The Physics Department emphasizes the fundamental and practical nature of physics in its general education, service and majors courses. Students at all levels pursue the intellectual excitement associated with understanding physics and the widely applicable experiences of problem solving, quantitative reasoning and scientific inquiry skills. Throughout our major programs, stress is placed on the careful development of key concepts and skills in a logical sequence, often using either guided or self-paced inquiry. This emphasis on concept and skill development is intended to produce the habits of independent study and self improvement essential to success after graduation.
The overall missions of the University, COTS and the Physics Department are well aligned. Briefly, they include: 1. providing an outstanding academic program and environment for student learning; 2. professional growth through involvement in scholarly activities; and 3. service to the University, the community and the profession. Due to the overlap of the respective missions, the Physics Department has been able to reflect on its accomplishments, identify its strengths and pursue activities that contribute to each respective mission.
The Department of Physics has five short-term goals. These goals will be re-evaluated during the 2008-2009 or 2009-2010 academic years. Goal 1: Improve student preparation for post-graduate opportunities and careers. Goal 2: Increase/improve the Department’s recruitment and retention activities. Goal 3: All students will present/publish the results of an undergraduate research project at a venue outside the physics department. Goal 4: Physics faculty and students will participate in research, curriculum and/or pedagogical projects, including interdisciplinary projects with other departments on campus and/or relevant community and professional partners. Goal 5: The Department will be a strong component of Central Washington University’s preparation for students in a technological society.
Two examples of action items resulting from the evaluation proecess in item 1.B.1 are: 1. The hire of an external Department Chair for the 2007-2008 academic year, and 2. The requirement of a math pre-requisite (placement into MATH 154) for students enrolling in PHYS 111 (Introductory Physics). This decision was based on data presented to the Department by the PHYS 111 course instructors linking poor student performance in PHYS 111 with their math preparation. Regarding the Physics curriculum, although the Department collects a significant amount of data (via the Major Field Text [MFT} and end-of-the-major portfolios), the Department lacks a mechanism requiring students to diligently follow through on these activities. Therefore, the Department has formed an Assessment Committee and has had its first assessment retreat on Faculty Development Day (June 2008). The Department also introduced PHYS 489 (Senior Assessment) to formalize students participating in the Department's assessment process. This should allow the Department to reflect on curricular issues annually rather than sporadically.
The Department’s effectiveness in reaching its goals is somewhat difficult to determine at this time. Since there has been no formal Assessment plan, the data needed to answer this question is not readily available. The current plan developed by the Department should provide the information needed to address this question in the future. However, one concern about this plan is the time that will be needed to implement it. With the resources currently available in the Department, there will be some difficulties in collecting, tabulating and analyzing the assessment data.
Primary recommendations by the external reviewer, Dr. Ken Krane, Department of Physics, Oregon State University and supported by Dean Meghan Miller: 1. Personnel and department culture: Two new tenure-track lines were recommended. 2. Facilities: A better facility is needed for the Department. In particular space that better supports the integration of scholarship into instruction and instruction into scholarship. 3. Curriculum and Course Delivery: Increasing the student capacity for the general education courses; continue the implementation of current pedagogical teaching techniques in physics courses; needs of Physics majors in intermediate-level mathematics; resolving scheduling conflicts with other COTS Departments, such as Mathematics and Chemistry. 4. Outreach and recruiting: Improvement of the website; develop a targeted recruitment plan at the community colleges. Implementation: 1. A new Department Chair was hired for the Fall 2007 academic year. Another tenure-track position, to start in Fall 2009, has been requested. 2. This continues to be a major problem with no solution in sight. To accommodate the research need of the new Department Chair, an introductory physics laboratory was converted into a laser laboratory. Although the Department gained a research lab, it lost an introductory teaching lab, further limiting the Department’s ability to increase enrollment in the introductory courses. The lecture hall in the building is another limiting factor – only 76 seats are available with a layout that does not promote recommended pedagogical techniques. The Geography Department is schedule to move out in the 2008 fall quarter, so some relief may be provided. The Department is hoping there will be enough space for a 50 student lecture/lab room, a computer room and a research laboratory for the new tenure-track faculty member. 3. During the 2007 Fall quarter, the Department revised its introductory astronomy courses so that the lab and lecture components were combined into a single course. The Department also proposed two general education courses (that are in the process of being approved). Enrollments in these classes will be approximately 40 students (for a cost of 4 to 6 faculty contact hours). All courses utilize inquiry-based pedagogical techniques. Another problem that has persisted is the condition of the upper-division labs. For example, PHYS 334 will be taught in Spring 2008, there is only equipment available for one two/three-week experiment. Additional equipment for the remaining weeks in the quarter is necessary. However, there are two difficulties associated with the new courses. The first is the space issue, as there is no room in the building suited for course delivery in this fashion. It is important that physics courses be taught in Lind Hall because of the necessity for using sensitive demonstration and lab equipment. The second is equipment for the new general education courses. Equipment for the inquiry-based activities is currently not available. The Department will apply for funding from the National Science Foundation to help alleviate this problem, but there will be a need for internal funding as well. The resolution of appropriate course content and scheduling conflicts will continue to be addressed through discussions with the respective departments. 4. The COTS office is funding a student to revise websites and the Department is taking advantage of this opportunity. However, the overall structure of and navigation through the University’s website remains difficult. The Department is currently developing a recruitment plan. During the 2007 fall quarter, the Office of Admissions sent out several hundred recruitment letters on behalf of the Physics Department.
