Volume IV: What works, what matters, what lasts, 2004- present » Postings in 2004 » Exploring promising practices at the departmental level to strengthen learning »
Volume IV: What works, what matters, what lasts
Incorporating an internal perspective in strengthening disciplinary departments
February 6, 2004
- A report from the undergraduate physics community
- Three national physics societies, with support from the ExxonMobil Foundation, collaborated in identifying how certain undergraduate physics departments are achieving success in increasing the numbers, persistence and success of students. The chair of the project (Strategic Programs for Innovations in Undergraduate Physics: SPINUP), Robert Hilborn of Amherst College, reports on their findings: that what works is a challenging but supportive academic program, strong and sustained departmental leadership, with continuing experimentation and evaluation built into the process of curricular transformation.
- Characteristics of the Ideal Department: Survey
- A tool for internal analysis of departmental strength and weakness was devised at the 2002 PKAL Summer Institute. The "Characteristics of the Ideal Department" grid outlines the various aspects of a strong department– from the existence of a statement of mission to the presence of a talented administrative assistant.
- National Task Force on Undergraduate Physics
- The National Task Force on Undergraduate Physics undertook the SPIN-UP project to identify salient characteristics of strong undergraduate physics department. The Task Force found that thriving departments have many common characteristics: well-developed and challenging curricula, extensive advising and mentoring, significant opportunities of student-faculty interaction.
- Departmental Transformation: A Case Study - University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
- This case study was presented at the PKAL 2002 Summer Institute in sessions organized by the National Task Force on Undergraduate Physics.
- Strategic Programs for Innovations in Undergraduate Physics at Two-Year Colleges (SPIN-UP/TYC)
- Building on the broader SPIN-UP effort, a taskforce of physicists from the two-year college community undertook a similar study, recognizing the importance of the relationship between two- and four-year physics programs in the national effort to attract more students as majors in the field.
- The Gainesville College story
- One case study from the SPIN-UP/TYC report is from the work of J.B. Sharma, Professor of Physics at Gainesville College in Georgia, which includes an active Society of Physics Students (SPS) which brings students into the physics community on the campus and keeps them engaged. Dr. Sharma is a member of the PKAL Faculty for the 21st Century and serves on the PKAL Phase IV Steering Committee.
- The American Council on Education's Department Chair Online Resource Center
- Since November 1999, the American Council on Education (ACE) has offered workshops and provided extensive resources "for those heading departments or programs and for administrators who work with department leaders;" this work is coordinated by Irene W. D. Hecht, ACE Director Department Leadership Programs.