FEd April 1996 Newsletter -AAPT New Faculty Conference

April 1996



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AAPT New Faculty Conference

by Ken Krane

The American Association of Physics Teachers will hold a conference aimed at helping new physics faculty from the research universities become more aware of new developments in pedagogy and curriculum, so that they will improve the level of undergraduate instruction. This conference, to be held at the University of Maryland (College Park) from October 31 - November 3, 1996, is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The workshop is limited to 50 participants.

Faculty in the first few years of a tenure-track appointment are under great pressure to establish a research program, which is often the primary criterion for promotion and tenure. The development of expertise in undergraduate teaching is generally regarded as of secondary importance, although it is receiving increasing emphasis in promotion and tenure decisions at many institutions. The Conference will highlight techniques for improving teaching and will provide materials and guidance for individual improvement. Enhancing networking of new faculty to share ideas is also a goal of the Conference.

Participants will include physics faculty from research universities in their first few years of an initial tenure-track appointment, including more senior faculty who have recently entered academia after careers in industry or government laboratories. Department chairs will be invited to nominate their faculty to attend. The NSF grant will provide funds for all local expenses for the participants; the individual institutions are expected to provide only the support for the participant to travel to the Conference. Funding is also provided for the participants to attend the summer AAPT meeting, where they will hold a special session for new faculty to inform one another of their activities, to discuss common issues and concerns, and to share their experiences with others who were not able to attend the Conference.

The conference will be organized around a series of participatory workshops, with resource leaders selected from among the leading innovators in undergraduate physics education in the U.S. The resource leaders will provide participants with a detailed bibliography and background materials. Topics to be discussed include active learning and interactive lectures, using technology in teaching, how your research can inform your teaching, minority and gender issues, using technology, addressing conceptual misunderstandings, and mentoring research students.

A special feature of the Conference will be a NSF visitation day on Thursday, October 31. Participants will be able to meet with NSF program officers in their specialty areas to discuss research funding.

For further information, contact Ken Krane, Department of Physics, Oregon State University, (541)737-4569, kranek@physics.orst.edu.