1. Bruce Palmquist was named 2005 Washington Professor of the Year, as awarded by the Carnegie Foundation and Council for Advancement and Support of Education. 2. Bruce Palmquist was named Distinguished University Professor – Public Service in 2004. 3. All majors are required to do an independent research project. Since the implementation of an undergraduate research requirement for graduation, 90% of physics students have presented their student created, faculty mentored research at SOURCE. 4. All physics majors are required to complete a portfolio for graduation and are required to take the major field test. 5. The Department’s student clubs/organizations are very active in outreach programs including giving science presentations to local school children. The CWU chapter of the Society of Physics Students has received the outstanding student chapter award for eleven of the past fourteen years. Professor Sharon Rosell has served as faculty advisor during this period. 6. Physics student Chris Parker received a CWU Alumni Association “Departmental Scholarship” (2007). 7. Dr. Michael Braunstein received the Outstanding Faculty Mentor of Student Research awards at CWU’s 2006 Symposium on University Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE). 8. Physics student, Anthony Smith (faculty advisor Dr. Andy Piacsek), received a 2006 SOURCE student award for the oral presentation entitled “Elastic and Vibrational Properties of a Regular Tensegrity Structure.” 9. The Department has continued cultivating collaborations with other programs within the University. This includes the participation of physics faculty in a number of college/university-wide interdisciplinary initiatives such as STEP, Science Honors Program and Science Education. 10. The Department hired a new tenure-track faculty (to replace a resignation) and a new Department Chair (a new position for the Department), both beginning in the 2007 fall quarter.
1. The cost of running the department has increased while the Department’s goods and services budget has remained static. Along with the cost of maintaining the laboratory equipment and computers (both hardware and software), there are increased costs associated with recruitment, research supplies, etc.. 2. Staffing issues limit the effectiveness of the Physics program. This includes tenure-track positions and office staff. Physics faculty members have been very active in college-wide interdisciplinary initiatives such as STEP, Science Honors Program and Science Education. But, this has left the Department unable to offer elective courses for its majors, expand its general education offerings (such as adding a 300-level general education course for the CWU centers) and adequately fill the growing needs in its service courses. In addition, the Department has a secretary with only a half-time, nine month appointment. The ability to acquire and tabulate assessment data is difficult without further resources. 3. Serious deficit of facilities. Teaching: although the Department is interested in using current (and proven) pedagogical teaching techniques, the teaching facilities are inadequate and insufficient. Research: no research space is available for new faculty and the observatory needs significant upgrades; Service: no space is available for a variety of outreach programs. For example, the new Department Chair has performed physics and laser light shows for 150 – 200 students per show. There is no facility nearby to accommodate this program. This is not only a deficiency in Lind Hall, but a deficiency found throughout campus. 4. There is a significant lack of equipment for the upper-division physics courses and the new general education courses. It is difficult for students to have a technological edge while using equipment that is over a quarter of a century old! 5. Although the number of graduates per year is comparable to the national average in physics, the Department would like to see an increase in the number of majors.
From a philosophical perspective, physics is the most fundamental of sciences upon which other disciplines are built. There are also several practical reasons for the Physics Department’s centrality. Through its participation in the general education program, the Department offers students the opportunity to gain knowledge of the physical world and enhance their scientific literacy. The Department also serves other academic programs through its offering of certain courses/course sequences. For physics majors, the Department’s curriculum provides a rich inquiry experience with emphasis on faculty/student scholarly collaboration. Finally, the Physics Department assists in promoting a collaborative atmosphere in the University, as for example its involvement in the STEP program.
The Physics Department offers two undergraduate degree programs: B.A. in Physics and a B.S. in Physics. These broad-based physics degree programs are designed to effectively generate well-prepared, self-sufficient learners, teachers and problem solvers that are successful in pursuing graduate degrees as well as securing employment in the various fields of physics. The department also offers two minors: Physics and Astronomy. 1. Content Knowledge: Graduates demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge base of the major areas of physics and related disciplines. 2. Technical Skills: Graduates perform experimental, computational and analytical techniques in solving physics and physics-related problems. 3. Intellectual Skills: Graduates demonstrate critical thinking skills. 4. Communication Skills: Graduates demonstrate an ability to communicate scientific ideas effectively. 5. Civic Engagement: Graduates demonstrate civic engagement. 6. Life-long Learning: Graduates demonstrate an ability to learn new material independently from a variety of resources, to be used throughout their life. The field of physics is highly structured academically. All programs build on fundamental knowledge through a year-long general physics core course sequence followed by two quarters of modern physics and optics. All programs require two quarters of chemistry, four quarters of calculus and one quarter of linear algebra. The B.S. degree option also requires differential equations. The primary difference between programs is how many upper division physics courses are required. BS: Physics The Bachelor of Science major is designed for students who plan a career in Physics, dual-degree engineering or related fields. The program prepares students for further study in graduate programs, or to enter the workplace directly. Students are exposed to all major sub-disciplines within physics. BA: Physics The Bachelor of Arts major is designed to provide breadth, with an emphasis on physics that provides maximum flexibility in career choices. For example, students with this major may pursue careers in the health sciences, industry, environmental sciences and other related areas. The degree also satisfies the criteria for a teaching endorsement in physics with course breadth and depth aligned with State competencies for physics teachers. The requirements for the CWU physics major (both B.S. and B.A. programs) have been compared to programs at other institutions that offer the same degree, have no graduate program and graduate a similar number of physics majors each year (less than 10). Comparison has also been made with “thriving” programs, as outlined in a joint national report prepared by the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers and the American Institute of Physics. The core curricula were determined to be very similar and some minor changes in the curricula have been proposed based on this reflection.
