Rowan University

PhysTEC: Improving the Education of Future Physics Teachers

The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) project is a nationwide project that has the mission of improving and promoting the education of future physics teachers. At each of the PhysTEC sites around the United States, physics faculty, education faculty, and a full-time teacher-in-residence (TIR) work together to improve secondary physics education programs.

PhysTEC at Rowan

The following is a brief description of the ways in which Rowan's PhysTEC project enhanced and restructured existing efforts in physics education recruitment, retention, and induction and mentoring.

  • Exposing physics majors early in their academic career to (a) the possibility of teaching as a career and (b) actual teaching experiences at both the K-12 and university levels. This is being done through general advertising (posters, open meetings, classroom visits), school- and outreach-based early teaching courses, and the learning assistant program.
  • Active learning improvements were made to the courses in the lower division physics sequence and the secondary science teaching methods course. The host teachers for physics education student teachers were more carefully selected, oriented, and supported.
  • Other efforts were geared towards helping our education majors develop a greater sense of belonging to an educational community. These efforts included the creation of a comprehensive physics education web site, the establishment of a new secondary STEM education club, formal and informal discussions with the physics TIR, and the funding of small grants that allow education majors to attend and present at NSTA and AAPT meetings.

About PhysTEC (from

PhysTEC is a partnership between the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). Since 2001, PhysTEC has helped universities transform their physics teacher education programs into national models. The project is funded primarily by the National Science Foundation, and has received significant funds from the APS's 21st Century Campaign, as well as direct and in-kind support from each of its partner institutions.

The project includes two sets of institutions: PhysTEC Supported Sites and the broader Physics Teacher Education Coalition. Supported sites develop their physics teacher preparation programs into national models by implementing a set of Key Components that project leaders have identified as critical to success in physics teacher preparation. The Coalition is a national network of institutions committed to developing and promoting excellence in physics and physical science teacher preparation.

The project disseminates its results and reaches out to the physics community through publications and presentations, videos, and a variety of conferences and workshops. To expand its reach, the project has developed collaborations with other organizations, including UTeach, the American Chemical Society, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

More About PhysTEC

PhysTEC Outcomes
PhysTEC Definitions
Project Status
Teach Physics