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CF04: Using Assessment Data to Inform Instruction at the Buffalo State College Summer Physics Teachers’ Academy. Kathleen Falconer, Department of Elementary Education and Reading, SUNY - Buffalo State College <> David Abbott, Dan MacIsaac & Luanna Gomez

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CF04: Using Assessment Data to Inform Instruction at the Buffalo State College Summer Physics Teachers’ Academy

Kathleen Falconer, Department of Elementary Education and Reading, SUNY - Buffalo State College <>

David Abbott, Dan MacIsaac & Luanna Gomez

Department of Physics,SUNY - Buffalo State College

Dave Henry, Dept of Elementary Education and Reading, SUNY- Buffalo State College


The Physics Summer Teachers’ Academy is part of the alternative certification and Master’s program at Buffalo State College. Teachers attend intensive, short duration courses combining physics content and pedagogy. Standardized multiple-choice measures of content understanding and attitudes toward science for the Academy over the past five years will be presented and trends examined with an eye toward reforming instructional practice.



MacIsaac, D.L., Henry, D., Zawicki, J.L. Beery, D. & Falconer, K. (2004). A new model alternative certification program for high school physics teachers: New pathways to physics teacher certification at SUNY-Buffalo State College.Journal of Physics Teacher Education Online, 2(2), 10-16.

buffalo state msed programs history overview current
Buffalo State MSEd Programs:History, Overview & Current
  • Started in 2002 with 2 candidates
  • Numbers for both programs:
      • 45 MSEd (Physics) candidates (25 cross-cert – no BS Physics)
      • 10 MSEd (Physics +Alternative Certification) candidates; mainly engineers; alumni PhD Physicist & Chemist
      • 50 alumni
      • 3 drop outs
  • Roughly 3-6 candidates in admissions pipeline at any one time
  • Recent Demographics in both programs*:
      • 12 women
      • 1 Hispanic-American
      • 2 African-American candidates
  • (*less in-actives)
buffalo state programs history overview current
Buffalo State Programs:History, Overview & Current
  • Personnel:
    • • Tenure track professional hired 2006
    • • 2nd physics education faculty hired 2007
    • • A dozen local master physics teachers (WNYPTA community)
  • Buffalo State Summer Physics Teachers’ Academy
    • Intensive Summer Courses
      • 2-3 week long courses
      • 8-13 hours per day
      • maximum 30 participant teachers in course (24 is target)
      • co-taught by master teachers and university faculty
      • physics content and pedagogy integrated
      • teacher and student modes
    • drawing most participants in-state (very few regionally / nationally)
know your acronyms a list of evaluation instruments
Know your Acronyms--A List of Evaluation Instruments

BEMA: Brief Electricity and Magnetism Evaluation (Chabay & Sherwood)

CSEM: Conceptual Survey of Electricity and Magnetism (Maloney, Heuvelen, Hieggelke, & O'Kuma)

DIRECT: Determining & Interpreting Resistive Electric Circuit Concepts Test (Englehardt & Beichner)

FCI: Force Concept Inventory (Halloun, Hake, Mosca, & Hestenes)

FMCE: Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation (Thornton & Sokoloff)

MCTP: Maryland Collaborative for Teacher Preparation Teacher Attitudes Survey [Attitudes and Beliefs about the Nature of and the Teaching of Mathematics and Science] (McGinnis et al)

STEBI: Science Teachers’ Efficacy and Beliefs Instrument (Enochs & Riggs)

  • Population Demographics changes:
  • 2002 NYSED certification requirements for Physics 7-12 certification changed
  • 24-30 college credits of physics
  • 18 credits
  • Summer 2003 and 2004
  • significant population of summer physics academy students
  • working science teachers
  • physics certification to grandfathered licenses
  • NOT in our MSEd programs
  • desperate for credit before cutoff date
  • Most of these folk entered with unusually low physics skills and expectations (conceptual pretest scores), but left feeling unexpectedly empowered to teach Physics (see MCTP gains).

Currently most summer physics academy teachers are much better prepared with at least the equivalent of a physics minor, and are committed to a 33-45 credit graduate program developing their physics teaching expertise, and are individually advised with respect to improving their physics and pedagogy background. These students have better informed notions and much higher expectations of their ability to teach physics (reflected in pretest scores and attitudinal gains).

Course length changes: PHY510, PHY620 and PHY620 were all originally proposed as two week daylong + extended hours + Saturday of intermediate weekend in duration. Between 2003 and 2005 we expanded both PHY620 and PHY622 by one or two days each summer to three weeks duration with optional evening session.


Comment on conceptual and attitudinal gains / effect sizes: While Hake <g>s of 0.30 are not so impressive for regular semester-long physics courses in our department, these gains are for three week, 15 day long courses for PHY620 and 622.

Course offering frequencies: With additional physics education faculty hires we have recently expanded the frequency of offerings for PHY620 and 622 from alternative summers to every summer that class enrollment “makes” (exceeds ten students). We now intend to recruit up to fill this additional capacity. As part of this we will again wind up with significant numbers of non-degree program students.


Changing evaluations instruments: We are swapping FMCE for FCI for evaluating PHY620, given that we now explicitly discuss FCI in a PER for HS Teachers course called PHY500. We are also swapping BEMA for CSEM as we feel that BEMA may be more appropriate for our students.