NSF and FIPSE Fund New Physics Teacher Preparation Program

Nationwide Pilot Aimed at "Revolutionizing" Science Teaching to Begin at Six Institutions

COLLEGE PARK, MD- On August 23, 2001, a five-year, $5.76 million grant was awarded by National Science Foundation to the American Physical Society (APS), in partnership with the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) and the American Institute of Physics (AIP) for PhysTEC, the Physics Teacher Education Coalition. On September 13, the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) in the U.S. Department of Education awarded a three-year, $498,000, grant to enhance the evaluation, induction, and dissemination components of the PhysTEC program. These grants will enable the professional societies to create a nationwide initiative among college and university physics departments in collaboration with education departments and schools.

PhysTEC aims to dramatically improve the science preparation and teaching skills of future secondary and elementary teachers and to establish an Induction/Mentor program for new teachers to improve the likelihood they will remain in teaching. “PhysTEC begins with an initial set of six primary institutions that share a strong commitment to revise their teacher preparation programs,” according to PhysTEC principal investigator Fredrick Stein. “This includes improving the preparation of both elementary and secondary science teachers.” The six institutions are:

  • Ball State University
  • Oregon State University
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Arkansas
  • Western Michigan University
  • Xavier University of Louisiana

The FIPSE grant will enhance the evaluation, induction and dissemination components of the PhysTEC program that have proven to be successful in making long-term positive changes in teacher preparation. Other PhysTEC components are:

  • A Teacher-in-Residence program that provides for a local K-12 science teacher to become a full-time participant in assisting faculty with both team-teaching and course revisions
  • A long-term, active collaboration between the physics department, the education department, and the local school community
  • The redesign of content and pedagogy of targeted physics courses based on results from physics education research as well as utilization of appropriate interactive technologies
  • The redesign of content and pedagogy for elementary and secondary science methods courses with an emphasis on inquiry-based, hands-on, approaches to teaching and learning.
  • The establishment of a mentoring program for TIRs and other master teachers designed to meet the needs of an induction experience for novice science teachers. This includes the participation of physics faculty in increasing and improving a wide array of school experiences

In addition to assisting colleges and universities with improving the preparation of future teachers of physical science and physics at all levels, APS/AAPT/AIP will broadly disseminate the best practices developed through these efforts. “This project builds upon the many years of research and work within the physics community involving teacher preparation. These grants provides the support and technical assistance necessary to undertake this pioneering task,” says Stein. “The ultimate result of this project will be better-prepared science teachers who are committed to student-centered, inquiry-based, hands-on approaches to teaching and learning from the moment they enter the classroom.”

For additional information, contact:

Dr. Fredrick M. Stein
Director of Education and Outreach
American Physical Society
(301) 209-3263
stein@aps.org