program_wb_i - page 54

Monday morning
housed in the College of Science and Technology. Each year, ~200 prospec-
tive elementary teachers complete a 10-week physics course using Physics
and Everyday Thinking (PET) [1]. The course is taught in multiple sections
by faculty in physics, geology, and chemistry. Many students go on to
take additional content courses in geology and biology that use curricula
developed at WWU and modeled after PET. During these courses, written
student data from quizzes, reflective writing assignments, and standardized
assessments are routinely collected, providing a rich laboratory for investi-
gations of student learning. This talk presents an overview of this thriving
instructional program as well as brief examples of ongoing research.
1. F. Goldberg, S. Robinson, and V. Otero,
Physics and Everyday Thinking
(It’s About
Time, Armonk, NY, 2008).
9-9:10 a.m. Integrating the Next Generation Science
Standards into Professional Development*
Contributed – Jennifer L. Docktor, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La
Crosse, WI 54601;
Gubbi Sudhakaran, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Jerry Redman, Winona State University
The “A LOT of Science” project at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
provides professional development (PD) in Physical Science to in-service
elementary and middle school teachers from high-needs school districts
during summer institutes and ongoing weekend workshops. The PD is de-
signed to incorporate the Next Generation Science Standards into project
activities. We will summarize findings from all three years of the project,
including teacher gains in content knowledge, student achievement data,
self-reported use of inquiry-based pedagogy, and additional impacts of the
*This project is funded by a U.S. Department of Education Mathematics and Science
Partnerships Program grant through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
9:10-9:20 a.m. Alliance for Physics Excellence –
Addressing Alabama’s H.S. Physics Teacher Needs
Contributed – James W. Harrell, University of Alabama, Department of Phys-
ics & Astronomy, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0324;
Dennis Sunal, University of Alabama
Jim Nelson, Jane Nelson, Santa Fe Community College
Marius Schamschula Alabama A&M University
The need for more qualified HS physics teachers in the U.S. has been well
documented. In Alabama about 10% of practicing physics teachers has an
academic major in physics and 25% of H.S. students are attending a school
where physics is not offered. The Alliance for Physics Excellence (APEX) is
a comprehensive NSF-MSP project designed to address this need by pro-
viding extensive professional development to 77 practicing physics teachers
over a five-year period and scholarships for pre-service teachers. APEX is a
partnership of institutions and agencies that provides professional develop-
ment to enhance physics content knowledge and the skills to teach physics
(physics PCK), and self-help activities such as classroom action research.
APEX will have provided initial training to 44 teachers by summer 2014.
This presentation will give an overview of the program and comprehensive
baseline data on the classroom environment of these teachers.
9:20-9:30 a.m. A Qualitative Study of NITARP’s Impacts
on Teachers’ Science Teaching
Contributed – Debbie A. French, University of Wyoming/CAPER, Dept. 3374
Secondary Ed., Laramie, WY 82070;
Timothy F. Slater, Andrea C. Burrows, University of Wyoming/CAPER
This qualitative study describes how the NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive
Research Program (NITARP) changed teachers’ thoughts about astronomy
and what happened in their classrooms. Teachers reported increasing
astronomy content knowledge, incorporating the use of real data, and
implementing new skills, programs, and research into their curricu-
lum. They also felt more confident in teaching how scientific research is
conducted. The results of this exploratory study showing positive impacts
motivate us to more deeply study the underlying mechanisms in this and
similar programs best poised to improve science education. Direct quotes
and other qualitative data from participants will be used as evidence to
these findings. These findings will be compared to the results of similar
RET programs.
9:30-09:40 a.m. Training and Career Development of
Physics Teaching Assistants
Contributed – Emily Alicea-Muñoz, Georgia Institute of Technology, School of
Physics, Atlanta, GA 30332;
Carol Subiño, Daegene Koh, Michael F. Schatz, Georgia Institute of Technol-
In large introductory physics courses, Teaching Assistants (TAs) are the in-
structors with whom students most frequently interact. Consequently, it is
essential that TAs receive appropriate training and preparation before they
enter the classroom. In fall 2013, the School of Physics at Georgia Tech be-
gan preparing its new TAs through a training and mentoring program that
covers pedagogy, physics classroom issues, and career development strate-
gies. Here we discuss the elements of our pilot training program, its effects
on TAs’ attitudes about teaching, and the modifications and improvements
we will be implementing for the next cycle of new TAs in fall 2014.
Session AG: The Impact of the GRE
and Graduate Admissions on Diver-
sity in Graduate School
Location: Tate Lab 133
Sponsor: Committee on Diversity in Physics
Co-Sponsor: Committee on Graduate Education in Physics
Date: Monday, July 28
Time: 8:30–10 a.m.
Presider: Kim Coble
8:30-9 a.m. Using GRE Cut-off Scores Suppresses
Diversity in Graduate Programs
Invited – Casey Miller, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620;
I will present data showing that significant performance disparities on the
GRE Quantitative and GRE Physics Subject test exist based on the test
taker’s race and gender. Because of the belief that high GRE scores qualify
one for graduate studies, the diversity issues faced by physics and all
STEM fields may originate, at least in part, in misuse of the GRE scores by
graduate admissions committees. I will quantitatively demonstrate this by
showing that the combination of a hard cut-off and the different score dis-
tributions leads to the systematic underrepresentation of certain groups. I
will present data from USF’s PhD program that shows a lack of correlation
between GRE scores and research ability; similar null results are emerg-
ing from numerous other programs. I will then discuss how assessing
non-cognitive competencies in the selection process may be the key to an
enlightened search for the next generation of scientists.
9-9:30 a.m. Going Beyond Standardized Exam Scores in
Graduate Admissions: Enhancing Diversity and Predict-
ing Success
Invited – Rodolfo Montez, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37240; rodolfo.
Keivan Stassun Vanderbilt University, Fisk University
We present the approach to graduate admissions developed by the Fisk-
Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge Program. The approach emphasizes a
careful examination of applicants’ basic academic preparedness together
with noncognitive tracers of future success—so-called “grit” or “perfor-
mance character”—and does not rely upon standardized exam scores
such as GREs. This approach has enabled the Fisk-Vanderbilt program to
identify and select large numbers of underrepresented minority students
who are succeeding at the PhD level, making the program the nation’s top
producer of underrepresented minority PhDs in astronomy. We highlight
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