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Preparing High School Physics Teachers

  1. Feb 25, 2009 #1


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    In case you missed it, here's an informative article from this month's Physics Today.

    http://ptonline.aip.org/journals/doc/PHTOAD-ft/vol_62/iss_2/40_1.shtml [Broken]

    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 4, 2009 #2
    We (the learning assistants at my school) just met with a couple people from APS today (including Ted Hodapp, who seemed like a cool guy).

    I keep wondering if what the PhysTEC program is doing is not just beneficial because it produces better teachers. As a physics student who isn't planning on teaching high school, I feel like I'm probably getting a better education than I might at other universities that aren't necessarily focused on improving their pedagogy.

    Has anyone here besides me taken physics at an institution with a learning assistant program? Thoughts?
  4. Mar 5, 2009 #3
    I would say that of course your feelings on this are right, JWiB. Chosen PhysTEC institutions received grant funds that involve developing their teacher education pedagogy into national models of teacher education. An institution that signed on to PhysTEC (and was accepted) HAD faculty had cared about education and were on top of things for the grant process. Obviously, faculty are involved with this process and part of the PhysTEC fund support this research and development... meaning their teaching in general has become more important to scientifically study via education research methods (meaning all their students benefit, not just pre-service teachers). There are also advantages like sponsored lead-teachers, etc, that might be working with TA's, faculty, etc.

    At other institutions, faculty might view their teaching (sadly) as second to their research... especially since they aren't researching their teaching per say. Furthermore, at those institutions, there probably isn't much coordination between faculty to improve their teaching, make sure their classes coordinate nicely, etc. They also, of course, don't have the funds to do some of the things above... so of course they focus on their funded research projects. Part of the benefit of funding is, as you mention, extensive learning assistant training via lead teachers, flying in experts, etc. (Take a counter example... some learning assistant training I've seen merely focused on a short meeting at which information about the university-required online sexual-harrassment training was given out to TA's.) Recall that some of this probably isn't the fault of the faculty... with the current economic conditions, they're getting stretched more than they're likely used to (teaching loads are increasing) and departments CAN'T really start up the needed kinds of action if they aren't supported by a grant and don't have a physics education research group in place that has weight within the department.
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