Friday, March 25, 2016

[391] MTSU joins exclusive club for preparing physics teachers

MURFREESBORO — MTSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy has become a member of an exclusive club.

MTSU is one of 12 universities named to The 5+ Club by the Physics Teacher Education Coalition, or PhysTEC, a joint project of the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers.

The inaugural PhysTEC designation recognizes a group of institutions that have graduated five or more physics teachers in a given year.

MTSU was in a group of six schools that graduated five students. Brigham Young University topped the list with 17 graduating physics teachers. Illinois State University followed with 10.

Physics and astronomy chair Ron Henderson said the department “started a concerted effort to improve our teacher education program in 2008.”

“Some courses were redesigned, three new physics teaching classes were added, and we won a National Science Foundation grant to fund scholarships for future teachers,” he added. “The end result is that we have graduated more than 10 highly qualified physics teachers since 2011.”

Monica Plisch, PhysTEC director, presented Henderson with The 5+ Club certificate during the organization’s national meeting March 12 in Baltimore, Maryland.

“Middle Tennessee State University is a national leader in physics teacher education, and we have invited PhysTEC site leader Ron Henderson to give presentations at national meetings” Plisch said. “We need more universities to follow the lead of MTSU to address the severe shortage of high school physics teachers.”

In an email to university President Sidney A. McPhee, Plisch said she was “happy to congratulate Middle Tennessee State University on its outstanding contributions to the education of future physics teachers.”

Plisch told McPhee the great majority of institutions graduate less than two physics teachers a year and the most common number of graduates is zero.

“Graduating five or more physics teachers a year is a significant achievement,” she said.

In a letter to McPhee, co-written by Homer Neal, American Physical Society president from the University of Michigan, and Janelle Bailey, American Association of Physics Teachers from Temple University, they congratulated MTSU “for its excellence in physics teacher education and for serving as a national model for STEM teacher preparation.”

STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

To learn more about the physics program, which is a part of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, visit or call 615-898-2130.

The dandy dozen PhysTEC 5+ Club
Institution (number of physics teacher graduates in a given year)

• Brigham Young University (17)
• Illinois State University (10)
• Stony Brook University (8)
• Arizona State University (6)
• Boston University (6)
• University of Central Florida (6)
• Middle Tennessee State University (5)
• Rowan University (5)
• Towson University (5)
• University of Arkansas (5)
• West Chester University (5)
• Western Michigan University (5)

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