally to advise project management on directions for the Coalition. Earlier this year, project leaders decided to re-envision the Steering Committee as the PhysTEC Programmatic Review Board, which will consider a variety of questions related to the project, but not limited to Coalition issues. The board will be comprised of recognized experts in physics teacher education who will provide intellectual guidance on project initiatives and programs. The board will meet two to three times per year, primarily by teleconference.

PhysTEC Graduates

This year 23 physics teachers graduated from PhysTEC supported sites. Each graduate will receive a certificate and a copy of the book Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College.

Project Updates

Teacher Preparation Book update

Nearly all manuscripts are going through the final review process at the respective journals (either AJP or PRST-PER). The book editors anticipate between five and seven manuscripts will ultimately be accepted for the book, out of the 33 originally submitted prospectuses. A number of previously published seminal articles will also be reprinted. An invited session has been scheduled for the 2011 AAPT Winter Meeting at which some of the book authors will present their work.


Ted Hodapp presented PhysTEC Overview and Update along with Stamatis Vokos at the Department Chairs Meeting, in College Park, MD on June 12, 2010. Hodapp also presented National Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics on June 10, 2010 at the Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative (SMTI) National Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Monica Plisch chaired a workshop entitled "Know Your Audience: Marketing Strategies to Recruit Teachers" at the Noyce Conference, and gave a presentation on the PhysTEC Noyce program's recruiting strategies.

New Coalition Members

The Coalition now has 187 members. New Coalition members include:

Stony Brook University
Vincennes University