Disciplinary Standards and Professional Standards Here it is appropriate to note that the national societies in Physics have not set any curriculum standards. With that said, a joint national report prepared by the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers and the American Institute of Physics reported many common themes found in “thriving” physics programs at different types of institutions (Ph.D., public four-year and private four-year). This report was published in 2003. The Department has used these standards when determining student learning outcomes and program goals. The Department is currently evaluating its degree programs using this document. Students also take the Major Field Test. No analysis of the data has been conducted at this time; a task that will be undertaken by the Department’s Assessment Committee. Graduate School Expectations The Physics Department uses (1) informal interviews with program graduates in graduate school and feedback from their advisors along with (2) our faculty who have extensive prior experience in graduate supervision and (3) student participation in undergraduate research to assess the currency of the curriculum relative to graduate school. The Department has been pleased with the performance of physics students in undergraduate research as evidenced by their participation in SOURCE, regional and national conferences. The Department is developing a Senior Survey and an Alumni Survey to help address some of the above issues.
Although it is difficult to accurately measure instructional effectiveness, the Department has decided to consider the results of the following in measuring and assessing the student learning outcomes, reviewing the curriculum and making alterations. 1. All seniors participate in the Major Field Test published by ETS. In addition to an overall score, the test provides scores on introductory and advanced topics. The Department’s Assessment Committee will be responsible for analyzing this data. 2. The Department has decided to require a one-quarter capstone course for all majors. As part of this course, all seniors will be required participate in an exit interview with the Department Chair. Feedback from these interviews will contribute to the Department’s assessment of student learning outcomes and program goals. 3. All majors participate in research. The Department will adopt a rubric so that consistent assessment can be performed across all sub-disciplines in physics. 4. All students participate in the core curriculum. Review of these courses and student performance help measure the breath of the program. 5. The faculty conducts an annual peer review of instruction. The primary purpose of this review is two-fold. In addition to reviewing faculty performance, it allows the faculty to take an in-depth look a several courses. Finally, during the last week of every course, including laboratories, each faculty member has a colleague or staff member administer a Student Evaluation of Instruction (SEOI). Each year all department faculty participate in peer evaluation of their teaching. Physics faculty then reflect on their SEOI scores along with other assessment tools particular to the course to ascertain one measure of the effectiveness of the instructional methods used in that course.
Program Effectiveness The Physics Department completes a program review every five years. Each faculty member participates in discussions of and the writing of sections of the self-study. The Department then votes to approve the program review self study. The Department has also created an Assessment Committee responsible for reviewing and analyzing student portfolio data. This data will ultimately be included in future program review self studies. Beginning in the 2007-2008 academic year, this form of annual assessment will be reported to the AVPUGS. Teaching Effectiveness Tenure-track faculty are evaluated annually by the Personnel Committee and Department Chair using the faculty member’s portfolio. The portfolio includes course syllabi, exams, assignments, and results of student evaluations. In addition, annual peer evaluation of instruction is conducted. At least once a year, each faculty member receives a class visitation by either the Department Chair or another faculty member. The reviewer then writes a letter reporting on a critical analysis of the effectiveness of instruction. Both the SEOI and the visitation letter go into the instructor’s performance review file. Every year, the Department Chair and Personnel Committee review this file and evaluate the faculty member’s teaching as a whole, commenting on the effectiveness of the teaching as well as recommendations for improvement. In each case a letter of evaluation is forwarded to the Dean who makes an independent evaluation which is forwarded to the Provost. Tenured faculty are reviewed similarly but on a three year post-tenure review schedule. Tenured faculty members have been reviewed on an irregular basis when they applied for merit or a salary equity adjustment. Typically, this review consisted of the Department Chair and Personnel Committee Chair reviewing the faculty member’s application and writing a joint letter of recommendation. Starting with the 2006-2007 academic year, tenured faculty review has followed the tenure-track faculty process but on a three year post-tenure review schedule. Full time non-tenure track faculty are reviewed in a manner similar to tenure-track faculty but the Department Chair and Personnel Committee review the file together and write a joint letter. Once a year, quarterly adjuncts must submit a syllabus, exam and grade roster for a course taught recently. The Department Chair reviews this and, if satisfactory, requests a contract.
Two problems with the Physics Department’s current assessment methods are the analysis of the data (student portfolios) and dissemination of the results. The Department has recognized this deficiency and has recommended creating an Assessment Committee to address the first issue. Dissemination will occur at the Department’s annual Assessment retreat.
