SPIN-UP logoSPIN-UP/TYC Site Visit Protocol 

The Strategic Programs for Innovations in Undergraduate Physics at Two-Year Colleges (SPIN-UP/TYC) seeks to identify and visit two year colleges (TYCs) that have outstanding physics programs. We are especially seeking colleges that have implemented programmatic change and can provide evidence of the impact of these changes and the excitement of their faculty in making these changes.

The site visit teams will

  • Identify physics programs (and faculty) as contributors to the Case Studies for Exemplary Two-Year College Physics Programs document.
  • Provide a written report to physics program (report to provide
    recommendations that can be used by the physics program to support
    arguments for internal/external funding, guide program changes, support
    efforts of individual faculty members, articulate needs of students, etc.).
    Physics program goals and existing efforts to improve physics instruction for physics students, SMET (science, mathematics, engineering, and technology) students, non-SMET students, and future teachers will be highlighted in the report.

Site Visit Team (SVT):
Site visit teams will have three members: a physics faculty member from a two year college, a physics faculty member from a four year institution and one of the three principal investigators of SPIN-UP/TYC. The two year college faculty member will serve as the Chair of the Visiting Team. The Chair will be the contact person for the physics program site host and other SVT members and will lead in the preparation of the Site Visit Report.

Preparation for the Site Visit:
The physics faculty of the host two year college will provide background information to
the Project Director for the SVT prior to the visit. This information will include information found in program brochures and college catalogs, enrollment and transfer data, and general information on the physics program and faculty. The Project Director may request that the site host distribute specially prepared surveys to faculty and physics students prior to the visit to help guide the SVT visit.

After receiving an invitation from the selected two year college, the Project Director will schedule a site visit that will last approximately one to one and a half days. Travel, hotel, and meal expenses for SVT members will be paid by the SPIN-UP/TYC program with the host TYC physics program covering local transportation.

Following the site visit, the visiting team will prepare a report of its program review and this report will be shared with the host physics program and the SPIN-UP/TYC Project Directors. The Project Directors may request additional information from the physics program that will be used in the Case Studies document.

Site Visit Timeframe
Before the Visit:

1. The selected TYC Physics Program Chair/Coordinator/faculty member (PPC) and the SPIN-UP/TYC Project Director will discuss the nature of the site visit. After coming to an agreement concerning the terms of the visit, the Director will mail the PPC a packet containing a letter explaining the purpose of the site visit and its value to the site institution, a Questionnaire to be completed by the PPC and the Site Visit Contract. The PPC will return the signed contract to the Project Director who is coordinating the visit.

2. The Project Directors will select members for the team who will visit the selected site and will coordinate the dates with the site host PPC. The Chair of the SVT, appointed by the Project Director, will then initiate communications with the PPC, informing him/her of the membership of the SVT, will coordinate travel for the SVT, and will assure that the PPC has made appropriate hotel and meal arrangements. The Chair of the SVT will check with the members of the visiting team regarding special dietary needs and room arrangements. Three weeks before the visit, the SVT Chair will send each member of the SVT information about the TYC to be visited, including copies of the Questionnaire completed by the PPC.

3. The PPC will prepare answers to the Questionnaire given to the PPC along with the contract and will send it to the SVT Chair at least three weeks before the scheduled visit. At his/her discretion the PPC may also supply copies of catalog materials, recent external reviews or self-study reviews and any other information he/she may feel of value to the site visit team. The SVT Chair will immediately distribute copies of the completed Questionnaire and supplemental information to the other SVT members.

4. Two weeks before the visit, the PPC will send all members of the SVT a schedule of activities planned.

5. About a week before the visit, the SVT members should schedule a conference call or exchange email among themselves to identify issues and questions to be explored during the site visit.

Site Visit Schedule:
It is essential that the Site Visiting Team meet as a group at the two year college site before starting the visit. If possible, the team should plan to arrive in late afternoon and meet in the evening. Otherwise, a breakfast meeting should be scheduled. The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss the written material sent by the host physics program and to prepare a strategy for collecting information addressing previously identified issues and questions as well as the SPIN-UP/TYC Research Questions. The PPC may be invited to attend a part of this meeting.

During the visit (which is expected to last about one to one and a half days), the SVT should meet with:

  • the PPC,
  • physics faculty (part time and full time) in circumstances where informal discussion is possible,
  • at least two groups of physics students (SMET students and non-SMET students – if there are some) and possibly ex-students who have transferred to four-year colleges or have entered the workforce),
  • the division chair or immediate supervisor to the physics program,
  • dean of instruction and other appropriate administrators (including the college president),
  • any physics program staff,
  • faculty from “feeder” high schools and “transfer” four-year colleges (if this is possible), and
  • others selected by the physics program.

The number of formal presentations to the team should be kept to a minimum with all necessary factual information presented in the materials sent to the SVT members before the visit. Tours of the physics program area and other appropriate facilities on campus should be arranged by the PPC for the SVT.

At the end of the site visit, the SVT members should meet in executive session to discuss their findings and the preparation of their report. Subsequently the SVT will meet with the PPC to summarize their findings during the visit.

After the Visit:
The Chair of the SVT is primarily responsible for drafting the team's Site Visit Report. The initial draft should be circulated electronically to the SVT for comment and correction and then (within 2 weeks of the visit) sent to the PPC for correction of factual errors. The PPC will then have one week to respond with reports of errors or omissions. The report should be in final form and submitted electronically to the SPIN-UP/TYC Project Directors and the PPC not more than one month after the visit.