Florida International University Project Report 2009
Goals & Outcomes
The FIU PhysTEC project is building a focused teacher preparation program while improving physics instruction for all and developing inquiry teaching by faculty. The goals of the FIU PhysTEC Project are to:
- Increase the number of well-prepared physics teachers in South Florida, which has a large Hispanic population.
- Promote inquiry-based learning in physics courses at FIU.
- Expand the long-term collaboration between Physics, Education, and local school to include more faculty, teachers, and departments.
- Measure the impact of our PhysTEC project.
- Create a model for sustainable reform in science and math teacher education.
Our goal is to graduate three physics teachers per year within the first three years, increasing to five teachers per year within five years, which is certainly attainable given our experiences and the success of other PhysTEC sites. A longer-term goal is to increase the numbers of underrepresented minorities in the sciences by providing excellent teacher role models. This modest investment in our project will initiate lasting teacher preparation and curricular reforms at FIU.
- New Science and Mathematics Secondary Education Programs were created in 2008/09 and are available to students in Fall 2009. All programs are integrated, sharing design and appropriate courses, and are based on the Learning Assistant (LA) model (including recruiting and early field experiences). Students will receive science/math bachelor’s degrees along with teacher credentials. Programs include Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, and Earth Sciences tracks within each discipline. State certification is expected to be complete in 2009/2010.
- Get Educators in Mathematics and Science (GEMS), the FIU Noyce project, began operation in January 2009. Physics, mathematics, chemistry, and earth science students applications are underway, with the first scholars beginning in Fall 2009.
- The Mathematics department instituted the LA program and welcomed their first group of one dozen math LAs. Math LAs participated in the physics education seminar alongside physics LAs.
- Learning Assistant (LA) recruitment continues to produce 20-25 applications per semester, from which 8-12 new physics LAs are selected.
- In Spring 2009, FIU graduated its second physics teacher in a decade.
- Each LA worked in a reformed lab or classroom setting for approximately 150 hours in the fall and spring semesters. LAs’ work was centered on the students and their learning rather than in observation and/or grading. All LAs described their experiences as very satisfying.
- PhysTEC LAs have reformed the introductory physics I (mechanics) laboratory sequence. Now all sections of labs associated with traditional lectures operate with the reformed curricula (14 in spring, 9 in summer, 24 in fall). The physics II (E&M/light) laboratory sequence will initiate reforms in Fall 2009.
- We have collected and are analyzing a data set targeting impact on the LAs and on the reform lab implementation. This includes interviews, surveys, and instruments. We plan to present results at the AAPT / PERC meetings.