The Physics Department serves the General Education Program by offering five courses: PHYS 101 (Introductory Astronomy of Stars and Galaxies), PHYS 102 (Introductory Astronomy of the Solar System), PHYS 101LAB (Introductory Astronomy Lab), PHYS 103/103LAB (Physics of Musical Sound with Lab), PHYS 111/111LAB (Introductory Physics with Lab) and PHYS 181/181LAB (General Physics with lab). Two more courses have been proposed: PHYS 106 (Physics by Inquiry) and PHYS 108 (Light and Color); both courses are taught in an inquiry-based lecture/laboratory format. The Department has also proposed a change to the astronomy courses so that they are now taught in a combined lecture/laboratory format that fosters inquiry-based learning. PHYS 106, PHYS 111/111LAB and PHYS 181/181LAB are electives in the General Education requirement for Fundamental Discipline of Physical and Biological Sciences. These courses provide an introduction to the fundamentals for studying physical systems. PHYS 101/101LAB/102 are electives in the General Education requirement for Patterns and Connections in the Natural World. These courses provide basic methods for describing and comprehending the natural world. PHYS 103/103LAB and PHYS 108 are electives in the General Education requirement for Applications of Natural Sciences. These courses treat social, ethical, economic, or technological implications of natural phenomena. All courses place a major emphasis on addressing the following general education program goals: Goal 1. Students will become thoughtful and responsible members of society and stewards of the Earth. Goal 4. Students will master the basic principles of logical, mathematical and scientific reasoning. Goal 5. Students will develop an appreciation of the breadth and depth of scientific and humanistic knowledge. Goal 6. Students will develop a sense of the interconnectedness of knowledge. Goal 8. Students will become aware of the manifold ways that knowledge evolves. Goal 9. Students will develop a disposition to ask incisive and insightful questions. and a lesser emphasis on the following general education program goals: Goal 2. Students will respect diversity of background, experience and belief, and will value the different perspectives that this diversity brings. Goal 3. Students will achieve fluency in reading, writing, oral communication and information technology. Goal 7. Students will integrate knowledge from diverse fields of study in order to solve real-world problems. The major assessments in place are course exams and laboratory reports.
The Physics Department does not currently assess general education student learning goals as part of the major, however many of our program goals align well with general education including: A. Know the standard technical information and be able to perform experimental techniques used in physics, B. Be able to speak and write clearly in the language and style of the discipline, and C. Demonstrate quantitative problem-solving skills. This includes having a firm foundation in the fundamentals and applications of the necessary mathematics. These goals are assessed through course grades, end-of-the-major portfolio and the MFT (standardized exam). The Physics Education Research Community has also developed several different mechanisms for assessing student learning. Members of the Department are encouraged to implement these instruments when teaching their courses. As mentioned previously, the Department has had no formal mechanism for enforcing these requirements, hence the development of the Assessment Committtee, the annual assessment retreat and PHYS 489 (Senior Assessment).
The Physics Department does not have a graduate program. Occasionally, faculty members serve on graduate thesis committees or serve as a graduate research advisor. At this time, the department is not interested in starting a graduate program in physics. The reasons for this include: 1. given the current resources available, a graduate program would be a significant drain on the Department and its undergraduate programs, 2. uncertainty in the ability to recruit highly qualified graduate students and 3. a physics graduate program at CWU would be a redundancy in the state. The feasibility of a physics graduate program will be explored again by the Department’s Strategic Planning Committee.
The Physics Department does not offer distance education courses. Given the appropriate resources and staffing, we would be willing to offer distance education courses if there was sufficient demand. At least two faculty members have ideas for 300-level general education courses that could be offered at the centers in support of the General Studies and B.A.S. majors.
Physics faculty use technology as a communication and organizational tool that supports their teaching activities. Examples of technology that are being used to help students learn physics include course management software (Blackboard), presentation software (PowerPoint), visualization and assessment software (Mastering Physics), computational software (Mathematica, MatLab and Graphical Analysis), and various websites with course or physics information (Java Applets, etc.). Blackboard Courses: PHYS 111, 112, 113, 334, 363 and 474 Mastering Physics Courses: PHYS 181, 182 and 183
We are currently not teaching any distance education classes.
The Physics Department does not offer any courses or programs at the university centers. Given the appropriate resources and staffing, we would be willing to offer courses/programs to those sites if there was sufficient demand. PHYS 111/111Lab (Introductory Physics) have been offered by five high schools through the Cornerstone program (Shelton, Colville, Cascade [Leavenworth], Cle Elum and Ellensburg). Colville High School also offers PHYS 112/112Lab. Cascade HS is planning to offer PHYS 101 (Astronomy) during the spring 2008. Instructors must meet the same educational criteria as on-campus adjunct faculty in physics – a master’s degree in physics or related field or a bachelors degree in physics and a master’s degree in education. Each summer, all Cornerstone instructors come to CWU for a workshop in which the department’s Cornerstone coordinator reviews course syllabi, exams and pedagogy.
