Arizona State University (ASU), a Carnegie Research 1 university, is a multi-campus institution in urban/suburban settings. ASU’s Tempe campus has the largest enrollment on one campus at more than 58,000 students. The Physics Department has 44 full-time faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Improved recruiting has nearly doubled the number of physics majors over the past six years to 270 majors enrolled in 2011, with a comparable increase in graduation rate. The number of degrees awarded per year has doubled from 10 to 20 over this period.
ASU is the primary source of science teachers for Phoenix and the state. In Fall 2011, The university enrolled over 70,000 part-time and full time students at its four campuses with about 20,000 in engineering and sciences. Those interested in teaching science can choose undergraduate and post-baccalaureate degrees and certifications. However, in the last four years less than 200 students completed initial certification requirements through these routes. Of these, only one is certified to teach physics each year.
ASU has developed workshops on Modeling Instruction that are held nationally. On average 150 teachers come to ASU each summer to participate in Modeling Workshops. In 2001, the Physics Department developed a Master of Natural Science (MNS) program to enable these teachers to obtain a graduate degree in physics teaching. Nearly all teachers who participate in multiple modeling workshops and all who complete the MNS program become highly qualified in physics. The MNS program averages about two dozen teachers, and about five MNS degrees are granted each year.
In 2009, NSF awarded ASU Innovation through Institutional Integration funding to develop the Modeling Institute at ASU. The institute has created and launched a content-focused Middle School STEM MNS program to address the shortage of highly qualified science and mathematics teachers at the middle school level. The MNS degree program is now a vibrant program for in-service science teachers and has been for the past 10 years. The associated Modeling Instruction workshops have operated at ASU for more than 15 years. Together, they bring 100 or more motivated science teachers to ASU each summer. PhysTEC students will interact with these teachers and participate in their summer workshops.
The PhysTEC project at ASU proposes to improve quality, quantity, and retention of new physics teachers graduating at ASU via a three-pronged program that focuses on:
ASU aims to increase the number of physics teachers graduating from ASU from 0-1 per year to 6 per year in three years. The university plans to develop and implement a Learning Assistant Program, place pre-service teachers with highly qualified teachers for field experiences, develop a Teacher in Residence program, and draw on the expertise of a Teacher Advisory Group to create effective outreach to local teachers.
The university also intends to tap into the Maricopa County Community College District - the largest community college system in the U.S. in terms of enrollment, with over 260,000 students - to disseminate information on its physics education program and expand its recruitment course for potential science teachers. The course gives students interested in science teaching the opportunity to teach 5th and 6th grade students in high need schools.
ASU Physics Newsletter: ASU Physics Selected to Develop Physics Teacher Education
|Kelli Gamez Warble