Cornell University Project Report 2009
Collaboration among the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University Administrators, and Local Public School Systems
- Prior to our efforts, the last collaboration between the Physics and Education Departments was in the early 1990's, and involved co-advising a graduate student studying reform of Physics 2207.
- Although our program is based and administered in the Physics Department, there have been extensive interactions of the TIR and PI with Cornell Teacher Education faculty and staff, especially in recruiting activities directed at students enrolled in Physics courses.
- Our TIR has participated in Education Department classes, attended CTE planning meetings, and observed CTE students in their student placements in local schools.
- Like most Education programs, the CTE has an extensive network of local and regional teachers who serve as mentors and hosts for field experience.
- The Physics Department is in the endowed College of Arts and Sciences, while the Education Department is in the NYS funded College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The latter has suffered from shrinking budgets in recent years. The Education Department is unlikely to receive any new support from the College to enhance its physics and math teacher training programs. This support should return to being a responsibility of the university as a whole, since it is the College of Arts and Sciences (which houses Physics, Chemistry, Math and many of the biological sciences) and the College of Engineering that are most strongly impacted by the shortage of qualified high school teachers in STEM disciplines.
- Support for our efforts from the broader Education Department has been less than one might have hoped, given the department's issues with recruiting and total number of enrolled students. This is in part due to historically weak ties between Education and math and the hard science disciplines.
- Although the Provost's office has sponsored our efforts, there is still no high-level communication between the Physics and Education Department, or between the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on the subject of teacher preparation.
- Cornell needs a University-wide committee responsible for STEM teacher preparation, that at a minimum should involve faculty from Education, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Biology and representatives from the Deans of Arts and Sciences, Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the Provost's office. STEM teacher preparation is critical to the university's mission, and should be supported by all of the stakeholders.
- At a research university like Cornell, collaboration between the Education Department and the Physics Department (and Math and Chemistry and the life sciences) is essential in effectively marketing teaching careers to undergraduates. The disciplines have much greater access to the pool of potential teachers. Participation of the disciplines helps to legitimize high school teaching careers in the eyes of undergraduates.
- Cross-college collaboration in advertising teaching careers and the CTE program.