The Department Chair typically serves as the initial advisor to students (a requirement for students to enter the Physics program is to first meet with an advisor). As students progress through the program, they have the opportunity to select their academic advisor. All tenured, tenure-track and full time non-tenure track faculty advise students. Majors are required to meet with their advisor each quarter to discuss progress towards meeting major outcomes (as required for their portfolio) and to plan the next quarter’s schedule. Faculty are informed/prepared for their duties through meetings with the Chair, Department meetings and their participation on University committees (Curriculum, General Education and Faculty Senate). Faculty members also teach the STEP and UNIV 101 courses. Through these courses, they serve as the initial advisor for the student.
The Department Chair compares the course syllabi (and the course materials if available) to the CWU physics course.
The Physics Department’s undergraduate programs are promoted internally through campus fairs with the use of a promotional data sheet. For retention purposes, the Department monitors its majors by contacting them each quarter for advising sessions. For recruitment purposes, the Department with the assistance of the CWU admissions office sends out recruitment letters to interested students.
Faculty advisors guide students to remedial and support services when they determine it to be the best course of action after discussions with the student. Students who discuss with instructors issues related to performance that can be addressed through remedial or support services are advised by the faculty to the appropriate resource.
The Physics Department sponsors two clubs and one professional honor society. The CWU chapter of the Society of Physics Students and the CWU Astronomy Club are active in outreach to the campus and the community. Sigma Pi Sigma is a national physics honor society. Qualified students are inducted into this honor society each spring. Astronomy Club website: http://www.cwu.edu/~astroclb/
1. The CWU chapter was selected as an “Outstanding SPS Chapter” each year in the past three years. 2. SOURCE Presentations (2007 – six student presentations; 2006 – four student presentations, one “Outstanding Undergraduate Student Oral Presentation” award in SOURCE 2006). 3. Sigma Pi Sigma Undergraduate Research Award (funded for $2,000 from competitive grant program) (2007) 4. Ten students have been inducted into Sigma Pi Sigma over the past three years (four in 2007, two in 2006 and four in 2005). 5. Two physics majors were selected for the Science Honors program (one for 2006, one for 2007).
Department career placement services are provided during the one-on-one advising sessions with students. There is no coordination with University placement services.
The Department has mixed feelings about its overall effectiveness in offering student programs and services. The Department is extremely pleased with faculty/student advising and the accomplishments of its students, particularly the consistent annual recognition of its CWU Society of Physics Chapter. Some areas where the Department is looking at improving include: 1. Recruitment. This includes recruiting CWU students into the major as well as recruiting incoming freshmen and transfer students to CWU (and subsequently the physics major). The Physics Department is interested in developing a color brochure for recruitment, but at this time funding is not available. The Physics Department is also revising its website with the assistance of the COTS office. The improvement of the Department’s website (in conjunction with an improvement in the COTS and CWU website – which is necessary) plays a significant role in the recruitment of new students to the program. 2. Student accomplishments. Although pleased with what physics students have accomplished, the Physics Department believes there is always room for improvement. This would include an increase in the number of external presentations made by physics majors as well as an increase in the number of student co-authors in refereed journal articles.
Current Staffing The Physics Department has approximately 5.5 FTE faculty, consisting of 3.5 full-time tenured/tenure-track faculty, one full-time non-tenure-track faculty and two adjuncts (equivalent to approximately 1 FTE). For the 2007-2008 academic year, a total of 169 instructional workload units were scheduled to be offered by the Department with 84 instructional workload units performed by non-tenure-track faculty (divided equally among the full-time [42 WLU] and part-time [42 WLU] non-tenure-track faculty). Thus the ratio of tenured/tenure-track instruction to non-tenure-track instruction is approximately 0.5:0.5. Although there are a number of introductory and general education laboratory courses taught by the Physics Department, it is the opinion of the Department Chair that this is an inappropriate mix of tenured/tenure-track to non-tenure-track faculty. This is an important point, particularly since the Department is considering a combined lecture/lab model for a number of its introductory and general education courses (a model supported by physics-education researchers). For information purposes, 56 instructional workload units are covered by non-tenure-track faculty to cover the introductory and general education laboratory sections. Of these, 34 workload units are taught by part-time physics instructors. Future Staffing If the Physics Department, COTS and University administration were satisfied with what is offered by the Department and wanted to keep the “status quo”, then the level of service could continue to be provided with no increase in staffing (an increase in funding though would still be necessary, but that will be outlined in another section). However, with the hire of a new Department Chair, there exists the potential for some growth through a slight revision of the Department’s curriculum, the introduction of new areas of research and, more importantly, an increase in course offerings. Consideration of revitalizing the physics program is timely due to state funding and potential demand. The physics program is central to the underlying principles in the physical sciences and engineering; high-demand areas as viewed by the Washington State Legislature and to some degree the Federal Government (via the America Competes Act of 2007). The Department has revised its curriculum and is currently setting up two new research labs (a laser laboratory and an acoutics laboratory). In the fall of 2007, the Physics Department Chair presented a plan to the COTS Dean and Provost and secured their support for this plan. The plan included the addition of a new tenure-track faculty member (to replace a significant portion of the part-time adjunct instructors). Support for this position could come from the high demand funding that the state is providing the university.
