Professional Preparation of Teachers in Physics and Physical Science

The Physics Department aspires to becoming a premier place for current and future teachers to gain a deep understanding of physics and physical science. We also strive to model best practices for teaching physics and infuse every aspect of our curriculum with cutting edge research on student learning.



Learning Assistant Program

Reformed teaching requires small student-instructor ratios.  To help achieve this goal in a sustainable way, the Department invites students with special promise who have already participated in the reformed courses to receive special preparation in facilitating learning through questioning (rather than through telling).  This in-depth weekly preparation distinguishes Learning Assistants (LAs) from many lab teaching assistants. 

In Autumn 2006, the Department started to offer an additional special course, separate from the PHY 4511, 4512, and 4513 courses in which the LAs receive their preparation, which concentrates on more general issues of teaching and learning.  The design of this special course has benefited greatly from input from colleagues in physics and education at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the University of Arkansas. 

The SPU LA program extends beyond physics majors and minors and encompasses talented undergraduates from other sciences and engineering.  In this way, it also serves as a natural recruiting setting for future science teachers.


Other Resources and Projects

Robert Noyce Scholarships for Prospective Math and Science Teachers
Seattle Pacific University has received a large grant from the National Science Foundation to increase the number of highly qualified teachers of science and mathematics. For information, please contact John Lindberg (Physics), Greg Phelan (Chemistry), Tim Nelson (Biology), or Robbin O'Leary (Mathematics).   

Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC)
In recognition of the Department's work in teacher preparation, Seattle Pacific University has been chosen as a Primary Program Institution by PhysTEC, a joint program of the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the American Institute of Physics. For more information, please contact Lane Seeley.

Earth System Science Education Alliance (ESSEA)
Seattle Pacific University has been selected as an ESSEA partner institution.  The NSF-funded ESSEA program builds and expands on a project that was funded by NASA and implemented by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies from 2000-2005, and included 20 colleges and universities who offered online Earth system science courses to over 1,700 K-12 teachers (including both pre-service and in-service teachers). 

Teacher Professional Development Resources

The Teacher Professional Development Resources page offers resources for creators and instructors of teacher professional development courses. These resources are guided by the concept of a diagnostic learning environment. The website offers access to SPU Physics Department's professional development philosophy, example lessons tailored to the components of that philosophy, and even sample course agendas.


News & Announcements

Physics Department



Seattle Pacific University Physics Department: 206-281-2000 Otto Miller Hall 3307 Third Avenue West, Seattle, WA 98119-1997