Florida International University Project Report 2009
Early Teaching Experiences (ETE)
- The Learning Assistant (LA) program is part of the only operative teacher preparation program currently available to students interested in pursuing careers in physics education. College of Education programs have been cut. The physics program’s ETE has served as a model for the new mathematics, chemistry, and earth sciences education programs.
- Our Noyce Scholarship program begins funding students in Fall 2009. We anticipate that most LAs may now have a more positive view of teaching and learning and may consider teaching for a few years with support of the Noyce funding.
- Each LA worked in a reformed lab or classroom setting for approximately 150 hours in each of the fall and spring semseters. This compares to approximately 45 hours of field experiences in the three introductory education courses required in the cancelled programs. Moreover, the LAs’ work is centered on the students and their learning rather than on observation and/or grading.
- We have leveraged existing programs and relationships to offer 5 different types of early field experiences suited for different levels of experience (Physics I and II labs, Modeling courses, on-campus high school program, in-school high school experiences).
- Before or during early field experiences, LAs are enrolled in the PHY 3012 Seminar in Science Education course. We found that LA reflections generally indicate success in altering student views on nature of science and appreciation of what it means to teach. (See Course Reform)
- The program has grown to include students interested in mathematics and mathematics education. This requires that we include readings and activities that meet these students’ interests.
- We intend to include chemistry and earth science in Fall 2009. We must work to bring faculty from other disciplines into more active roles in project planning and development.
- In order to preserve the nature and intent of the ETEs, we need to work with faculty in other departments so that they utilize the LAs in a manner that reinforces ideas about teaching and learning that align with a progressive, expert-like view of schooling.
- Interest in being an LA has spread rapidly. In the Spring 2009 semester, there were 16 LAs in physics and 10 in Mathematics. Coordination of early teaching experiences has become more time-consuming. This will increase as we include Chemistry and Earth Science.
- One concern is maintaining the level and and quality of early field experiences, as well as funding to support LAs, as demand for LAs and for early field experiences expands.
- The Physics and Mathematics departments have committed to fund LAs necessary for the operation of the introductory labs and modeling courses.
- The College of Education continues to fund 5 stipends per year for LAs.
- The University has used the PhysTEC model in its reform of math and science secondary education programs and is considering it for the education programs in the humanities.
- Top students learn to value and appreciate education as an academic pursuit even if they do not intend, yet, to pursue it as a career.
- A regularly updated, detailed written model of the project is necessary as other programs and departments express interest in implementing similar program (Mechanical Engineering, Science Education, Math Education, Chemistry and Earth Science Education).
- Adapted from the Learning Assistant course created by Valerie Otero at University of Colorado, the FIU PHY 3012 Seminar in Physics Education course touched on theoretical issues such as conceptual development, conceptual change, collaborative learning, and students’ conceptions of various topics in physics. The course was designed and implemented to introduce physics students to fundamental ideas in physics education.
- Students in our LA program are involved in classroom experiences from the very first course in the program. Well-designed and guided early teaching experiences provide talented physics majors with positive and engaging first look at education as an academic pursuit and potential career.
- We have worked closely with the Departement of Mathematics as they build a new mathematics education program that includes the Learning Assistants program as the initial ETE. Learning Assistants in Mathematics take the seminar course but their assignments are made within the confines of the department. We continue to work with faculty to improve the experience for both the LAs and the students enrolled in the LA-enabled classes.
|Type of ETE
||Description of ETE
||FIU Physics Department
||LAs work with graduate student TAs in reformed tutorial-based labs. LAs work in conjunction with PIs, TIR and TAs to implement labs that focus on conceptual understanding, metacognition, and constructive learning.5 LAs for Fall 08, 10 LAs for Spring 09, and 9 LAs for Summer 09
|Modeling Class Assistant
||LAs work with physics department faculty in modeling instruction introductory physics courses. LAs act as peer-peer facilitators for group work and whiteboard presentations. They also serve as mentors and a source of encouragement for struggling students.
3 LAs for Fall 08 and 7 LAs for Spring 09
||FIU College of Education and MDCPS**
||An advanced LA with high comfort level in teaching works under the supervision of PAC lead teacher as instructor of high school physics course for at-risk students enrolled in math and science program at FIU.
1 LA for Fall 08 and Spring 09.
|In-Service Practice High School
||MDCPS High School
(currently Coral Park Senior High School)
|An advanced LA works with a select high school physics teacher in the classroom. LAs will work with students on labs, problem sets and group assignments to gain understanding of physics curriculum and teaching methods, particularly modeling instruction. Teachers are members of the FIU-sponsored South Florida Physics modeling group. Tedious process must start early.
1 LA for Spring 09
|In-Service Practice University
||Work with university faculty in elementary science education courses to bring modeling instruction techniques to future science teachers. LAs will work with associated PhysTEC science education faculty to provide inquiry based learning experiences to future teachers (SCE 4310). Students enrolled in the course have limited science content knowledge. LAs working in this role need to be compassionate, easy-going. 0 LAs for Fall 08/Spring09
*Center for High Energy Physics Research and Education Outreach
**Miami-Dade County Public Schools