The Physics Department seeks to provide a wide range of opportunities for faculty development by supporting the diverse interests, expertise and goals of each member of the Department. To the extent possible, resources at the disposal of the Department Chair are used to help faculty develop the programs, research initiatives, and instructional efforts that will help them make their best contribution in all areas. Often this includes seed, travel, or supplementary funds. Development Funding and Activities Program review and continuing assessment have demonstrated that the Department has a competent, vital faculty. The Department has been successful in providing faculty resources for development. Currently faculty members are provided $700 for development activities from the Provost’s Office. Support for conference travel (with the requirement of a presentation) can be acquired from the Dean’s Office and the Office of Research and Graduate Programs (on the order of $650). There are very limited resources available to the Department to supplement faculty travel. Development activities include but are not limited to conference attendance for presentation, workshops, and educational opportunities as well as research lab equipment. Remediating Deficiencies The Physics Department makes every attempt to be proactive; encouraging faculty to address teaching, scholarship and service expectations. Formally, deficiencies are addressed during annual reviews for tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty and during post-tenure review for tenured faculty. Informally, deficiencies are discussed when faculty meet individually with the Department Chair to discuss workload plans and activity reports.
As with all CWU faculty, physics faculty members are expected to contribute in varying degrees to three areas: instruction, scholarly activities, and service. Hence, physics faculty are evaluated in accordance with university, college, and department policies. Probationary faculty are reviewed annually by both the Department’s Personnel Committee and the Chair. Tenured faculty are reviewed every three years by the Department’s Personnel Committee and the Chair. Non-tenure-track faculty are reviewed annually by the Department Chair. The review is based on classroom visits, SEOIs and course documents (if appropriate/necessary). The Department’s Personnel Committee consists of three tenured faculty excluding the Department Chair. Due to the size of the program, the committee membership typically consists of faculty from outside the Physics Department. The committee reviews faculty performance for reappointment, promotion, tenure, merit, and post-tenure review and makes recommendations to the Dean of COTS. The Physics Department has adopted the COTS standards for RTP decisions.
As a small department establishing the proper balance between the three traditional areas of faculty responsibility is essential to fulfilling its mission. With the support of the Dean and through the use of the Boyer model of scholarship, physics faculty have identified roles that emphasize their strengths while fulfilling its mission. To further this idea the department supports the philosophy that while it is important for everyone to be effective in each of the traditional areas of teaching, scholarship, and service, it is efficient to allow faculty to develop roles that match their strengths. Using this approach allows faculty to better understand current and future contributions to the teaching, scholarship and service missions of the Department. It appears this process best ensures the Department continue to meet its goals while maintaining a balance agreed upon by faculty; allowing them to contribute to each area in varying degrees through focusing on their strengths. With that said however, there is a concern among members of the Physics Department (and the University community at large) regarding the increased service and scholarship expectations while traditional teaching loads are maintained and University enrollments grow. The Physics Department unanimously supports the “teacher-scholar” model but maintains the need to find an appropriate balance among the competing and increasing demands in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service.
The Physics Department measures teaching effectiveness in three ways: Student Evaluation of Instruction (SEOI) results, self-reflection on teaching and peer review. Student Evaluation of Instruction – SEOI scores for the Physics Department as a whole, College of the Sciences as a whole, and University as a whole, as provided by the Office of Institutional Research, are used as one measure of the effectiveness of the instructor. Student comments are also included on these forms. Faculty are expected to use student comments and SEOI data in their self-reflection on teaching effectiveness. Self-Reflection on Teaching – Faculty are expected to reflect on their teaching effectiveness. These reflections are reviewed when faculty are evaluated during the retention/post-tenure process. Self-reflections should show that faculty are maintaining currency in the areas they teach and that they are using student and peer evaluation data to improve their teaching. Peer Review – Tenure-track faculty are expected to undergo annual peer review of their instruction as a means to document effectiveness and to gain ideas for improvement. Tenured faculty are also expected to undergo a peer review process as well, although it is understood to be less often than tenure-track faculty. These reviews generally consist of a class visitation and follow-up conversations, but may also include extensive evaluation of course materials (e.g., syllabi, exams, textbook).
Overall, physics faculty are well prepared to teach at the introductory and advanced levels, particularly in their area of expertise. While some faculty struggle in generating “high” SEOI scores, peer evaluations reflect positively on the effectiveness of instruction in the Physics Department. As discussed earlier, the percentage of course offerings provided by non-tenure-track faculty is too high. The addition of a tenure-track faculty member would assist in bringing this to an acceptable level. Dr. Bruce Palmquist was selected as the 2005 Washington Professor of the Year, awarded by the Carnegie Foundation and Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
Data provided by Instructional Research and other appropriate offices.
