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Creating sustainable STEM teacher preparation programs
Date:7/24/2014

A new study has identified two factors that characterize sustainable university and college programs designed to increase the production of highly qualified physics teachers. Specifically, one or more faculty members who choose to champion physics teacher education in combination with institutional motivation and commitment can ensure that such initiatives remain viable. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) teacher shortages are especially acute in physics, and the study points the way for institutions seeking to increase the number of STEM graduates prepared to teach.

The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) findings will be publicly released Tuesday, July 29 at the 2014 American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) summer meeting. The meeting takes place July 26-30 at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Dr. Rachel Scherr (Seattle Pacific University) conducted the study to measure the extent to which programs have been sustained after PhysTEC funding ended, and to identify features that ensure sustainable physics teacher education programs. "The programs have so much in common but also such diverse strengths," said Scherr. "For example, every sustained program has a champion, but each champion has unique expertise and a strong personality that shapes his or her program."

Scherr defines a champion as someone who secures funding and personnel benefiting physics teacher education and negotiates with the institution for changes beneficial to physics teacher education. All the sites Scherr studied have at least one champion who is a member of the physics faculty, and about half have a champion with a partial appointment in the College or School of Education. "In our experience with over 30 sites," said PhysTEC project director Dr. Monica Plisch, "we have found that a champion in the physics department is essential to increasing the number of physics teachers."

Institutional commitment to physics
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Contact: James Riordon
riordon@aps.org
301-919-2173
American Physical Society
Source:Eurekalert

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