Plenary Speaker Profile (2012-13)
Gay B. Stewart
Professor of Physics
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
If Physics Can Do It, Anyone Can: Increasing Student Success

A more scientifically literate society benefits all STEM disciplines, as well as society as a whole. It is best realized by better serving all undergraduate STEM students. In better-serving all students, a STEM department also benefits. The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville physics department has seen a drastic change in number of majors, the number of students active in research and the number of graduates pursuing graduate work, while also increasing the number of majors who decide to teach. Prior to our involvement with the Physics Teacher Education Coalition, graduation rates had increased by more than a factor of 4 in 4 years. After the increased efforts when we became a part of PhysTEC our graduation numbers doubled again. Specific attention to class policy to impact student learning in our introductory courses and strong preparation of the graduate teaching assistants, and quality advising were our primary areas of emphasis. What worked to build these numbers and strengthen these resources at Arkansas will be discussed.

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Gay Stewart received her Ph.D. in experimental physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1994. As a concerned parent, she shifted her research to science education. In 1995 she began a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded course and curriculum development project. Success promoted further change in the department, with the average number of graduates increasing by more than a factor of 10. She has over 30 publications, and has given numerous invited talks at the American Physical Society (APS) and other national meetings. She serves on the editorial board of a science education research journal and on the Project Kaleidoscope Faculty for the 21st Century. She served on the APS Committee on Education, the APS Executive Board and Council, and on the AP Physics Curriculum Development Committee. She is past-chair of the APS Forum on Education Executive Committee. She was co-chair of the NSF-funded initiative to redesign AP Physics, and is currently co-chair of the AP Physics 2 Curriculum Development and Assessment Committee. Under her direction UA was one of four physics programs for the NSF/American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), "Shaping the Preparation of Future Science Faculty," and one of six initial primary program institutions of the APS/AAPT/American Institute of Physics (AIP) "Physics Teachers Education Coalition." Both programs are still thriving past funding. Currently funded efforts include the NSF Math Science Partnership, The College Ready in Mathematics and Physics Partnership, and UTeach Arkansas. She has been PI or CoPI on almost 20 proposals, totaling over $17M in external funding. She has received several teaching and advising awards, including the Fulbright College Master Teacher award, and the CASE Arkansas Professor of the Year award. She is a fellow of the APS, and president elect of AAPT.