The CWU Library serves as an important resource for the Physics Department’s ability to meet its instructional, research and service goals. The CWU Library maintains a collection of 750,000 titles, with approximately 10,000 of these identified as physics or closely allied fields (PCAF). The library has a limited annual budget and uses input from physics faculty in determining how to best apply these resources for additions to the PCAF collection. These resources are generally adequate to the teaching and service needs of the Department. Physics faculty and students have ready access in the collection to a variety of materials that support the curriculum. The library has proven responsive to requests for additions to the collection in support of these missions. However, there are fewer items available in the collection to support the scholarship needs of the Physics Department. Although there are approximately 120 PCAF journals titles with online access, the journal list is quite incomplete due to the diversity of scholarly activities present in the Physics Department. However, the Physics Department recognizes the exorbitant costs of journals and that a complete collection is simply not possible given the resources available. To address this, the CWU Library supports the following programs: 1. ILLIAD, an interlibrary loan system, 2. SUMMIT, a shared non-journal library collection with Oregon and Washington, and 3. Online database access (such as Web of Science). These programs have served the Department’s needs extremely well. Given the limited journal resources at CWU, these programs have proved indispensible! There are also a variety of non-PCAF periodical subscriptions frequently used by and useful to physics faculty and students that include Scientific American, Science, Nature, Science News and New Scientist.
As mentioned previously, the CWU Library has a reasonable collection of research journals. However, due to the diversity of the research being performed, the collection is insufficient. Given the resources available, coupled with the high price of journals, the Physics Department does not see how this can be addressed (for its own purposes as well as University-wide). An alternate solution is for the CWU Library to continue supporting its interlibrary loan and online database programs (ILLIAD, SUMMIT and Web of Science). The Department believes this is the most cost effective solution to the problem that would also permit faculty to pursue their scholarly activities.
Learning opportunities for information literacy are provided in the physics program through: information literacy instruction in the general education program; upper division physics curriculum that requires students to apply information literacy (for example, literature summaries as part of course requirements); the undergraduate research requirement for all physics majors (through PHYS 495), with a significant component of that research dedicated to identifying and understanding appropriate literature on the research topic; the physics seminar course (PHYS 499) that requires students to use the literature in the preparation of assignments for the course; incorporation of current literature in the discussion of topics in the established physics curriculum, and finally informal encouragement and instruction of students to use literature resources (e.g., faculty modeling appropriate information literacy techniques when students ask questions during office hours, and discussion of current literature in casual conversations between students and faculty).
One faculty member in the Physics Department serves as the Library Representative. This person is responsible for communication with the library staff about the Physics Department’s needs. The Library Representative brings information to department meetings about new information resources and services. Individual faculty needs are brought to the Library Representative who brings them collectively to the Department for discussion if necessary. The department discusses current and future needs each time a program review is done and when new faculty join the Physics Department. In general, this approach has proven satisfactory and the library has proven responsive within the limited resources available.
The Physics Department maintains a resource room that houses a textbooks donated by physics faculty. The resource room also serves as the Department’s conference room (for faculty and student club meetings), tutor center and occasionally for independent study courses. Faculty, staff, and students can use the room when meetings and courses are not scheduled.
The Physics Department has approximately 5.5 FTE faculty, consisting of 3.5 full-time tenured/tenure-track faculty, one full-time non-tenure-track faculty and two adjuncts (equivalent to 1 FTE). The Department also has two staff members; a full-time Instruction and Classroom Support Technician and a part-time Senior Secretary (half-time, 9 months). The Department Chair oversees all of the department personnel. The Physics Department also employs some students as research assistants, teaching assistants and office assistants on a part-time who are supervised by faculty and staff. The Department has several standing committees that include: the Personnel Committee, the Assessment Committee and the Department Committee of the Whole. In the latter committee, all physics faculty meet to discuss department business. Department meetings consist of general discussion and information items, reports from department representatives and committees, and action items. While the Department Chair is the focal point of most department decisions, the Chair seeks the advice, consensus and approval on all issues that affect the Department. The Department Chair sets the agenda for department meetings and keeps the meetings flowing. The Physics Department also has ad-hoc committees that arise when needed (such as Search and Screen Committees). Regarding committee composition, the Department Chair requests volunteers from the Department’s faculty (and staff when appropriate). Every attempt to accommodate volunteers is made (unless they are simply not eligible).
Physics faculty are highly engaged in institutional governance. Physics faculty have served on the Faculty Senate, General Education Committee, Curriculum Committee, Center for Teaching and Learning Advisory Council, and as Director of the Douglas Honors College. Faculty also serve at the college level on a number of faculty evaluation and professional development committees.
Due to the activities described in prior sections, the Physics Department is satisfied by its involvement in University governance and planning.
The biggest financial concern of the Physics Department is the acquisition of state-of-the-art instrumentation as well as the maintenance and repair of equipment and technology necessary for education in physics. The Physics Department supports the idea of establishing a University fund for the repair and maintenance of equipment used in the curriculum and in scholarship. Several other finance issues also exist and include: A. Research funding for equipment and release time is somewhat limited. There are programs in COTS and at the University level that do provide some assistance. B. Costs associated with software-related purchases/maintenance contracts and computer maintenance: 1. Funding to support the annual cost of maintaining MatLab and LabView licenses. 2. Funding to support biannual upgrades to Mathematica. 3. Funding for other software programs, including RAVEN, Origin and SigmaPlot. 4. Funding for maintaining instructional and faculty/staff computers. The Department currently has fourteen computers for its introductory labs and ten computers for its upper-division labs. Most are in need of significant upgrades and this is a cost that has not been folded into most Department’s S&E budgets. One program the Physics Department has benefited tremendously from is the WIN-WIN program. C. Increasing costs of laboratory supplies. Market increases in laboratory supplies has strained the Department budget. The Physics Department hopes to offset this to a limited degree by proposing an increase in the student laboratory fees (pending BOR approval). In addition, with more resources the Physics Department would like to: 1. Maintain a faculty load allocation to encourage and reward scholarly productivity. 2. Recognize excellent teaching with a reward structure. 3. Encourage continued attendance of scholarly conferences that focus on teaching excellence and modern pedagogies such as the AAPT meetings. 4. Increase funding for faculty development. With the University’s increased emphasis on scholarship, there is an acute need to support travel and professional development. The current level of funding available is simply insufficient. 5. Establish development funding for staff. Physics Department staff are one of our greatest assets. Investing in their development equates to an investment in CWU. The Physics Department would also like to take advantage of the expertise available on campus. By “buying out” small amounts of time from CWU faculty and technical staff, several of the Department’s scholarly activities can be advanced significantly.
