- Year 2017
- NSF Noyce Award # 1557357
- First Name Nathan
- Last Name Magee
- Discipline Physics
A.J. Richards, TCNJ, aj.richards.tcnj.edu
Lauren Madden, TCNJ, firstname.lastname@example.org
Marissa Bellino, TCNJ, email@example.com
Nathan Magee, TCNJ, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Noyce Physics Teacher Education Program at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) is focused on responding to an especially acute shortage of high school physics teachers. Across the U.S., it is is estimated that for each newly certified physics teacher, 2 additional physics teaching positions will be unfilled due to a shortage of qualified candidates. Nationally, 60% of high school physics classes are taught by instructors with no more than 2 college physics courses. The dire national status of high school physics instruction is even more problematic in high-need schools, and the situation is still getting worse in many regions, as more students are required to take physics, but most college physics department produce no new teachers. The TCNJ Noyce program is working to produce highly-qualified physics teachers with excellent physics knowledge, outstanding pedagogical preparation, and the drive to make a difference in the local schools where the need for their expertise is so great.
The overarching goals for the TCNJ Noyce project are principally to produce great physics teachers in significant numbers and to build and model a sustainable program for small physics departments. Our four specific goals are as follows:
1) To attract, retain, and sustain a minimum of 9 physics-certified graduates per year (6-7 being Noyce scholars) through the period of support and beyond.
2) To substantially improve science education in the region, especially by increasing teacher diversity and availability of expert physics teachers to high-need local schools.
3) To contribute new knowledge to Physics Education Research through faculty research, enabled by novel programming and linked to systematic assessment of student outcomes.
4) To demonstrate and disseminate a compelling model for adoption at institutions nationwide, one specifically adaptable to primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs).
The TCNJ Noyce Physics Teacher Education program is striving to achieve the project goals through a focus on the following key programmatic initiatives:
1. Student Financial Support for financial support and program growth
2. Targeted Recruitment for growth and diversity
3. Personal Mentoring for retention and support
4. Curricular Innovations for enhanced Pedagogical Content Knowledge
5. All-Inclusive Collaboration for learning from shared expertise
The project is led by faculty in the TCNJ Physics department, teaming closely with faculty in the TCNJ school of education, and collaborating with a ring of diverse local school district partners in central New Jersey including Trenton, Ewing, Lawrence, Hamilton, and Hightstown.
Despite longstanding successes physics teacher training at TCNJ, the program has traditionally had low diversity, and graduates have usually been employed by the wealthiest districts in New Jersey, bypassing the urgent needs of many local high schools. State funding cuts, higher ed fiscal conditions, and new education policies threaten to make the regional and national physics teacher shortage even worse. The TCNJ project is in its first year, and with a narrow candidate pool, a creative focus on strategic recruitment is proving to be a critical aspect to ensure successful implementation. Despite rowing upstream in a challenging fiscal and policy environment, the TCNJ Noyce Physics Teacher Education program is on-track to meet project goals. We are graduating robust and diverse cohorts of highly-qualified physics teachers who are making a big impact on physics education.
The impacts of the TCNJ project are profound for students in high-need local schools. Our graduates have the knowledge and resources to be great mentors and to open doors for their students to college success and careers in the STEM workforce. The TCNJ Noyce project also aims to make a national impact on the state of physics education by demonstrating a compelling model that could be adopted by PUI physics departments nationwide. Sharing our story has just begun, but already includes local school and community outreach, and dissemination of project strategies and outcomes at Physics and Education Research disciplinary conferences and peer-reviewed publications.