Professor of Physics Josh Grossman and Professor of Educational Studies Angela Johnson were recently awarded a $24,749 grant from the American Physical Society to participate in the APS project titled: PhysTEC: Building a Solution to the National Physics Teacher Shortage. The grant is pass-through funding originating from a large grant with the National Science Foundation. The two-year award began July 1 and will help expand preparation of physics teachers at St. Mary’s College of Maryland by pairing formalization of the Physics Teacher Education Program with recruitment activities and more high-quality early teaching experiences.
The physics program at SMCM has achieved high-profile successes in several areas of student education. The College’s Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program and its alumni have likewise received accolades. Still, the two programs have not yet realized their potential for preparing more physics teachers.
United States school districts consistently list physics as a discipline with a considerable shortage of high school teachers. With this funding, Grossman and Johnson will work with the SMCM physics and educational studies departments to formalize a Physics Teacher Education Program, informed by standards presented in the American Physical Society’s Physics Teacher Education Program Analysis. Grossman, Johnson and collaborators will recruit high school students matriculating to SMCM, along with current SMCM undergraduate students to the new program. In addition to visiting high schools, STEM festivals, and similar events to reach high school students and more explicitly including the Physics Teacher Education Program and teaching careers in the physics career curriculum, Grossman and Johnson will formalize classroom assistantships into a Learning Assistant program and increase pay for these early teaching experiences to make them more attractive.
Grossman commented, “With this project, we’re expanding opportunities for students, helping them see the advantages of a career teaching physics, and making the path to that career more attractive.”