The Physics Department does not currently have any department-based fundraising activities. COTS does have a development officer and the Physics Department will be working with him/her to develop a fundraising program in this area. Funding areas of interest include student scholarships, student and faculty research, outreach programs (including physics and laser light shows, planetarium programs, observing sessions and kaleidoscope programs), equipment replacement (both instructional and research) and faculty development.
Background The Physics Department currently occupies a three-story building, Lind Hall, along with the Geography and Geology Departments. The Geography Department is scheduled to move into Dean Hall sometime during the 2008 Fall quarter. The Physics Department currently occupies a little more than half of the second floor and shares lecture classroom space. These include a 25 student classroom and a 75 student lecture hall. The Physics Department has six faculty offices in Lind Hall (that includes the main Department office that houses the secretary and Department Chair). One physics faculty member does not have an office in Lind Hall. Regarding research space, there is a laser research lab, an acoustics research lab and a computational research lab. Regarding instructional laboratory space there is a room for the introductory laboratories (that can house 18 students), an Optics lab, a Holography lab, an electronics lab and a modern physics lab. Although the upper-division labs have names/courses associated with them, all are multi-purpose and also serve as student research labs and one faculty research lab. Most of the rooms are also relatively small. The Department also has a resource room, a computer lab for its students and faculty (about five computers), and a rooftop observatory. There are two storage rooms (one for physics and one for astronomy) and one equipment demonstration room. The Department also has an office/workroom for its technician. What is needed? 1. An integrated classroom/laboratory that can seat up to 50 students. Furniture should be movable (with sufficient aisle space) to accommodate inquiry-based activities. Computer access in the room should also be provided. Students in these classes would benefit from small group activities such as desktop experiments, collaborative problem solving and problem-based learning, methods proven by the physics education community (via refereed manuscripts) to be the best way of teaching physics. 2. A computer-teaching space, with room for up to 30 computer stations. 3. Research laboratory and office space for an additional faculty member. 4. Permanent piers for mounting telescopes on the roof of Lind Hall with appropriate roof-top shelter. 5. Addition of permanent mounting/storage facility for telescopes on the roof of Lind Hall. 6. A planetarium. 7. Access to a large lecture hall (auditorium seating for between 150 to 200 students) for use with the Department’s Outreach programs. Although there are a few lecture halls of this size on campus, it is impractical to transport scientific equipment between buildings, particularly during inclement weather. In addition, the layout of these rooms is less than desireable. 8. An office for the physics-education faculty member. Along with the new requests listed above, there needs to be a significant investment in the existing infrastructure. Some minor repairs to the Observatory are necessary; these include mechanically refurbishing the dome mechanism and telescope drive as well as outfit and wire a “warm room”. Along with limited climate control in Lind Hall, there has been some compromise to the structural integrity of the building (currently housed by Geology).
Physics Department faculty, staff, and students are dependent on sophisticated equipment and computer software in order to carry out the work of the discipline. Since physics practice is linked to laboratory work, the Department is necessarily resource intensive. With some of the equipment reaching 50 years of age, few instruments in the Department can be considered state-of-the-art. This is particularly true for the upper-division physics labs, such as the Optics Laboratory, Modern Physics Laboratory I and II, Electronics Laboratory and the Observatory. The Physics Department is gravely concerned with the condition and availability of instrumentation for its upper-division laboratories and foresee this as a major stumbling block in the future. Although the need is just as acute for the lower-division laboratories, there are external funding sources available and the Physics Department is currently preparing proposals to address this need. With the influx of experimental research programs, the Department will also be facing increasing upgrade, repair, and maintenance costs for these programs. It is essential to the Physics program to keep its existing equipment functional and to plan for replacements in the future.
Physics faculty incorporate instructional technology available in Lind Hall classrooms into their curricular programs. Most modern instrumentation, particularly those found in the faculty research labs, are interfaced with computers and at times driven by computer software. As mentioned previously, the ability for the Department to support maintenance fees for the software has been difficult. The Physics Department has worked with university computer and engineering technicians to setup and maintain some of the UNIX-based computer systems.
Planning requests for physical resources takes place at regular Department meetings where all faculty and staff have input.
Guidelines for professional conduct as developed by the American Physical Society can be found at http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/02_2.cfm.
The Physics Department does not have a policy related to integrity.