The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) is awarding three years of funding to five institutions to develop their physics teacher education programs. The newly selected sites are Georgia State University, University of Central Florida, University of Cincinnati, and North Carolina State University. James Madison University was selected in 2012 and deferred a year before starting the project. These awards bring the number of sites that have been funded by the PhysTEC project to 33.
The PhysTEC project, led by APS in partnership with AAPT, works to increase the number of highly qualified physics teachers. To do this, the project provides substantial support to select colleges and universities to develop their physics teacher preparation programs into national models. Collectively, PhysTEC-supported sites have more than doubled the number of physics teachers they graduate. Renee Michelle Goertzen, Education Programs Manager at APS, says "It is exciting to work with the enthusiastic leadership at the new PhysTEC sites. Their breadth of talent will help the project to touch the lives of many more future physics teachers."
The James Madison University (JMU) project plans to build on established programs for current teachers to expand the recruitment, mentoring, and retention of future teachers. PhysTEC funding will support (1) implementation of a science pedagogy course, (2) development of a sustainable Learning Assistant program, and (3) hiring a Teacher-in-Residence. "It is gratifying to see that many of the newly funded sites are building on previous efforts in physics teacher education and course reform," said Beth Cunnigham, Executive Officer of the American Association of Physics Teachers.
PhysTEC students at the University of Central Florida (UCF) will have the opportunity to enroll in a dual teacher-certification and physics-major track and will have more options to work with Learning Assistants in their introductory physics courses. The UCF project aims to prepare 15 physics teachers during the first four years, helping to respond to the current shortage of teachers in Florida.
Georgia State University (GSU) plans to increase the number of minority physics teachers to help meet Georgia's high need for qualified physics teachers. PhysTEC funding will support a Teacher-in-Residence, who will teach a physics pedagogy class and lead future teacher recruitment. The GSU project will focus on course reform, early teaching experiences, and mentoring. North Carolina State University (NCSU) will focus on developing a Learning Assistant program and will partner with the NCSU STEM Education Initiative to assist with course reform and LA recruiting.
At the University of Cincinnati (UC), PhysTEC students will take courses specifically for licensure candidates such as Modeling Instruction. UC has a goal of increasing the number of new, highly-qualified high school physics teachers to five or more per year. They will use a variety of recruitment strategies, including providing flexible and accessible pathways to licensure for all STEM majors.
"This is the fourth solicitation for supported sites in four years, and we are really pleased that new institutions continue to step forward with excellent proposals," said APS Associate Director of Education & Diversity Monica Plisch. Project funding for these five universities began this summer and will continue for three years. All sites have committed to funding their projects for at least an additional three years after the PhysTEC funding ends.
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Staff Science Writer: Michael Lucibella