Physics Teaching

The Physics Department at Seattle Pacific University is committed to being a 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.

Why Teach?

Physics faculty

Teaching is a challenging but exciting calling where you will make a difference not only for your students but for your community. In additional to that, the United States has a severe, long-term shortage of qualified physics teachers.

Teacher preparation at SPU

Learning Assistant program

One way SPU supports prospective teachers is through the Learning Assistant program. This program allows prospective teachers to develop important teaching practices, strategies, and dispositions in the scaffolded environment of our active-learning physics courses.

Certification Information

Secondary science teachers

Prospective physics teachers at SPU earn a bachelor’s degree in Physics and a certification with secondary physics endorsement through the School of Education. If you are interested in becoming a physics teacher, you are encouraged to pursue the bachelor of arts in Physics with an Education Emphasis. Prospective teachers who already hold a bachelor’s degree can also pursue certification concurrently with a graduate education degree. You will be mentored by a faculty member in the Physics Department and an advisor in the School of Education throughout your time at SPU. For more information, contact Dr. Lane Seeley.

Physics students

Research on Teaching and Learning

Research on teaching and learning physics is a driving principle behind the structure and implementation of all courses in the SPU Physics Department. SPU physics faculty, undergraduates, and visiting scholars routinely engage in cutting-edge research on teaching and learning physics. We also strive to both model and teach this research and teaching practices to our prospective teachers.

Teacher professional development

The SPU Physics Department has extensive experience creating nationally recognized professional development courses for teachers. The guiding philosophy behind our teacher professional development courses is the concept of a diagnostic learning environment (DLE).

A diagnostic learning environment is a classroom or informal learning environment in which learner knowledge and/or skills are accessed, assessed, interpreted, and attended to in subsequent activities in an effort to improve understanding and performance of the learner. Like other learning environments, a DLE seeks deep learning of the discipline alongside the development of habits of mind and critical-thinking skills required for the discipline.

Professional Development Resources

The SPU Physics Department has been recognized by several organizations for our ongoing work with local practicing teachers through summer workshops, academic year teacher learning communities, and close collaborations. If you are a teachers interested in partnering with the department, please contact Dr. Lezlie DeWater.

Educational Research

2015 PhysTEC 5+ Award

SPU’s School of Education received a special commendation from the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) for its record of educating future physics teachers. The 5+ Club Award is given to schools that graduate five or more physics teachers in a given year.

Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC)

In recognition of the department's work in teacher preparation, SPU 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.